What Does it Mean to Redshirt

Discover the meaning of redshirting in sports and academics, the reasons behind it, its benefits and drawbacks, with examples and case studies.


Redshirting is a term commonly used in sports to describe a practice where a player sits out of competition for a year in order to extend their period of eligibility. However, redshirting can also apply to students in academic settings. In this article, we will explore what it means to redshirt in both sports and academics, the reasons behind redshirting, and its potential benefits and drawbacks.

Redshirting in Sports

In the world of sports, redshirting allows athletes to retain a year of eligibility while not competing in games. This practice is common in college athletics, where coaches may choose to redshirt a player to give them more time to develop their skills and adjust to the level of competition. By redshirting, athletes can also extend their playing careers and have an extra year to compete at a higher level.

For example, in college football, a freshman player may be redshirted in their first year to gain strength, improve their skills, and acclimate to the speed of the game. This extra year of preparation can often result in a more successful and impactful career once the player is eligible to compete.

Redshirting in Academics

Redshirting in academics refers to the practice of delaying a child’s entry into kindergarten in order to give them an extra year to mature and develop before starting school. This can be a strategic decision made by parents based on their child’s readiness, maturity level, and individual needs.

Research has shown that redshirting in academics can have both benefits and drawbacks. On one hand, children who are redshirted may have a developmental edge over their peers, potentially leading to better academic and social outcomes. On the other hand, redshirting can also delay a child’s educational progress and may impact their long-term academic success.

Reasons for Redshirting

  • Athletes may be redshirted to gain experience and development without losing a year of eligibility.

  • Parents may choose to redshirt their child in academics to give them an advantage in school.

  • Coaches may redshirt players to allow them more time to recover from injuries.

Benefits of Redshirting

  • Improved performance and skill development in sports.

  • Enhanced social and academic readiness in academics.

  • Additional time for recovery and rehabilitation from injuries.

Drawbacks of Redshirting

  • Delayed entry into competition or school.

  • Potential impact on long-term academic or athletic success.

  • Loss of a year of eligibility in sports.


Redshirting can be a strategic decision in both sports and academics, with potential benefits and drawbacks depending on the individual circumstances. Whether it’s giving an athlete time to develop their skills or providing a child with an extra year of maturity before starting school, redshirting can have a lasting impact on an individual’s success in their chosen field.

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