How does redshirting work in college?

I understand it if you are on the 35, but a team I follow had 41 on the roster last year.  35 kids played and the other 6 all returned the next year as RS Freshmen.  Most of those kids came back had strong Fall seasons and will make this years roster.  Are those kids locked out of baseball at some point?   Are they given a workout schedule to follow during that time on their own.  I'm curious how it all works, especially if your son has gone through it. 

Original Post

So my 2017 redshirted last year.  He was listed on the 35 man roster all year as a "Freshman" and now he is listed as a "Redshirt Freshman."  Last year he practiced with the team all the way and up the season, but when the season began he and his fellow redshirts were put on a different program and training regimen.  Because the RS are not "in season" their training was much more rigorous and demanding.  My recollection is there were about 4-5 kids who redshirted--one was a prize recruited 1B blocked by an all conference 1B senior so the coach figured he would not play and could redshirt to save a year of eligibility.

While there is a lot of focus on getting better as a baseball player, much of it seemed to be a war of wills to see which RS kids are tough enough to survive.  That may be unique to his school and coach, but to the coach's credit, there are a lot of kids in the program who redshirted and are now starters and major contributors.  Its more of a boot camp test and if you survive, you have a chance to contribute.  The RS do not travel with the team, but at home games they have various roles from charting pitches to running the scoreboard.  They are with the team, support the team, and do feel like they are a part of the team despite the differing schedules.  And they do get the athlete benefits like tutors and advance registration.

Of course it is different for kids who have injuries and miss the season.  Those RS are typically focused on PT or other rehab designed to get them back to full health the following season.

It may be different at other schools, so do your research.  Go back and look at several years worth of rosters and see how many kids who RS survived into the next and later years.  Good luck!

Backstop22 posted:

So my 2017 redshirted last year.  He was listed on the 35 man roster all year as a "Freshman" and now he is listed as a "Redshirt Freshman."  Last year he practiced with the team all the way and up the season, but when the season began he and his fellow redshirts were put on a different program and training regimen.  Because the RS are not "in season" their training was much more rigorous and demanding.  My recollection is there were about 4-5 kids who redshirted--one was a prize recruited 1B blocked by an all conference 1B senior so the coach figured he would not play and could redshirt to save a year of eligibility.

While there is a lot of focus on getting better as a baseball player, much of it seemed to be a war of wills to see which RS kids are tough enough to survive.  That may be unique to his school and coach, but to the coach's credit, there are a lot of kids in the program who redshirted and are now starters and major contributors.  Its more of a boot camp test and if you survive, you have a chance to contribute.  The RS do not travel with the team, but at home games they have various roles from charting pitches to running the scoreboard.  They are with the team, support the team, and do feel like they are a part of the team despite the differing schedules.  And they do get the athlete benefits like tutors and advance registration.

Of course it is different for kids who have injuries and miss the season.  Those RS are typically focused on PT or other rehab designed to get them back to full health the following season.

It may be different at other schools, so do your research.  Go back and look at several years worth of rosters and see how many kids who RS survived into the next and later years.  Good luck!

Backstop, thanks for the thorough reply.  I've got a follow-up question that I believe is consistent with the OP - When did your son learn that he was being red-shirted?  Was this before he arrived, during the fall, or at the start of spring? 

Also, I'm aware of two scenarios where the player was red-shirted his freshman year and not invited back after the season.  I wonder how a player can tell the difference between this and a more productive situation such as Backstop describes?

Smitty28 posted:
Backstop22 posted:

So my 2017 redshirted last year.  He was listed on the 35 man roster all year as a "Freshman" and now he is listed as a "Redshirt Freshman."  Last year he practiced with the team all the way and up the season, but when the season began he and his fellow redshirts were put on a different program and training regimen.  Because the RS are not "in season" their training was much more rigorous and demanding.  My recollection is there were about 4-5 kids who redshirted--one was a prize recruited 1B blocked by an all conference 1B senior so the coach figured he would not play and could redshirt to save a year of eligibility.

While there is a lot of focus on getting better as a baseball player, much of it seemed to be a war of wills to see which RS kids are tough enough to survive.  That may be unique to his school and coach, but to the coach's credit, there are a lot of kids in the program who redshirted and are now starters and major contributors.  Its more of a boot camp test and if you survive, you have a chance to contribute.  The RS do not travel with the team, but at home games they have various roles from charting pitches to running the scoreboard.  They are with the team, support the team, and do feel like they are a part of the team despite the differing schedules.  And they do get the athlete benefits like tutors and advance registration.

Of course it is different for kids who have injuries and miss the season.  Those RS are typically focused on PT or other rehab designed to get them back to full health the following season.

It may be different at other schools, so do your research.  Go back and look at several years worth of rosters and see how many kids who RS survived into the next and later years.  Good luck!

Backstop, thanks for the thorough reply.  I've got a follow-up question that I believe is consistent with the OP - When did your son learn that he was being red-shirted?  Was this before he arrived, during the fall, or at the start of spring? 

Also, I'm aware of two scenarios where the player was red-shirted his freshman year and not invited back after the season.  I wonder how a player can tell the difference between this and a more productive situation such as Backstop describes?

My guess would be to look at the history of the program.  If there are redshirts that are actively part of the program and get playing time or roster space you are probably in a good spot.  If the team has no history of redshirts ever playing, I'd be looking for a new home ASAP. 

I would say there were indications he would RS during the Fall just based on the way the Frosh class was breaking out.  There were 8 Freshman, and only 3 did not RS and the other 5 did.  For some context, this is a strong program in DII that won their league and made the WS and had a lot of guys returning and a couple of D1 dropdowns transfer in.  So playing time was going to be rare for freshman.

One Freshman was a stud and started virtually every game in the IF, and the other two who did not RS were pitchers (one of who got hurt too late in the season to RS).  The Fall was where they got to sort out the team and see where the needs were, and then the final decision was made of who to RS.  The team again won the league and made the WS so the roster was indeed strong.

It was a lot of work for the RS to not be able to play in games.  My son was really tested and am sure doubts entered all of the RS minds about being worth it.  The RS adopted a "one for all, all for one" motto to get themselves up for the 6 AM grind everyday.  In the end, of the 5, two of the kids are not coming back (their choice) but so far my son and the other two have survived into this season and will hopefully get a chance to play and contribute.

It is not for everyone, but as D-Mac notes, if the history of the program is to use that RS year to develop and build players into contributors, there is real value in it.  For my son particularly, we were happy he got the chance to improve (he converted from a catcher in HS to PO) and he has a demanding STEM major that the RS enabled him to get some traction in his academics without the travel demands.  And he is going to need 5 years to finish anyway.  I also think he learned a lot about his inner determination.  But for the kids who decide all that work for no action is not for them, I certainly get that as well.

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