Certified Athletic Trainer | Educator | Motivator
Sandy Krum

All posts tagged youth athletics



“The Way A Team Plays As A Whole Determines Its Success. You May Have The Greatest Bunch Of Individual Stars In The World; But If They Don’t Play Together, The Club Won’t Be Worth A Dime. ” –  BABE RUTH


Having spent many years of my career as a Certified Athletic Trainer in professional baseball, at the Minor League and Major League level, I understand the importance of the TEAM concept and what it takes for a TEAM to be successful. For example, a baseball team is comprised of 25 players, the manager, coaches, and a Certified Athletic Trainer ( NATA / BOC ). For today’s game, the major league level has a greater auxiliary and coaching staff.

Typically in the United States, a season lasts from Spring Training reporting in February and runs until late September or early October (if you’re fortunate). Most teams play the requisite 30 or so spring

 training games and then march right into the 162 game regular Season. The drills of spring training would only be played out in the ensuing months, although no two games were ever the same or would you know when that muscle memory would have to “kick into gear” to successfully throw the runner out from various positions in the infield or outfield. Training meant the endless bullpen “sidelines” with the pitching coach correcting mechanics or saying nothing. It also meant endless time in the batting cage with the hitting instructor doing soft toss drills. Yes, the players were all trying to hone their skills, fighting to become the best they could become to progress to the level above and ultimately the Major Leagues.

The same 25 players and staff  had to come together day in and day out and perform as TEAMMATES. No successes would come from the individual stellar pitching performance, if indeed an offensive catalyst or

two were absent. Conversely, a great offensive night by 8, combined with poor pitching by several, spelled trouble and bellyache for the Manager.

What really makes up a great TEAM?

For the purpose of this writing I turn to Wikipedia to give us the textbook definition of TEAM: A team comprises a group of people or animals linked in a common purpose.

Teams are especially appropriate for conducting tasks that are high in complexity and have many interdependent subtasks.

A group in itself does not necessarily constitute a team. Teams normally have members with complementary skills and generate synergy through a coordinated effort, which allows each member to maximize his/her strengths and minimize his/her weaknesses. Team members need to learn how to help one another, help other team members realize their true potential, and create an environment that allows everyone to go beyond their limitations.[1] A team becomes more than just a collection of people when a strong sense of mutual commitment creates synergy, thus generating performance greater than the sum of the performance of its individual members.


Taking the definition alone back to our baseball team, a pitcher couldn’t perform if indeed he/she didn’t have the catcher guiding them or having the position players playing in unison. The synergy generated by this coordinated approach allows just what the definition states: maximizing the strengths and minimizing the weakness. Going beyond one’s true potential can only happen when the team performs together on the same platform, thus allowing the individuals to compliment one another and reach this ultimate level of competition. The combined synergistic energies are what makes a team just that. The classic definition says that the mutual sum of these combined efforts are much greater than the individual accolades.

Success was not a given and true commitment to helping the team was paramount. Incredibly, I came across many players with the “I-I-ME-ME” mentality. Everything was about them! When talking of the team they would often emit “I did this or I did that” VERSUS “we did this and we did that.” This meant they were truly more impressed with their individual successes and the team concept never entered their equations.

It is the greatest feeling when a team comes together and becomes so good together, almost great. Many in the game term this as a “Push Button” club. The manager’s role becomes limited to showing up to the park and pushing a button, if you will, and the TEAM goes out and performs, day in and day out without fail. No change in chemistry is needed as all systems are go! The team is winning games, Players are in the positions they’re supposed to be in, the correct pitch is thrown in the most crucial of situations, timely hitting occurs daily, and the manager sits and watches the fruits of success ripen from the intense daily instruction and practice.

