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The Path to Improvement Means Becoming Your Own Coach

By Joe Ulm

From the first day players kick a soccer ball to their early teens, players have parents and coaches there with them. Coaches and parents instruct them on everything: what they work on, what skills they learn, what drills they do, how long they train, etc. Then, one day, players are told that to truly improve, they need to train on their own time in addition to their team training. Although that advice is 100% accurate, there’s a problem with it…after years of taking instruction from coaches and parents, players don’t know how to train on their own. Sure, they know how to pass against a wall, or practice juggling, but few know how to practice individually in ways that truly improve their skills on the field. To do that, I believe players would help themselves a ton by taking on a mindset of “becoming their own coach.” Doing so requires three things:

  1. Setting clear expectations. Good coaches always set expectations. From the effort players show at practice to the wins the team is shooting for that season, good coaches provide expectations for both players and the team. Why? Because it creates a structure for behavior and for measuring improvement. So set expectations for yourself before you begin. I suggest those expectations include both your consistency and your effort. Good things always happen with good consistency and effort.
  2. Make it interesting. Passing against a wall to improve your weak foot can be a mind-numbing exercise – as can many other ways of practicing individually. That’s why making mini-games out of your individual practice time is so important. Instead of passing against the wall 100 times, mark a spot on the wall and commit to hitting it 50 out of 100 times. When that becomes easy, raise the number to 60, 70, and so on. Be creative until you find the types of games that are interesting to you. Then don’t end your practice until you’ve “won” your game(s).
  3. Start small. 15-minutes of individual practice three times a week equates to 39 hours of practice over the course of the year! 39 hours of training will definitely help you become a better player. Sure, training individually for an extra 6 hours each week will help you improve more quickly than training for an extra 45 minutes each week, but you’re far more likely to stop training altogether if you have to train for 6 hours a week to meet your expectations. Study after study shows starting small gives you the best chance to remain consistent and follow through. So start small and stay consistent.

Ultimately, coaches are necessary for us to improve, as is team training. But you’d be surprised at how much you can improve on your own if you take just a little time each week to become your own coach.

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