Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Tips for Designing an Effective Athletic Training Room

When given the opportunity, athletic trainers would love to have input on the creation, design and implementation of a new athletic training room. A new “home” for athletic trainers could be realized via newly constructed buildings or through renovation of existing structures.
Many components are beyond the building personnel’s input since they are dictated by local, state and/or federal coding statutes. For example, the federal Americans with Disabilities Act require a certain amount of floor space and free space for wheelchair accessibility which may alter plans for lavatory and rehabilitation spaces.

There are a few common themes that should be considered in the development phase of the floor plan.

Traffic Pattern

One of the main concerns is how athletes will enter, leave, access and utilize the area without creating blockage, overflow or compromise activity within the room. Placing the “need to get to first” activities such as signing in and practice preparation taping nearest to the door can control or eliminate a headache-producing traffic pattern. Look at your design and imagine 12 athletes arriving at your door at the same time—how will you control, organize or separate the crowd?

Placing other activities such as treatments, hydro modalities, rehabilitation stations and administration work stations in non-intertwined locations will make the room more efficient and productive. It will also promote safety for the athletes using the areas.

Within the athletic training room/equipment room complex where is the best location for the ice machine? Do you want athletes getting ice/water within the athletic training room so you can supervise them? Do you want them to access ice and water from a different location so as to eliminate extra traffic not related to therapy, taping or rehabilitation? Is your room located near outside doors that lend themselves to placing ice outside the athletic training room as well as outside the building?

Disposable Supplies

Having the necessary tools-of-the-trade conveniently located is critical. Obviously the day-to-day items are near their proper location, but where are the “once-in-awhile” ones located? Can you turn around and walk 5-10 feet and find them or do you have to go down the hall to the storage room to find them? Being able to install containers or storage units that are available but not intrusive can be very useful.

Communication and Emergency Equipment

When designing a facility, ready access to whatever system of communication and emergency equipment your organization uses in vital. How many phones do you want hanging on your walls and where do you want them? Which phone(s) is restricted to local or campus? Which one(s) can make calls anywhere? If you use walkie-talkies, where will they be stored and who can access them?

Where is your automated defibrillator stored? How many do you have immediately available? Is there one in the athletic training room, outside the room in the hall, is it stored conveniently or stored in a room that is occasionally locked?

If you have oxygen, backboards, or intravenous supplies, are they stored open or locked? Who is authorized to use them and can they get to them in an emergency?


Every athletic trainer has occasions when speaking with a parent or an athlete should really be done in private. Given the chance within your planning, include an office area which actually has windows for viewing the entire room as well as a door that can be closed if the situation dictates it. This reduced noise area also makes administering a neurocognitive assessment test on the computer to a single concussed athlete more easily accomplished than having to locate a quiet computer somewhere in the building.

Many of the items mentioned plus tables, cabinets, storage carts, ice machines, whirlpools and other modalities can be found at

Phil Hossler, ATC has been an athletic trainer on the scholastic, collegiate and Olympic levels. He has authored 4 books and numerous articles and served as an officer in state and regional athletic training associations for 20 years. He is a member of four halls of fame including the National Athletic Trainers’ Association’s.

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