The role of the modern athletic trainer with Andy Bliz

Alastair DavidsonUK Content Specialist, Firstbeat

Sports Coaching

Firstbeat Sports Podcast episode #4: The role of the modern athletic trainer with Andy Bliz

Image: University of Buffalo

Andy is here to discuss the role of an athletic trainer in DI sports, why he promotes a proactive rather than reactive approach to sports medicine, and the value of data in informing coaching decisions and the return to play protocol.

On the line today is Andy Bliz. Andy is in his 6th year as Athletic Trainer for the University of Buffalo Men’s Basketball program. During this time, the Bulls have won 3 MAC Championships and appeared in the NCAA Tournament four times – including this year as 6 seeds. Andy holds a Bachelor’s degree in Athletic Training and a Master’s degree in Sports Management. He has previously worked with the Michigan State University football program.

Topic discussed in this episode:  

  • The daytoday role of a DI Athletic Trainer 
  • Techniques to secure player buy-in to monitoring
  • Taking a proactive rather than reactive approach to sports medicine  
  • How data informs decisions at different stages of game week and season 
  • Injury prevention and return to play protocols   


  • How Andy ended up at the University of Buffalo (1:45)
  • Jumping from Football to Basketball – What’s different? (2:16)
  • Andy’s day-to-day roles at Buffalo (3:25)
  • How much Andy uses his own protocols on himself (4:34)
  • What’s behind the team’s success in the last 2 years? (5:12)
  • Proactive vs. Reactive approach to sports medicine – how does it differ? (6:05)
  • How student-athletes buy into prehab (7:05)
  • Andy’s mentors (8:13)
  • Why did he choose to work with Firstbeat? (8:55)
  • What metrics Andy and coaches look for (10:09)
  • How easy was the buy-in from the coaches towards data? (10:38)
  • Why is the game data so valuable? (11:51)
  • TRIMP scores for different practices and games (13:11)
  • Andy’s return to play protocol (14:06)
  • Soft tissue injury numbers in the last two years (15:30)
  • Are all soft tissue injuries preventable? (15:55)
  • How does the proactive approach differ in season and tournament time (16:48)
  • Examples of data influencing training decisions (17:23)
  • Using Firstbeat as a recruiting tool (19:15)
  • Buy-in from the players (21:11)
  • How much Firstbeat adds to Andy’s weekly workload (22:39)
  • How things are looking for the basketball program next season (23:24)
Thanks for listening of the Firstbeat Sports Podcast.
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Alastair Davidson UK Content Specialist, Firstbeat

Alastair is a Content Specialist who has previously worked in sports journalism and tech communication. These experiences now help him create unique content about Firstbeat's role in sports and wellness in the form of blogs and case studies. An avid sports fans, Alastair continues to play football in his native U.K., and enjoys keeping up with the latest wellness trends.

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