Title:
Field hockey stick having an edge configured to minimize ball loft
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A field hockey stick comprising a head and a shaft adjoining the head. The shaft comprises a flat playing side, a non-playing side opposite to the flat playing side, a first edge between the flat playing side and the non-playing side, and a second edge between the flat playing side and the non-playing side, the second edge opposite to the first edge. According to one embodiment, at least one of the first edge and the second edge is flattened or concave. A method for contacting a field hockey ball with the field hockey stick is also disclosed.



Inventors:
Bedwell, Katelyn (Baltimore, MD, US)
Lignelli, Joanna (Baltimore, MD, US)
Application Number:
11/344144
Publication Date:
08/31/2006
Filing Date:
02/01/2006
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63B59/14
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
GRAHAM, MARK S
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
PAUL HASTINGS LLP (875 15th Street, NW, Washington, DC, 20005, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A field hockey stick comprising: a head; and a shaft adjoining the head, the shaft comprising: a flat playing side, a non-playing side opposite to the flat playing side, a first edge between the flat playing side and the non-playing side, and a second edge between the flat playing side and the non-playing side, the second edge opposite to the first edge, at least one of the first edge and the second edge being one of flattened and concave.

2. The field hockey stick of claim 1, wherein the at least one of the first edge and the second edge is concave and has a radius of curvature of about 35 mm to about 40 mm.

3. The field hockey stick of claim 1, wherein the at least one of the first edge and the second edge is concave and has a radius of curvature greater than about 1.47 inches.

4. The field hockey stick of claim 1, wherein the at least one of the first edge and the second edge is concave and has a radius of curvature less than about 1.40 inches.

5. The field hockey stick of claim 1, wherein the at least one of the first edge and the second edge is concave and has a depth of about 10 mm.

6. The field hockey stick of claim 1, wherein one of the first edge and the second edge is concave and the other of the first edge and the second edge is flattened.

7. The field hockey stick of claim 1, wherein the at least one of the first edge and the second edge is not flattened or concave along a portion of the shaft adjacent to the head.

8. The field hockey stick of claim 7, wherein the head has a toe, the portion of the shaft that is not flattened or concave extending to a point approximately 1.0 to approximately 1.5 inches above the toe.

9. The field hockey stick of claim 1, wherein the first edge has a surface extending from the flat playing side to the non-playing side and the second edge has a surface extending from the flat playing side to the non-playing side, the surface of the first edge being wider than the surface of the second edge.

10. The field hockey stick of claim 9, wherein the head has a toe and the first edge is on the same side of the shaft as the toe.

11. The field hockey stick of claim 9, wherein the head has a toe and the second edge is on the same side of the shaft as the toe.

12. The field hockey stick of claim 1, wherein the shaft comprises a throat adjoining the head and a handle adjoining the throat opposite the head, and wherein the at least one of the first edge and the second edge that is one of flattened and concave is disposed on the throat.

13. The field hockey stick of claim 1, wherein the shaft comprises a throat adjoining the head and a handle adjoining the throat opposite the head, and wherein the at least one of the first edge and the second edge that is one of flattened and concave is disposed on the throat and the handle.

14. The field hockey stick of claim 1, wherein the at least one of the first edge and the second edge is flat and is generally perpendicular to the flat playing side.

15. A method for contacting a field hockey ball with a field hockey stick comprising: positioning the field hockey stick generally parallel to a ground surface on which the field hockey ball is disposed, the field hockey stick having a flat playing side, a non-playing side opposite to the flat playing side, a first edge between the flat playing side and the non-playing side, and a second edge between the flat playing side and the non-playing side, the second edge opposite to the first edge; and contacting the ball with one of the first edge and the second edge of the field hockey stick, the contacted edge being one of flattened and concave.

16. The method of claim 15, wherein contacting the ball comprises hitting the ball.

17. The method of claim 15, wherein contacting the ball comprises whipping the ball by sweeping the contacted edge against the ball.

