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A kid will more physically mature for his grade if he’s a year older. It can benefit at recruiting time. 

I’m not a fan. If a kid isn’t emotionally mature to start school at five hold him back from starting for a year. Our school district tests for kindergarten readiness. Once starting school I’m a proponent of a post grad year on the back end, if needed rather than holding a kid back at the beginning of high school.

i wonder how many kids get held back before high school for athletic reasons then don’t get athletic scholarships.

Last edited by RJM

Repeating 8th grade is very common here (Southern California), along with the virtual home school.  The kid enters freshman year and is bigger and stronger than his peers, and if he's a good ball player he looks like a stud.  This gets the kid to varsity faster, and with PG now using the players grade for tournaments, it helps in those events too.  I think this definitely gets the kid looks from colleges earlier, and perhaps looks that he wouldn't have gotten.

Risks?  I've seen some of these "stud" freshman lose their edge as their peers catch up.  The perception (and maybe reality) is that they aren't improving, that they sort of peaked and plateaued early.  By Junior year people are wondering what happened to that kid and how is he going to survive at Big Name school.

In one metro area I'm familiar with it is almost the norm in many circles to hold the boy back somewhere, girls not so much, and the earlier the better.  Yes, it's all about athletics and most in the area I'm thinking try to do it early, like in elementary years.   I'm more familiar with the Jr year HS "reclass" option (usually a boy transferring from public HS to private HS and repeating Jr year at new private school), or as RJM references the PG ("post grad" or 5th year of HS) year.  

Son currently doing a PG year now at a school of 1100 total students.  25 PG boys (football, lacrosse, hockey, basketball mostly), 4 PG girls.

Benefits: if athlete still has projection remaining, allows them to grow and settle into frame and mature across the board.

Risks: Intellectually and academically?  None, in my opinion.  Recruiting wise?  Can extend window of recruitment if, IF, athlete improves markedly from previous year.  If nothing changes?  No further physical growth or development?  Most likely not a game changer.  

Last edited by #1 Assistant Coach

Risks?  Kids hate their parents because they are embarrassed in front of their peers.  Their friends move on to the next grade, they stay behind.  They are labelled as dumb by their friends.  You also get another year to do their laundry, clean up behind them.  

Advantages?  Another year for you to save for college.  Maybe you get your grass cut for another year.  Maybe.

I’ve seen or heard of it a few times with folks that I know or know of and it’s mostly been done to gain an athletic edge. Not that it hasn’t happened but I’ve never seen or heard of it done with a non-athlete.

It can absolutely help a kid get into college but I have also seen it hurt a kid’s draft stock.

No doubt, it is a step NOT to be taken lightly.   

Rarely happens in the rural area where I live and coach now.  In more suburban areas where there are a lot of private day schools, it is more common, especially for athletes.  

If done later in HS, and if done haphazardly, it can have potentially negative consequences if not done for a seemingly legitimate reason (makeup year for a year lost due to injury or other reason, shoring up academics for HA recruiting, shoring up skill set, etc) it can appear to be an act of desperation and likely a turnoff for coaches recruiting; especially if the kid is still the same kid they saw the previous year and closed the book on.  

Former travel ball player of mine was a very gifted baseball and basketball player age 12-14.  He graduated 8th grade middle school and dad enrolled him in the local Catholic school for another year of 8th grade.  Dad then sent boy to local HS for the next year of 9th grade.  Then somehow managed to get him transferred to crosstown public HS for 10th grade, and yes, 4 years and 4 different schools.  A bit much for my taste, but not my kid so more power to him.

In the end the young man is playing baseball in college.  Worked out for him but I think he would have played college ball if he stayed true to his original grad year.  

 

Last edited by #1 Assistant Coach

So we held our son back before going into middle school. It was not for athletics. He was young for his age (late summer birthday). He went to a private Christian school and was always the youngest in his class (was subject to bullying) . All his friends from LL that lived nearby all were in a grade lower than him and attended the local public school. Wife and I could tell he was not comfortable at his school so we talked about holding him back a year and transferring him to the local public school to repeat the 6th grade. We asked our son if he was okay with this and he said he was. This extra year made the world of difference for my son as far as maturity and confidence. This was the best thing we could have ever done for him. He had a great MS and HS experience both academically, socially and athletically.   

