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What Is an Athletic Trainer?

An athletic trainer is essential to the safety of any athlete in organized sports. At Elite Sports Medicine, we have athletic trainers at all of our partnering schools that are well-trained in the prevention, examination, and treatment of injuries in sports. Athletic training is recognized by the American Medical Association (AMA), the Health Resources Services Administration (HRSA), and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as an allied healthcare profession. This is an important piece of information for both the athletes and their parents to know!

What Can an Athletic Trainer Do?

Understanding the capabilities of an athletic trainer will help the athlete and the organization take full advantage of their skills. These skills will not only help keep athletes safe but keep them performing at the top of their game. 


Athletic trainers are able to train athletes on injury prevention. They can do this by showing certain stretches, exercises, and warmups to perform before playing. Many times you see football players stretching and warming up before the big game. This is all due to athletic trainers showing them the warm-ups and leading this stretch as a team. 


 Athletic trainers are the first people you see when an athlete is injured on the field. They are well trained in examining the injury, offering first aid if needed as well as emergency services. An athletic trainer is also aware of how emergency services operate (ex. when an athlete needs to be transported to the hospital). If needed, the athletic trainer stays with the athlete on the ride to the hospital to ensure the athlete is able to communicate the injuries and explain to medical professionals the injury. Having someone who is able to advocate for the athlete can make all the difference in the athlete's care. This also helps the medical team understand the injury and come up with the best plan of care.


Athletic trainers are able to offer treatment to athletes when injuries do not require a trip to the hospital. Taping, splinting, and emergency care are among the many types of treatment athletic trainers are able to offer athletes. 

Mental Health and Nutrition

Athletic trainers are also able to direct athletes to the best mental health specialists as well as nutritionists. Mental health can decline when injuries occur, and an athletic trainer is there to offer physical and mental support. 

What Training Do Athletic Trainers Have?

The National Athletic Trainer's Association requires a bachelor's degree, though movement toward having a master's could happen soon. Over 70% of athletic trainers have a master's degree! To be a certified athletic trainer, you must also complete continuing education throughout your career.

Why Are Athletic Trainers Important?

The best way to ensure the safety of your athlete both in practice and in the game is to have an athletic trainer present. Injuries are bound to happen, and having someone there to monitor and prevent injuries is the best way to provide care for the athlete.

What Is the Difference Between a Physical Therapist and an Athletic Trainer?

An athletic trainer provides care on the field whereas a physical therapist offers care after surgery or to help treat an injury. Physical Therapists are in clinical settings rather than out in the field. A Physical Therapist is also now required to have a doctoral degree. 

Cassie Whittaker Cassie is the Communications Coordinator for Elite Sports Medicine + Orthopedics. She has been writing and reviewing medical content since 2020. https://www.linkedin.com/in/cassie-whittaker-802a3b173

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