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William E. Prentice


When you finish this chapter you should be able to

  • Recognize the historical foundations of athletic training.

  • Identify the various professional organizations dedicated to athletic training and sports medicine.

  • Identify various employment settings for the athletic trainer.

  • Differentiate the roles and responsibilities of the athletic trainer, the team physician, and the coach.

  • Explain how to become certified as an athletic trainer.

  • Define evidence-based practice as it relates to the clinical practice of athletic training.

  • Explain the function of support personnel in the sports medicine team.

  • Discuss licensure for the athletic trainer.


  • National Athletic Trainers' Association (NATA)

  • patient

  • athletic training clinic

  • sports medicine

  • American Medical Association (AMA)

  • sports medicine team

  • Professional Education Council (PEC)

  • Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education (CAATE)

  • Board of Certification (BOC)

  • certified athletic trainer (ATC)

  • evidence-based practice

  • licensed athletic trainer (LAT)

  • state licensing board

Athletic trainers are health care professionals who specialize in injury and illness prevention, wellness promotion and education, emergent care, examination and clinical diagnosis, therapeutic intervention, and rehabilitation of injuries and medical conditions.* In cooperation with physicians, other allied health personnel, administrators, coaches, and parents, the athletic trainer functions as an integral member of the health care team in clinics, secondary schools, colleges and universities, professional sports programs, and other athletic health care settings. Athletic trainers work under the direction of, or in collaboration with a physician, in accordance with their education and training and the states' statutes, rules and regulations as licensed health care providers.10 As you will see throughout the course of this text, athletic trainers provide a critical link between the medical community and individuals who participate in all types of physical activity (Figure 1–1).

The certified athletic trainer is a highly educated and skilled professional specializing in health care for the physically active.


The field of athletic training provides a critical link between the medical community and the physically active individual. William E. Prentice

*This definition approved by the Inter-Agency Terminology Work Group and the Athletic Trainer Strategic Alliance, January 2017.


Early History

The drive to compete was important in many early societies. Sports developed over a period of time as a means of competing in a relatively peaceful and nonharmful way. Early civilizations show little evidence of highly organized sports. Evidence indicates that in Greek and Roman civilizations there were coaches, trainers (people who helped the athlete reach top physical condition), and physicians (such as Hippocrates and Galen) who assisted the athlete in reaching optimum performance. Many of the roles that emerged during this early period are the same in ...

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