Athletic Training: An Athlete's Perspective


Playing college basketball became my goal when I was about 10 years old. I was scrawny, scared of contact, and honestly just not a good player, so I knew I had an uphill battle. I have been told thousands of times to push yourself to the limit to see progress, so that’s what I did from then, until the last time I left the floor. I achieved my goal, which really set the tone for my work ethic the rest of my life, but I beat my body to the ground. I played through injuries and didn’t tell anybody, and I overworked myself. I always told myself that it was the right thing to do because I’m supposed to “embrace the suck”-turns out I was just stubborn and didn’t want anything to halt my progress. But whether I knew it or not, it did. I don’t regret anything about my achievement, but I regret not taking care of myself and not listening to my athletic trainers throughout the duration of my career.

Fast forward to now and I find myself as a high school basketball coach. When I first arrived, I began to see a few players with my old habits, which is good and bad. The moment I noticed, I knew that one of my main priorities would be to keep them fresh, make sure they utilize our athletic trainers, and create an atmosphere where they can speak up if they are hurting. In my short time as a coach, I have learned that good communication between coaches, players, and athletic trainers is so essential, and I truly wish it was more present when I was a player. Since I am only about three years removed from being an athlete, that communication is still something that lacks in many athletic programs, and there is still major room for improvement. Good communication makes a player feel safe, respected, and most importantly, healthy.

Some of this poor communication stems from lack of trust, mostly between the coach and the athletic trainer. This is the something that bothered me a lot when I was a player, especially when I was at the college level. Concussion protocols are a great example. I have witnessed a coach get angry at an athletic trainer because they concluded that my teammate had suffered a concussion. It was not a hard fall, but concussion protocol is strict, as it should be. These actions enable a culture of fear for athletes because it does not allow the athletic trainer to do their job with confidence and makes the player think they should play through almost anything. A player’s health should always be prioritized over winning.

Communicating with your athletic trainers about what they need is also important. The high school level is often guilty of having underequipped athletic training rooms. While most high schools may not have the budget to have every piece of equipment imaginable, quality equipment for basic treatments should be a priority. Just because the athletes are young, doesn’t mean they don’t need any extensive treatment or rehab. Many young athletes can have their sport lead them to a free education, and even a career for the lucky few. The way an athlete is taken care of early on, effects the duration at which they can perform at an elite level.

Coaches, athletic trainers, and their departments should be doing everything they can to take care of their athletes and be a steppingstone to whatever their goal may be. Trust, good communication, and using your budget to ensure safe environments can reassure an athlete that they are in good hands. Working together to create a culture where safety is a priority can bring success to athletes, confidence for an athletic trainer, and better collaboration within the coaching staff.


Posted in Athletics