US 20080076610 A1
A soccer training ball having a plurality of graphic illustrations on its surface, a first graphic substantially concentric to the perimeter of said ball when a first indexing target is placed at top dead center position, and at least one second graphic placed substantially opposite said first graphic, said graphics having targets included therein such that said graphics suggest the optimum striking area on said ball to achieve a desired ball direction and trajectory.
1. An improved soccer ball comprising:
at first graphic illustration on the surface of said ball thereby defining a first side of said ball, said first side substantially comprising one half the surface of said ball; said graphic illustration positioned substantially central thereon;
at least on indexing target, said indexing target positioned on said surface such that when said indexing target is positioned at substantially top dead center, said graphic illustration is substantially centered on said first side as said ball rests on a playing surface;
at least one second graphic placed substantially opposite said first graphic on the second side of said ball, each of said graphic illustrations having positioned substantially centrally thereon striking targets, said striking targets indicating optimum striking areas on said ball to achieve desired ball direction and trajectory when struck.
2. An improved soccer ball comprising:
a first graphic illustration on the surface of said ball, and defining a first side thereof;
at least one indexing target, said indexing target positioned on said surface such that when said indexing target is positioned at substantially top dead center, said first graphic illustration is substantially vertically centered on said first side as said ball rests on a playing surface;
a pair of graphic illustrations positioned substantially centrally on said other or second side of said ball, said pair of graphic illustrations positioned substantially left and right of each other; each of said graphic illustrations having positioned substantially centrally thereon striking targets, said striking targets indicating optimum striking areas on said ball to achieve predetermined general ball direction and trajectory when struck.
3. The improved soccer ball of
a second indexing target located on said surface substantially opposite said other or first indexing target.
4. The improved soccer ball of
a second indexing target located on said surface substantially opposite said other or first indexing target.
5. The improved soccer ball of
said pair of said graphic illustrations being shaped to represent the effect of compression on said ball if struck in the location of each of said graphic illustrations.
6. The improved soccer ball of
said pair of said graphic illustrations being shaded to represent the effect of compression on said ball if struck in the location of each of said graphic illustrations.
7. A method of training soccer players comprising:
an improved soccer ball having a first graphic illustration on the surface of said ball thereby defining a first side of said ball, said first side substantially comprising one half the surface of said ball; said first graphic illustration positioned substantially central thereon;
at least one indexing target, said indexing target positioned on said surface such that when said indexing target is positioned at substantially top dead center, said graphic illustration is substantially centered on said first side as said ball rests on a playing surface;
a pair of graphic illustrations positioned substantially centrally on said other or second side of said ball, said pair of graphic illustrations positioned substantially left and right of each other; each of said pair of graphic illustrations having positioned substantially centrally thereon striking targets, said striking targets indicating optimum striking areas on said ball to achieve predetermined general ball direction and trajectory when struck;
training aids in the form of at least one from the group of printed, audio and visual materials explaining the physical principles governing the striking, direction and trajectory of a soccer ball, said training aids referring specifically to said graphic illustrations on said ball, said training aids further explaining the use and conceptual basis of said striking and indexing targets such that said soccer players may use said soccer ball as an additional training aid in learning how to kick a soccer ball.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Similar to the graphic illustration 40 on the front of said ball (not shown in
Additionally, similar to graphic 45 in
As further shown in
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.