In 2014, Pennsylvania athletic trainer Alex Zettlemoyer sought to better understand the relationship between coaches and athletic trainers. He conducted interviews with coaches and parents of youth athletes and identified three main characteristics that comprise successful relationships between coaches and athletic trainers; effective communication, commitment to the program, professional knowledge and integrity. Coaches and trainers must operate from a place of trust and confidence in each other’s abilities of working towards their shared goal - supporting athlete well-being.
One tool that coaches and athletic trainers can use to create and maintain successful relationships is documentation and data collection. This includes documenting athlete injuries, performance, recovery, and everything in between.Think of data simply as feedback from athletes, about athletes.
A groundbreaking 2022 study by Rauff and Herman found that upon implementing documentation and data collection of athlete’s overall performance and injuries, athlete buy-in and motivation increased. It provided athlete’s with a sense of trust and ownership. Best practices for coaches and trainers when collecting athlete data should include involving athletes in the process from start to finish, sharing the data along the way, and explaining the purpose and benefits of data collection. Coaches should also seek out input from both trainers and athletes throughout the process.
When beginning documentation and data collection, coaches and trainers should focus on feasible, realistic and goal driven strategies. Think - cost, time and resource-effective. The ultimate goal should focus on improving athlete performance, reducing the risk of injury, and providing practical feedback.
To avoid collecting irrelevant or useless data, plan ahead and remember to revisit your WHY behind documentation and data collection. An example simple injury report might include athlete name and phone number, date, time and location of injury, body part affected, nature and description of injury, name and signature of reporter. If supporting athlete safety and well-being is the goal, aim to make documentation and data collection a common practice.
Click here to dive deeper into Rauff and Herman’s sport science data collection research!
- Rauff, E. L., Herman, A., Berninger, D., Machak, S., & Shultz, S. P. (2022). Using sport science data in collegiate athletics: Coaches’ perspectives. International Journal of Sports Science & Coaching, 17(3), 500–509. https://doi.org/10.1177/17479541211065146
- Schaumburg Athletic Association. (2023, January 1). Manuals and forms. Coaches Documentation and Forms. Retrieved January 2, 2023, from https://www.saa-online.com/recsoftballdocs
- Zettlemoyer, A. (2014, November 7). Coaches and certified athletic trainers: An important relationship. NFHS. Retrieved January 2, 2023, from https://www.nfhs.org/articles/coaches-and-certified-athletic-trainers-an-important-relationship/