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Certified athletic trainer

In the USA, the Certified Athletic Trainer (ATC) is a health care professional, certified by the Board of Certification for Athletic Trainers, who specializes in preventing, recognizing, managing and rehabilitating athletic-related illnesses, injuries that result from sports. As part of a complete health care team, the certified athletic trainer works under the direction of a licensed physician and in cooperation with other health care professionals (such as physical therapists), athletics administrators, coaches and parents.

Athletic training is practiced by athletic trainers (ATs). Areas of knowledge encompassed in athletic training include, but are not limited to:

  • Knowledge of Risk Management and Injury Prevention
  • Evaluation and Assessment of Injury and Athletic-related Illness
  • Acute Care of Injury
  • Therapeutic Exercise/Rehabilitation of athletic-related Orthopedic Injuries
  • General Medical Conditions and Disabilities
  • Health and Wellness Issues
  • Recommendation of appropriate OTC medication use
  • Nutritional Aspects of Injury and Illness
  • Psychosocial Intervention and Referral

To become certified, athletic training students must graduate with either a bachelors degree from an accredited professional athletic training program and pass a comprehensive test administered by the Board of Certification (BOC). Once certified, athletic trainers must meet ongoing continuing education standards in order to remain certified. Every three years, athletic trainers must complete 75 hours of continuing education credits.

While practice act oversight varies by state, athletic trainers practice under state statutes recognizing them as health care professionals. Athletic training licensure/regulation exists in 47 states.

Places of employment

Athletic Trainers work in many different areas including:

  • Secondary schools
  • Colleges and universities
  • Professional sports
  • Hospitals, clinics, physician offices and sports medicine clinics
  • Military and law enforcement
  • Industrial and commercial
  • Performing Arts

Health insurance coverage in the United States for athletic training is very limited and generally it is not a covered benefit. Insurance coverage may be available when the athletic trainer is working under the direction of a physician or physical therapist.

Athletic training education

In the United States Athletic Training Education Programs are accredited by the [Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education] (CAATE). Entry level athletic training education uses a competency-based approach in both the classroom and clinical settings. Students must receive instruction in the foundational courses of human physiology, human anatomy, exercise physiology, kinesiology/biomechanics, nutrition, acute care of injury and illness, statistics and research design, and strength training and reconditioning. The student must be introduced to professional coursework that encompasses the following domains:

  • Risk management
  • Pathology of injury/illness
  • Prevention and assessment of injuries/illness
  • General medical conditions and disabilities
  • Therapeutic modalities
  • Strength and Conditioning
  • Therapeutic massage
  • Emergency medicine
  • Weight management, nutrition, and body composition
  • Psychosocial intervention and referral
  • Medical ethics and legal issues
  • Pharmacology
  • Professional development and responsibilities


The profession of athletic training originated in the 1930s, with the majority of athletic trainers employed at colleges, universities, and high schools, providing services almost exclusively to athletes. This setting has been referred to as the "traditional setting" for athletic training employment. Between the years of 1947 and 1950, university athletic trainers started organizing themselves into separate regional conferences. In 1950, 101 athletic trainers from the various conferences met in Kansas City, Missouri, and officially formed the National Athletic Trainers' Association (NATA), with its primary purpose: to set professional standards for the athletic trainer. The NATA has since seen remarkable growth. When the membership was first tracked in 1974, there were 4,500 members. As of today, there are more than 32,000 members. Over the past decade, the role of the athletic trainer has gradually grown to be linked to that of a health care provider. Today, more than 40 percent of athletic trainers are employed in clinics and hospitals working under the direction of a physician as physician extenders. While many athletic trainers continue to work in school settings, others are working as health care providers in all professional sports including rodeo and NASCAR, and some can even be found working with law enforcement departments and government agencies including NASA, the U.S. Senate, and at the Pentagon. Athletic trainers can also be found working internationally with more than 400 ATCs working in 25 countries outside of the United States (most are in Japan or Canada).

See also


  • 2009. National Athletic Trainers' Association. 26 Mar 2009
  • Prentice, William E. Arnheim's Principles of Athletic Training: A Competency Based Approach. New York: The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc., 2009
  • "FACTS About Certified Athletic Trainers and the National Athletic Trainers Association".

National Athletic Trainers Association



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