FIELD OF THE INVENTION
- STATEMENT OF GOVERNMENTAL ASSISTANCE
The present invention relates generally to the sport of soccer, namely soccer balls, and in particular, soccer balls which may be used in a game and/or as a training aid.
- BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
Applicant hereby represents that no part of the subject invention or application has come about with the assistance of government funds or by virtue of a government program.
Soccer (as it is known in the United States) or football, as it is known internationally, is perhaps the most widely popular and widely played sport in the world. Soccer is played in nearly every country, and has, in its professional ranks, many skilled players. Much of the proficiency in the play of soccer comes from footspeed and agility of the player, as well as a keen awareness of strategy and anticipation of the player's opponents. However, despite all the emphasis on the foregoing, suffice it to say that without the skill to kick a soccer ball accurately and skillfully, a player becomes extremely limited in his proficiency as well as his value to his teammates. Therefor, in the development of the skills for playing soccer, great emphasis is placed on the skillful kicking of the ball in order to achieve a desired distance, angle and curvature of the ball flight.
For decades, much of the training of a soccer player has come from the educational activities of the soccer coach and from practicing the game or from drills. Some attempts at providing training aids have been used in the past, somewhat inconsequentially. In recent years, some attention has been paid to creating training balls for use by the developing soccer player. Pub. Nos. US 2003/0198924 A1 and US 2005/0221919 A1 by EITE disclose a training ball having differently colored target areas, each color basically representing a target to kick in order to achieve a specific flight path. The EITE reference teaches a number of differently colored or shaded areas to which a variety of flight paths are associated. EITIE teaches the student or player to strike the ball with the foot on an area of the ball as called out by the teacher or coach. This act of striking the ball as directed requires both coach or teacher and student or player to interact one with the other to take advantage of the training features of the claimed soccer ball. As seen in column 1 of EITE, the patent is directed to resolving the problem of a soccer player following the verbal instructions of the coach during play. In column two, a “particularly preferred” embodiment of the ball comprises a central target area with a left side spin target and a right side spin target on opposite faces of the ball. Such extreme targets do not provide the student with the “touch” associated with maneuvering a ball into its flight path by varying degrees. The difficulty associated with such a training aid, particularly during play requires very quick response from the player to verbal commands of the teacher of coach; sometimes difficult at best during fast play.
Design Patent No. US D510,608 S issued Oct. 11, 2005 to Carbonero discloses a numbered strike zone pattern for a soccer ball. It is assumed that this design patent discloses the ornamentation of a soccer ball with an eye toward assisting the kicker in choosing a ball flight commensurate with the number on the ball struck by the foot. Since the reference is that of a design patent, it is difficult to accurately determine how the ball is to be used. In each of the above cases, there is either a plurality of bands with arrows as in Eite or a number as in Carbonara, which gives some indication to the kicker where to hit the ball. In the Case of Eite, it is important for the coach to recognize the target of the ball to be struck to achieve a specific ball flight and then to communicate to the player which target to aim for.
What is taught by Eite in summary is a training aid which requires the interaction of a coach to be effective as intended. What is needed is a training aid which can be used by a player without the necessity of a coach. What is needed is a training aid which can be used by a soccer player in drills on his own without the aid of a coach.
As early as 1999, U.S. Pat. No. 5,947,845 issued to Canelas discloses a pair of soccer shoes and a corresponding ball with similar colors teaches a method of showing which part of the foot to apply to the corresponding area of a ball to achieve a desired result. The weakness of this method stems from the fact that physically, it is the amount of force applied in a given direction which directs the flight path of the ball. Most often, such is mathematically expressed in terms of a vector. While the amount of surface area of a shoe may provide some sort of enlarged striking area on the foot, little is to be gained over simply applying the correct amount of force in the proper direction impacting the ball.
The foregoing prior art soccer balls reflect the current state of the art of which the present inventor is aware. Reference to, and discussion of, these products is intended to aid in discharging Applicant's acknowledged duty of candor in disclosing information that may be relevant to the examination of prospective claims to the present invention. However, it is respectfully submitted that none of the above-indicated products disclose, teach, suggest, show, or otherwise render obvious, either singly or when considered in combination, the invention described herein.
- SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
Specifically, none of the foregoing soccer balls teach features substantially similar to those of Applicant's invention.
Applicant's invention employs a plurality of graphic illustrations on the surface of the ball which, by themselves, indicate a direction in which the ball will fly if struck. It is an object of applicant's invention to provide a more comprehensive training aid to the player which, if used according to applicant's recommendations, can be most useful to the player without the presence of his or her coach.
