Date of Completion


Embargo Period



athletic training, high school athletics, clinical practice, leadership, professional development

Major Advisor

Dr. Stephanie Singe

Associate Advisor

Dr. Craig Denegar

Associate Advisor

Dr. Adam Lepley

Associate Advisor

Dr. Robert Huggins

Associate Advisor

Dr. Douglas Casa

Field of Study



Doctor of Philosophy

Open Access

Open Access


Background: In order to fully comprehend leadership, it is not only important to consider characteristics that define effective leadership, but also to determine behaviors that are deemed important in athletic training leadership practice. Previously, leadership behaviors have been examined in collegiate educators and head athletic trainers (ATs), but not in the secondary school athletic trainer population.

Purpose: To explore the frequency with which ATs in the secondary school setting practice leadership behaviors within and outside their professional roles across various demographic characteristics, and to investigate the leadership styles of secondary school ATs and determine what demographic characteristics influence the use of specific leadership constructs.

Study Design: Cross-sectional survey

Methods: Secondary school ATs (n=472; age=37±11.1 years; years certified=13.5±9.9; years secondary school=11.5±9.2). Participants responded to an online questionnaire consisting of demographic questions and two Likert scale surveys. Frequency of leadership behaviors by ATs within and outside of their professional roles was assessed using the Frequency of Leadership in Athletic Training Scale. Leadership style was assessed via the Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire-5x. Independent-samples t tests and paired samples t tests assessed for differences between leadership behavior practices and styles and demographic characteristics.

Results:Secondary school ATs practice leadership behaviors more frequently within their professional roles compared to outside of athletic training roles (p

Conclusions: Leadership behaviors are practiced by secondary school ATs similarly to other healthcare professions. Secondary school ATs practice leadership behaviors frequently within their athletic training roles, but much less so outside of the profession. Secondary school ATs predominantly use transformational leadership behaviors, specifically those relating to mentoring, developing standards for compliance, and using forward thinking in decision making. Intentional leadership development opportunities that enhance the comfortability of athletic trainers with professional leadership responsibilities should be a priority as the profession transitions to the master’s level degree.

Key Words: high school athletics, clinical practice, professional responsibility