There are conflicting reports from scared moms associations to killer sergeant coaches that add a lot of misinformation to the mix. I ran across an article by Dr. Lon Kilgore that has some sane guidelines, and while it was written from the perspective of weight training I think it has good implications elsewhere: "Weightlifting for Special Populations: Youth". There's a companion article to this from the same author: "Misconception About Training Youth".
Some of the points raised are:
- Any weight training should be done under the supervision of well trained adults (certified by a standards organization "with professional membership and that the certification examination is rigorous")
- "Total exercise training time should not exceed 15 hours per week. Coaches must consider the cumulative effect of all the trainee’s physical activities. We recommend a holistic approach to training, an approach that requires the coach to be cognizant of the trainee’s exercise/activity behaviors on and off campus." (quote from Dr. Kilgore)
I left out a number of weightlifting specific guidelines; however, both articles have several supporting studies that are cited. I wanted to focus on the 15 hours per week number.
When you think about it, 15 hours per week is 2 hours and 8.5 minutes every day 7 days a week. If the child only does his/her physical activity during the school week, that's 3 hours per day. That time includes gym, sports activities, rigorous play (pickup games), etc. Granted that number is specifically geared towards kids who are lifting weights, but if the kid is involved in football or another physically demanding sport It's a number worth paying attention to.
The idea is that kids recuperate a lot more quickly than adults, but they still need rest to let the muscles grow and the kids become stronger.