Can Athletes Take a Gap Year?

While traditionally many graduates of U.S. high schools go straight to college after graduating, there has been a dramatic shift to academic and service gap years recently. Historically, student-athletes who needed another year of sports training or immersion in athletics took a gap year to gain more exposure.


While you are advancing through the college recruiting process, you may wonder if you would benefit from taking a gap year. For some, a gap year could be the best solution to prepare them for their college years.


The post-graduate route has been a longstanding opportunity for some students to grow, develop, mature, and find their “best-fit” colleges. There are many reasons why students may choose to take a gap year, including:

● Academic Standing

● Young Age

● Initial Eligibility

● Health Problems

● Social Aptitude/Maturity

● Missed School

● Athletic Development

Post-Grad Gap Year

A gap year offers high school graduates the opportunity to explore interests and challenge their comfort zones before starting college. Typically, post-grad opportunities are spent attending sports academies like Birmingham.


Post-grad years are allowed under the following NCAA rule:

● The NCAA “Five-Year” rule (Bylaw 12.8.1) states “a student-athlete shall complete his or her seasons of participation within five calendar years from the time in which the student-athlete first registers as a full-time college student”.

○ NCAA rules may be different based on division, sport and/or timing (pre- or post-enrollment). Contact the athletics compliance office at the NCAA institution recruiting you or the NCAA’s public line at (877)262-1492 for further information.

● Therefore, the NCAA allows student-athletes a one-year grace period; however, the student-athletes' "clock" starts once they graduate from high school.

Reason to Take a Gap Year

Gap year decisions are influenced by a variety of factors. In the end, only you know what's best for you.Here are some reasons why you might consider taking a gap year:

● To preserve your eligibility while attempting to get recruited

● To try to get a college scholarship

● To get the full college athletics experience

● To play a different position/in a different system

● For religious reasons

● For a competitive advantage

● You need some more time

● To find your purpose

● You need a break

● You want to take ownership of your life

● You want to develop a new skill


While taking a gap year is certainly not for everyone, in many cases it could provide an additional year of academic, athletic, and personal growth for the individual, and could position the player for more recruiting opportunities.




Here at Birmingham Sports Academy, we believe in having fun and accepting challenges. Throughout training and competition, our experienced coaches teach our players to strive for their highest potential and to always have fun. Apply to be a Birmingham Sports Academy Eagle today!

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