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Should Athletes Hold Back Before High School?

So it is a very common thing in big football markets like Florida, Texas or California where athletes will “hold back” and repeat their 8th grade school year before entering high school. Some people call this reclassifying- so essentially if you were going to be in the class or 2027 you’d reclassify to the class of 2028. This article is meant to inform you on the benefits and maybe the negatives of this process and how you can make this decision if you are faced with it. I hope this can help! 

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Ok so, personally being in the athletic training space for football players- especially in California, you see every single athlete regardless of their skill level faced with the question of holding back. I have had a countless number of phone calls, meetings and talks with parents/kids about this. I truly do see the benefit of holding back a year. I know when I played football I graduated high school at 17 years old. Played in my first college game at 17 years old too. So when I entered my senior year I was 16- so technically I could have held back TWICE. And looking back, I have no regrets because it worked out for me- but I could’ve highly benefited from at least one extra year. The amount your body can develop and mindset can mature in one year is a little scary. I remember the strides I made in the weight room when I was a sophmore- if I would’ve done that my freshman year I would have been way ahead of my competition and other teammates. Now I say this because that is the sole reason parents will hold back their kids. They do it for athletic development- but often times they hold their kids back and the kids become lazy. Just because you are 1-2 years older than everyone in your class- doesn’t mean that’s an excuse to not work hard. You still have to outwork the room and there is no excuse to not be the hardest worker in the room. Nobody will hand you anything in football and in life- so sometimes holding back can work negatively against a kid. He might subconsciously think everything will be gifted to him simply because he’s bigger and a more gifted athlete by age. Please make sure this doesn’t happen to you if you hold back. Take it personally, everyone in the world is going to say “oh he was held back, that’s why he’s so good” “oh he’s older than Johnny so that’s why he is starting over him”. You should use that as fuel and work 10x harder so there isn’t a shadow of a doubt that you are the best player on the field. 

Now on the opposite end, if you don’t hold back that is COMPLETELY OKAY. You do not have to hold back at all. If you think it’s dumb, that’s perfectly fine. You just need to make sure your work ethic is off the charts. You’re going to be battling people 1-2 years older than you. They will probably be bigger than you so you need to make sure your technique and your skills are sharp. Take it personally that people count you out that you are younger. I did that my entire career. I was short, undersized and still would beat out the guys 2 years older than me because they were flat out lazy. Wether you are held back or not, at the end of the day you still have to strap on the pads and the fake players will be shown. That’s the great part about football- your work ethic will show on the field, not your age. Don’t complain about being younger. Stay in your lane because when you get to college you will be playing with full grown men.

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