Title:
Soccer (or association football) goalkeeping game
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A soccer (or association football) goalkeeping game has two players playing against each other on a reduced-sized playing field. Each players has as objectives not only to score on the opponent but also save the opponent's shot on goals. The rules of play reward goalkeeping play in particular. For example, a player who saves a goal shot but knocks the ball out-of-bounds on his or her side of the field get the ball back, instead of losing the ball pursuant to FIFA rules of soccer (or association football). Also, not only do goals earn points but so do caught-and-held saves, and there is no counterpart whatsoever to points for caught-and-held saves under FIFA rules of soccer (or association football).



Inventors:
Nelson, Jeffrey A. (Bear, DE, US)
Application Number:
11/337098
Publication Date:
08/24/2006
Filing Date:
01/20/2006
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
473/446
International Classes:
A63B67/00; A63B69/00
View Patent Images:
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Other References:
The Complete Book of Games, copyright 1940, Line Soccer - page 681
Soccer Practice Games 2nd edition, pages 63, 76, 92 Soccer Practice Games, copyright 1995, pages 38, 56, 70, 73, 107, 113
Primary Examiner:
ARYANPOUR, MITRA
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Jonathan, Bay Attorney At Law A. (Suite 314, 333 Park Central East, Springfield, MO, 65806, US)
Claims:
I claim:

1. A method of playing a soccer (or association football) goalkeeping game on a playing area between a first and second player wherein said first player defends a first goal and goal area as said second player defends a second goal and goal area, comprising the steps of: placing a ball in play in said playing area; attempting goals by kicking or heading the ball or else by throwing, rolling, punting, or drop kicking the ball from the opposite goal area; scoring points for goals; defending attempts on goal by caught-and-held saves or else otherwise stopping or deflecting the ball; scoring points for caught-and-held saves; tallying points wherein the player with the most points at the end of desired regulation play of one or more periods wins said game.

2. The method according to claim 1 wherein the points have positive values and thereby add to the final tally rather than subtract.

3. The method according to claim 1 wherein each score or caught-and-held save has a value of more than one (1) point.

4. The method according to claim 1 further comprising: initiating play by placing the ball in the playing area's center and starting the player's in a race from their respective goals.

5. The method according to claim 4 further comprising: continuing play not by strictly alternating attempts but, if a defended attempt on goal deflects or the attempt otherwise rebounds back to where the player who made the attempt can make a successive re-attempt at goal then, consequently re-attempting goal.

6. The method according to claim 4 further comprising: continuing play not by re-initiating play after scored goals with the race but by the scored-on player consequently resuming play.

7. The method according to claim 6 further comprising: the scored-on player consequently resuming play with the scored play ball.

8. The method according to claim 1 further comprising: designating respective offside zones on the playing area; activating the first and second player to compete at making attempts on the other's goal with or at least gaining a possession of the play ball, or renewed possession of the play ball by way of recovering a qualified rebound or qualified deflection after an attempt on goal, the player in possession being limited to the use of the ball for the duration of his or her possession to attempt goal on the defending player without violating the defending player's offside zone or else possession is forfeited.

9. The method according to claim 8 further comprising: penalizing any player violating the offside zone of the opponent with a penalty-shot violation.

10. The method according to claim 9 wherein regulation play of the game is played over one or more periods, each period being played against a game clock which generally runs without stoppage for taking penalty shots, wherein all penalty shots are postponed until after one, some or all the periods.

11. The method according to claim 9 wherein the playing area comprises a center mark, equidistant from both goals, said center mark being the spot for penalty shots, which spacing between the goals is scaled to accommodate penalty-shot taking from the center mark.

12. The method according to claim 8 further comprising: designating a mid-field neutral area on the playing area, to be exclusive of the offside zones or goal areas, and in which the players can vie directly against each other for the play ball.

13. The method according to claim 1 further comprising: activating the first and second player to compete at making attempts on the other's goal with or at least gaining a possession of the play ball, or renewed possession of the play ball by way of recovering a qualified rebound or qualified deflection after an attempt on goal, the player in possession being limited to the use of the ball for the duration of his or her possession to attempt goal on the defending player; and restricting certain forms but not others of contacting the play ball to one instance per possession or else possession and any goal therefrom are disqualified, the restricted forms of contact comprising: punching the ball, from one's own goal area only, throwing the ball, excluding the precedent holding thereof, from and in one's own goal area only, and kicking the ball, excluding any precedent dribbling thereof.

14. The method according to claim 13 wherein the restricted forms of contact further comprise: rolling by hand, excluding the precedent holding thereof, from and in one's own goal area only.

15. The method according to claim 13 wherein the restricted forms of contact further comprise: punting or drop kicking, excluding the precedent holding thereof, from and in one's own goal area only.

16. The method according to claim 13 wherein the restricted forms of contact further comprise: heading;

17. The method according to claim 1 further comprising: bounding the playing area lengthwise by first and second goal lines; and rewarding the player who defends an attempt on goal but causes the ball to go out of bounds over that player's goal line with a reward comprising possession of the ball.

18. The method according to claim 17 further comprising: bounding the play area laterally by spaced sidelines; and further rewarding the player who defends an attempt but causes the ball to go out of bounds over the sidelines on that player's or her half of the field with said reward, comprising possession of the ball.