This is a great time for me to introduce you to an article I read on playing together as a TEAM. From my perspective, and as one that has witnessed thousands of games from the dugout perspective, this writing is pretty on point! It comes to us from a blog post entitled THIS OLE GAME: http://www.theoleballgame.com/baseball-teamwork.html. THIS post stands out for me because it reminds me of the Championship Teams I had the honor of working with! All eight components were ever present with those clubs, the philosophies were the same if you will. Thats why I believe they’re applicable! Here they are:

8 Concepts For Teamwork, Or Playing Together As A Team

  1. We can all count on each other.
  2. Accept your role on the team.
  3. Finding a way to win.
  4. Be willing to make some personal sacrifices.
  5. Help each other out.
  6. Understand what we can control and what we cannot.
  7. Anyone ~ Anytime.
  8. Walk the talk.

Unfortunately, the TEAM didn’t always come together. The individuals continued to star, albeit not in unison. One player shines one day, another the next, and the result more often than not is not enough to beat the opponent. This group, for whatever reason, just doesn’t seem to work in harmony. This is when It was tough to come to the park every day! Defeated attitudes filled with negativity. Even “one’ could spoil the whole bunch. This is what player development was about. It was survival of the fittest in the baseball world, with the cream rising to the top. Work approaches were either so finely tuned or so off. More often than not, “The successful” had their routines and went about their business quietly, unnoticeable but oh so productive. Those who struggled, struggled! On and off the Field! “Poor work ethic. Not focused. Negative attitude. Not having the ability to complement their teammates.”

Athletic teams are driven to the ultimate, the championship of that given sport! The NFL’s Super Bowl, MLB’s World Series, NHL’s Stanley Cup, . You get the point. These are the ultimate, the pinnacles! These are the Goals all good teams strive to achieve. From the family perspective, are all the necessary components in place to achieve a similar goal?

What’s in it for Us?

My message here is presented and revealed in the form of several self questions:

  • Are you doing your best to be a team player?
  • Are the players around you complimenting you and your play, day in and day out or are they hindering your progress?
  • Are you all on the same mission?
  • Do your “teammates” all have the same goals in mind or are they playing for themselves?
  • Is your Support Team of Coaches, Physicians, Certified Athletic Trainers and Personal Trainers “on point”?
  • Are family members on board and if not, why not?
  • What can you do to better this situation?
  • Am I too much “I-I-ME-ME” versus “US-US-WE-WE”?

Remember, constant re-evaluation of your “team’s roster” is paramount to achieve continued success for yourself and the franchise.








California Assembly Bill 864

I have enjoyed an over 25 year career in athletic training and throughout my practice I have run into well-intentioned questions from clients and others about the distinctions between my job and other professions with similar titles or practice arenas.

With important legislation related to the athletic training profession pending in Sacramento that would finally bring California in line with 48 other states, I thought this was a great opportunity to share a bit about the profession, how it is regulated, the role athletic trainers (ATs) play in the lives of Californians (see CATA) and why this legislation is so important to me personally.

Often confused with fitness/personal trainers, physical therapists and other health and wellness professionals, the role of an athletic trainer is set apart through distinctions including education, training and responsibilities.  I could not be prouder to be an athletic trainer, nor more pleased to have the opportunity to work closely with other professionals, like personal trainers, physical therapists, doctors and nurses, who share my profound commitment to the health and wellbeing of others.  As an AT, I am part of a continuum of care whose structure promotes the best performance and quality of life for clients. That said, it is important to note that each of us in this continuum has a different role and purpose, and vital that each are regulated.

For instance personal trainers primarily help people become and stay physically fit. They work in gyms and health clubs, resorts, universities, workplaces, clients’ homes and, as I know well, some even work on television.  Physical therapists, on the other hand, have their role in helping injured or sick people improve their movement and manage their pain.  Both of these are great roles, but certainly different from the work of an AT.

In basic terms, ATs are allied health professionals who work with physically active individuals of all types to prevent harm, evaluate and recognize injury and stress, provide first aid/emergency care, work in rehabilitation and conditioning of injured individuals and supply guidance and education on issues related to injury and other conditions. We work in a myriad of settings, including secondary schools, colleges and universities, professional sports, sports medicine clinics, hospitals, the military, industrial and commercial entities. In essence, ATs are uniquely qualified physical medicine and rehabilitation specialists who provide acute injury treatment, a continuum of care from injury and illness prevention and return-to-activity clearance for athletes and other physically active individuals.  With more than 50 percent of ATs working outside of sports fields, it is  likely that your life is, or will be  touched by the work of an athletic trainer on a regular basis, whether you are an athlete or not.