18. The method of claim 15, wherein contacting the ball comprises rolling the ball along the contacted edge.

19. The method of claim 15, wherein contacting the ball comprises contacting the ball with the contacted edge generally perpendicular to the ground surface so as to minimize loft.

20. The method of claim 15, wherein contacting the ball comprises contacting the ball with the contacted edge having a radius of curvature larger than about 1.47 inches.

Description:

This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/649,092, filed Feb. 3, 2005, which is incorporated herein by reference in its entirety.

BACKGROUND

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates generally to field hockey sticks, and more particularly, to a field hockey stick having an edge configured to strike a ball with minimal loft.

2. Background of the Invention

As shown in FIG. 1, a field hockey stick 100 typically has a handle 102, a throat 104, and a head 106. The handle 102 starts at the top and extends through to the throat 104. The handle 102 and throat 104 together define the shaft of the stick 100. The stick 100 curves at the base of the throat 104 to form the head 106. A horizontal line (such as line 115) drawn through the point at which stick 100 begins to curve marks the end of throat 104 and the beginning of head 106. The head 106 is also considered the base of the stick 100. The head 106 includes a toe 108 and curves horizontally and upwardly to form toe 108. The front (or left hand side, as shown in FIG. 1) of the stick 100 has a flat playing surface and the back is typically rounded and not playable in the game. The edges, disposed between the flat playing surface and the non-playing surface, are legal for play in the game. Generally, the flat playing surface includes all of head 106 and at least a portion of throat 104. All sticks are suitable for “right handed” play.

Traditionally, field hockey sticks have been constructed of relatively standard dimensions, due primarily to widely accepted rules of the game. These rules dictate aspects of the stick such as weight, length, shape, and cross-section. As one example, the rules require that the playing portion of the stick have a flat face and that every cross-section of the stick be able to pass through a two-inch ring. In meeting these rules, the traditional field hockey stick has typically featured a flat front face and a curved back and back head of a relatively uniform shape. The edges of the field hockey stick have traditionally been constructed as rounded extensions of the curved back surface.

The total weight of a field hockey stick as defined by widely accepted rules must not exceed 737 grams. Within these parameters, field hockey sticks, including field hockey stick heads that are curved and have rounded backs, have a traditional shape and weight disbursement.

In the game of field hockey, as players increase in skill level, they typically play lower to the ground and therefore can utilize more of the stick as a hitting surface, including the rounded edges of the stick between the playing and non-playing sides. In addition, at this level of play, it is increasingly important for players to execute passes, shots, and clears that are controlled, hard, and strong. Indeed, the more powerful the hit, the better chance the pass or shot has of eluding defenders.

However, this increase in power and use of the rounded edges of the stick increases the chance of losing control of the ball, especially in terms of a misdirected shot or pass. In using an edge of the stick to pass or shoot, a player typically sweeps the stick from a squatting position, with the ball arcing off the edge of the stick and traveling on or near the ground in a straight line. A miss-hit ball often rises up in the air, which can result in the loss of possession and can be harmful to other players. Thus, a principal object of a powerful sweep is to keep the ball close to the ground. The object is to hit the ball hard but minimize its loft. Keeping the ball low helps control passes. Players therefore prefer field hockey sticks that meet this need.

Field hockey sticks are typically made of a wood or composites. As used herein, composites refer to field hockey sticks made by bladder molding or by wrapping sheets of uncured fiber-reinforced thermosetting resin around a mandrel, which is then withdrawn to form a hollow tubular lay-up. Examples of the materials used in the resin include fiberglass, carbon, and aramid. Composite sticks have been available on the market for several years and have been approved for use in international play for over a year.

It is widely believed that the edge of the stick provides a quicker, stronger hit than the front playing surface. With this additional power, however, comes a potential for loss of control, especially if a ball is unintentionally lofted during the hit. Minimizing this loft would therefore result in players delivering a more powerful hit without compensating ball control. Therefore, field hockey sticks, especially composite field hockey sticks, would benefit greatly from a feature that minimizes the loft that can occur upon contact with a ball, and the resulting loss of ball control.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention provides a field hockey stick having an edge that minimizes loft and imparts an improved feel when striking a ball with the stick. The edge has, for example, a flattened or concave surface.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a schematic diagram of a conventional field hockey stick.

