Kickin' It With Chris Anthony

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Last season, when I came across the Boomerangball (iqtoys.com.au)—an Australian soccer-training device designed for kids—I realized it would help skiers hone their reflexes, balance, and timing. The setup is simple: just a soccer ball attached to an elastic cord that's tied around your waist. When kicked, the ball shoots out and recoils back. It takes some practice, but after a few "juggling sessions, you'll be ready to step it up. Here's how.

Target Practice: Find an object to shoot at—a tree or boulder will do—then kick the ball so it barely touches its mark before returning. Perfecting your aim will strengthen the connection between your eyes and feet—which comes in handy when making split-second decisions in the bumps.

Left Foot, Right Foot: Carving big turns means trusting your ability to handle lateral movement. Kick the ball off the heel or side of the foot and then switch feet while the ball is in the air, deflecting it to the opposite foot. Work on building the number of consecutive repetitions, maxing out at around four sets of 12.

Karate Kid: Increasing the strength and balance of each foot makes for easier adjustments on hard landings. Stand on a bench or railing and kick the ball in front of you, alternating feet. Be sure to place something soft below (like a bouldering crash pad) for that occasional digger.

Sept. 2004