19. The method according to claim 1 further comprising: establishing a time of possession time-limit; providing any player in possession in excess of the time of possession time-limit with an on-field signal by which that player is thereafter obligated to promptly turn the ball over; penalizing any player who is intentionally or inexcusably not prompt to do so with a penalty-shot violation.

20. The method according to claim 1 further comprising: providing a plurality of balls, only one of which is qualified at a time for possession or attempts on goal; bounding the playing are by spaced sidelines that extend between opposite goal lines; providing each player with one or more out-of-bounds teammates who are restricted from crossing into the playing area but permitted to surround parts thereof; wherein the qualified ball becomes out-of-play whenever scored or otherwise crosses a sideline or goal line, and authorizing the player entitled to next possession to acquire any ball which thereafter becomes the qualified ball by any of: that player personally retrieving the most recent scored ball (if any), that player personally retrieving any left-over ball idle in his or her goal, that player receiving feed of one spare ball from any one of his or her off-field teammates.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION(S)

This application is a continuation-in-part of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/452,805, filed Jun. 02, 2003, which claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/385,408, filed Jun. 03, 2002.

This application also claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/645,628, filed Jan. 21, 2005.

All the foregoing specifications are incorporated herein in full by this reference.

BACKGROUND AND SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The invention relates to games, amusement pastimes and athletic competitions, and more particularly to a sporting competition and/or event having rules and down-sized playing areas to challenge one's interdisciplinary mastery of various soccer positions, including predominantly the goalkeeper position. A number of additional features and objects will be apparent in connection with the following discussion of preferred embodiments and examples.

Youth soccer camps, among others, are known to hold one-on-one goalkeeper drills. The known drill provides two goals within easy throwing distance of each other. The two players are confined to just a few steps in front of their respective goals. A coin toss decides who starts. The players alternate turns throwing the ball at their opponent (more accurately, their opponent's goal). First player to score seven (or whatever) goals wins the drill.

This prior art drill has none of, or is none of, the following. That is, it has no formal rules, no playing-field boundaries, nor other demarcations. It has no time limit on the drill, no shot clock on possession, nor unrestricted shot-taking (at least, no freedom to the extent permitted by standard soccer rules for goalkeepers). It is no test of any soccer skill other than keeper save skills under narrowly-tailored penalty-kick like conditions (ie., from about the same range and direction and with correspondingly ample time to get ready).

The prior art drill has no fouls, no penalty kicks, nor refereeing. It has no partisan off-field ball handlers. It consequently has no need for more than one ball. It has no race-start and no offensive rebounds (nor defensive either because, the ball is dead after a shot/save). It has no offsides, no neutral zone, no tie-breaking/overtime rules, and no partisan coaching.

In contrast, a soccer (or association football) goalkeeping game in accordance with the invention preferably has or is the following. That is, the inventive game has codified rules of play and a demarcated playing field, with not only boundaries but also zones within the boundaries. The inventive game is played against a game clock, possessions are played against a shot clock, and the only restrictions on propelling the ball are those recognized by standard rules of soccer for goalkeepers.

The inventive game more broadly tests soccer skills other than just testing goalkeeper save skills, therefore it is more interdisciplinary, more open to soccer players of any field position, not just goalkeepers. Indeed, the inventive game promotes more ball movement, and fitness appropriate to the more ball movement. In clear departure from the prior art drill, the inventive game involves position strategy, indeed heavily so. Namely, the inventive game involves position strategy something like in tennis, where volley after volley, endlessly, there is the choice whether to rush the net or else lay back along the baseline.

The codified rules include fouls, penalty kicks, and refereeing. The rules are distinctive by, among doing other things, authorizing the game time participation of partisan, off-field ball handlers. These parties serve a vital, off-field teammate role to the on-field player, as will be more particularly described below. One consequence of ball handlers is that, they best fulfill their roles by stocking up with spare balls. Although only one ball in-play at a time, play is resumed immediately after a score or out-of-bounds miss in the manner as having the rightful player signal for immediate re-supply from any of his or her ball handlers. These ball handlers fulfill a role something like ball retrievers in singles tennis, except the ball handlers are partisan (ie., teammates of their one player) and they can re-supply their player immediately after the in-play ball is scored or out-of-bounds, indeed in order that the on-field player can take advantage of fleeting opportunities, like opponent mis-position. Unlike tennis, where players are always afforded time to get ready before an ensuing serve.

The rules favor starting each game with a race. The rules allow offensive rebounds, ie., a player in-possession of the ball (unless offsides) is allowed to recover the rebound from his or her own missed/blocked shot. The ball is live (or in-play) and not dead after a shot/save, so long as the ball remains on the field of play.

The rules include offside rules, and the playing field is correspondingly demarcated with offside zones. In addition to offside zones, the playing field is preferably demarcated with a neutral zone. And so on with other distinctions, like the rules additionally include tie-breaking and/or overtime provisions, as well as authorize partisan, game-time coaching (from the sidelines).

Overall, the soccer (or association football) goalkeeper game in accordance with the invention is distinguished by speed and movement in combination with strategy and urgency. The inventive game is a test of skill and endurance. It promotes recovering one's rebounds and other factors consistent with the play of soccer (association football). Altogether, the inventive game is one of excitement, not just for the players or their ball handlers but also, importantly, for spectators and fans.

Given the foregoing, these and other aspects and objects are provided according to the invention in a method of playing a soccer (or association football) goalkeeping game comprising various combinations of the following steps.