I have seen  it done in conjunction with moves that do not affect the kid because no one knew about holding them back except the administration.  When done without the move, it would be tough.  Some will transfer their kid to a private school and then back to the public school.  I don't think there is all the ridicule that is suggested because when it is done all the little Johnnies know why it is being done.  When that particular little Johnny is starting as a freshman on varsity all the ridicule goes away.  I cannot imagine the home school thing unless you are a stay at home parent plus they would lose a year of school ball. 

As has been said, it is not to be taken lightly.  I think the kid has to be on board with the decision.

Go44dad posted:

Risks?  Kids hate their parents because they are embarrassed in front of their peers.  Their friends move on to the next grade, they stay behind.  They are labelled as dumb by their friends.  You also get another year to do their laundry, clean up behind them.  

Advantages?  Another year for you to save for college.  Maybe you get your grass cut for another year.  Maybe.

Strangely, it's the opposite.  The kids that "redshirt" in 8th grade are known as athletes and carry a certain pride for redoing the year.  Not everyone gets to do it, only the better athletes... go figure.

(Just my opinion. In this area, one size definitely doesn't fit all.)

If a kid is succeeding academically and socially the reason for holding a kid back in eighth grade would be purely for athletic reasons. It is an undeniable truth that a kid will be bigger and stronger with that added year and gain the desired advantage in HS tryouts.

Conversely, the message conveyed is that athletics rule the roost; academics and social maturity issues are secondary. When the time comes to crack the academic whip in HS (when girls, driving, long showers , and other issues arise) which virtually all kids require, what will be the new message conveyed?  Will the kid understand that the multi-month test prep is far more important than athletics? 

Andecdotal evidence doesn't really prove any general principle, but the kids I knew from who were held back (strictly for the sports advantage) did play their sport(s) in HS and most were advantaged by the hold back (as strictly defined by sport performance). None played beyond HS; and none caught fire academically in HS. AND, their peers who moved on to HS in normal time, left their former peers to repeat that middle school grade. New friends I'm sure we're made by both groups.

College coaches do look less at projection and more to immediate potential impact; pro ball looks more at projections. Take that for what is is.

I wish I had the crystal ball which is needed to choose which path is better. Just understand the advantages and disadvantages in holding a kid back for purely athletic reasons. I'd add that if a kid is struggling academically, diagnosing the reason early and aggressively addressing it is far more preferable then believing a repeat of material from eighth grade will improve academic performance.

 

 

Last edited by Goosegg

It's been mentioned in a few of the posts, but the age of the kid relative to his classmates is really important.  If a kid is already older than a lot of his classmates (typically birthday just missed the normal cut-off date for a school district) and then he is held back another year, that can be really hard on the kid.  In today's information age, kids know how old kids are and they will think a kid who is that much older was held back because he could not handle school. 

You can go to the PG website and see how old a player is.  We had a kid we knew who was a junior in HS but was older than all but one of the seniors on the team.  They used to call him "old man" and such and he was good natured about it, but I wonder what he really thought.  But if a kid is young compared to his classmates and tends to be grouped on 12U and 14U teams with kids at the grade below him, holding him back makes more sense.

Definitely not a decision to made hastily and without full support of the kid.

different for every kid,  my sons best friend repeated 8th grade at a private hs before coming back to our public hs.

He was young for his grade, played little league with kids a grade younger and all his friends were in the grade behind him.  he was a late bloomer physically as well.  They held him back for all of these reasons, and yes, athletics was part of the overall equation.  I don't blame them in the least- it was right for their boy.  He's a freshman at a d2 school and got his first start yesterday, he's well adjusted and has good grades- so far so good.  Had they not held him back he would not be where he is now.  worked out well for them.

The private schools often require a recruited athlete to repeat 9th grade. They believe the kids haven’t been challenged academically in the past to what they will experience at a high academic private school.

i know a kid who went from public school after 9th grade to Catholic school repeating 9th grade. He had an August birthday. I believe it helped him athletically. Plus he was now in the same grade as all his baseball buddies. The LL deadline used to be 7/31.