Despite the critical role Certified Athletic Trainers play in the safety of athletes and physically active people, California is one of only two states in the country that does not regulate Athletic Trainers. Having significant experience working with unlicensed trainers in a career spanning professional sports to TV, I know firsthand many of the ways that this has serious consequences to our safety.

The bottom line is that athletic training is a profession that is regulated by 48 states, recognized by multiple governmental and healthcare agencies as a specific healthcare profession and which has a single nationally accredited education and certification process. Right now in California, the practice of athletic training is completely unregulated, so anyone is free to call themselves an athletic trainer, regardless of education or training.

What makes the matter even worse is that the public has no ability to register complaints nor can the state investigate and sanction unsafe or unethical providers. AB 864 will provide assurance of minimum standards of competence of practitioners and will allow those that are practicing illegally, unsafely or unethically to be sanctioned.  Who in their right mind would expect any less oversight of a healthcare professional?

That is why I am so disillusioned by opponents of this bill who mischaracterize or outright lie about the bill, its purpose and its content.

Let’s separate the AB 864 facts from the unfair lies.

The first falsehood I have heard from detractors is that the bill is an attempt to expand an Athletic Trainer’s scope of practice, create a new profession or mandate insurance carriers and Medicare for reimbursement. I have done research, asked those in the know and verified with total certainty that this is not true.  Nothing in this bill allows for billing or reimbursement. Insurance companies – not state laws – decide who gets reimbursed. Furthermore, Medicare does not allow for reimbursing rehabilitation services of Athletic Trainers while they work in a physician’s office. AB 864 will not change this, nor is it even trying to do so.

Moreover, the idea that a new profession would be created or that Athletic Trainers would be in a legal position to diagnose or practice medicine is totally, completely and 100 percent false. Oversight of cases and patient referrals will always be the job of doctors – they are the most qualified to undertake those decisions.

Others claim that efforts are underway to replace physical therapists with Athletic Trainers in clinics, essentially stealing the physical therapists’ long-accepted roles. This idea is completely ridiculous. Athletic trainers can never replace physical therapists or their expertise.  We can, however, augment the care to specific populations alongside physical therapists, so there would be no reason or motivation to attempt to take jobs from other providers.

Let me tell you in the simplest terms what this bill does.  It addresses the licensing of Athletic Trainers by regulating a healthcare profession that is currently practicing but still unregulated in this state. Passage of AB 864 would ensure that those who serve as athletic trainers have the proper education and certification. AB 864 simply seeks to prevent unqualified healthcare professionals from practicing and protect Californians through regulations of practicing healthcare professionals. I have heard many other ATs with the same message as mine: athletic training professionals firmly believe in the continuity and integrity of care; we understand that this often means a variety of providers are required to give these services. The playing field is big enough for all professionals to play a role in offering athletes and other active individuals the best care, education and quality of life possible.

As if the regulation of health care providers to assure the highest standards were not enough, another feature of AB 864 is that the bill is cost neutral, meaning it will cost taxpayers nothing. Athletic Trainers will pay for their own licensure. Additionally, it is worth noting that Athletic Trainers who work in industry, military and with police and firemen save their employers or city government’s workman’s compensation costs.

With so much to gain and so much at stake, I really don’t see how the detractors have gotten any traction.  But the fact is that they have.  Won’t you join me in setting the record straight on the important role athletic trainers play in our state and remind those opposed that assuring the competency of ATs matters as much as the assurances presented by any other professional currently regulated in the state?

My past has aptly demonstrated the profound need for this legislation and my future prospects, and those of all active individuals in the state, depends on the genuine understanding of what the bill does and does not do and the subsequent affirmation that safety, health and common sense demands passage of AB 864.

- Sandy Krum ATC/L