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Publication numberUS20060189417 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 11/375,813
Publication dateAug 24, 2006
Filing dateMar 15, 2006
Priority dateSep 29, 1998
Publication number11375813, 375813, US 2006/0189417 A1, US 2006/189417 A1, US 20060189417 A1, US 20060189417A1, US 2006189417 A1, US 2006189417A1, US-A1-20060189417, US-A1-2006189417, US2006/0189417A1, US2006/189417A1, US20060189417 A1, US20060189417A1, US2006189417 A1, US2006189417A1
InventorsChristopher Evans, Richard Evans
Original AssigneeChristopher Evans, Richard Evans
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Interchangeable soccer training system
US 20060189417 A1
Abstract
The present invention is a soccer training system for holding and retrieving a soccer ball including a detachable tether mechanism that is capable of easily switching between being ground-mounted, hand-held, and belt-mounted, depending on what practice skills are desired. The invention is an incorporated kicking, shooting, dribbling and juggling soccer training device that simulates real soccer play.
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Claims(25)
1. An interchangeable soccer training system for allowing a user to practice multiple soccer skills comprising:
a tether line having a proximal end and a distal end and at least one elastic portion;
means for securing a soccer ball in a minimally interfering way to said distal end of said tether line;
means for allowing said tether line to rotate about its own axis;
at least two ball anchoring means; and
means for removably attaching said proximal end of said tether line to each of said at least two ball anchoring means;
wherein each of said at least two ball anchoring means are adapted to be mounted on the ground, held in a user's hands, or mounted on the body of a user.
2. The interchangeable soccer training system of claim 1, wherein said means for allowing said tether line to rotate about its own axis comprises a swivel-eyebolt.
3. The interchangeable soccer training system of claim 1, wherein said means for removably attaching said proximal end of said tether line to each of said at least two ball anchoring means comprises a spring-loaded clasp.
4. The interchangeable soccer training system of claim 1, wherein said means for securing a soccer ball in a minimally interfering way to said distal end of said tether line comprises a net adapted to encase the soccer ball.
5. The interchangeable soccer training system of claim 1, wherein one of said at least two ball anchoring means is mounted on a ground surface.
6. The interchangeable soccer training system of claim 5, wherein one of said at least two ball anchoring means comprises a unitary ground unit comprising:
a plurality of arms extending from a center of said unit, wherein each arm has a circular opening at a distal end;
a circular loop extending from said unit on a plane orthogonal to a plane of said arms; and
a ring freely movable along a substantial portion of said circular loop.
7. The interchangeable soccer training system of claim 6, wherein one of said at least two ball anchoring means further comprises a plurality of stakes adapted to be inserted into the ground through said circular openings on said distal ends of said arms.
8. The interchangeable soccer training system of claim 6, wherein said ring is adapted to receive said means for removably attaching said proximal end of said tether line to each of said at least two ball anchoring means.
9. The interchangeable soccer training system of claim 5, wherein one of said at least two ball anchoring means comprises a ground unit comprising:
a stake with an upper portion and a lower portion, wherein said lower portion is spiraled and adapted to be inserted into the ground, and said upper portion extends in plane perpendicular to said ground; and
a freely movable ring connected to said upper portion for receiving said means for removably attaching said proximal end of said tether line to each of said at least two ball anchoring means.
10. The interchangeable soccer training system of claim 9, wherein said upper portion is a circular loop and said ring is freely movable along a substantial portion of said circular loop.
11. The interchangeable soccer training system of claim 10, wherein a handle extends on a plane perpendicular to the ground and is adapted to be flush with the ground after the spiral portion is fully inserted.
12. The interchangeable soccer training system of claim 9, wherein said ring is connected to said stake at a junction of the upper portion and lower portion by a pin and a rotating ring.
13. The interchangeable soccer training system of claim 12, wherein said upper portion is triangularly shaped and is adapted to be a handle.
14. The interchangeable soccer training system of claim 1, wherein one of said at least two ball anchoring means is adapted to be held in a player's hands.
15. The interchangeable soccer training system of claim 14, wherein one of said at least two ball anchoring means comprises a handheld tether winder comprising:
a left end adapted to be held in a player's left hand, a right end adapted to be held in a player's right hand, and a center portion;
said left end being inversely symmetrical to said right end; and
said left end and said right end each approximately forming a Y-shape having a top part and a bottom part,
wherein a bottom part of said Y-shapes are joined at said center portion; and a top part of each said Y-shape has a loop.
16. The interchangeable soccer training system of claim 15, wherein said loop is adapted to receive said means for removably attaching said proximal end of said tether line to each of said at least two ball anchoring means.
17. The interchangeable soccer training system of claim 15, wherein said top part of said Y-shapes on said left and right ends is adapted to receive said tether when it is wound around said winder.
18. The interchangeable soccer training system of claim 1, wherein one of said at least two ball anchoring means is adapted to be worn by a player.
19. The interchangeable soccer training system of claim 18, wherein one of said at least two ball anchoring means comprises a band comprising:
a first end and a second end, said first and second end having a means for removably connecting said first end to said second end; and
an attachment means for receiving said proximal end of said tether line at either said first end or said second end of said band.
20. The interchangeable soccer training system of claim 19, wherein said attachment means is adapted to receive said means for removably attaching said proximal end of said tether line to each of said at least two ball anchoring means.
21. The interchangeable soccer training system of claim 19, wherein said attachment means is a rotatable ring.
22. The interchangeable soccer training system of claim 19, wherein said attachment means is a loop of material.
23. The interchangeable soccer training system of claim 19, wherein said means for removably connecting said first end to said second end comprises hook and loop fasteners.
24. The interchangeable soccer training system of claim 19, wherein said means for removably connecting said first end to said second end comprises a conventional belt buckle with reciprocal holes.
25. The interchangeable soccer training system of claim 19, wherein said band is adapted to be worn around the waist of a player.
Description
CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application is a continuation-in-part of co-pending U.S. patent application Ser. No. 09/493,871 entitled “Apparatus and Method for Soccer Training and Practice”, filed 28 Jan. 2000, which is a continuation-in-part of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 09/162,976 entitled “Apparatus and Method for Soccer Training and Practice”, filed 29 Sep. 1998. This application also claims priority to U.S. Provisional patent application Ser. No. 60/664,253 entitled “Handheld Bungee Winder”, filed 22 Mar. 2005. The contents of each of the aforementioned applications are incorporated herein by reference.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

