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Athletic Training: Coaching, a Conflict of Interest

As an Athletic Trainer, due to wages being what they are we often pick up a side job or two. Sometimes it's to supplement our income, other times it's out of necessity to make ends meet. Well what happens when the seconday job of the Athletic Trainer interfers with their primary responsibilities? I was discussing this topic with a colleague the other day and we came to an agreement about a particular part time job that was in direct conflict with the duties of an Athletic Trainer, the Athletic Trainer who is also a head coach or assistant coach. It happens more often than not. Athletic Trainers taking coaching positions because they think if they are coaching the team they are simultaneously providing coverage. I remember once being asked to be a coach at one point in my career. It was really tempting at the time because who wouldn't like a few extra paychecks a year? I almost accepted the position until I thought about how much it would take away from my athletes. I don't know how it would be possible to juggle the responsibilites as a coach with all of the responsibilities of being a full-time Athletic Trainer let alone a part-time Athletic Trainer. The idea of the Athletic Trainer/Coach raises a number of concerns and asks several important questions:

Why do adminstrators think that it is alright for an Athletic Trainer to be a coach while they are supposed to be covering practices or treating athletes?

More importantly why does the Athletic Trainer think that it is alright to shirk their duties as an Athletic Trainer for an extra paycheck?

Is it possible to effectively play this dual role and is it even appropriate?

Does this dual role just perpetuate the sitgma of Athletic Trainers as Personal Trainers getting us further away from the medical model of Sports Medicine?

Should hosptials, Physical Therapy companies, and Athletic Training companies institue policies that prevent Athletic Trainers from working as coaches?


  • I am actually both, but in different seasons. I am a head softball coach in the spring season and Head Athletic Trainer, but our school district only provides coverage for football games/practices. All other AT duties of evaluation/rehab take place before school or during the school day during the spring. Until my district is on board with covering other sports outside of the school day it's just what I do. Another side note is that I do contract work through a hospital in "non-football" seasons as well; so I do get to work other sports and events quite often.
  • Amanda

    Thanks for the post. Because you are coaching during opposite seasons do you feel if you were a coach during football season that it would affect your duties as an Athletic Trainer?
    Audric Warren MS, ATC, CAFS, NASM-PES, NASM-CES
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