Each club employs multiple Certified Athletic Trainers as full-time employees of the club. Additionally, many have internship positions available ranging from post graduate level to student intern opportunities.
The MLS Workplace
Athletic Trainers (ATs) are highly qualified, multi-skilled health care professionals who work to prevent, examine, treat and rehabilitate acute or chronic injuries and medical conditions. The MLS requires each club to employ three full-time ATs to work with their first team with additional ATs working at other club levels such as second teams or academies. The AT staff is tasked with maintaining the health and safety of their athletes through development of preventative programs and returning players to preinjury health through the rehabilitation process following an injury.
Preseason kicks off with player entrance medical exams and performance/medical baseline testing in early January. Following an athlete’s clearance ATs play a large role in collecting baseline data used to create individualized programming and assess athlete readiness for the season. For the next six weeks ATs play a large role in keeping athletes healthy and recovered as they build fitness moving towards the first match of the regular season. During this period many teams travel to warm climates and play matches in preseason tournaments and often train multiple times a day.
During the season ATs typically begin their day early in order to prepare for player arrival. Tasks can include setting up for training or a match and meetings to prepare the group for the day. Additionally, many are responsible for viewing readiness data that may be useful in determining status of an athlete for that particular day. Following treatments aimed at preparing athletes for the day, ATs are on field at both training sessions and matches to provide medical care and assist in ensuring athletes are hydrating. Following the training ATs will complete treatments, rehab, and assist in recovery for the athletes before finishing the day with a variety of administrative tasks.
If you are lucky enough to make a run into the playoffs, your season as an AT in the MLS can run through November and even into December in some instances. Following the completion of the MLS season ATs are responsible for completing exit medicals on each of their athletes in conjunction with their team physicians. While this is a time for the group to rest, relax, and recharge there is still work to be done. This is a time to complete administrative work, debrief on the season that has just finished, and prepare for the upcoming season.