June 29, 2019 • CoachingStrength & Conditioning

2019 Coaches Report: Greater commitment to athletic trainers

Last year, Coach & Athletic Director began surveying high school coaches to gather feedback on some of the major issues in the profession. The results help us better understand the challenges faced by coaches, and they guide us in providing relevant content to confront those issues head on.

The 2019 Coaches Report examined the prevalence of athletic trainers in high school sports and legislative efforts in some states to allow home-schooled athletes to play public school sports. We also asked coaches about the nationwide referee shortage and what they believe is causing the decline.

As part of our annual study, we also asked coaches to rank what they believe are the most significant challenges facing them today. For the second straight year, sport specialization topped the list with nearly 90% of coaches indicating they were at least somewhat troubled by the trend.

Here’s what coaches had to say about athletic trainers on their staff, or lack thereof.

A greater commitment to athletic trainers

Few would disagree that programs would be better served with full-time athletic trainers. But budgetary constraints or location make it difficult for schools to find someone for the job.
Despite the obstacles, more than half of coaches in our survey said they have a full-time athletic trainer on staff to care for athletes. One-third said they contract with local organizations, which often provides an athletic trainer for games but not practices.

The availability of athletic trainers has been a major issue, especially with mounting research highlighting the importance of immediately identifying and treating concussions. The Sports Medicine Licensure Clarity Act, signed into law last year, reduced some barriers to athletic trainers by allowing them to travel outside their state of licensure to care for athletes in their programs.

Just over half of coaches surveyed report they have a full-time athletic trainer.
Source: 2019 Coaches Survey, Coach and Athletic Director

Nearly 90% of coaches in our surveyed said they were confident that their athletes would receive immediate and adequate care in the event of an injury. Some complained that their athletic trainers were stretched thin, and others said the coaches were responsible for providing primary care to injured athletes.

“As the strength and conditioning coach, I do most (of the work), but I need additional support, training and resources,” one coach said. “Oftentimes, I reach out to local personal trainers and athletic trainers for help when, and if, needed.”

“We have 400-plus student-athletes and five athletic trainers,” said another coach. “If my athletes get injured, they will be seen, but I’m not always confident in the quality of care.”

Other key takeaways from this year’s survey include:


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