The USA international has made an art form out of stopping opponents without using brute force or diving in with reckless challenges and he admits it comes down to perfect timing.
"I'm getting on the right end of them right now, but if you mistimed it only by a split second, top players can make you look a fool, or go down in dangerous areas," Holden told the Bolton News.
"You just have to make sure you get it right, and do it in the right areas - not in and around the box where you don't need to give away silly fouls.
"I'm not the biggest guy in the world, so trying to go around and be a hard man isn't going to work. It's more of a mental thing, to see if I can get there one step ahead of someone, or just not give them much time on the ball."
Holden added that Trotters boss Owen Coyle has urged he and midfield mate Fabrice Muamba to be the driving force in the centre of the pitch no matter who they come up against.
"The manager has encouraged me to be a more complete player, not just focused on starting the attack," he added. "He has asked Fabrice and myself to apply a lot of pressure, which makes it tougher for teams in the middle of the park.