An athletic trainer is a sports medicine professional who specializes in working directly with athletes. Trainers can be employed by sports teams, schools and universities with athletic programs, as well as advanced fitness centers. Trainers typically advise on fitness regimens, treat injuries as they happen, and help assist injured athletes and participants in the recovery and rehabilitation process. For some employers, especially those involved in professional or school-sponsored sports, an athletic trainer may work with both nutritionists and strength training specialists to help set preparation and training regimens for practices, games and meets. The athletic trainer's key role in this process is to monitor the effects of training and adjust as necessary according to individuals' health and needs.
Athletic trainers are also present during practices, games and meets to provide the first response to an athlete's injury. The trainer is expected to be able to quickly assess the injury and make decisions regarding how to proceed. For minor injuries, it can involve re-taping or immobilizing an affected area so the athlete can continue to participate. For more serious injuries, the trainer works with other medical professionals to treat and further assess the injury as required. Trainers also typically work with injured athletes who are in the recovery and rehabilitation process. The trainer monitors the athlete's progress and adjusts the regimen as required while consulting with doctors and surgeons who may have treated the patient.
In some cases, athletic trainers may work for larger fitness centers, staying on hand in the event of sprains or muscle pulls and/or working with amateur athletes in their preparation or rehabilitation procedures. It is also common for trainers to be hired (or volunteer) for events such as marathons and triathlons to help treat participants.
Most athletic trainers study sports medicine or a related field as undergraduates, with professional teams and larger institutions often requiring trainers with postgraduate education in the field. Athletic trainers must also be certified in most jurisdictions, and they must maintain continuing education requirements for their licenses.
Athletic Trainer Tasks
Prevent, examine, and treat athlete injuries.
Attend meetings with the athlete and athletic director for which they are employed.
Treat minor injuries at sports events and competitions.
Recommend lifestyle changes, diet, and equipment.
Assist in rehabilitation after injuries.