This invention relates generally to ball sports devices and more particularly to a soccer training device and accessories.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Soccer is a team sport and serious players practice long hours with a team. However, when an individual player wishes to practice on his or her own, difficulty arises. Kicking the ball a distance from the player creates a ball retrieval problem.

A device to facilitate soccer practice for a single player, which returns the soccer ball to the player after it is kicked, has obvious benefits. Two such devices are disclosed in U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,620,186 and 4,147,353. Both devices, however, have shortcomings in the anchoring means and the ball holding means. Both the ′186 and the ′353 devices use a “tent stake” for anchoring the device. Anchoring by means of a simple tent stake in the ground might be suitable for young children, but does not work for stronger players. It is possible for a strong junior high school, high school, college, or professional player to dislodge an ordinary “tent” stake with a few powerful kicks. This makes these soccer practice devices ineffective, and also potentially dangerous. Further, the prior art devices lack freedom of movement of the ball's tether around the stake. The tether in the prior art devices wraps around the “tent stake” anchoring means and prohibits the free movement of the ball around and over the anchoring means. This lack of freedom of movement of the ball also inhibits the ball from rolling back to the player freely, smoothly and without the tangling of the tether cord.

The problems in the ball holding means are also significant. To a soccer player, the feel of the ball when kicking is an important element of feedback and a vital aspect of training and practice. Existing prior art devices use straps, sewn overlapping fastenings, metal rings or Velcro closings to hold the ball. All of these coverings on the ball cause an uneven, bumpy feel upon kicking the ball and impede the rolling of the ball when it returns to the player.

Additionally, players may need to purchase multiple soccer trainers in order to practice all of their necessary skills. For instance, hand-held trainers such as SoccerPal® and Brine Skillmaster™ are specifically directed to dribbling and juggling. If a player wishes to improve their kicking and shooting, they would need to buy a different device, such as Star Kick™, Penalty Master®, Soccix™, Kwik Kick™ or Iso-Trainer™. Some modifications have been made to address this problem, such as an additional wrist-strap and cord that can be used with Iso-Trainer™ to allow dribbling and juggling. Star Kick™ purportedly can be used to dribble, however, as with the wrist strap approach, the cord length cannot be easily shortened, thus a player must deal with the awkwardness of at least a 10 foot length of cord at their feet. Until now, an inexpensive, interchangeable system for combining multiple ways to train, namely a secure ground anchor for shots, a hand-held, adjustable length device for ball control skills and a waist-attached system for indoor use, has not been available.

