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This application is a continuation-in-part of application Ser. No. 10/377,801 filed on Mar. 4, 2003.
The present invention relates to a device to help soccer players develop their kicking and rebound skills. The device is compact and easily portable.
Soccer has long been a popular sport worldwide and is rapidly growing in popularity in North America. As with all sports, practice is necessary to improve skills. One of the most important skills required in soccer is the ability to pass and trap the ball with confidence and control. This type of practice usually requires two or more people. A soccer training device that enables an individual to practice these skills, that is easily portable and which can be used in any open space, such as a backyard or park, is therefore desirable.
Several soccer training devices have been developed to help players improve their skills in a time efficient manner without necessarily going to a soccer field. For example, U.S. Pat. No. 5,556,104 discloses a practice device that comprises a tubular frame Which attaches to the ground and provides support for an essentially vertical rebound surface. The device may also include netting to provide a small goal area. U.S. Pat. No. 5,938,546 discloses an apparatus for rebounding balls that comprises a frame and a net structure secured within the frame by rubber straps. The apparatus can be positioned so that the ball is rebounded from different positions. Another type of training device is disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 5,830,089. A collapsible sport goal is described which has pivoting frames and a net. The goal can be folded into a flat configuration for storage or transport. U.S. Pat. No. 6,068,488 discloses a training device which is game-like. A plurality of goals are provided having target openings through which the ball must be passed in succession. U.S. Pat. No. 5,308,083 discloses a portable soccer goal with rebounding net to return a ball struck into the net. The frame of the goal is formed by a pair of vertical posts and a long horizontal tube and is secured to the ground by a pair of base supports. Pivotable struts further support the vertical posts. When the struts are spread outwards, the tension in the net is increased so as to be sufficient to rebound a ball struck into the net. U.S. Pat. No. 6,209,877 discloses a ball rebound device which will deliver a playground type ball such as a soccer ball, basketball, or kick ball which is propelled against the device, back to the user with surprising speed and distance. This ball rebound device utilizes a series of monofilament nylon elastic cords which are independently stung back and forth in a basket-weave fashion within a rectangular frame as a tennis racket is strung.
While several soccer training devices have been developed, many of them suffer from the disadvantage of being very large or heavy and therefore not easily transportable. Other devices are too lightweight and do not provide sufficient stability to withstand the force of a strongly kicked ball. In addition, some of the prior art devices utilize netting material that is sensitive to the weather elements and thus cannot be left outside for prolonged periods of time. Others require complicated assembly and disassembly. Thus there is a need for a soccer training device that overcomes the disadvantages of the prior art and which is lightweight, easily transportable and does not require assembly.
In one aspect of the invention, a soccer training device is provided that is lightweight and portable. The device comprises a shell having two side ends and a first rebound surface and a second rebound surface attached to the two side ends.
In one preferred embodiment, the soccer training device further comprises a planar base and the two side ends, the two rebound surfaces and the base connect to form a fillable reservoir.
Inside the shell, the fillable reservoir holds about 6-12 liters of water or sand. The shell is made of a material which is hard enough to cause a resilient soccer ball to rebound.
In a preferred embodiment, the first rebound surface is set at a first angular inclination and the second rebound surface is set at a different angular inclination. This enables the user to practice different rebound skills. The first angular inclination is preferably about 5-15 degrees and the second angular inclination is about 15-35 degrees.
The present invention also provides a method for practising soccer. The method comprises kicking a soccer ball at one of the rebound surfaces and reacting to the rebound generated to return the ball to the surface. This can be repeated many times in quick succession thereby providing a very efficient exercise. A player can choose to practice low rebounds by using the first rebound surface or high rebounds by using the second rebound surface.
In one aspect of the invention a soccer training device is provided. The device includes a first rebound surface and a second rebound surface connected by two end panels. In a preferred embodiment, each of the two rebound surfaces are set at a different degree of reflection and the endplates are adapted to connect the differently angled rebound surfaces. The rebound surfaces are preferably made of a resilient synthetic material capable of rebounding an air-filled soccer ball. In a further preferred embodiment, the rebound surfaces are elongate relative to the connecting end panels. In other words, the width of the rebound panels is longer than the width of the end panels resulting in a generally rectangular device.
In another aspect of the invention a soccer training device comprising a fillable reservoir within a shell is provided. The shell has a first rebound surface and a second rebound surface.
