A Brief History of Athletic Training

Athletic training has come a long way over the years. Here’s a brief history of the profession, including an overview of what athletic trainers do today:

1881: Athletic training began in the United States when Harvard University hired James Robinson to work with their football team on conditioning. The first athletic trainers had no real technical training and mainly provided rub downs.

Post WWI: Athletic training began to play a larger role in healthcare with the appearance of athletic trainers in collegiate athletics.

1917: Dr. S.E. Bilik wrote The Trainer’s Bible.

1920s: The Cramer family started a chemical company and began publication of First Aider in 1932.

1930s: A first attempt at National Athletic Trainers’ Association. The association was dissolved during WWII.

1950s: National Athletic Trainer’s Association (NATA) was formed in Kansas City, Missouri to establish professional standards for athletic trainers. Today, NATA has more than 45,000 members worldwide, and the annual NATA Convention sees more than 11,000 attendees with an average of 325 exhibiting companies.

1959: The first collegiate athletic training curriculum was approved.

1969: The first certification process for the profession was introduced.

1989: The Board of Certification (BOC) was incorporated as a credentialing agency. Today, athletic trainers must pass a BOC exam before they can become certified athletic trainers.

1990: The American Medical Association officially recognized athletic training as an Allied Health Profession.

1997: NATA Education Council was founded. They determined competencies that should be taught in accredited athletic training programs. The current competencies include:

  • Evidence-based practice
  • Prevention and health promotion
  • Clinical examination and diagnosis
  • Acute care of injury and illness
  • Therapeutic interventions
  • Psychosocial intervention and referral
  • Health care administration
  • Professional development and responsibilities

Present Day: Athletic trainers are highly qualified, multi-skilled healthcare professionals who collaborate with physicians to provide preventive services, emergency care, clinical diagnosis, therapeutic intervention and rehabilitation of injuries and medical conditions. Athletic trainers work under the direction of a physician as prescribed by state licensure statutes.

Current performance domains include:

  • Injury and illness prevention and wellness promotion
  • Examination, assessment and diagnosis
  • Immediate and emergency care
  • Therapeutic intervention
  • Healthcare administration and professional responsibility

Minimum professional degree level for all future athletic trainers will be a master’s degree. Currently, more than 70% of athletic trainers hold at least a master’s degree. Continuing education requirements for today’s athletic trainers promote continued competence, development of current knowledge and skills, and enhancement of professional skills and judgment.

To learn more about athletic training, contact a Bellin Health Titletown athletic trainer at 920-430-4888.