It remains desirable to have a soccer practice device for strong players that approximates normal game play.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The problems of anchoring a tether and holding a soccer ball are solved by the present invention of a soccer practice device having a stable anchoring means and a tethering means that resists tangling and allows the soccer ball to roll smoothly.

It is an object of the present invention to provide a system that allows a player to easily switch a soccer training device between being ground-mounted, hand-held, and mounted on the player's body in order to practice different skills.

It is another object of the present invention to provide an incorporated kicking, shooting, dribbling and juggling soccer training device.

It is another object of the present invention to provide a method and apparatus to firmly and securely tether a soccer ball to an anchor such that the tether does not become entangled with the anchor during play.

It is another object of the present invention to provide a method and apparatus to hold a soccer ball in a practice device such that the ball retains the feel of a ball in normal soccer play.

The present invention provides a soccer training system for holding and retrieving a soccer ball including a detachable tether mechanism that is capable of easily switching between being ground-mounted, hand-held, and belt-mounted, depending on what practice skills are desired.

The present invention provides a ground anchoring means that includes a spiral tie down stake or a unitary structure comprised of multiple, spaced apart, legs extending from a common central point arranged, for example, in an “X” pattern, wherein each of the legs has at its distal end an eye for receiving an associated tent-type stake. A ring is disposed through a circular upper portion of the tie down stake or X-shaped (for example) ground unit such that the ring moves freely along the circular upper portion. A tether cord is connected at one end to the ring via a detachable link and, at the other end, to a net that holds a soccer ball. The detachable link includes a swivel-eyebolt connection that permits the net and soccer ball to spin 360° about the axis of the tether cord. The circular upper portion, ring, and swivel-eyebolt on the detachable link allow the soccer ball great freedom of movement, thus simulating real soccer play.

The present invention also provides a handheld bungee winder, to which the tether cord can be connected and about which the tether cord can be wound in order to shorten the freely moveable section of the tether cord to a desired length for dribbling, juggling and/or trapping the ball. A player can then hold onto the bungee winder to control the relative movement of the netted soccer ball.

The present invention also provides a belt that can be mounted on a player's waist, to which the detachable tether mechanism can be attached.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE SEVERAL VIEWS OF THE DRAWINGS

The present invention together with the above and other advantages may best be understood from the following detailed description of the embodiments of the invention illustrated in the drawings, wherein:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a first embodiment of a ground-mounted ball anchoring means according to principles of the invention;

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of a tie down stake, a rotating ring, a rotating loop and a detachable link such as may be utilized in the embodiment of FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of the tether and detachable link of FIG. 1;

FIG. 4 is a perspective view of the ball holding mechanism of FIG. 1;

FIG. 5 is a perspective view of a second embodiment of a ground-mounted ball anchoring means according to principles of the invention;

FIG. 6 is a perspective view of a third embodiment of a ground-mounted ball anchoring means according to principles of the invention;

FIG. 7 is a side view of the anchoring means of FIG. 6;

FIG. 8 a is a perspective view of a fourth embodiment of a ground-mounted ball anchoring means according to the principles of the invention;

FIG. 8 b is a perspective view of the associated stakes to be used with the ground-mounted ball anchoring means of FIG. 8 a;

FIG. 9 is a perspective view of an embodiment of a hand-held ball anchoring means according to the principles of the present invention;

FIGS. 10 a and 10 b are perspectives view of an embodiment of a waist-mounted ball anchoring means according to the principles of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS THE INVENTION

FIG. 1 illustrates a first embodiment of a soccer practice device 10 according to the principles of the present invention. The first embodiment of the soccer practice device 10 includes a spiral tie down stake 15, which has a spiraled lower portion 20 that is inserted into the ground during use. The upper portion 25 of the stake is bent into a triangular shape forming a handle for pushing the stake 15 in and pulling the stake 15 out of the ground while turning the stake. The upper portion 25 can alternatively be in the form of other handle shapes. A lower stop 30 and an upper stop 35 are positioned on the stake 15 between the handle 25 and the spiraled lower portion 20. The stake 15 has a rotating loop 40, which is attached to the stake 15 by means of a pin 45 and a rotating ring 50. The motion of rotating ring 50 along stake 15 is constrained by lower stop 30 and upper stop 35. A detachable link 55 is attached to the rotating loop 40 by a clasp 60, which releases with a thumb spring mechanism 65. The detachable link 55 also has a swivel-eyebolt 70. The swivel-eyebolt 70 holds one end of a tether cord 75, which in the present embodiment, includes at least one elastic section. The other end of the tether cord 75 is connected to a drawstring 80 for a net 85, which holds a soccer ball 90. In the present embodiment, the elastic cord tether 75 has clamped loops on both ends for attachment to the swivel-eyebolt 70 and the drawstring 80, but other attachment means are also possible, such as a tying a knot to create the loops on each end of the elastic cord tether 75.

