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5 Ways to Be a Leader as an ATC

[fa icon="calendar"] May 6, 2016 10:37:00 AM / by Rick Peters

Rick Peters


As athletic trainers we interact with so many people every day from student athletes to our fellow athletic trainers to coaches and administrators, and our job is please all of them.  Do these people look up to you? Do they respect you? Do they believe what you tell them? Here are 5 ways to interact with those associates that will produce mutual respect and a positive athletic training room atmosphere.

What You Focus on Determines How You Feel

Athletic trainers know all too well that accidents happen, and especially in activities where accidents cause injuries (such as sports) it is crucial to remain calm, level-headed, and positive when interacting with an injured athlete. Most likely the athlete won’t be happy about their injury and it’s easy for them (or their coaches and parents) to take their anger out on the athletic trainer.

As an athletic trainer who deals with so many potentially negative people it’s critical you start each day with a positive attitude. To do this, begin every day by asking yourself some thought-provoking questions like “what am I grateful for today?” or “what am I proud of?”  Forcing yourself to answer these types of questions helps to create a positive mindset that allows you to maintain a positive focus as you are working with the many people that come in and out of the athletic training room each day.

Be Grateful to Others You Work With

Recently I was told by a business associate that he liked working with me more than any of his other clients because I was always very appreciative of their work. I think we can all agree that being appreciated for your hard work feels great, so try to positively reinforce others you work with by showing that you appreciate their hard work as well. “I really appreciate you coming in early for your rehabilitation” or “I really appreciate you working late to cover that game” are both examples of a quick acknowledgement you can give to others in the athletic training room. Show gratefulness toward others and they will sing your praises.

Be Genuine

Recently I asked my wife, who works for a large corporation, “why do all your coworkers love to work with you so much?”  She said, “because I don’t play office politics and they always know where I stand.”  While that may be important in a large corporation, being genuine as an athletic trainer is more than treating people the way you want to be treated and being honest with them. From injury prevention through treatment and rehabilitation, a genuine athletic trainer will show interest in each and every patient while empathizing with their unique situations and providing the best individualized care possible.

Show Respect

You’ve heard the phrase, “If you want to be treated with respect, then you have to treat those around you with respect.”  But what does that mean specifically as an athletic trainer? I think a big part of being respectful is listening (I’m sure my wife would agree with that!) and if you provide someone with your total focus and listen to what they have to say, you are showing them respect. By respecting the opinions, emotions, and concerns of athletes, parents, coaches, and fellow athletic trainers they will most likely show you respect in return. Respectful, honest two-way communication is one of the keys to a great athletic training room environment and is something that should be practiced every day. 

Be Compassionate

It seems that today people, especially those involved in athletics, don’t have time for compassion. Compassion is all about showing concern for the misfortunes of others and when you work in an athletic training room you encounter the misfortunes of others almost daily. I’m sure everyone wants to be compassionate, but how do you show compassion?  Compassion may come from your heart as a good human being and empathizing with other’s situations, being a good listener (showing respect), lending a hand if needed, or providing an uplifting word when someone needs it most.  We all know people that have showed us compassion when things didn’t go our way, and as athletic trainers we should do the same thing to those we interact with in the athletic training room.

Athletic Trainers go above and beyond the call of duty every day and I know it’s hard to remember to focus on the above five things when you also have a million other things going on. While these are only a few of my favorite tips I’ve learned over the last 30 years on how to be a leader in and out of the athletic training room, I’d love to hear what things you and/or your staff does to positively affect those around you! Click here to share your thoughts with us in the comments section of this blog on our Facebook page.


Topics: Athletic Training

Rick Peters

Written by Rick Peters

Rick Peters is a Certified Athletic Trainer who has been advancing ankle bracing technology for three decades. Peters patented his first ankle brace in 1985, revolutionizing the industry by adding a hinge to traditional stirrup braces for greater mobility. In 1989 he was a founder and became President of Active Ankle Systems. In 1998 he co-founded Ultra Athlete LLC to develop the next generation of ankle bracing technology. Peters has 18 ankle brace patents and is considered an authority on ankle bracing technology worldwide.