What is “Appropriate Attire” in Athletic Training?

January 19, 2014

A common debate among athletic trainers is that of dress code. There are those who are very casual and believe that jeans or athletic apparel is acceptable for work and then there are others who believe that athletic trainers should dress in dress slacks and button-up shirts on a regular basis. I believe most would agree that some form of “professional attire” is important. But the million-dollar question is What is “professional attire” in athletic training?


I think this is a topic that will likely be debated forever. And for me, this really depends. Unlike other professions, athletic trainers are in so many different settings so what is considered professional in one may not match that definition in another setting. Athletic trainers also find themselves in many different weather conditions that can warrant different attire.

I believe that casual attire such as a wind suit, performance shirts, etc can be appropriate in practice environments. The interaction with the public is often less and everybody is more likely to be in more casual apparel. It is definitely possible that the athletic trainers could be involved in physical activity performing sport-specific rehabilitation with the athletes. In outdoor sports such as soccer or football, this could also include hydration duties which can get messy fast! 2-a-days definitely qualify for casual clothing in my opinion. They are often hot and athletic trainers remain busy throughout practice to keep players hydrated and handling all sorts of responsibilities.

Khakis and a polo have long defined apparel in athletic training. I personally prefer black slacks over khaki color, but I see this as being the likely day-to-day attire. This also qualifies as game-day apparel for many athletic trainers. I don’t have a problem with that at all; in fact that is my normal game-day apparel. Football Fridays I go all black actually with black pants and black polo. I also do that for wrestling. Other sports I try to go with a different color polo for at least a little bit of contrast! I think that this should remain our go-to attire for many different things. Casual enough for everyday activities and allows for easy movement, but also dressy enough for most or all games.
Next we get into “dress clothes” such as slacks and button-up shirts. Personally, I choose not to wear these for game-days but these are a nice choice for somebody wanting a little more dressy attire. You’ll often see more of this at the college level for indoor sports such as volleyball or gymnastics. Basketball tends to be even more dressed up at the higher levels going for a tie and a sport jacket or even some who wear a suit. I would also see this as being appropriate for those athletic trainers who work in a doctor’s office or similar environment.

As you can see, I believe there are a lot of different choices. Most important to me is choosing when it’s appropriate. I wouldn’t consider a wind suit being appropriate for most indoor sporting events, but might find it appropriate for a soccer game when it’s 45 degrees out. At the same time, I’d never consider a sport jacket appropriate in a baseball dugout or during 2-a-days.

Personally I do not wear jeans at all. I actually do not even own a single pair. So you won’t have to worry about ever seeing me in jeans. Where do they fit in athletic training? I’d probably put them into the practice category or the occasional casual game-night.

I know there are probably several who disagree with some of my thoughts above. That’s okay. I believe that we can do our jobs successfully wearing a myriad of clothing options. Most important is wearing what your employer requires I guess!

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