[twitter]Zacharie would rather do pirouettes and dance down the field than chase after the ball aggressively and shoot for goal. He likes soccer, at least I think he does, but he’s not passionate about it. He whines when it is time to go, but when we get to practice or a game, he is more excited. Then, on the field, he’s a little distracted.

While some kids are uber competitive, Zacharie’s a little flaky.

We joined soccer to get a team experience, to meet other kids in the community, to have some discipline, get some exercise, and try something new. He’s good at backyard soccer, so we put him in a community team.

Zacharie’s the worst player on the team. When he’s in net, and he’s not paying attention, it’s easy for the other team to score goals on my Z. His teammates, more eager to play and win, get down on him.

I know Z isn’t the best, and so when the game is over, I comment him on his level of try. On how well he paid attention. On how engaged he was in the game. I don’t comment on his results, or the goals he let in, or the ones he didn’t score, I talk to him about his effort.

It’s the same for school. The effort is what matters, because if my kid is trying, results will come and he will reach his potential. But only if he tries.

So I was thrilled to see this post in my feeds this week about how to responsibly cheer for your kids at sports, or any performance.

Before the Competition:
Have fun.
Play hard.
I love you.

After the competition:
Did you have fun?
I’m proud of you.
I love you.

That’s it. That’s all the kids need. They need to be encouraged to try their best, and they need to be supported after the game. I have my kid in soccer to extend his abilities and to learn how to play with others, not get a scholarship. He’s 7.

Recently, Johnny Gaudreau was on Hockey Night in Canada talking about a tournament he played at in West Edmonton Mall. Video of his spinorama goals have been viral ever since he made it to the NHL. When asked what he remembered about the tournament, Gaudreau talked about the wave pool at the mall, not the results on the ice.

It’s the same thing Cassie Campbell said of her time growing up in hockey. She can’t tell you how her team did at a tournament in Peterborough, but she knew it was her favorite because the hotel they stayed at had a pool.

When you drop your kid off in the dressing room or backstage at their next activity, offer them encouragement, love, and support. When they’re done, reinforce your pride in their effort, and commitment to their growth.

And then, if your kid keeps doing pirouettes on the soccer pitch, and continues to not pay all that much attention, or experience much success, put him in dance class, and watch him shine.

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