In operation, the tie down stake 15 anchors the tethered soccer ball 90. The ball 90 may be kicked by the user without tangling the tether 75 because of the freedom of movement of the ball 90 in relation to the stake 15, as will be described below.

FIG. 2 illustrates tie down stake 15, rotating ring 50, rotating loop 40, and swivel-eye bolt 70 with indicator arrows showing the freedom of movement of the various components. The rotating ring 50, pin 45, and rotating loop 40 form a rotating tether cord attachment means which provide the soccer ball with the freedom of movement to simulate realistic soccer ball play. The detachable link 55 with the swivel-eye bolt 70 provides even more freedom of movement. The rotating ring 50 rotates around the stake 15 with 360° freedom of movement. The rotating loop 40 rotates around the pin 45 with 360° freedom of movement. The swivel-eyebolt 70 rotates around the axis of the detachable link 55 with 360° freedom of movement. The rotational freedom of movement of the ring 50, the loop 40, and the swivel-eye bolt 70 allows the soccer ball 90 tethered to the stake 15 to spin and roll with minimum tangling of the tether 75.

FIG. 3 shows the tether 75 with clamped loops at both ends. One end of the tether 75 is connected to the swivel-eyebolt 70 of the detachable link 55. The swivel-eyebolt 70 allows 360° rotation about the axis of the detachable link 55. The tether 75 is removable from the stake 15 so that cords of various lengths and degrees of elasticity may be attached to the stake 15. This allows players with different skill levels to be accommodated and enables different techniques to be practiced such as indirect and direct kicks, penalty kicks, corner kicks, goal kicks, throw-ins, and trapping. In addition, by being removable, worn tethers may be easily replaced. The tether 75 can also be attached to other ball anchoring means to allow a player to practice different skills.

FIG. 4 shows the soccer ball 90 enclosed in the net 85. The net 85 may be made of nylon or some other strong, flexible material. Because of the adjustability of the net 85 with the drawstring 80, the net 85 can accommodate various sizes of soccer balls. After the soccer ball 90 is inserted into net 85, the drawstring 80 is drawn snug and tied off and then attached to the tether 75.

FIG. 5 shows a second ground-mounted embodiment of the soccer practice device according to principles of the present invention, designed to practice kicking and shooting skills. The second embodiment has a weighted base 100 and a connection element 110 to anchor the soccer ball 90. The detachable link 55 attaches to the base 100 by means of the connection element 110. The ball is tethered as before with the elastic tether 75 and the net 85. The weighted base 100 shown is cylindrically-shaped with tapered sides, but other shapes may be used. Also, the weighted base 100 may be of various sizes, and can, for instance, be sized according to the strength and skill levels of the anticipated users. The weighted base 100 is preferably made of plastic or metal, but other materials are possible. The weighted base 100 is hollow and may be filled through the filling opening 115 by sand or some other dense filling material.

FIGS. 6 and 7 show a third preferred ground-mounted embodiment of the soccer practice device according to principles of the present invention. The third alternative embodiment has a tie down stake that has a spiraled lower portion 120, which is inserted into the ground during use. The upper portion of the stake is formed into a circular holder 125 that holds a ring 130 that is free to travel along a substantial portion of the circular upper portion of the stake. A handle 135 projects from the tie down stake below the circular holder 125. In operation, the spiraled lower portion 120 is inserted into the ground 140, and handle 135 becomes flush with the plane of the ground to prevent interference with the path of the ball. A tether is attached to the ring 130 by, for example, the detachable link 55 shown in FIG. 1. The circular holder 125, ring 130, and rotating detachable link 55 provide a high degree of freedom of movement for the soccer ball and simulate the motion of the ball in free play.

The tie down stake and handle as shown in FIGS. 6 and 7 are formed of a unitary piece of material spiraled and turned to form this embodiment of the soccer practice device. Alternatively, the device could be formed of a plurality of pieces. For example, the lower portion, upper portion and handle could be manufactured as separate pieces, which are then assembled to form the soccer practice device. Other manufacturing and assembly configurations are possible within the scope of the invention.

