The prime objective of any Hockey Trainer is prevention and proper injury management when the situation requires. The Trainer is the leader on a team’s staff in enhancing the safety of players both on and off the ice.
How to Become a Trainer
Hockey Canada and its Provincial Associations, as well as USA Hockey, have become increasingly active and prescriptive concerning the presence of Trainers on the coaching staff of each minor hockey team as well as the level of qualifications required by those Trainers.
An example of this is the Hockey Development Centre of Ontario which promotes and recognizes three levels of Trainer Certification. To receive any of these certifications an individual must enrol in, and successfully complete, the established and standard curriculum for each of the specific levels which vary as to the degree of knowledge and technique taught and permitted for use in the area of injury management. There are also clear standards related to expiration and re-certification for each level.
What are the Responsibilities of a Trainer?
- Carrying out the role for both teams in game situations where the opposing team does not have a trainer.
- Taking a lead role in the development and implementation of a risk management plan and program that emphasizes the prevention of injuries and accidents before they occur.
- Ensuring that the physical premises in which a team activity is about to occur are safe and free from harmful hazards.
- Taking the lead role in the development and readiness preparation of a viable Emergency Action Plan, ensuring that all parties involved are aware of and practiced in their roles.
- Understanding and promoting, along with the other coaches, the principles of fair play.
- Conducting or supervising (depending on age level) regular checks and reviews of player equipment to ensure maximum safety and comfort.
- Teaching, promoting and supervising the use of proper conditioning, stretching and warm-up techniques prior to all on-ice and off-ice physical activities.
- Teaching, promoting and supervising the use of proper nutritional regimens for and by all players during the entire season.
- Teaching and promoting, through educational activities and role modelling, the appropriate behaviour related to performance enhancing substances, drugs, alcohol and smoking with players and family members.
- Developing and maintaining accurate medical history files on each and all players and using a system that ensures the availability of the files at all games, practices and off-ice training events.
- Working with the manager to ensure the presence and use of key documents such as the Medical Information Form, the Player Injury Report, the Emergency Parent/Guardian Phone List and a Safety Checklist.
- Ensuring that you have both a large Trainer’s Kit and a smaller “on-ice” pack that are properly stocked at all times and present at all practices and games.
- Being prepared to be the equipment manager at times also by ensuring the existence of extra supplies such screws, fasteners, tape, laces and elastics and the presence of important tools like screw drivers, pliers, scissors, sharpening stones and a glue gun.
- Managing minor injuries immediately in accordance with training and proper injury management principles and then ensuring referral to appropriate medical professionals.
- Recognizing significant, if not life-threatening injuries as soon as they occur and taking immediate and appropriate action.
- Being prepared to be the decision maker on whether a player who is injured in a game or practice is able to return to the play. THIS IS THE TRAINER’S DECISION.
- Ensuring that a proper protocol exists in the team that governs the return of any player from any injury. This protocol should require medical approval and should be specific enough to dictate whether return is to light activity, full practice or full game.
What Are The Ingredients of a Good Trainer?
- who cares
- who has comfort in the appropriate techniques and applications
- whose actions and decisions do not exceed the training
- who never misrepresents or embellishes qualifications
- who has a calm and confident appearance and approach, especially in emergencies
- who is a good decision maker that puts player safety first
- who has First Aid / HTCP Training
- who is comfortable in erring on the side of caution in injury management
- who is aware of the surroundings at all times
- who uses practice and rehearsal to ensure preparation
- who enjoys the game from the bench and understands the proper demeanour and role they have on the team
What Does a Trainer Really Do?
- arrives at the rink early to ensure that the premises are safe
- is responsible for following up with players who are still managing injuries
- makes sure that the proper protocol for return is followed
- oversees the stretching and warm-up preparation of the players
- reminds the players to drink plenty of water
- attends to any identified equipment issues
- ensures that the water bottles are prepared and delivered to the player’s bench
- ensures that the proper trainer’s kits are on the player’s bench
- remains present on the player bench attending to injuries and equipment issues as they occur
- takes a supportive and encouraging role with the players in a way that is supportive of the coaching staff
- should an injury occur, the trainer immediately assesses and attends to the injury
- ensures that all injury management has been completed and that proper communication and next steps are discussed with the coaching staff, player and parents
- ensures that players have started the proper nutritional regimen for post game food and fluid intake