Jan 18, 2019
New Year’s resolutions from an athletic trainer
By Larry Cooper

Happy New Year! It’s my hope that you had a joyous and healthy year, one that you look upon with a sense of happiness and fulfillment.

If you are like most people, the start of the new year is a time for celebration, reflection, and rebranding yourself — or at the very least, part of yourself. For me, it is the time to write down some personal and professional goals, get my financial goals in order, and determine where we want to travel to in the upcoming year. In my opinion, the personal and professional goals have to take a front seat because they can help lay the foundation for the others. The self-reflection process can be somewhat difficult but extremely helpful to see where and how you can improve.

If someone asked you to jot down 10 things that you like about yourself, it might be relatively challenging. However, if they asked you to write down 10 things that you don’t like about yourself, most would have no issue completing the task in a few seconds. Let’s turn this around. Ask yourself:

  • What are 10 areas of my clinical practice that I could improve?
  • What are the 10 areas that I do a pretty darn good job at?

Areas of improvement might be: documentation, communication with parents or coaches, scheduling, life-work balance, budgeting, shoulder evaluations, low-back rehabilitation, etc. Areas of competency might be: communication with physicians; concussion recognition, evaluation and treatment; ankle rehabilitation; off-season conditioning programs; facility cleanliness; infection control; etc. The most important part of this process is to take the time and be honest with yourself.

Some of my goals — which are combined below — can be achieved relatively easily, but some will take some considerable focus, time, and effort.


  1. I always want to do a better job of communication in all aspects of my life.
  2. Documentation — the most important practice you can do to keep yourself out of a litigious situation and ensure correct continuation of care.
  3. Evaluation improvement, work on all aspects of all clinical evaluations.
  4. Increase the number of schools that employ athletic trainers.
  5. Increase the number of athletic trainers working in the secondary school setting.


  1. Spend more time with my wife, parents, siblings, daughters, and grandchild.
  2. Run 1,000 miles and bike 500 miles this year.
  3. Improve my physical health and well-being (lose weight, stretch, lift, eat better).
  4. Read more for enjoyment.
  5. Take at least 10 camping trips to new locations.

As you can see, some of my goals are basic, while some are pretty lofty. This is an example of what gives people focus, energy, and purpose in their daily life. If you are uncomfortable starting out with 10, try two personal and two professional goals. Another method is to revisit your goals every month. Sometimes this is good because they are fresh in your mind, and it helps provide some drive and direction for your daily activities.

Larry Cooper, MS, LAT, ATC, recently retired after 27 years as Head Athletic Trainer at Penn-Trafford High School in Harrison City, Pa., where he also taught health, physical education, and sports medicine classes. Winner of a 2016 NATA Most Distinguished Athletic Trainer Award, 2015 T&C Most Valuable Athletic Trainer Award, and 2014 NATA Athletic Training Service Award, he was inducted into the Pennsylvania Athletic Trainers' Society Hall of Fame in 2014.

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