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The Reality of Tryouts

By Joe Ulm

The Reality of Tryouts

Tryouts are harsh. They pit kids against one another in grueling competition – friends, neighbors, and strangers alike – all competing against one another for hours under the summer sun.  Players work to show their soccer skills under dozens of watchful eyes.  Coaches and clipboards are everywhere – evaluating everything – every dribble, every pass, every mistake. This goes on for three days until finally, the results are posted and players see how they’ve been judged.  The judgements last for a year and players begin this ritual of “tryouts” at the ripe old age of ten.  

This is a bit of an exaggeration of how things really are, but it’s not that far away from reality, either. Strangely, that’s a good thing.  Why?  Because tryouts teach some of the most important lessons we can learn.

Tryouts include three magical ingredients that create a great (but hard) learning environment:

  1. There’s a lot on the line
  2. Failure is a real possibility (for them or a friend)
  3. There are unknown variables

This is life. Competitive. Difficult. Unknown. And with the possibility of failure always nearby. But it’s also how most of us learn our most valuable lessons: through trial and error when the stakes are high.

Of course, life isn’t always this way. There are birthdays and celebrations and times when people just enjoy, laugh, and love.  But at some point in life we get to an age where it’s our job to create the environments where those moments can exist. In most cases, creating those environments is a product of the work we’ve done, the decisions we’ve made, and the lessons we’ve learned – lessons we learn best when the stakes are high and there is a chance we might fail.  In other words, they’re earned.

Yes, tryouts are harsh, but they also teach us that our initiative, effort, and sacrifice can create our desired result. And vice versa.  Valuable lessons, indeed.

Sure, there are improvements that can be made to how tryouts work and we’ll be making some this year, but even if they were to stay the same it would be worth it because the lessons we learn, difficult as they may be, give us so much more.

Stay United, everyone.

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!


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


  • 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