In a preferred embodiment, the first rebound surface is set at a first angular inclination and the second rebound surface is set at a second angular inclination.
In a further preferred embodiment, the first angular inclination is about 5-15 degrees.
In yet another preferred embodiment, the second angular inclination is about 15-35 degrees.
In a particularly preferred embodiment, the first angular inclination is about 7-12 degrees and the second angular inclination is about 25-30 degrees.
In another preferred embodiment, the reservoir has a capacity of about 6 to 12 liters and the shell is made from materials selected from the group consisting of wood, fiberglass, metal, cardboard, plastic and synthetic materials.
Most preferably, the shell is plastic.
In another aspect of the invention, the soccer training device comprises a third rebound surface.
A method of practising soccer, said method comprising kicking a ball at the training device as defined above reacting to the rebound and returning the ball to the device.
Preferred embodiments of the invention are described below with reference to the drawings, wherein:
FIG. 1 is a perspective view of one embodiment of the soccer training device,
FIG. 2 is a longitudinal sectional view of the device,
FIG. 3 is a top view of the device,
FIG. 4 is a side sectional view of the device,
FIG. 5 is a schematic view of the use of one rebound surface,
FIG. 6 is a schematic view of the use of the other rebound surface of the device,
FIG. 7 is a perspective view of another embodiment of the soccer training device,
FIG. 8 is a side view of the embodiment shown in FIG. 7,
FIG. 9 is a perspective view of a further embodiment of the soccer training device,
FIG. 10 is a top view of the embodiment shown in FIG. 9,
FIG. 11 illustrates the components of a soccer training device kit,
FIG. 12 illustrates the kit of FIG. 11 in its assembled form,
FIG. 13 illustrates another embodiment of the soccer training device, and
FIG. 14 illustrates a dis-assembled device of FIG. 13.
The present invention provides a novel soccer training device that is particularly suitable for players aged five years and older. The device provides a player with the environment to learn consistent and controlled skills.
In one aspect of the invention, a soccer training device is provided. Several views of one embodiment of the training device are shown in FIGS. 1 through 4. The training device 10 comprises a shell 11 having a bottom surface 12, a top surface 14, two end surfaces 16, 18, a first rebound surface 20 and a second rebound surface 22. The first rebound surface is adjusted to a first angular inclination 24 and the second rebound surface is adjusted to a second angular inclination 26. The first angular inclination and the second angular inclination are preferably different to provide for different types of rebound. The first rebound surface typically is set at an angle of about 5 to 15 degrees and the second rebound surface is typically set at about 15 to 35 degrees. Of course, a device with the same angle on both sides could also be provided.
In a preferred embodiment, the shell is made of a hard material capable of deflecting a ball. A hollow core or reservoir 28 is within the shell. The shell is typically made of plastic and can form the sides of the reservoir. Alternatively, a separate, water impermeable reservoir can be fitted inside the shell. When a separate water impermeable reservoir is used the shell can be made of any hard material, such as wood, cardboard, metal, fiberglass or other synthetic materials. When ready for use, the reservoir is filled with water through an opening 30 in the top surface. A cap or plug 32 seals the opening. The reservoir holds an amount of water sufficient to increase the weight of the device enough to provide stability. The water provides sufficient mass to withstand the impact of a ball and produce a rebound. The reservoir typically holds 50 to 60 pounds of water, approximately 8 to 10 liters. The reservoir can easily be filled using a garden hose.
The size of the device can vary. In a preferred embodiment, the device has a length of about two to four feet, a height of about one to two feet and a width of about one to two feet. The comers are preferably, but not necessarily, rounded to prevent injury.
When empty, the device is relatively lightweight making it easy to transport and store. The device preferably weighs less than thirty pounds, more preferably ten to twenty pounds.
The lightweight construction of the device makes it easy to carry and it can easily fit in the trunk of a car. Unlike other soccer training devices, the present device does not require the use of spikes or anchors to stabilise it. Thus, the present device can easily be used indoors in a gymnasium or at home without damaging the floors. It can also be used on concrete school yards, driveways, parking lots, streets, etc. since there is no complex assembly required.