Two players compete against each other on a playing field having a soccer goal at two opposite ends. The playing field is also preferably demarcated with respective offside zones as well as respective goal areas. The players have as objectives (i) offensively to “distribute” a play ball into the defender's goal from anywhere on the field as long as not violating the defender's offside zone and (ii) defensively to save attempts on goal and/or acquire ball possession in order to switch around and commence offensively. “Distribution” is a concept used in a technical sense, wherein a permitted distribution of the ball can be restricted to any one or any combination of the following:

  • throwing by hand, and restricted to the distributer's goal area,
  • rolling by hand, and restricted to the distributer's goal area,
  • punting, and restricted to the distributer's goal area,
  • drop kicking, and restricted to the distributer's goal area,
  • kicking, and
  • heading.

It is preferred to provide a rule of play whereby time of possession is limited by a time-limit such that ball possession in excess of the time-limit results in expropriation, and scores from distributions after the applicable time-limit are not counted. “Expropriation” can be envisioned as either a referee supervising the transfer of the play ball from the violator to the opponent or, alternatively, obligating the violator to send the play ball off the field immediately, or risk being assessed a penalty-shot violation, and granting the opponent immediate entitlement to acquire a succeeding live play ball such as by personally retrieving any left-over ball idle in his or her goal, or as receiving an infeed of a spare ball from an off-field teammate. The second alternative favors uninterrupted play.

It is also preferred to provide a rule of play whereby there is a weighted point scale for scores, such that favored or preferred methods of scoring are given higher point value than others. One way to incorporate this aspect of the invention is to award two points for scores made from the scorer's goal area, in contrast to the normal 1 point for all other goals. Hence there is an incentive to reward goals made by distributions (or simply shots) taken from the goal area. It might be reckoned as rewarding players for taking more challenging shots or else rewarding the audience with a more thrilling game. This point scheme has the effect of encouraging a faster paced game, almost a volley-like game such as tennis.

It is moreover preferred if there is a rule of play wherein any player crossing into the offside zone of the opponent is assessed a penalty-shot violation. Again, in the interest of uninterrupted play, preferably the game is played over one or more regulation periods, each period being played against a clock which generally runs without stoppage for taking penalty kicks. That way, all penalty kicks can be postponed until after time runs out on the period. The field of play has a center mark, equidistant from both goals, and preferably the penalty shots are taken from the center mark. The rules of play can be drawn such that during time of possession, each player is restricted to one distribution and not two or else possession is lost and that player is assessed a penalty-shot violation.

Given the preceding one-distribution rule, preferably there is another rule allowing a distributing player to have endlessly successive possessions if obtained by way of offensive rebounds. That is, as long as that player's distributed ball rebounds off any of the following, namely, the defender, the defender's goalposts or crossbar, the referee (if any) or defender's corner flags (if any). Any such player who takes a successive possession by way of offensive rebound will also get an allowance for an additional distribution and a reset time of possession time-limit.

It is an aspect of the game to provide each player with one or more off-field teammates who are restricted from crossing into the field of play but permitted to surround parts of the field. When the play ball goes out-of-play (such as if scored or otherwise crosses out of the field of play), there is a provision of the rules that establishes which player is entitled to next possession. That player is authorized player to acquire a play ball by any of:

  • he or she personally retrieving the most recent scored ball (if any),
  • he or she personally retrieving any left-over ball idle in his or her goal, or
  • he or she receiving feed of one spare ball from any one of his or her off-field teammates.

The field of play might also comprise a mid-field neutral area, exclusive of the offside zones or goal areas, and in which the players can vie directly against each other for possession or stealing possession of the play ball.

The rules of the game might be entrusted to on-field referee, who would also supervise over any off-field staff, if any, like a statistician and/or timekeeper (again, if any). That way, the time-limit for limiting time of possession may either be accurately monitored by an off-field timekeeper or be generally reckoned by an on-field referee. It is desirable to start play at the beginning of any period with a race. That is, on cue, the players race from starting positions behind their own ends of the field toward the play ball at rest on the center of the field.

A number of additional features and objects will be apparent in connection with the following discussion of preferred embodiments and examples.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

There are shown in the drawings certain exemplary embodiments of the invention as presently preferred. It should be understood that the invention is not limited to the embodiments disclosed as examples, and is capable of variation within the scope of the appended claims. In the drawings,

FIG. 1 is a plan view of a game underway comprising a soccer (or association football) goalkeeping game in accordance with the invention;

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of such a game underway; and

FIG. 3 is a plan view comparable to FIG. 1 except showing an alternate arrangement of the playing field therefor.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

FIGS. 1 and 2 show a game underway comprising a preferred version of a soccer (or association football) goalkeeping game in accordance with the invention.

Briefly, the inventive game predominantly is a one-on-one competition between two on-field players 70 and 72, although each on-field player 70 and 72 is supported in vital ways to the flow of the game by one or more off-field teammates 74 and 76 respectively, called “ball handlers.” The game is played against a clock for most scores against opponent on an abbreviated field 60 having opposing goals 62 defended respectively by the opposed on-field players 70 and 72. The game broadly challenges interdisciplinary position skills although strong skills at the goalkeeping position arguably predominate over the skills of the field positions. Nevertheless, this game has movement, and so a successful player 70 or 72 must also have the ability to move the ball 68, the fitness for that, and ultimately the ability to score. Still, ability to score might depend more on one's capitalizing on opponent mistakes, as catching the opponent out of position, and less on one's superb shooting, hence on average the balance of the game is believed to teeter on goalkeeping skills.