Someone mentioned physical and emotional maturity. I started school at four years old. I was supposed to be a boy genius. My parents overlooked one thing. By 8th grade I was very physically and emotionally immature for my grade. The treatment I got from older kids (everyone was older) starting affecting my desire to get up and go to school. 

We moved after 8th grade. My father decided to have me repeat 8th grade.  I fit in. I returned to getting all A’s. I went from being a kid who made the lineup in sports to a dominant player. In any aged based rec sports I had always been dominant in my age group. A year makes a big difference before growing and filling out.

Player 1: Late August/September birthday. Not held back 

Fresh 14 yo: 5'6 140 lbs,  78 mph 

Soph 15 yo: 5'8 150 lbs,  82 mph

Junior: 16 yo: 5'11 165 lbs,  88 mph 

Senior: 17 yo: 6'0 17 170lbs,  ???

 

Player 2: Same Birthday. Same player, just held back 

Fresh 15 yo: 5'8 150 lbs 82 mph 

Soph 16 yo: 5'11 160 lbs 88 mph 

Junior 17 yo: 6'1 170 lbs 91 mph

Senior 18 yo: 6'2 180 lbs 93 mph

 

Player 1 is a solid player but D1 schools didn't come running. He missed the P5 train and most likely a good amount of mid majors. His options would probably be lower D1/D2/D3/Juco. Will always be the youngest in his grade, kids from the grade below could even be older. He will be 16 when he starts his senior year of hs and 17 when he heads off to college unable to sign any paperwork if he ever gets sick or injured. 

Player 2 is a top player in his state. Committed to a P5/quality mid major in between his sophomore/junior year. Most likely a draft prospect of some sort. Would have been invited to Area Code, ECP, and will play with one of the better summer teams (potentially for less $). Will be the first in his class to drive, first to turn 21, etc.

I'm not pro redshirt, nor do I have many problems with it. But we all know it's for sport specific purposes 95% of the time. Compare player 1 to 2 and tell me it can't make a big difference? 

 

There are so many variables it’s hard to say what is the right direction to take. Each situation is it’s own case. I’m a proponent of post grading on the back end. My son was seventeen when he graduated. It didn’t matter. I know and know of kids who stayed back heading into high school who did not become better college sports prospects.

It really comes down to “do no harm.” If the kid isn’t harmed by being held back, regardless of the end result, so what. 

No question about it, being held back will have him physically bigger and mentally more mature than if he wasn't.  No guarantee he will be a better baseball player though.  If main objective is to try to get as much college scholarship opportunities or pro looks then the gamble of holding back may pay off.  Can also backfire though.  Assuming he gets a scholly, redshirts freshman year, has a decent 3 years playing D1 ball, enters the draft as a 23 y/o Jr, might not be too desirable in draft eval.  2 - 4 years in minors minimum, now a 25-28 y/o trying to reach the show.  I know of 3 cases where the above is happening, and I'm sure there are cases where it turned out great (just I'm not aware of them).  If it makes sense to be held back excluding athletics/baseball then might be appealing.  There is much more to being a top baseball player in higher levels than just being physically bigger in high school.  Trust the process.

A practical benefit of re-classing really presented itself to my son and me on a recent weekend.  He attended his first "big" showcase (he is a 2020).  In his group was a kid who I figured was roughly similar.  They were the biggest ones in the group, my kid a bit bigger.  I noticed from the roster that they were born in the same month. My son was a good bit faster and hit well, but the other kid squared up more balls and had a more polished swing.  My son looked better in the field.  They both made the all prospect list.  

A week or so later I checked the PBR Rankings for our state.  My son is 50+.... not bad, but not earth shattering. I looked for the other kid but didn't find him.  Then it hit me...I checked the 2021 list and the kid is right toward the very top in the state.  As a 16 year old freshman I guess he re-classed somewhere along the way.

To be honest had I previously known how prevalent and accepted the practice is I would have suggested to my wife that we strongly consider it.

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