Tag Archives: athletic trainer skill set

The Athletic Trainer’s Role in Youth Sports

27 Mar

Wow, the month of February and March have been a flurry of activity for me.  I have been able to provide athletic training care to thousands of athletes at a youth soccer tournament, PIAA District Wrestling Championships, PIAA State Wrestling Championships, PA Junior Wrestling State Championships as well as my own athletes at my employer.  While providing these services to these groups, I was keenly aware of the amount of athletes who don’t get these services.

In an article on the Discovery Networks website, the author explores the possibility of “Smart Helmets” changing the future of youth sports.  The author quotes:

Identifying the injury is only the first step, the authors note. Smart helmets aren’t a diagnostic tool; rather, the technology could help make the connection between an athlete who may have an injury and a medical assessment. When a sensor is triggered, the athlete would need evaluation from a trained professional on-site or a referral for off-site medical evaluation.

This one paragraph clearly delineates our profession’s role in Youth Sports.  I am all for this smart technology that will clearly indicate when a possible concussive hit has been absorbed by an athlete of any age.  But a fancy LED display that indicates an excessive force is useless if their isn’t a medical professional there to clinically evaluate the athlete.  Youth football leagues need to provide athletic training services to these athletes.

Little Baseball is suffering a similar issue with pitch counts, curve ball debates and pitchers throwing with sore arms.  Pitch counts are a great tool, but they are limited in scope.  Many of the better players are playing on 2 or even 3 baseball teams at the same time.  Other youth baseball players are playing for 9 or 10 months of the year.  Research has shown that it isn’t the type of pitch that is thrown (i.e. curve ball), it is the volume of pitches that are thrown.  The volume of pitches thrown dramatically increase when you play for 2-3 teams a year.  Who is watching out for these young athletes?  Who can these young athletes approach to evaluate their arm pain without their parents making the first contact?

I firmly believe it is our profession of athletic training that can make a difference in these young athletes’ health and lives.  As my friend and colleague has in his email tagline “Every athlete deserves an athletic trainer.”  I wholeheartedly agree from ages 7 to 70 and up.  If you are involved in organized athletics, you not only deserve an athletic trainer; you need an athletic trainer.

Skill Set – Relationships

24 May

The typical athletic trainer has a diverse skill set that they constantly develop.  This series of blog entries will seek to focus on the skill set that most athletic trainers possess in order to effectively do their job in the traditional setting.  Collectively, this skill set makes the AT a very valuable and unique resource to the athletes, coaches and administration that they serve.


It is my firm personal belief that God created us for relationship.  Relationship with God and relationships with fellow mankind.  The most gratifying things in life revolve around relationships – life long friends, a spouse, family, etc.  The most satisfying jobs are careers that can develop deep relationships with other people.  Teachers, professors, pastors and athletic trainers are professions that can have high career satisfaction surveys due in part to the relationships that can be fostered through these careers.

No matter the setting, high school, college, pro sports, industrial, military, law enforcement, ATs develop relationships with the people they work with.  These relationships are vital to our job as we can begin to read when our athletes are hurting.  These relationships are also important to the athletes as they need to trust those who provide medical care for them.   John Maxwell said “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”

In my career, I have been able to provide athletic training care to many all-star games, playoff games, state championships and tournaments.  Most of the time very few athletes know who I am and I often end up only providing first aid care or basic taping techniques to the athletes.

But at the school district where I work, there is a constant stream of athletes, teachers, coaches and parents coming through the training room asking for me to look at this injury or evaluate this pain.  80% of the time my findings are not significant but that isn’t the point.  The school community knows that they can come into the training room to be evaluated – they value the relationship.

This skill may be the most important aspect of athletic training but it can’t be quantified.

If you are an administrator/manager contemplating the value of a full time athletic trainer to your staff, don’t just look at the services that the AT provides (prevention, recognition, rehabilitation of injuries and illnesses) look at the relationships that the AT can foster with the athletes/workers.  These relationships will provide a much better environment for your athletes/workers.