The game has codified rules which incorporate among other things fouls, penalty kicks, and refereeing. Time of possession is preferably limited by a shot clock. The only restrictions on propelling the ball 68 are those consistent with standard rules of soccer for goalkeepers. There is an offside rule, and the playing field 60 is correspondingly demarcated with offside zones 80. In addition, the playing field 60 is preferably demarcated with a neutral zone 82. The offside zones 80 are “permanent” because, any time a player 70 or 72 crosses into a prohibited offside zone 80, he or she has committed an offside violation.

It is an aspect of the invention to incorporate ball handlers 74 and 76. Ball handlers 74 and 76 work not on but off the field of play 60 in support of their on-field teammate, one or the other of the two players 70 or 72 respectively. The ball handlers 74 and 76 stock up with spare balls 66 because, even though only one ball at a time is allowed in-play, a replacement ball 66 is permitted to be immediately thrown in as soon as the in-play ball 68 is shot and scored or otherwise crossing out-of-bounds. The manner of receiving a replacement ball 66 has the rightful player 70 or 72 signaling immediately for spare ball 66 (just one) from any of his or her ball handlers 74 or 76. Indeed, as a game unfolds, spectators might see several scored balls 64 just left idle in the back of the goals 62 because of each player's urgency against the game clock.

Overall, the game is fast-paced, high-energy, action-packed. Because of the shot clock, every five seconds or so one player or the other 70 or 72 is attempting a goal. Additionally, the players 70 and 72 face a dilemma in choosing strategy. Any player who leaves the goal area 84 to approach and shoot from closer range leaves open the possibility that the defending opponent will catch the ball and then lob in an overhead score on the out-of-position shooter. Conversely, any player who camps inside the goal area 84 deprives him or herself of manufacturing scoring opportunities. This sort of dilemma faces tennis players too, namely, whether to camp on the baseline or rush the net.

Given that introduction, it is an object of the invention that the game be played in tournaments, where numerous contestants enter to compete in their age, gender, and/or proficiency class. Some contestants are there to attract attention from talent scouts, such as college recruiters. It is desirable to promote uniformity in the game for sake of tournaments or statistics, among other reasons. Hence the rules are codified, and preferably are not amended or ignored for at least the duration of one tournament. As seasons go by with no or only minor amendments to the rules, there will be greater uniformity still, which will allow comparison of statistics from one event to another, of players from one season or era to another even if they never directly compete.

The field of play 60 is preferably rectangular, extending between opposite goal lines spaced by relatively longer left and right sidelines or, in alternative terminology, “touch” lines. Preferably the goal lines measure twenty-two yards (20 m) wide and preferably the touch lines measure twenty-four yards (22 m) long. This preferred size allows four or five such playing fields 60 to be stretched out onto a FIFA-standard field. That way, the game in accordance with the invention can be accommodated at indoor facilities on a FIFA-standard field, several abreast of each other. Alternatively, the field of play 60 in accordance with the invention might be sized to fit other indoor arenas, such as the kind that host basketball or hockey games.

The field of play 60 is preferably demarcated into separate halves by a halfway line 90. The midpoint of the halfway line 90 includes a center point 92, or center mark, preferably circumscribed by a center circle 91. Preferably the center circle 91 measures for example and without limitation about five feet (˜1½ m) in diameter.

The center mark 92 preferably corresponds to a “standard” penalty mark, wherein the standard(s) for determining such measures and factors for soccer (or association football) have been previously established under the authority of any of various governing associations, including without limitation U.S. Amateur Soccer Association, Canadian Soccer Association, Major League Soccer, National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and so on, all which establish measures and provisions presumptively corresponding closely to those of the major international federation, FIFA, which sets the standards and measures that nowadays dominate the world of soccer (or ‘association football’ or “football” outside the U.S. and Canada).

Alternatively, if the field of play is shortened as illustrated by FIG. 3, for example to about twenty yards (˜18 m), then preferably such field of play 60′ as that is demarcated with dual penalty marks 93, each twelve yards (11 m) distant from the goal 62 on which the penalty shot is taken. In the preferred size for the field of play (ie., twenty-four yards or 22 m long) as shown by FIGS. 1 and 2, there is only a single penalty mark, and it corresponds to the center mark 92.

It is highly preferred if each goal 62 closely corresponds to standard size goals to the extent practicable. That is, in accordance with one observed U.S. standard, the goalposts ought to be eight yards (˜7⅓ m) apart and the crossbar eight feet (˜2 5/12 m) high above the ground plane (ie., of the field of play 60). However, for players younger than twelve years old or so, the size of goals 62 are even more compact. Accordingly, the rules of play preferably require the size of goals 60 to be consistent with the applicable standards for age and/or gender class. Preferably nets are attached to the goals 62 and to the ground some spacing behind the goal line.

The field of play 60 is preferably partitioned into the following five areas, namely, a pair of opposite goal areas 84, a mid-field neutral area 82, and a pair of flanking penalty or offside areas 80 as more particularly described below.