Specifically, the patterns employed in the graphic illustrations on the surface of the ball, when used in conjunction with other training materials will assist the student or player in the development of intuitive skills and muscle memory.
For example, in the preferred embodiment of applicant's invention, for more or less straight-on shooting, one graphic illustration on the surface of the ball is substantially round, indicating a substantially straight ahead direction for striking the ball. On the other side of the ball are two different graphic illustrations. In the preferred embodiment, striking targets are provided in strategic locations to assist in learning proper ball striking. These side targets even by their shape alone indicate a direction for the foot to take which will achieve the desired result. The shape of the graphic illustrations indicate a ball being compressed in the suggested direction such that as the student gets more used to kicking the ball according to the inherent suggestion of the graphic illustrations and their associated targets, not only intuitive skills are enhanced, but as well, muscle memory. Thus, if the side illustration is hit to the extreme side of the target, where compression is expressed the most, a more dramatic flight will occur. Where the ball is struck in a more “straight on” area of the side target, less dramatic flight will result. Such a target design enhances the student's ability to recognize graduated ball flight in a more refined way. In the preferred embodiment, applicant also employs shading in the graphic illustrations to express and delineate areas to be struck to achieve more or less dramatic results.
It is a further object of the present invention to provide instruction in multimedia form which explains the basic physics being employed when using the soccer ball, such that the player need not rely solely on the skills and knowledge of the coach, but can understand spin, trajectory, ball-flight, and further, test the strategies at his or her own pace either on or off the field, with or without a coach, thereby providing a self-instruction guide completely related and integral to the illustrations and physical aspects of the ball. Through off-field self study, the player can optimize the use of the ball on the field to then demonstrate physically the theories and lessons provided in the multimedia materials typically provided with each ball, even though the ball contains instructional graphics which to a certain extent, may be used in combination with said multimedia materials or without.
It is a further object of the present invention to provide a prescribed method of ball placement which enables the player to pre-place the ball for a practice kick. Such “indexing” of the ball enables the player to essentially coach himself, bringing consistency to at least ball placement so that accuracy can be learned. In order to achieve this, indexing targets are provided on the top and the bottom of the ball. In this way, the student by himself or herself (unlike in the EITE reference), may place the ball in a set position to train himself or herself without being told what shape, color or number to kick.
It is yet another object of applicant's invention to provide a striking target on either side of the ball to suggest to the kicker the correct point at which to strike the ball in order to achieve the desired result. The present invention provides such striking targets on either side of the ball when properly indexed and through practice, assists the player in increasing his or her own intuitiveness as it pertains to ball striking.
Other novel features which are characteristic of the invention, together with further objects and advantages thereof, will be better understood from the following specification, in which preferred embodiments of the invention are described by way of example. It is to be expressly understood, however, that the examples are for description only and are not intended as a definition of the limits of the invention. The various features of novelty that characterize the invention will be identified with particularity in the claims appended hereto. The invention does not reside in any one of these features taken alone, but rather in the particular combination of all of its elements.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
There has thus been broadly outlined the more important features of the invention in order that the detailed description thereof that follows may be better understood, and in order that the present contribution to the art may be better appreciated. There are, of course, additional features of the invention that will be described hereinafter and which will form additional subject matter of the claims appended hereto. Those skilled in the art will appreciate that the conception upon which this disclosure is based readily may be utilized as a basis for the designing of other compositions, methods, and systems for carrying out the several purposes of the present invention. It is important, therefore, that the prospective claims be regarded as including such equivalent compositions insofar as they do not depart from the spirit and scope of the present invention.
FIG. 1 is a frontal view of applicant's invention;
FIG. 2 is a rear view of applicant's invention;
FIG. 3 is a bottom view of applicant's invention; and
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION
FIG. 4 is a top view of applicant's invention.
FIG. 1 shows ball 10, applicant's ball in an indexed position. Ball 10, in the traditional circular shape has a surface 20 comprised of a plurality of sections as defined by seam 30. A first graphic illustration 40, substantially centered on the ball when indexed and defining a first side has substantially at the center thereof, striking target 45. When so indexed, target 45 provides the player an intended target such that when struck in a direction substantially normal to surface 20 at target 45, said ball 10 will travel in a substantially straight and level direction along the ground. When struck slightly above striking target 45, said ball, subject to the topspin induced by said striking, will tend to travel along the ground, useful in passing the ball to another player or when shot “on goal”, will travel along the ground in the direction intended by the player. Further, when struck slightly above target 45, and not either to the right or left thereof, said ball 10 will be directed in an upward trajectory, said trajectory's elevation substantially affected by how far below target 45 ball 10 is struck, and of course, the force of the blow.
