A redshirt senior is an athlete that is entering their fifth year of college and their fourth year of athletic participation. This means this athlete redshirted for a year meaning they took a year off from competing in college sports in order to maintain a year of eligibility.
Athletes in college tend to redshirt in their freshman year. When players realize it is unlikely that they are going to get a lot of playing time on their team they may decide to redshirt.
This allows them to keep their four years of eligibility while still being able to practice and improve at their sport.
When someone is referenced as a redshirt senior this means they have redshirted a year and now are in their senior season. This means they are in their fifth year of college for this reason redshirt seniors are often referred to as fifth-year seniors.
Benefits of redshirting in college
Now that you know what redshirting is in college sports you may be wondering why players choose to spend a year of college doing it. Below we are going to break down some of the main reasons college athletes redshirt.
Time to fill out your body
One of the best aspects of redshirting for a year is that it allows college athletes to get into the proper shape to play their sports.
In football, college players are going to be noticeably bigger than high school football players for this reason some freshmen may find their body is not quite at the level required to play the sport competitively.
Giving your body a year to mature and grow can often pay dividends in your later years of play.
A year of practice under great coaches
Another reason that redshirt seasons can be helpful in college sports is due to the coaching. When redshirting you are still going to be able to attend practices with your team.
Coming into college as a freshman a large majority of players have not had quality coaching in their respective sport.
Giving themselves a year to train in a high-quality sports program can often greatly improve their game. This way when they start their eligibility they will have reached a good enough level of performance to play on the team.
Avoiding a loaded roster
Another reason a college athlete may choose to redshirt is due to the talent already playing on the team. In certain sports, it can be very important that a player gets playing time in their sport in order for them to play professionally.
On some occasions, players may find there is a lot of talent at their position meaning they would not get any playing time.
By redshirting some players wait for older more senior students to graduate in order to get a better chance of making the starting lineup.
This way in their first season of eligibility these players can make sure they are getting on the field.
This is common in sports like football in which positions like quarterback only require one player for the majority of the season.