In another aspect of the invention, a practice technique using the device of the present invention is provided. The device is typically located one to four meters from the player. An inexperienced player may wish to position it relatively close while a more experienced player may position it farther away. The player kicks a ball at the rebound surface. Because of the weight of the water, the device is stable and the hard surface can easily deflect the resilient ball. Upon impact, the angled surface provides a rebound back to the player forcing him/her to trap and manipulate the ball. This enables a player to practice one of the most important aspects of soccer, that is, to be in control of the ball upon receiving a pass and then making the next play (back to the device).
In a preferred embodiment shown in FIG. 5, the first rebound surface is set at an angle of about 5 to 15 degrees, preferably about 10 degrees. When the player kicks a ball at the surface, the slight inclination of the rebound surface provides a relatively low rebound to the player's foot.
In another embodiment, shown in FIG. 6, the player is using the second rebound surface. In this illustration the second rebound surface is set at a wider angle. The angle is about 15 to 35 degrees, preferably about 27 degrees. This angle results in a rebound with a higher trajectory. The rebound surface propels the ball back to the player at a level closer to the player's thighs, abdomen and chest.
The use of two different inclinations for the rebound surfaces allows a player to practice different skills based on the type of rebound provided. The training device allows a player to practice passing and receiving the ball without the assistance of another player.
FIGS. 7 and 8 illustrate another embodiment of the soccer training device in which the shell 40 comprises two side ends 42, a base 44, a first rebound surface 46 and a second rebound surface 48. The internal reservoir can be filled through an opening which is sealed with a cap 50. A detachable strap 52 is provided which facilitates transport of the device. It is clearly apparent that any of the embodiments described herein can include a carry strap which is a shoulder strap or a small hand strap.
FIGS. 9 and 10 illustrate yet another embodiment of the soccer training device. In this embodiment three rebound surfaces are provided. The angular inclinations of the rebound surfaces are determined by the positioning of the top surface 60 relative to the base 62. The first rebound surface 64 is set at a relatively small angular inclination. This will cause the ball to rebound close to the ground. The second rebound surface 66 has a somewhat higher angular inclination thus returning the ball at a higher level. The third rebound surface 68 has a steeper angle than the second rebound surface providing for the highest ball rebound. It is clearly apparent that various angles may be chosen and that the number of rebound surfaces is limited only by the size of the device.
In another embodiment of the invention, the soccer training device is provided as a series of panels that fit together. As shown in FIG. 11, in a preferred embodiment the components snap-fit together. The device comprises a first rebound panel 70 and a second rebound panel 72. The device also comprises two end panels 74, 76 that are adapted to connect with the rebound panels. In one preferred embodiment, each end panel comprises a first tongue member 78 adapted to fit into a groove 80 in the first rebound member 70. Each end panel also comprises a second tongue 82 adapted to fit into a groove in the second rebound panel 72. While a tongue-and-groove attachment system has been illustrated, it is clearly apparent that other types of attachment means can also be used.
The components illustrated in FIG. 11 are shown in the assembled form in FIG. 12. The first rebound surface 70 and the second rebound surface 72 are attached to the end panels 74, 76.
FIG. 13 illustrates another embodiment of the invention wherein the assembly of the first rebound surface 70, the second rebound surface 72 and the end panels 74, 76 further comprises a net 90 for catching high balls.
FIG. 14 illustrates the device of FIG. 13 in its dis-assembled state.
The present invention provides various embodiments of a novel soccer training device that comprises two elongate surfaces that are both connected to two end plates or panels. The term “elongate” is used herein to refer to rebound surfaces that are longer than the connecting end panels. In this manner, the soccer training device has a generally rectangular shape. In one embodiment, the two rebound surfaces each have a different angle for deflection of a soccer ball. In another embodiment the rebound surfaces are of a rigid material to promote a rapid return of the ball. In one aspect of the invention, the two rebound surfaces snap-fit onto the end panels. In another aspect of the invention, the two rebound surfaces and the end panels are provided as a unitary molded unit. In a preferred embodiment the two rebound surfaces and the two end panels are all connected to a planar base to form a reservoir. The device with the reservoir preferably includes a port for inserting ballast material, such as water or sand.
Although preferred embodiments in which the device is generally rectangular in shape have been discussed in detail, it is clearly apparent that the same concept can be used to provide a training device having three or more rebound surfaces. In the case of three rebound surfaces the device is generally triangular in shape and each rebound surface can be sit at a different angle.
The above disclosure generally describes the present invention. Changes in form and substitutions of equivalents are contemplated as circumstances may suggest.