If you are an AT starting in a new position, begin to foster relationships.  Get to know the athletes, coaches, parents, administration in the traditional setting or the managers and workers in the non-traditional setting.  No one will care how well you tape an ankle or evaluate an injury if you don’t develop a camaraderie first.

NHL’s Flyers use Slurpees for Rehydration

23 Mar

Somethings about athletic training are just plain fun.  Being innovative and on the cutting edge is one of them.

The first-place Flyers frequently have a frozen beverage machine in their dressing room, filled with a concoction that “starts as a green-tea extract and comes in different fruit flavors” and that cools the body while replenishing nutrients. Continue reading

AT Skill Set – Policy/Procedure Development

22 Mar

If you were to research lawsuits and investigations into sports injuries, the programs that have written protocols, policies and procedures fare the best.  Writing and following these plans protect the athletic program and employees.

One of the first things that ATs establish written protocols and policies covering everything from Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) with the school/team physician to communication between the coaches and AT staff.  Continue reading

Celebrating NATM in Collier County Florida

22 Mar

My colleague and friend, Mike Hopper, says “Every athlete deserves an athletic trainer.”  But 58% of this country’s high schools don’t provide the level of care that Mike suggests is deserved.

An article from Naples, FL highlights what Mike advocates – athletic trainer access for all athletes.

We love to celebrate wins, our favorite high school team putting one in the “win” column. And should there be a district, regional or even state title resulting from a win…that would be cause for a big time celebration. Continue reading

Athletic Trainer not allowed to be at practice and death ensues.

19 Mar

Orlando, FL – The death of University of Central Florida football player Ereck Plancher in the off-season of 2008 is still under investigation.  Ereck died from an extremely strenuous obstacle course after a workout.  The strain of the workout and then the obstacle course triggered his blood cells to sickle and the resulting cascade of events eventually causing his death according to the autopsy results.

What is at issue in this case is the reported lack of water and medical help available to the practice. Continue reading

Skill Set – Emotional calmness

10 Mar

The following story is from a fellow AT.  I want to keep the specifics generic because I am not dwelling on the specific situation, just the general circumstances of what happened:

I was at the school today to check in with the teams. Hung out in the gym with softball for a bit, then headed out to the track team practice, and then headed to check in on baseball. I’m standing there watching baseball practice when a girl comes running around the corner of the building looking for me. Somebody “pulled a hamstring.” She’s screaming it. Alright, so I head back to where the track team is figuring it was one of them. Continue reading

News – ATC is the frontline defense against MRSA

15 Feb

Hauppauge, NY -When St. Anthony’s High School on Long Island found out that an opponent was in intensive care for a MRSA infection, the were concerned.  Their concern was for the health of the opponent – no one wants to see a fellow athlete fighting for life – and for the possible spread of the bacteria to their team.

After consulting with Bro. Gary Cregan, the school’s principal, the team trainer and school nurse inspected every wrestler at St. Anthony’s, from the freshman team to the varsity. Continue reading

News – ATC applies AED to Ref and saves life!

12 Feb

Exeter, NH – The AT at Raymond HS applied the AED and an off-duty EMT started CPR to begin the Chain of Survival.

Evans, 62, had made a violation call during a junior varsity girls’ basketball game between Raymond and Epping on Jan. 24 in Raymond. After re-starting play and crossing the half court area, his vision suddenly became blurry. The next thing he knew he was Continue reading

The athletic trainer skill set – Continuing Education

10 Feb

The typical athletic trainer has a diverse skill set that they constantly develop.  This series of blog entries will seek to focus on the skill set that most athletic trainers possess in order to effectively do their job in the traditional setting.  Collectively, this skill set makes the AT a very valuable and unique resource to the athletes, coaches and administration that they serve.

Continuing Education

In order to maintain the ATC Credential from the NATABOC, the AT has to get continuing education hours every 3 years.  Currently, 75 hours must be obtained in the 3 year cycle.  Most of those hours must be from approved course providers. 

Why am I listing continuing education as a skill set?  Because this aspect of an AT’s professional development is open ended.  Continue reading