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Training Strategies to Maximize Your Touch on the Pitch

By Cody Carter Published on Monday, June 15, 2015

In the average match, a player only interacts with the ball about two percent of the time. With this in mind, it’s critical that players make the most of that two percent and, more importantly, the other 98 percent of the game. At EXOS, we believe that maximizing touch starts with what you do in the gym. By focusing on the three areas below, you’ll improve your reaction time, increase first-step quickness, and maximize space and separation so you can dominate when you’re in control of the ball.

Rapid response and neural activation

Alex Morgan Quick Ladder Pro The connection between your feet and your brain is critical to maximize the interaction between your feet and the ball. After your normal warmup, focus on preparing your nervous system, which connects your brain and your feet. EXOS calls this neural activation and rapid response. Prime your nervous system for activity with Base Rotations on both sides of the Quick Ladder Pro.

Performing 2-3 sets on each side near the end of your warmup will prime your body for better foot interaction with the ball. Make sure you’re light on your feet and minimizing time spent on the ground.


First-step quickness and top-end speed

Touches happen while you’re moving at both low and high speeds. Spend time working on movements that help you accelerate quickly and maintain top speed when you’re racing down the pitch to win the ball. Linear Hops and Jumps over barriers using the Pro Training System will help you develop both of these critical skills by increasing muscle elasticity and training your body to be more explosive.

Perform 3-4 sets of 5-6 Linear Hops on each leg after a warmup or 3-4 sets of 5-6 Linear Jumps. Anytime you’re doing plyometrics, concentrate on landing softly and quietly.

Plyometrics with the SKLZ Pro Training System

Creating space and separation

The more efficiently you move on the pitch, the better you’re able to evade defenders or stay with the striker. A key component of this is pillar strength. Your pillar — hips, shoulders, and torso — needs to be strong and stable for you to move efficiently and effectively. The Medicine Ball is a staple for soccer training, and it’ll help you strengthen this area. We recommend adding the Overhead Rotational Slam to your routine.

Perform 3-4 sets of 6-8 reps on each side three times a week.

Alex Morgan Med Ball Rotational Slams

Carling, C. “Analysis of physical activity profiles when running with the ball in a professional soccer team.” Journal of Sports Sciences, 2010, 28: 319-326.


Cody Carter Cody has spent the last 10 years coaching athletes at the youth, high school, competitive, collegiate and professional levels. During that time he has learned from and developed close relationships with some of the best performance specialists in the world. Growing up, he played football, basketball and ran track. He didn't specialize in one sport until college, where he chose to run track as a sprinter and high hurdler for Iowa State University. He has spent his entire performance coaching career in Southern California where he is now a Manager for the EXOS Performance Innovation Team. Now based at SKLZ Headquarters, directly above the EXOS San Diego facility, Cody is able to jump in for the occasional hands-on athlete training session. View all posts by

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