FIGS. 8 a and 8 b show a fourth ground-mounted embodiment of the soccer practice device according to the principles of the present invention. The fourth embodiment has a unitary ground unit 200 with four arms 205 extending from the center 210. The four arms 205 preferably lie flat on the ground surface. Each arm 205 has a circular opening 210 at the distal end for receiving stakes 215. A circular loop 220 extends from the center 210 on a plane orthogonal to the plane of the arms 205. A ring 225 is freely movable along a substantial portion of the circular loop 220. In operation, the unitary ground unit 200 is anchored to the ground by inserting stakes 215 through the circular openings 210. The tether 75 can then be attached to the ring 225 by, for example, the detachable link 55 shown in FIG. 1.

FIG. 9 shows a fifth embodiment of the soccer practice device according to the principles of the present invention, designed to practice dribbling juggling, and/or trapping of the soccer ball. The handheld tether winder 300 comprises a unitary piece of metal, plastic, injection-molded plastic, hard rubber or the like that is formed into the shape of two letter “Y”s. The first “Y” shape 305 includes a “V” shape 310 at the top, and a base 315 extending diagonally down from side 320 of the “V” shape 310. There is also a loop 325 included on the opposite side 330 of the “V” shape 310. The second “Y” shape 306 is upside down and includes a “V” shape 311 at the bottom, and a base 316 extending diagonally up from side 321 of the “V” shape 311. There is also a loop 326 included on the opposite side 331 of the “V” shape 311. The first “Y” shape 305 and the second “Y” shape 306 are unitarily joined at their respective bases 315, 316. In a second hand-held embodiment, not shown, sides 320 and 321 also include additional loops similar to loops 325 and 326.

In operation, the tether 75 can be attached to loop 325 or 326 by, for example, the detachable link 55 shown in FIG. 1. The tether 75 (with attached soccer ball 90) can be wound around the handheld tether winder 300, in much the same manner as the string of a kite can be wound around a kite string winder, until it reaches the desired length for dribbling, juggling and/or trapping the ball. A player can then hold onto the tether 75 at a location along bases 315, 316 of the two “Y” shapes 305, 306 to control the soccer ball.

FIGS. 10 a and 10 b shows a sixth preferred embodiment of the soccer practice device according to the principles of the present invention, adapted to be mounted around the waist of a user. Alternatively, the device could be mounted on other parts of the user's body. The belt 400 is preferably made of a conventional inelastic adjustable length strap of nylon material or the like, or alternatively of an elastic material in order to fit the waist of any player. The outer surface 410 of first end 405 of the belt 400 has hook fasteners 430. The inner surface 420 of the second end 415 of the belt 400 has loop fasteners 435. Hook fasteners 430 and loop fasteners 435 can be removably attached to each other to join the belt together around the waist of the user. It is noted that the hook fasteners and loop fasteners can alternatively be on either surface 410 or 420, and any other fastening means such as snaps, hooks, or a conventional belt buckle can alternatively be used. The outer surface 440 of the second end 415 of the belt has an attachment means to which tether 75 can be attached to by, for example, detachable link 55. In a first embodiment of attachment means, outer surface 440 includes a short pin 445 perpendicular to the surface 440 with an attached rotating ring 450 (similar to the configuration of FIG. 2). In a second embodiment of attachment means, not shown, outer surface 440 includes a small loop of material, preferably nylon cord, to which tether 75 can be attached. Alternatively, tether 75 can be wound around belt 400 and secured upon itself by detachable link 55.

The present invention allows a serious player of any ability to go out to a soccer field or back yard on his or her own and get in an intensive practice on a particular skill, at his or her own pace in an efficient manner. Further, the device is of simple construction, made of a minimal number of inexpensive, durable individual parts capable of being quickly exchanged to allow for the practice of a variety of techniques by players at different skill levels, as well as enabling any worn part to be readily replaced.

It is to be understood that the above-described embodiments are simply illustrative of the principles of the invention. Various and other modifications and changes may be made by those skilled in the art, which will embody the principles of the invention and fall within the spirit and scope thereof.

Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US20120322038 *Jun 13, 2012Dec 20, 2012Danbree CorporationSport training apparatus and method of use
Classifications
U.S. Classification473/446
International ClassificationA63B69/00
Cooperative ClassificationA63B69/002, A63B69/0079, A63B2071/024, A63B69/0086
European ClassificationA63B69/00F, A63B69/00T2