FIG. 2 is a schematic diagram of a front isometric view of an exemplary field hockey stick having edges with flattened surfaces, according to an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 3 is a schematic diagram of a back isometric view of the field hockey stick shown in FIG. 2.

FIG. 4A is a schematic diagram of an exemplary field hockey stick having edges with flattened surfaces, according to an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 4B is a schematic diagram of a cross-section of the field hockey stick shown in FIG. 4A taken along line 4B-4B.

FIG. 5 is a schematic diagram of a cross-section of a conventional field hockey stick.

FIG. 6 is a schematic diagram of a cross-section of a field hockey stick having edges with concave surfaces, according to an embodiment of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

The present invention provides a field hockey stick having an edge configured to strike a ball with minimal loft. The striking surface of the edge can be, for example, flattened or shaped to generally match the contour of a field hockey ball (e.g., concave). Such striking surfaces can minimize loft and impart an improved feel when striking a ball with an edge of the stick. Such striking surfaces can also increase the hitting surface of the edge that contacts the ball, therefore increasing the accuracy of a hit. In addition, by configuring the edge to strike a higher point on the ball, with a surface that is closer to perpendicular to the ground (when the stick is striking a ball), the present invention reduces both the chance of a miss-hit and also the likelihood of ball loft.

FIGS. 2 and 3 illustrate an exemplary field hockey stick 200 having flattened front and back edges, according to an embodiment of the present invention. The shaded areas indicate where the edges can be flattened, which include the front and back edges of the throat and handle.

FIG. 4A illustrates another exemplary field hockey stick 400 having flattened front and back edges, according to an embodiment of the present invention. In this example, the flattening of the edges begins at a point approximately 1 to 1.5 inches above the top of the toe on the throat of the stick as indicated by line 402, and continues for the entire length of the throat and handle. The locations of this flattening could of course vary according to desired performance characteristics, for example, extending only on the throat and not to the handle or even located at isolated or intermittent points on the shaft. FIG. 4B illustrates a representative cross-section of the field hockey stick 400 shown in FIG. 4A taken along line 4B-4B. As shown, the cross-section of stick 400 includes a front flattened edge 404 and a back flattened edge 406. Although shown at unequal lengths, edges 404 and 406 could, of course, be equal in length. The length and angle of edges 404 and 406 could also vary according to desired performance characteristics relating to loft, for example.

As a comparison, FIG. 5 illustrates a representative cross-section of a conventional field hockey stick 500 having rounded front and back edges, the contours of which generally match the representative circles 503 and 505. As shown, the angled surfaces of the front curved edge 502 and the back curved edge 504 can loft a ball undesirably. In contrast, edges 404 and 406 (FIG. 4B) of the present invention can strike a ball substantially perpendicularly to the surface on which the ball is resting, at a higher point on the ball, and thereby minimize loft.

In alternative embodiment of the present invention, to further increase the ball contact area on an edge of the stick, an edge can be shaped to generally match the contour of a field hockey ball. For example, in FIG. 6, front edge 602 and back edge 604 of field hockey stick 600 are concave (bending toward the center of the shaft) instead of straight. Alternatively, a field hockey stick may have a front edge that is concave, as shown by the edge 602 in FIG. 6, and a back edge that is flattened, as shown by the edge 406 in FIG. 4B or vice versa, in which a field hockey stick has a flattened front edge, such as edge 404 in FIG. 4B, and a concave back edge, such as edge 604 in FIG. 6. In one embodiment of the present invention, a maximum depth 606 of the concave surface can be, for example, about 10 mm.

