A safer approach to
work, life and sport


As a dedicated student athlete, you are intimately aware of the many advantages to your participation in high school sports. You know the feeling of belonging to something bigger than you. You know the rush of winning and the heartbreak of defeat.

You understand how playing sports raises your self-esteem and your commitment to seeing things through. You know that team sports create friendships that last forever and habits that endure a lifetime. But your participation in high school sports can also present serious health risks and challenges.


The risk of sports injuries for a student athlete is something that cannot be denied. Statistics reveal that 90 PERCENT of student athletes report some sort of sports-related injury. 54 PERCENT of student athletes report they have played while injured.43 37 PERCENT of high school athletes say they have experienced sprains. 12 PERCENT report they have sustained concussions and head injuries from their time on the field. In 2012 alone, 163,670 MIDDLE SCHOOL OR HIGH SCHOOL ATHLETES were reported being seen in the emergency room for a concussion.4 But sports injuries aren’t the only thing that a student athlete needs to be aware of. Between 2008 and 2015, more than 300 SPORTS-RELATED DEATHS of young athletes occurred in America alone. We share these statistics not to scare you or discourage your passionate participation in sports. We share them so you can be a part of reversing this trend.


Team spirit, school spirit––these are all great things. However, many times, a student athlete will let these get between them and their own personal safety. 54 PERCENT of student athletes in a recent survey confessed to having played while injured.43 When asked why, they answered, “I couldn’t let the team down” or “It was an important game.” 42 PERCENT of student athletes said they have hidden or downplayed an injury during a game so they can keep playing. 62 PERCENT of student athletes claim to know someone else who has done the same.43 53 PERCENT of coaches complain that they have felt pressure from a parent or player to put a student athlete back into a game after the student athlete had been injured.43


We’re not talking about changing sports equipment or the rules of engagement. We are talking about adding a new member to the team. Someone called an athletic trainer. An ally. A friend. An expert in sports medicine.



Can athletic trainers make a significant difference in sports safety? The statistics say “yes.” Schools with an athletic trainer report that their student athletes sustain fewer injuries (both acute and recurring) than athletes at schools without athletic trainers. Having athletic trainers on staff also improves the rate of early detection of dehydration, head injuries, and other sports-related health issues. Student athletes at secondary schools with athletic trainers incur more diagnosed concussions, demonstrating better identification of these injuries.59


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Be part of the change



Relying on coaches, administrators, and volunteers to provide medical services puts the student athlete, school and its employees at risk. By encouraging the addition of a full-time or even part-time athletic trainer to your school’s staff you can help protect your teammates and yourself from sports-sustained injuries and even death. Be a part of this significant movement to bring athletic trainers to your campus.

PLAY PREPARED: 5 Things You Need to Know

  1. Get a pre-participation exam: All athletes should have a pre-participation exam to determine their readiness to play and uncover any condition that may limit participation. A young athlete’s underlying medical condition can be exacerbated by vigorous, sustained physical activity.
  2. Physical and mental preparation is paramount: Parents, with input from coaches and athletic trainers, should determine whether their children are physically and psychologically ready for the sport/activity level they’re playing. A young athlete should not be pushed into something he/she does not want to do. If an athlete has been injured and is returning to sport, it’s critical for him or her to have the right mindset and confidence to return to play and avoid repeat injury. If an athlete does show signs of mental distress, the athletic trainer, coach and school mental health professional should work together to provide that athlete the best care.
  3. Be smart about sickle cell trait: All newborns are tested at birth for this inherited condition, and those results should be shared during a pre-participation exam. Red blood cells can sickle during intense exertion, blocking blood vessels and posing a grave risk for athletes with the sickle cell trait. Screening and simple precautions may prevent deaths and help the athlete with sickle cell trait thrive in his or her chosen sport. Be aware of warning signs including fatigue or shortness of breath that may indicate an athlete is in danger.

  1. Build in recovery time: Allow time for the body to rest and rejuvenate in between seasons. If the athlete has just finished the basketball season and has his or her sights set on baseball, make sure there is rest time built in to recover from the rigors of grueling months on the court. If athletes don’t make time for recovery, they increase their chances of injury. Acclimatizing to the next sport, with appropriate strength, flexibility and balance training, and the supervision of an athletic trainer, will help ensure a healthy season ahead.
  2. Pay attention to sport-specific injury prevention: Any repetitive motion can lead to overuse injury. With baseball, it may be the turning of the torso and impact on the hip or the repetitive motion a pitcher goes through each time he or she throws a ball. These motions can put added stress on the joints, muscles or ligaments with sudden movement or rigorous activity increasing the chance of injury. Following a protocol of flexibility and strength training is integral to a young athletes’ participation.
Reduce your risks. Learn more about how you can become an athletic trainer advocate.