Title:
FIELD HOCKEY STICK WITH BALL PORTION
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A field hockey stick that allows a player to have improved handling of the ball. The field hockey stick of the present invention includes a ball portion in at least a portion of the shaft front surface. The ball portion provides an area to seat the ball providing the player better control of the ball and more accurate drag flicking.



Inventors:
Lamson, Kyle Larry (Chelmsford, MA, US)
Reynolds, Alexander Parker (Wayland, MA, US)
Smith, Andrew (Eastman, NM, US)
Application Number:
11/697558
Publication Date:
01/31/2008
Filing Date:
04/06/2007
Assignee:
Brine Corp. (47 Sumner Street, Milford, MA, US)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63B59/12
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
GRAHAM, MARK S
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
WARNER NORCROSS + JUDD LLP (INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY GROUP 1500 WARNER BUILDING 150 OTTAWA AVE NW, GRAND RAPIDS, MI, 49503, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A field hockey stick comprising: a shaft having an upper end, a lower end, a front surface extending between said upper end and said lower end, and a convexly curved back surface extending between said upper end and said lower end opposite from said front surface; a handle section located near said upper end of said shaft; a toe section located near said lower end of said shaft, said toe section having a ball contacting surface adjacent to said shaft front surface; and a ball portion formed in said front surface of said shaft to assist in stabilizing a ball on said front surface.

2. The field hockey stick of claim 1, wherein said ball portion has a generally oval shaped outer perimeter.

3. The field hockey stick of claim 2, wherein said ball portion consists of a recess.

4. The field hockey stick of claim 3, wherein said oval shaped recess outer perimeter is flush with said shaft front surface.

5. The field hockey stick of claim 3, wherein an imaginary longitudinal axis is defined by the length of said shaft and runs through an approximate center of the shaft approximately parallel with said front surface and said back surface, said oval shaped recess is defined by a major axis that is parallel to said imaginary longitudinal axis and a minor axis that is perpendicular to said imaginary longitudinal axis.

6. The field hockey stick of claim 5, wherein said oval shaped recess major axis has a first end positioned near said upper end of said shaft and a second end positioned near said lower end of said shaft.

7. The field hockey stick of claim 6, wherein said major axis first end is spaced apart from said toe section.

8. The field hockey stick of claim 6 wherein said major axis first end is positioned within said toe section.

9. The field hockey stick of claim 6, wherein said recess has a generally concave cross-sectional surface along said major axis.

10. The field hockey stick of claim 9 wherein said recess has a generally concave cross-sectional surface along said minor axis.

11. The field hockey stick of claim 10 wherein said recess includes a maximum depth in the range of about 2-5 millimeters (mm).

12. The field hockey stick of claim 11 wherein said major axis of said recess has a maximum length in the range of about 200-400 millimeters (mm).

13. The field hockey stick of claim 12 wherein said minor axis of said recess has a maximum width in the range of about 30-40 millimeters (mm).

14. A field hockey stick comprising: a shaft having an upper end, a lower end, a front surface extending between said upper end and said lower end, and a convexly curved back surface extending between said upper end and said lower end opposite said front surface; a handle section located near said upper end of said shaft; a toe section located near said lower end of said shaft, said toe section having a ball contacting surface adjacent to said shaft front surface; and wherein a portion of said shaft front surface includes a ball portion defined by an outer perimeter and an inner ball contacting area, said ball portion generally having a major axis oriented parallel with respect to the length of said shaft and a minor axis oriented perpendicular with respect to the length of said shaft.

15. The field hockey stick of claim 14, wherein the ball portion consists of multiple areas formed on said front surface of said shaft.

16. The field hockey stick of claim 14, wherein said outer perimeter of said ball portion is generally oval in shape.

17. The field hockey stick of claim 14, wherein said ball portion is configured as a recess such that a ball contacting surface of said ball portion is recessed with respect to said front surface of said shaft.

18. The field hockey stick of claim 17, wherein said ball contacting surface of said recess has a generally concave cross-section.

