Have you ever wondered what exactly athletic trainers do on a daily basis? Well, for beginners, athletic trainers are now employed in so many different settings that each ATC will have a different day-to-day. Over the last decade or so, there has been a significant increase in the scope of an athletic trainer’s practice. Traditional athletic trainers only worked in athletics – that could include secondary schools, colleges, universities, and with professional teams. Currently, athletic trainers are employed in all different settings, such as hospitals, sports medicine clinics, corporate and industrial health care programs, and even military bases. One of the amazing things about being an athletic trainer is every day brings something new! We, as athletic trainers, have our consistent daily tasks, but our day-to-day always look different no matter what setting you work in!
Now let’s dive in and see what a day in the life of a high school athletic trainer looks like. In the high school setting, Monday through Friday, athletic trainers typically start their day around noon to start preparing for the day. They ensure that their radios are on, that the athletic training room is clean and organized, and that necessary equipment is stocked and ready for use. Game and practice schedules are reviewed to see what events and practices are going on for the day, so they know what to prepare. In the high school setting, athletic trainers typically have some golf cart or 4- wheeler to help them get around from field to field quickly This also is used when setting up water and supplies for outdoor events. The vehicle is driven to the athletic training room from their storage location and loaded with a few 10-gallon water coolers, depending on what events are outside.
Additionally, we stock an AED, a radio for coaches to contact their athletic trainer for emergencies, a medical kit, and sometimes a foam roller or hand roller used to help athletes with stretching. These supplies are taken to their appropriate spots and set up nicely for student-athletes. Most schools have AEDs located at each field or court within 3 minutes of anywhere in, or near the facility. That allows for 1.5 min to the device and 1.5 minutes back at a brisk walking pace. The athletic trainer’s personal AED stays in the back of the 4-wheeler or golf cart for easy, close access for athletic trainers.
Once indoor and outdoor fields/courts are set up for practices and events, the athletic trainer will officially open the athletic training room doors for athletes to come in. The athletic trainers get to school well before the student’s school day ends. This allows students to be seen during the day for any injuries that may arise during PE class or at an event that may have happened the day prior. This can aid in helping the athletic training room run smoothly after school because evaluations are taken care of before the rush of pre-practice tapping and rehab. This is also a good time to communicate with parents or coaches about the status of injured athletes and any necessary follow-up care.
As mentioned earlier each day is different, some days are packed with practices and events that documentation and paperwork doesn’t happen until all events are done for the day. However, on other days, athletic trainers are able to do paperwork and documentation right after seeing a student-athlete when those far and few slow in-between days happen.
Once that 3:00 pm bell rings, the athletic training room is no longer quiet. Student-athletes begin lining up to sign in and receive the proper treatment. Kids come in to receive a variety of treatments, such as:
Afternoon practices typically start about 15-20 min after school dismissal. This allows kids to get changed, see their athletic trainer for any medical care, and head out to their sport. Once the athletic trainers take care of most of their student athletes, they may hop on their golf cart or 4-wheeler and take a ride outside or to indoor facilities to watch practices. Athletic trainers have radios on them at all times in case of emergencies. With so many different teams practicing at once in all different locations, it is the quickest way for coaches to get a hold of their athletic trainers when an athlete gets injured.
Game days or events typically begin around 4:30 pm. Athletic trainers have to prioritize what they cover. This means they need to determine the highest-risk sports and be present in that sport when possible. Games and events are always the #1 priority to be at, but when there are multiple events going on at once, the athletic trainer typically stays put there unless otherwise called on the radio to another event for injuries. Athletic trainers usually assist home and away teams during games and events because high schools don’t typically travel their athletic trainers unless it is for football games or any type of regional game or playoff game/match.
The athletic trainer stays after practice to provide post-practice evaluations and treatments for any athletes who may have been injured during practice or their game. Once games and practices are finished, typically this is around 8:30/9 pm, the athletic trainer cleans up the field and brings all supplies inside to get reorganized for the next day. Once everything Is cleaned up, athletic trainers take the time to finish up any documentation and paperwork. The athletic trainer leaves the school for the day, knowing that they’ve helped keep the student-athletes safe and healthy and will be back at it again tomorrow.
Saturday mornings for the secondary setting athletic trainers vary depending on what season they are in. For example, athletic trainers typically arrive about 6:30 am during the fall season. Saturday mornings usually call for some soccer games or tennis matches. Saturday mornings are fun and relaxing, especially after a Friday night football win! Athletes start arriving for morning practices or games, and the athletic trainer begins by doing pre-practice evaluations on any athletes who have injuries or who may be at risk for injuries.
Being an athletic trainer at a high school can be a demanding job, but it’s also a rewarding one. By helping student-athletes prevent and recover from injuries, athletic trainers play a crucial role in the success of the school’s athletic programs.
Now that I opened your mind to what a day in the life of an athletic trainer is, those interested in entering this exciting field will not regret it!
Keep following your dream and be ready to change the lives of young high school athletes!
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The Athletico blog is an educational resource written by Athletico employees. Athletico bloggers are licensed professionals who abide by the code of ethics outlined by their respective professional associations. The content published in blog posts represents the opinion of the individual author based on their expertise and experience. The content provided in this blog is for informational purposes only, does not constitute medical advice and should not be relied on for making personal health decisions.
1. George, Francis J. “The Athletic Trainer’s Perspective.” Clinics in Sports Medicine, vol. 16, no. 3, 1997, pp. 361–374., https://doi.org/10.1016/s0278-5919(05)70030-2.
2. “Www.aeduniverse.com.” AED Placement – Where Should We Locate Our AED? AED Placement and Determining the Best Location to Place the AED Is Important and We’ll Tell You How to Determine the Best Location for Your AED or Automated External Defibrillator., Northwestern Health and Safety Company, https://www.aeduniverse.com/AED_Placement_s/17.htm.