Benchmark Study Released

March 17, 2015 by JordanG

The Journal of Athletic Training has recently published an important study about AT services in secondary schools that we believe is a valuable advocacy tool.

Athletic Training Services in Public Secondary Schools: A Benchmark Study,” is the first published data from the CATCH ON - Collaboration for Athletic Training Coverage at High Schools study conducted by Korey Stringer Institute and funded in part by NATA. A cross sectional survey was conducted by the Korey Stringer Institute. Researchers from KSI and the Department of Kinesiology at the University of Connecticut contacted all 14,951 public high schools in the U.S. A total of 8,509 (57 percent) of those schools responded. Schools were included if they had interscholastic athletic programs and comprised at least one of grades nine through twelve. Data was collected by athletic directors and school principals via telephone and email. Data collection took place September 2011-December 2013.

We pulled the following key points from the study to help with advocacy efforts:

  • 37 percent of responding schools indicated they had a full-time athletic trainer at their school.

Although the percentage of schools with AT services in secondary schools has increased dramatically since 1994, currently only 37 percent of schools have a full-time athletic trainer, which represents NATA’s gold standard of care. Schools with a full-time athletic trainer provide the highest level of medical care for their student athletes by offering a continuum of care, which comprises prevention, diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of injuries.

Advocacy: We need to continue to advocate for more schools to employ full-time ATs to ensure they are providing appropriate medical care at athletic practices and games for all secondary school athletes.




  • 70 percent of the public secondary schools in the United States recognize the importance of AT services and have some level of medical coverage.

It is encouraging for high school athletes that overall access to athletic trainers has doubled over the past 20 years, from 35 percent to 70 percent.

Advocacy: Through initiatives and strategic alliances such as the Safe Sports School award and the NFL Foundation AT grant program, NATA continues to educate key stakeholders (schools, administrators, legislators, etc.) on the critical role athletic trainers play in the overall safety of student athletes. Through the introduction of legislative initiatives such as the Secondary School Athletes’ Bill of Rights, NATA will continue to advocate for increased youth sports safety protocols and encourage schools to develop and adopt best practices to prevent and address student athlete injuries. ATs can help us advocate by supporting legislation and making sure their school is a Safe Sports School.






  • Athletic trainers are present more often at games and competitions than practices.

According to Safe Kids Worldwide, 62 percent of organized sports-related injuries occur during practice. Schools that employ at least one full-time AT, the gold standard model, are better prepared to protect their student athletes during this particularly high-risk part of athletic participation.

Advocacy: Practice is just as dangerous, if not more dangerous, than games and competitions. Schools that employ a full-time AT are providing a higher standard of health care than those who only employ an AT during formal competitions. We must continue to advocate for the gold standard – one or more full-time ATs employed by the school.





  • 30 percent of respondent public secondary schools did not have AT services.

Secondary schools without AT services rely on coaches and administrators, such as athletic directors, to determine proper medical treatment when injuries and emergencies arise during a practice or competition. This poses considerable risks for the athlete, school and school district. Most coaches do not have the proper medical education to treat injuries or recognize the common causes of life-threatening medical conditions, which may put the lives of athletes in jeopardy.

Advocacy: We must continue to advocate for all schools should have access to athletic training services.





For Further Reading:



  • Read more about the study on p. 18 of the March NATA News, including a state-by-state comparison of AT services in secondary schools.

Posted by NATA Communications Manager Jordan Grantham (
Photo by Renee Fernandes/NATA