The goal areas 84 preferably are defined at each end of the field 60 as follows. Two boundary lines are drawn at right angles from the goal line, having origins in the goal line three yards (˜2¾ m) from the inside of each goal post. These boundary lines extend into the field of play for a distance of about six yards (˜5½ m) and are joined at their terminations in the field of play 60 by another boundary line drawn parallel with the goal line. The area bounded by these boundary lines and the goal line is a goal area 84. The depth of the goal area 84 (ie., six yards or ˜5½ m) is preferably consistent with the standard measures for goal areas to the extent practicable. In contrast, the width of the goal area 84 (fourteen yards or ˜12⅞ m) is preferably more compact than standard for proportion's sake relative to the more compact size playing field 60.

There are various preferred embodiments for the neutral area 82. One preferred embodiment has the neutral area 82 defined exactly by the center circle 91, as illustrated in FIGS. 1 and 2. Another preferred embodiment (eg., see FIG. 3) has the neutral area 82′ demarcated by opposite first and second boundaries 95 on either side of the halfway line 90. The penalty or offside areas (indicated as 80 in FIGS. 1 and 2, and 80′ in FIG. 3) are the residuary areas flanking the neutral area 82 (or 82′) in each half of the field of play 60 (or 60′), minus the goal areas 84. As mentioned, preferably the penalty mark corresponds to the center mark 92 for a field of play measuring twenty-four yards (22 m) long, and as illustrated by FIGS. 1 and 2. That way, the penalty mark is twelve yards (11 m) distant from the midpoint between the goalposts and equidistant to them. FIG. 3 is representative of the alternative, or that is, other size fields of play 60′. Preferably there are two penalty marks 93, each twelve yards (11 m) distant from the midpoint between and equidistant to the goalposts of the goals on which the penalty shots are to be taken. As mentioned, it is preferred that the penalty mark(s) correspond(s) to “standard” measure. That way, skills and strategies for defense of penalty kicks will be more appropriately transferable and/or interchangeable between the game in accordance with the invention and standard match play.

Games for youths aside, the balls 68, 66 and/or 64 shall be faithful to FIFA International Matchball Standards. There shall be only one ball in the field of play at a time. However, the then-currently in-play ball 68 shall be replaced immediately once gone out of play (ie., scored or crossing out-of-bounds), and this can be achieved with any spare ball 64 or 66. That way, a scored ball 64 might simply be left idle in a goal after a score. There is no requirement that a scored ball 64 be the one that is retrieved and put immediately back in play. Consequently, even if there can only be one single ball in play at a time, there may be multiple balls 64 left idle in either goal.

The game is played between two on-field players 70 and 72, each who might be supported by a limited number of the off-field support staff, or “ball handlers” 74 and 76, as more particularly described below. Preferably the game is refereed by an on-field referee (not shown), who might be supported by off-field staff such as a timekeeper for the shot clock or a statistician for counting fouls or penalty-shot violation and the like (none shown). The referee is generally entrusted to enforce the rules of the game and supervise over his or her off-field staff.

Each game is played against a clock. Preferably a game is played in regulation time as spread over two equal halves. Preferably, the duration of each half of regulation play is about two minutes apiece, separated by a true one minute half-time. During the halves, the clock generally runs continuously. However, the clock may be stopped and/or allowance for lost time may be granted for various reasons, such as and without limitation assessment of injury to players or waste of time by players (and/or any of each's associated team of ball handlers), as for example, failing to get play resumed immediately after a score or else the in-play ball crossing out-of-bounds. While the game clock is running, the referee signals the commission of any penalty-kick violations to the statistician, who simply keeps tally against both players.

At the end of each half, a separate phase of the game is transacted during which each player is allowed take his or her allotment of penalty shots against his or her opponent, these being the penalty-shot awards that were accrued during the previous half (or period). The sequence of who shoots first, and whether by alternate turns or not, is preferably determined according to what creates most suspense for the outcome of the game. If after the second half, the player trailing in score is too far behind to catch the leader despite his or her allotment of penalty shots, preferably the penalty shots are cycled through nonetheless for statistics' sake. In tournaments, in which the early rounds are by round-robin play, various statistics such as and without limitation the “goals against” average help complete the standings.

If the game is tied after the conclusion of the second half's penalty-shot phase, then the tie is preferably broken by tie-breaking provisions, such as one or more overtime periods. Indeed, it is preferred to play simply a second set of two overtime halves, two minutes apiece with a one minute halftime. If the game is still tied after all the overtime's second half penalty-shot phase, then the game is preferably decided by a penalty-kick tie-breaker, such as consistent with FIFA rules. By coin toss, one player is selected to go first. The players alternate in taking penalty kicks. Subject to needlessness, both players take five kicks. If a winner is declared before the end of five kicks, because one player has so outscored the other that the other would not even tie if given the rest of the kicks, the game is over. It is needless to kick any more penalty kicks, the deficit being too great. In contrast, if no winner yet after the five penalty kicks in the tie-breaker, then penalty kicks continue to be taken in the same manner until one player has scored a goal more than the other from the same number of kicks.

At the start of play (namely, at the start of any half or period), each player 70 and 72 is assigned a goal 62 to defend. In the succeeding half or period, the players 70 and 72 switch and defend the opposite goals 62. The start or restart of play preferably begins with a race. That is, the ball 68 is placed on the center mark 92 (ie., located on the midpoint of the halfway line 90). Each player 70 and 72 must be standing behind their respective goal line. The referee (or the like) signals the start or restart of play. Whichever player 70 or 72 races up and controls the ball 68 first wins possession. Hence this is the preferred way of starting or restarting play at the start of any half or period.

