Should elite child athletes run marathons and lift heavy weights?

Children exercising for BJSM blog

One of the questions that is always asked of sports medicine clinicians is how much training kids should be doing. At a time where physical inactivity is the major childhood disease, we also have the paradox of parents encouraging 3-yr old golfers and 4 yr-old tennis players. After all, the earning potential of those children exceeds the annual salary of all but the most successful CEOs.

Until now, there has been very little to guide training the elite athlete. The IOC Medical Commissionhas a goal of protecting the health of the athlete and to this end, it convened a group to develop a Consensus Statement on the training of the elite child athlete. The paper provides a holistic approach to training the elite child athlete, including exercise prescription, psychological training, nutritional guidelines and special considerations.

It is now available in the March issue of BJSM (Br J Sports Med 2008;42:163–164). The expert committee members were: M Mountjoy, N Armstrong, L Bizzini, C Blimkie, J Evans, D Gerrard, J Hangen, K Knoll, L Micheli, P Sangenis, W Van Mechelen.

What are your thoughts? Is this helpful? How could it be improved? What is your experience with the elite child athlete. Please leave any feedback in the comment section below.

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