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The Importance of Athletic Trainers on Sports Teams

Home News & Videos Athletic Training The Importance of Athletic Trainers on Sports Teams

Across all levels of competition, sports teams are a huge asset to the community. Team athletics has benefits for people from all walks of life around the world: It’s a great way for people to get together, form strong bonds of friendship and teamwork, and enjoy healthy competition on the field, ice, or court. But to perform at their best — and to support safe, injury-free competition — athletes from students to pros need to be in the right physical condition and have access to immediate, expert care when needed. This is where an athletic trainer, or AT, comes in.

Athletic trainers are qualified medical professionals specializing in sports injury treatment, prevention, and rehabilitation. They are on hand to assist players with direct care following an injury and to support ongoing recovery and rehab as athletes return to sport. In addition, athletic trainers work to promote general wellness and healthy lifestyles for team members and deliver injury prevention programs that help athletes give it their all safely.

At JAG Physical Therapy, our experienced athletic trainers provide vital support for teams, schools, and organizations across New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, and we are the tri-state area’s leader in athletic training services. Contact us to learn more about how JAG PT

What Does an Athletic Trainer Do?

An athletic trainer differs from a personal trainer because an AT must complete stringent academic and clinical qualifications, giving them the knowledge they need to treat and manage sports injuries safely. While a personal trainer can certainly optimize athletic performance and fitness, an athletic trainer’s certification and medical background shows they can deliver treatment and rehabilitation for injured athletes.

ATs may handle all of the following and more as part of their day-to-day responsibilities while working with sports teams:

Direct Injury Treatment

Injuries are an unfortunate fact of life in sporting competition. Players can suffer acute injuries following an awkward movement or a collision, or they can experience chronic injuries that worsen over time. An athletic trainer can deliver first aid and primary treatment if an injury occurs during competition or during practice. They draw upon their experience in order to minimize pain and discomfort and stabilize the injury to avoid further damage. They may also recommend whether further urgent care is required, in a hospital or medical facility, for instance.

Rehabilitation and Recovery

Direct injury treatment provides the platform for efficient and effective recovery, but your athletic trainer will need to go beyond this. Rehabilitation is a big part of an AT's duties, supporting injured athletes with recovery exercises and further treatment that will get them back on their feet. With their expertise in this field, ATs can determine a timeline for safe recovery, helping athletes come back stronger and minimize injuries in the future.

Player Preparation 

An AT can also offer their services in a preparatory role, giving athletes the grounding they need ahead of training and competition sessions. This preparation might include general guidance on how to play and move in a safe and efficient way, as well as advice on any potential signs of injury to watch out for. All this information is designed to make players more mindful of their bodies during activity sessions.

Mechanical Injury Prevention

Player preparation may also take on a more physical aspect. Injuries often stem from weaknesses in the soft tissue, particularly around joints such as knees, ankles, and shoulders. Taping and support can protect these joints, minimizing the risk of injury, but only if it is applied properly. An athletic trainer will have the expertise needed to identify where taping and support is needed and then implement this in an effective way.

Holistic Injury Prevention Best Practices

An athletic trainer will remain in direct communication with coaches and other personnel, both during training sessions and throughout the competition. This enables a holistic approach to injury prevention, helping everyone to remain on the same page regarding best practices and approaches. In this sense, the AT can become a core part of the team — not just providing primary treatment but also working within the setup to maintain health and fitness even at the times of most heated competition.

Health and Well-Being Support

There is more to team sports than practice and competition. Athletes are constantly on the lookout for ways to improve their overall performance and simply to live better, healthier, more fulfilled lives. This is vital when it comes to post-game and post-practice recovery — players with healthier lifestyles and habits will recover faster and find themselves back to peak condition sooner — and is also part of minimizing the risk of injury. Athletic trainers are qualified to provide support for general health and well-being, giving athletes the tools and knowledge they need to stay at the top of the game and enjoy a long and rewarding sporting career.

Advice and Guidance

An AT delivers many physical services, from treatment and rehabilitation to direct application of injury prevention solutions, such as supportive taping. However, they are also there to provide general advice and guidance across the entire team. ATs have a great deal of knowledge to share, and this can be important to players and coaches in many ways, including helping with team cohesion and overall performance as well as medical matters. 

Mental and Emotional Support

Not all the services offered by an athletic trainer will be quite so visible. As well as the direct services listed above, ATs act as confidantes to team members, listening to the problems they may be facing and giving these players a valuable outlet for communication and expression. Team sports can create high-pressure environments, and this can take its toll on psychological and mental well-being. While teammates and coaches can, and do, offer their own forms of mental and emotional assistance, athletic trainers bring their own unique perspective and viewpoint to the mix, extending the network of care and support that athletes need.

This is why the athletic trainer's position at the heart of the team is so important. They are not there simply to apply ice packs and bandages to strains and sprains and then disappear into the background. Their role is a far more expansive one, and an AT will need to act as primary treatment specialist, rehab expert, and counselor, as and when required.

In fact, the mental and emotional support aspects are tied directly to physical fitness and performance. Studies have found links between psychological well-being and recovery times following injury. Issues such as depression and loneliness are common in injured athletes, who may feel isolated from their teammates on the field. ATs can assist with this, and can potentially refer players in need to a sports psychologist or psychiatrist.

JAG Physical Therapy Athletic Trainers

Here at JAG PT, we provide athletic trainers to sports teams across the New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania areas, connecting these competitors with the high-quality services and support they need to thrive in their chosen field. Our ATs are equipped with all the knowledge, experience, and understanding required to make a real difference for sports teams, but can also modify their approach to meet the specific needs of each athlete.

All sports teams can benefit from working with a qualified athletic trainer. Our ATs deliver their services at all levels, ranging from high school and college teams to semi-pro and even professional outfits.

Each level brings its own unique challenges and concerns. Professional teams, for example, may be looking to push the boundaries of what is possible a little further, maximizing their performance with incremental, marginal gains. Meanwhile, a high school team’s young athletes may still be developing and may need specialized injury prevention and rehabilitation programs to keep them on track. The skilled AT staff at JAG PT recognizes this, tailoring their approach to particular needs and risk factors.

You can learn more about JAG PT's AT services — and the benefit you can expect for your sports team — in our YouTube series on athletic training.

Discover More On Athletic Training from JAG PT

An experienced athletic trainer can do so much for your sports team — creating the perfect conditions for competitive success while also fostering an environment in which everyone feels supported, healthy, and happy. JAG PT is on hand to provide the AT services your sports team needs to achieve all this and more. To find out more about JAG PT's sports medicine and athletic trainer services, reach out to us today.

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