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Individual Practice is Old School
By Joe Ulm

When I was growing up, practicing on your own or with friends was the way to get better. If you wanted the starting spot on the team you were a gifted athlete or you figured out a way to practice on your own. That often included being creative with what you had and talking siblings and friends into practicing with you. Whatever it was, it was up to you – you took the initiative and figured out ways to get better. I still think there’s enormous value in that type of creative, self-initiated effort, but I also see why it’s rare today.

For most grade school kids today, parents actively participate in the activity with their kids, whether playing or practicing, instead of leaving it to them to figure out the best way to practice. Additionally, parents often help organize time with friends for their kids.  In this way, parents have largely replaced “friends and siblings.” High Schools have their own programs for older kids (many of which now provide options for middle school kids) and, of course, clubs play a huge role throughout. And let’s not forget the nearly endless entertainment options kids have today. All told, it’s a fundamentally different environment than it was when I grew up. The question is… is that a good thing? I think it is. Mostly.

When I look back at the way I grew up, the creativity and initiative needed to get better taught me some essential lessons – lessons which are still valuable even now. Yet, I wonder how much more I could have learned if I had the type of dedicated, knowledgeable, instruction available to kids today. Or how much better I could have been if I hadn’t spent time practicing the wrong things or practicing the right things the wrong way. The most poignant example of this dichotomy between structured practice and self-initiated practice is the way Lati grew up. It’s a story I can’t do justice to here, but I can tell you that our Street Soccer program was born from his experiences growing up. Literally.

Ultimately, I believe that today’s environment can be better for kids. It can provide the structured, knowledgeable instruction kids need to reach their potential. But only if we surround them with coaches and people who care about them, who are knowledgeable in what they’re teaching, and who teach in a way that helps players learn the sport AND the underlying lesson. Simply put, even though the structure of youth sports – and the world our kids are growing up in – have both changed, the lessons are still as valuable as they were all those years ago when I grew up. 

So, individual practice is old school. I get it. I guess we’ll just have to create an environment that provides both great coaching and opportunities for players to learn those valuable lessons. Easy stuff. Because it’s all doable when we do it together. United.

street soccer

In our Street Soccer program, players have the opportunity to create their own teams, make their own calls, and unconsciously develop their technical and tactical awareness–all while expressing themselves with the ball at their feet. We believe players should be able to manage themselves and have the freedom to play, interact, problem-solve, innovate, and take ownership of their participation in the game. Teams are created the day of to promote diversity, and games are played without referees to reinforce positive conflict resolution techniques. Our I-Mentor coaches will supervise each field making sure that players and facilities are safe while maintaining a fun and challenging environment.

PSU’s Street Soccer is open to all 9U to 19U players. Our Old School Street Soccer is open to any parent, soccer coach, and their significant others. Bring the whole family!

Details

  • Fridays : April 15 through June 3
  • Time: 5:30-7:00 pm
  • Location: Pewaukee Sports Complex

Rules

  • Games are 7 minutes long
  • Sliding or going to ground is not allowed
  • There is no offsides, but all other soccer rules apply
  • There are no referees – players call their own fouls
  • Profanity of any kind is not allowed

Important Information

  • Cleats, shin guards, socks (covering the shin guards) are required
  • Teams may be adjusted by PSU team members multiple times during each session, including during games
  • PSU reserves the right to disallow the participation of players in the program for any reason
  • Signed waiver is required