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1/18/23 blog post

what does an athletic trainer do?

They don’t watch sports the same way we do, and our athletes are better because of it!

female athletic trainer with athlete

in this article:

It’s likely you’ve seen an athletic trainer on the sideline during a professional sports game or even at your child’s soccer tournament or high school basketball game. But did you ever consider the role of the athletic trainer and what they do?

An athletic trainer is really an extension of the team. While bystanders follow the score of the game, the athletic trainers are keeping a close eye on the health of the athletes. They’re watching for athletes that are slow to get up after a big play or might be limping following a tackle or experiencing signs of a concussion. They don’t watch sports the same way we do, and our athletes are better because of it!

We sat down with Karly Steenbock, MS, AT, ATC, an athletic trainer with the Center for the Female Athlete, to talk more about the role of athletic trainers on and off the field.

what does an athletic trainer do?

An athletic trainer (AT) is a medical professional who provides services such as:

  • injury prevention
  • emergency care
  • examination and clinical diagnosis
  • therapeutic techniques and rehabilitation of injuries and medical conditions.

Athletic trainers work under physicians and with other medical professionals to provide the best quality care for our athletes.

Every athletic trainer is required to be certified in Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) and first aid. This includes knowing how to help athletes with breathing and choking issues, how to use a spine board, AED, and handle on-field sports equipment removal.

where does an athletic trainer work?

Athletic trainers work in a variety of settings. Most athletic trainers are in the “traditional” setting which includes working at colleges, universities and high schools.

The demand for athletic trainers and the increased need for injury prevention in athletics has allowed athletic trainers to work in more diverse settings like hospitals and clinics (including the Center for the Female Athlete) professional sports, college, dance, cheer, public safety, military and more.     

what is an athletic trainer’s role on the field versus in a clinic setting?

The role of an athletic trainer differs based on the setting in which they are currently working.

Overall, the role of all athletic trainers is to prevent injury and ensure that our athletes are safe and healthy.

Within the clinic, I handle more injury prevention and return to sport participation. I work closely with a sports medicine physician for the care of our athletes. In the clinic, I am able to see a variety of athletes from different backgrounds, locations and sports who all require individualized care.

On-field athletic trainers are responsible for emergency care, treatment, and diagnosis. Athletic trainers are also able to assess concussions and handle concussion return to sport/ activity under the supervision of our physician. On-field athletic trainers tend to work closely with sports teams at practices and competitions.

what training/certification is required to be an athletic trainer?

To become a Certified Athletic Trainer (ATC), one must...

  • Go to school for a master's degree in athletic training
  • After graduation, each prospective athletic training student must pass the Board of Certification (BOC) exam to become nationally certified.
  • Complete 50 continuing education hours every two years in which they will continue to study relevant advances in athletic training and sports-related medicine. This keeps them in good standing with the BOC. 

Based on the state you practice in, each athletic trainer must become certified, registered, and/or licensed. Here in Ohio, each athletic trainer must obtain their Ohio Athletic Training license under the OTPTAT board and must complete 25 continuing education hours every two years.

what is the athletic trainer’s role on the Center for the Female Athlete team?

As an athletic trainer in the Center for the Female Athlete, I work on injury prevention.

Each athlete does a movement screen during their first visit. We watch for habits that could increase their risk of future injuries. This includes looking for problems with flexibility, strength, and muscle use during movements common in sports. Then I coach them on corrective exercises to improve these movements. A large part of my job is working one-on-one with athletes who need extra help to do their activities safely.

The Center for the Female Athlete focuses on the education of female athletes within our community. Therefore, one part of my job is to go out to different groups and speak with them about injury prevention. I work closely with members of the Center for the Female Athlete team to provide information on topics like nutrition, behavioral health, and injury prevention. Education is a huge part of our clinic so each athlete is able to perform to the best of their ability with the best available tools!

Is The Center for the Female Athlete right for you? Visit our website,, for more information about the Center for the Female Athlete. Athletes can also schedule a free 30-minute consult with one of the center’s athletic trainers to learn more about the program and see if they are a good fit. To book a consult, click here.





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