The concave edges 602, 604 form a cavity that can increase the amount of ball surface area that the edge contacts, and can help control the ball and reduce loft. The concave edges 602, 604 may have a radius of curvature that maximizes the amount of contact area with the ball and may be in the range of about 35 mm to 40 mm. The radius of curvature of a concave edge 602, 604 may be sized larger than the radius of curvature of a ball in order to maximize the hitting surface by taking account of ball deformation upon impact. A typical size of a field hockey ball is about 8 13/16 to 9¼ inches in circumference, or about 2.81 to 2.94 inches in diameter, therefore having a radius of curvature of about 1.40 to 1.47 inches (about 35.56 mm to 37.34 mm).

In an alternative embodiment, the radius of curvature of a concave edge 602, 604 may be sized smaller than the radius of curvature of a ball in order to impart a greater force upon hitting the ball while retaining increased contact area in accordance with the present invention. In this embodiment, the ball could contact the concave edge at one or two points, at the corners where the concave edge meets the playing and non-playing sides.

One embodiment of the present invention provides a field hockey stick comprising a head and a shaft adjoining the head. The shaft comprises a flat playing side, a non-playing side opposite to the flat playing side, a first edge between the flat playing side and the non-playing side, and a second edge between the flat playing side and the non-playing side. The second edge is opposite to the first edge. At least one of the first edge and the second edge is flattened or concave.

Another embodiment of the present invention provides a field hockey stick comprising a handle, a throat adjacent to the handle, and a head adjacent to the throat on a side of the throat opposite to the handle, in which one or more edges of the throat are flattened or concaved inwardly.

Another embodiment of the present invention provides a field hockey stick comprising a handle, a throat adjacent to the handle, and a head adjacent to the throat on a side of the throat opposite to the handle, in which one or more edges of the handle are flattened or concaved inwardly.

Another embodiment of the present invention provides a field hockey stick comprising a handle, a throat adjacent to the handle, and a head adjacent to the throat on a side of the throat opposite to the handle. The throat has a flat playing side, two edges, and a round non-playing side. One or more of the edges of the throat are flattened or concaved inwardly. One or more edges of the handle are flattened or concaved inwardly.

A further embodiment of the present invention provides a method for contacting a field hockey ball with a field hockey stick. In this embodiment, the field hockey stick is held generally parallel to a ground surface on which the field hockey ball is disposed. The field hockey stick has a flat playing side, a non-playing side opposite to the flat playing side, a first edge between the flat playing side and the non-playing side, and a second edge between the flat playing side and the non-playing side, the second edge opposite to the first edge. One or both of the first and second edges is flattened or concave. The stick is held with either the flat playing side or the non-playing side facing up.

The ball is then contacted with a flattened or concave edge, for example, by hitting the ball or by whipping the ball. A player can contact the ball by sweeping the field hockey stick from a squatting position, with the stick generally parallel to the ground surface. The ball can be hit by sweeping the stick squarely against the ball to provide an instance of contact between the ball and stick. The ball can be whipped by sweeping the contacted edge along the ball (e.g., generally tangential to the ball) such that the ball rolls along the contacted edge and releases as desired. With either hitting or whipping the ball, the ball can be contacted with the contacted edge generally perpendicular to the ground surface so as to minimize loft.

The foregoing disclosure of embodiments of the present invention has been presented for purposes of illustration and description. It is not intended to be exhaustive or to limit the invention to the precise forms disclosed. Many variations and modifications of the embodiments described herein will be apparent to one of ordinary skill in the art in light of the above disclosure. The scope of the invention is to be defined only by the claims, and by their equivalents.

Further, in describing representative embodiments of the present invention, the specification may have presented the method and/or process of the present invention as a particular sequence of steps. However, to the extent that the method or process does not rely on the particular order of steps set forth herein, the method or process should not be limited to the particular sequence of steps described. As one of ordinary skill in the art would appreciate, other sequences of steps may be possible. Therefore, the particular order of the steps set forth in the specification should not be construed as limitations on the claims. In addition, the claims directed to the method and/or process of the present invention should not be limited to the performance of their steps in the order written, and one skilled in the art can readily appreciate that the sequences may be varied and still remain within the spirit and scope of the present invention.