It is a rule of play that possession must culminate in a “distribution.” Indeed, under the preferred set rules which incorporate a shot clock rule, the “distribution” must occur before the expiration of the shot clock. “Distribution” is a technical term utilized herein for convenience, and is defined as the allowable methods or ways for scoring goals. A player 70 or 72 may distribute the ball 68 in any of the following ways:

  • throwing (by hand, and restricted to the goal area 84),
  • rolling by hand (restricted to the goal area 84),
  • punting (restricted to the goal area 84),
  • drop kicking (restricted to the goal area 84),
  • kicking, and
  • heading.

Note that, dribbling (by foot) is not a form of distribution. Preferably a rule is adopted which recites that, a player 70 or 72 may only distribute the ball 68 once during his or her possession. In other words, preferably there is a one-distribution restriction. That is, although players 70 and 72 may rightfully roll the ball 68 from their goal area 84, they are not allowed to roll the ball 68 only as far as into their offside (or the neutral) area and then kick it. That would amount to two distributions in one possession. However, players 70 and 72 may dribble (by foot) the ball 68 out of their goal area 84 and then kick it, since dribbling (by foot) is not a form of distribution.

Various other rules interplay with the factor that certain ways the player contacts the ball are not technically “distributions.” For example, any defender who is challenged to save a high-velocity shot on goal is not ordinarily going to have the leisure to catch the ball. More likely, the defender will have to punch the ball, slap it, tip it, basically do anything to just merely deflect from crossing into the goal. Hence a diving save where the defender tips the ball around the edges of a goal post, or over the cross bar, indeed results with the ball crossing out of bounds on the defender's half of the field. However, the defender is entitled to service to another ball immediately. This is opposite the rules of conventional soccer (association football). Under the conventional rules, the attacking team is entitled to a corner kick. Under the rules in accordance with the invention, as long as the ball crosses out of bounds on one player's half of the field, and—regardless if that one player was the last to contact the ball—as long as that player did not execute his or one allowed distribution (or however many entitled to), then that one player is entitled to immediate service of a ball, either from a ball handler or by self-service as by retrieving an extra out of the goal.

Among other things, what this interplay of the rules specifically rewards is goalkeeping skills. Unlike conventional rules of soccer (association football), the defender is not penalized with loss of possession merely because he or she executed a thrilling save but could do no more than tip the ball out-of-bounds (at least on his or her half of the field). Instead, the defender playing the game in accordance with the invention is rewarded with offensive possession.

It is noteworthy that heading is a permissible form of distribution because the occasions to do so will be uncommon. Nevertheless, players 70 and 72 might vie in the neutral zone 82 for a head ball, despite that such opportunities might be rather freakish.

It is also preferred to provide a rule of play whereby there is a weighted point scale for scores, such that favored or preferred methods of scoring are given higher point value than others. One way to incorporate this aspect of the invention is to award two points for scores made from the scorer's goal area, in contrast to the normal 1 point for all other goals. Hence there is an incentive to reward goals made by distributions taken from the goal area. It might be reckoned as rewarding players for taking more challenging shots or else rewarding the audience with a more thrilling game. This point scheme encourages a faster paced game, almost a volley-like game such as tennis.

Indeed, the scheme of two-points for shots taken from goal areas encourages players to defend incoming shots by punching the ball back in the direction of the opponents goal. Preferably the rules determine when a player is qualified to the two-pont reward something like the basketball three-point rule. That is, if the player leaps from within the goal area, shoots a score, but lands outside the goal area, then the score is nevertheless qualified for a two-point count. Persons ordinarily skilled in the art will readily appreciate that various other point-schemes can be devised and be consistent with the objects of the invention. That is, reward or provide incentives for the players to adopt certain tactics or playing-styles in order better take advantage of the point scheme.

An offside rule is a preferred aspect of the invention. According to the preferred offside rule, neither player may enter into the penalty area 80 of the opponent's. Accordingly, the areas which are open to each player 70 or 72 include that player's penalty and goal areas 80 and 84 (ie., to the exclusion of the other player at all times), as well as the neutral area 82, wherein the neutral area 82 is open to both players at all times. Violation of the offside rule results in a penalty-kick award for the opponent.

Also, a player may not touch the ball 68 with his or her hands outside his or her goal area 84, or else a handball violation is committed and this too results in a penalty-kick award for the opponent.

A goal is scored when the whole ball 68 passes over the goal line between the posts and under the crossbar, provided of course that no disqualifying rule violation was committed by the scorer (or ball handlers 74 and 76 thereof). A score does not stop play. The scored-on player can either personally fetch any ball 68 out of the goal 62 (in fact any ball 64 if there are numerous earlier scored balls idle there), or else call for service of a spare ball 66 from one of that player's off-the-field assistants, namely, the ball-handlers 74 or 76. The ball-handlers 74 or 76 might prepare themselves for this task by stationing themselves around the field of play 60 as shown in the drawings, loaded up with a stockpile of spare balls 66. Once a player 70 or 72 takes possession of the in-play ball 68, a possession or shot-clock is in effect, as described more particularly below.

