Two Southern California brothers surge to reach the top level of soccer with TOCA
Brothers Aidan and Kellan Holmes have been dedicated TOCA trainees for three years since the opening of the Costa Mesa, California center in October 2014.
“I like TOCA because it’s fast-paced, hard, and it’s very rewarding,” said 13-year- old professional soccer hopeful, Kellan Holmes.
There are numerous supplemental training tools available; however, quality was always a priority for Aidan and Kellan’s mother, Laura.
For the past three years, the brothers worked on their technique. Their training efforts have resulted in an immediate impact on their development and performance as observed by three-year TOCA trainer Chris Gardea as well as their mother.
TOCA is a unique way for the boys to get in their touches in a purposeful way.
Whether it’s technical training in a TOCA studio or on the pitch, Aidan and Kellan have seen a cleaner first touch and improvements in all aspects of the game – technically, physically and cognitively – since training with the TOCA Touch Trainer and the custom-designed, smaller and lighter TOCA ball.
“I can do things faster than some other players,” said 15-year- old and promising Division I student-athlete Aidan. “I can control the ball a lot better now because we practice that every day at TOCA.”
“TOCA has boosted my confidence,” Kellan said. “I could do certain things better now – like my dribbling has improved since we do dribbling and footwork with tight cones. My passes are more accurate, my shots are harder, and my ball deliveries are a lot faster in a game.”
While TOCA training elevates confidence, it exposes weaknesses. In Kellan’s case, his left foot touch wasn’t perfect, and Aidan’s right foot strike lacked control.
“That’s the great thing about training with the Touch Trainer and the ball,” Chris said. “Every session, every detail that needs to be focused on can be manipulated by the machine. It makes you pay attention to little things you typically wouldn’t pay attention to.”
Aidan and Kellan highlight the level of consistency delivered by the Touch Trainer and the fact that the small ball encapsulates the TOCA experience. They emphasize the inconsistency of an outside trainer or a coach’s ball delivery which could weaken the efficiency of their training.
“As a trainer, it’s fantastic we know the Touch Trainer is going to shoot at a specific spot each time, at a specific trajectory and speed,” Chris said. “Once I push play, I don’t have to worry about the Touch Trainer anymore. All I worry about is the person I am training.” TOCA’s small-ball training methodology has yielded strong results in the Holmes’ games. Training with the small TOCA ball with its sweet spot increases the difficulty compared to practicing with a regulation size 5.
You have fun too while still putting in the work you need to get out of training; and I feel like I touch the ball so much here than I do in a real game.
The speed at which the TOCA ball is delivered – up to 50 miles per hour – and the constant repetitions has accelerated their skills development as Kellan said, “If you could control a small ball at a fast speed, you can control the big ball at a slower speed easier.”
A soccer player can run an average of 7-8 miles per game. At TOCA, Aidan and Kellan practice position-specific, game-like scenarios to develop real-time decision making while implementing mixtures of game conditions such as jogging, running and sprinting
to produce game fitness.
The brothers usually feel physically taxed following a session, but they noticed not only has their fitness improved but also the mental aspect of their game has improved.
“TOCA improves technique so that players can better execute their next move,” Laura said. “The boys have always possessed a natural understanding of the game, but TOCA certainly helped improve their technique to execute their decisions more consistently on the field. Consistent execution builds player confidence.”
Fitness is usually not a player’s favorite part of training, but the Holmes enjoy their weekly visits to TOCA for its unique soccer training experience despite the physical demand.
“I am extremely proud of them,” Chris said. “TOCA is something they will be using in the future. Hopefully when they do move on to the next level, like college, they come back on their breaks and get touches.”
While Aidan and Kellan have a few years before they decide their next step in their soccer careers, whether it’s Division I Soccer program, TOCA will continue to be a part of their journey to the top.