The preferred method of placing graphic 40 and its striking target 45 on said ball 10's surface 20, is by the method of “silk screening.” Several other methods could be used such as placing a prepared decal or sticker or other means of depositing a graphic. However, in applicant's best mode, silk screening is the process used to deposit all graphic illustrations on said ball 10.
FIG. 2 shows what is defined as the second side of ball 10 again in indexed position. As so indexed, ball 10 has on its surface 20, a pair of graphic illustrations, graphic illustration 50 on the right side of said back and graphic illustration 50′ on the left side of said second side of ball 10. Striking targets 55 and 55′ are also placed substantially central to each of said graphic illustrations 50 and 50′.
Similar to the graphic illustration 40 on the front of said ball (not shown in FIG. 2), each graphic illustration provides the player or student a striking target for use in achieving a desired direction and trajectory of the ball. When indexed in the fashion shown in FIG. 2, and the player or student approaches the ball straight on, if the player strikes said ball 10 with the right foot substantially on striking target 55, said ball 10 will move in a direction substantially left of the player's approach. Likewise, if the player approaches ball 10 similarly, and uses the left foot to strike ball 10 substantially on striking target 55′, said ball 10 will move in a direction substantially right of the player's approach. Of course, the angle at which the ball is struck and the force imparted to the ball will also effect the magnitude of the resulting direction, such training serving to help increase the intuitiveness of the player or student through practice.
Additionally, similar to graphic 45 in FIG. 1, when the player strikes ball 10 directly on striking targets 55 or 55′, said ball 10 will obtain a trajectory substantially related to the direction of the path of the foot when struck, but substantially straight if the strike is made in a direction substantially in parallel with the playing surface. Similarly, if struck above striking targets 55 and 55′, the ball should demonstrate a certain amount of topspin, allowing the ball to move along the playing surface. And again, if ball 10 is struck somewhat below said targets 55 and 55′, ball 10 will be directed in a trajectory mainly in proportion to how far below said target 55 or 55′ is struck as well as to the amount of force applied, in each case however, rising in an arcuate direction above said playing surface.
FIG. 3, being a top view of ball 10, shows a first indexing target 60 substantially on the top of the ball. When ball 10 is indexed by positioning said ball with said first indexing target 60 at substantially top dead center (“TDC”), said graphics 40, 50 and 50′, and thereby said striking targets 45, 55 and 55′ are located in the preferred position for instruction and practice.
FIG. 4 shows a second indexing target 60′ located on the bottom of ball 20, directly opposite the position of first indexing target 60 shown in FIG. 3. Either indexing target 60 or 60′ may be placed at TDC when positioning the ball, each resulting in the graphics 45, 55 and 55′ being in substantially the correct position for instruction and practice. When indexing target 60′ is positioned at top dead center, graphic illustrations 50 and 50′ are more or less upside down, but may still be used in a way to help the player or student learn, but in the preferred embodiment of applicant's invention, said first indexing target 60 should be placed at top dead center to achieve optimum results. Each of said indexing targets 60 and 60′ may be in the form of a target as shown or may simply be any object, either symmetrical or asymmetrical, but positioned as shown to achieve the desired indexing of the ball. For example, said indexing targets could be simply a colored circle, a star, an “X” or other symbol. The important factor as far as said indexing targets is concerned is their placement as previously stated.
As further shown in FIG. 2, shading is employed in graphic illustrations 50 and 50′ to suggest compression of said illustrations as a ball might be compressed when kicked. The shading provides a somewhat suggested direction for striking the ball to achieve extreme results, and to increase the students' or player's intuitive skills as they pertain to ball striking.
In Applicant's training method, multimedia materials in the various forms of audio and video instruction, visuals in the form of a booklet, and other means are employed to teach the player or student about the physics involved in striking a soccer ball. The fundamental laws of both static and dynamic physics are used in the context of vector dynamics as well as aerodynamics with respect to spin and flight, to impart to the student an appreciation of how to further use the graphic illustrations on the ball to increase memory and intuitiveness to be used
The above disclosure is sufficient to enable one of ordinary skill in the art to practice the invention, and provides the best mode of practicing the invention presently contemplated by the inventor. While there is provided herein a full and complete disclosure of the preferred embodiments of this invention, it is not desired to limit the invention to the exact construction, dimensional relationships, and operation shown and described. Various modifications, alternative constructions, changes and equivalents will readily occur to those skilled in the art and may be employed, as suitable, without departing from the true spirit and scope of the invention. Such changes might involve alternative materials, components, structural arrangements, sizes, shapes, forms, functions, operational features or the like.