Consider for a moment the flow of the game from a start (or restart). As mentioned, the ball 68 is originally placed on the center mark 92, with players 70 and 72 in starting positions behind their respective goal lines, waiting for a cue that allows them to race each other for the ball 68 to take first possession. Alternatively, one player may adopt a strategy not to race, but to take a defensive position in front of the goal, and concede the first possession to the other player. Given this scenario, the player-in-possession indeed controls the ball 68 without contest from the defending player. However, there might be no clear advantage in gaining first possession this way. The player-in-possession has to shoot (more technically, “distribute”) the ball before the shot-clock expires (eg., five seconds). The defending player might swiftly convert this scenario into advantage by being in good position to defend, even catch the ball 68, and then thereafter capitalize on any mistake of the shooting player, who might be out of position to defend against a thrown ball arcing overhead to an open goal. A score does not entail play being suspended to redo the start/restart procedure. The scored-on player simply continues at once with possession of the ball, or any allowable ball, as more particularly described below.

The in-play ball 68 becomes out of play when it wholly crosses a goal line or touch line, whether on the ground or in the air (or play is otherwise stopped by the referee). The ball 68 is in play at all other times. This includes any instance of the ball 68 remaining in the field of play 60 after rebounding off a player, goalpost, crossbar, referee (if any) and/or corner flag (if any).

While the ball 68 is in play, generally one player or the other (70 or 72) will be charged with possession of the ball 68. The timekeeper or perhaps the referee tracks of time of possession since the player-in-possession is beholden to the shot clock. The player-in-possession has to distribute (eg., shoot) the ball 68 before expiration of the shot clock. If the ball 68 goes out of bounds on that player's half of the field, that player can call for service for a replacement ball from any of his or her ball handlers 74 and 76, provided that such player 70 or 72 has not fouled, such as violating the one-distribution rule or shot-clock rule. However, the shot-clock is not reset on that account. If a distributed ball rebounds off the opponent's goalposts, crossbar, corner flags, or the referee but returns to the distributing (eg., shooting) player, the shot clock is reset. The shooting player can take re-possession. That is, offensive rebounds are permitted. A distributing player who takes re-possession after such a rebound is also granted a new distribution allowance (eg., one under the one-distribution rule).

Of course, if the opponent contacts the ball then the shot clock is turned off against the distributing player. If the ball rebounds off the opponent, the distributing player can take re-possession, and gets a new distribution allowance. The shot clock of course is resumed.

If the ball goes out of bounds on the opponent's half of the field, then the opponent can call for service of a ball from any of the opponent's ball handlers 74 or 76. By whichever way the opponent comes into possession of the ball, the shot clock begins to run on the opponent's possession.

When the shot-clock rule is violated, preferably play is not stopped but the violation does have consequences. The preferred time-limit to date for the shot-clock rule is five seconds. Any score obtained in violation of the shot-clock rule is disqualified (not counted) and the non-violating player simply continues play as the manner after a score. Alternatively, if the non-violating player saved the shot after a tardy distribution, play continues without interruption. In both cases, a shot-clock violation occurred nonetheless. The statistician preferably keeps count of shot-clock violations for each player. There might be an allowance of shot-clock violations, for example five apiece, for which there is no consequence other than disqualification of scores. However, every shot-clock violation in excess of the allowance preferably results in a penalty-shot award in favor of the opponent. Again, penalty shots accrue for each player during the game clock, and are taken during a penalty-shot phase at the end of the period. In addition, the referee has discretion to penalize an intentionally or inexcusably tardy distribution as a penalty-shot violation, regardless of the shot-clock violation allowance.

An alternative framework might vary the penalty structure for shot-clock violations as follows. That is, shot-clock violations generally have no further consequence than disqualifying scores unless the referee, in his or her discretion, believes that one player is intentionally or inexcusably violating the shot clock. Therefore, the referee might have sole discretion of when and/or when not a shot-clock violation is also a penalty-shot foul. The referee would indicate penalty-shot violations to the statistician in some agreed upon manner, such as a blowing the whistle and pointing a flag at the offender.

A fine point in the rules concerns the case of an intentionally or inexcusably tardy distribution. One rule has the referee indicating that such transgression comprises a penalty-shot violation, and little else. Another alternative has the referee, if his or her patience is worn out, cautioning the transgressor, wherein two cautions result in a send off (and forfeit). An additional alternative has the referee penalizing the violator with a penalty-shot violation, and then directly intervening to turn (or cause the ball to be turned) over to the opponent. An additional alternative is more involved, but it favors uninterrupted play. Consider a situation when the shot clock expires and the violating player is not going to be timely in the least in distributing the ball in a way that the opponent, without traveling offsides, can take possession. Envision a stall tactic, or else a player tripped up and stumbling wildly. An alternate rule is as follows. As soon as the referee signals intentional or inexcusable delay after the shot clock (note that the violator accrues one penalty-shot violation here), the non-violating player can fetch a ball 64 from goal 62 or signal for service of a ball 66 from any of his or her ball handlers (74 or 76 as applicable). The original in-play ball is dead, and the player-in-violation must immediately get the dead ball off the field (smack it out of play), or else the violator will be penalized with a dead-ball violation (and hence accrue a second penalty-shot violation). Any save on an incoming “shot on goal” while a dead ball is on the field is goaltending (the shot is counted as a score), and the referee in his or her discretion may additionally assess a third penalty-shot violation. A “shot on goal” includes any shot that strikes or will strike any part of either goalpost or crossbar. Preferably this alternate rule is reserved for proficient players, rather than youths and/or the less proficient, because they are expected to have greater on-field awareness.

A player 70 or 72 violates the offside rule if he or she crosses into the penalty area of the opponent. Play is not stopped but any goal is disqualified. Violation of the offside rule results in a penalty-kick award for the opponent. A player 70 or 72 violates the handball rule if he or she touches the ball 68 with his or her hands outside his or her goal area 84. Generally, the handball rule is consistent with the FIFA rules on the same. Violation of the handball rule likewise results in a penalty-kick award for the opponent. Again, all penalty-kick awards accruing during a given half (or period) are settled at the end of such half or period during post-half penalty-kick phase of the game. Halftime optionally starts at the end of the first half's penalty-kick phase.

One more embellishment on intentional or inexcusable delay is that, alternatively, a rule of play is incorporated that makes it a cautionable offense. That is, the referee cautions the offending player, and a penalty-kick award is granted to the opponent. Two (or whatever) cautions in a game and the player is sent off the field (and thereby forfeits the game). Among other examples of such delay (in the discretion of the referee) include a scored-upon player being too slow to continue play. That way, a player who delays the continuance of play risks being cautioned or, worse still, sent off after the second such caution.

During the penalty-kick phase following any half, penalty kicks are taken from the penalty mark.

It is permissible that players be coached by a coach who can convey tactical instructions to his or her player during play. Generally the coach is confined to a technical area which is preferably demarcated along one or the other touch lines.

It is an aspect of the invention that each player 70 and 72 may have up to a designated number of ball handlers 74 and 76 respectively. Ball handlers 74 and 76 have various roles to fulfill, including supplying spare balls 66 for distribution, perhaps retrieve out-of-bound balls 66, except not any ball 64 inside a goal 62. To emphasize that last point, ball handlers 74 and 76 are not permitted to enter their player's goal 62.

Ball handlers 74 and 76 are permitted freedom to travel along the sidelines on their player's half of the field as well as the backfield behind their player's goal 62. Ball handlers 74 and 76 are not permitted to step onto the field of play 60 during regulation play. Ball handlers 74 and 76 may not retrieve balls 64 located in their respective player's goal 62. Ball handlers 74 and 76 may not stop, deflect or otherwise impede any incoming “shot on goal” or else, for one thing, this is ruled goaltending (ie., counted as a score). A “shot on goal” includes any shot that strikes or will strike any part of either goalpost or crossbar.

A ball handler 74 or 76 is cautioned (perhaps including the formality of being shown a yellow card) if he or she violates any of the following rules:

  • steps on the field of play 60 during regulation play,
  • retrieves a ball 64 that is located in his or her player's goal 62, and/or
  • delays the resumption of play.

A ball handler 74 or 76 is sent off (perhaps including the formality of being shown a red card) if he or she violates any of the following:

  • attempts to stop, deflect or otherwise impede any incoming shot on goal, or
  • receives a second caution in the same game.
    If a ball handler 74 or 76 is sent off, he or she may not be replaced by a substitute.

To date it is preferred to allow players 70 or 72 to enlist up to four (4) ball handlers 74 or 76 for a game. There is no requirement that a player 70 or 72 enlist any. If one player 70 or 72 enlists two, this in no way limits the opponent 72 or 70 to the same number. Each player 70 or 72 can enlist all or fewer than the permitted number of ball handlers 74 and 76 regardless what the other player 72 or 74 chooses to do.

The rules of play are preferably constructed to reward great goalkeeping play in particular. As previously mentioned, for example, a player who saves a goal shot but knocks the ball out-of-bounds on his or her side of the field get the ball back, instead of losing the ball pursuant to FIFA rules of soccer (or association football).

Also, FIFA rules of soccer (or association football), goalkeepers are not in any way especially rewarded for making great saves. Indeed, the heavy emphasis under FIFA rules of soccer (or association football) is that goals score points. However, the epitome of a great save for keepers and fans is holding onto an incoming shot. This can be reckoned to a reception in football. It is a thrill not only to the receiver but the fans alike. Accordingly, it is an aspect of the invention to award points to players who can catch and hold an incoming shot.

This way, players can earn points on defense, which in consequence makes the game more interesting, and balanced for a game designed to reward goalkeeping skills. This rule of a play also adds an element of dodge ball to the game, which itself is enjoying renewed popularity nowadays.

Again, not only do goals earn points but so do caught-and-held saves, and there is no counterpart whatsoever to points for caught-and-held saves under FIFA rules of soccer (or association football).

Preferably the tally of points in the game is always according to positive values. In other words, there are no penalties resulting in loss of points (there are, of course, penalties providing further scoring opportunities in the way of penalty kicks, which allows a trailing player to come from behind). Each score or caught-and-held save may have a value of more than one (1) point. For example, scores may be two points, caught-and-held saves one point, or conversely, or else any other unequal point scheme can be devised. Again, scores launched from one's own goal area might merit two points in contrast to goals from elsewhere, which might merit a mere one point.

The invention having been disclosed in connection with the foregoing variations and examples, additional variations will now be apparent to persons skilled in the art. The invention is not intended to be limited to the variations specifically mentioned, and accordingly reference should be made to the appended claims rather than the foregoing discussion of preferred examples, to assess the scope of the invention in which exclusive rights are claimed.