19. The field hockey stick of claim 14, wherein said ball portion is elongated or includes a portion that extends into said toe section.

20. A field hockey stick for contacting a field hockey ball, comprising: a shaft portion having an upper end, a lower end, a front surface extending between said upper end and said lower end, and a back surface extending between said upper end and said lower end opposite said front surface; a handle section located near said upper end of shaft that is intended to receive a player's hands thereon; a toe section located near said lower end of said shaft, said toe section having a ball contacting surface adjacent to said front surface of said shaft for contacting the field hockey ball; a ball portion formed in at least said front surface of said shaft, said ball portion being recessed with respect to said front surface of said shaft.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

The present application claims priority from U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 60/793,493, which was filed on Apr. 19, 2006, and is entitled “Field Hockey Sticks,” and which his hereby incorporated by reference herein.

TECHNICAL FIELD

The present invention relates generally to sports equipment and more specifically to a field hockey stick.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Field hockey is a well-known sport that is played in many countries. In the game of field hockey, two teams play against one another with the object being to acquire as many points as possible by shooting a field hockey ball into the other player's goal. Players control the ball during play through the use of a field hockey stick. The rules stipulate that players cannot play the ball with the rounded back side, but do not specify which other parts of the stick may or may not be used.

A known field hockey stick includes a shaft having a generally U-shaped head or toe for contacting a ball at one end and a handle for holding the stick at the opposite end of the shaft. The shaft has a generally flat front surface that extends between the handle and the toe. The shaft includes a backside or back surface opposing the front surface that is generally convexly curved or rounded. The toe of the stick includes a flat, ball-contacting portion that is adjacent to the front surface of the shaft and a convexly curved back portion that is adjacent to the back surface of the shaft. The design and dimensions of the stick are most commonly configured to conform to the requirements stated in the ‘Rules of Hockey’ as published by the International Hockey Federation, also known as the FIH.

Players use the stick during play to control the ball in a variety of positions. In one scenario, the stick can be used to push or hit the ball down the field using the ball-contacting portion of the toe or to control the ball while playing. In normal use, the player grasps the handle section holding the field hockey stick approximately perpendicular to the ground with the toe of the stick near or touching the ground in a position to contact the ball.

In another scenario, the stick can be used to push the ball down the field using the front surface of the shaft. The player grasps the handle section holding the field hockey stick approximately parallel to and near or touching the ground. Current designs of field hockey sticks employ a flat front surface and make it difficult to hold or control the ball because the ball tends to easily slip away from the shaft's flat surface. The motion required by the player to keep the ball within the player's control with these current field hockey sticks is strenuous to the shoulders, arms and wrists.

From the position where a player uses the front surface of the shaft to control the ball, a player may drag-flick the ball. Drag-flicking occurs when a player scoops the ball off of the ground onto the front surface of the shaft and shoots it toward a desired target all while holding the field hockey stick generally parallel with the ground. During this process, the field hockey ball is guided along the long axis of the stick extending from the upper end towards the lower end and toe section. The known design of a flat front surface is further problematic when drag flicking because it is hard to maintain the position of the ball (also known as seating the ball) on the center of a flat surface along its long axis while raising it off of the ground and accurately shooting, as the ball has a tendency to roll off the edges of the front surface as it moves towards the toe section on the long axis into a shooting position.

In an attempt to alleviate the problem with flat front surfaces, some field hockey sticks have included a concave recess along the entire front face of the shaft and toe. The recess maintains the position of the ball on the center of the stick, however the curvature of the recessed portion tends to guide the ball off the major axis of the shaft and onto the toe as the ball is shot, which leads to inaccurate and unpredictable shooting and passing.

Therefore, there is a need for a field hockey stick to allow a field hockey player to better control the ball and be less strenuous on the player's shoulders, arms and wrists.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

It is therefore an advantage of the present invention to provide a field hockey stick that allows a player to more easily control the ball during play.

It is another advantage of the present invention to allow a player to more easily lift the ball off of the ground and control it with the front surface of the shaft.

It is still another advantage of the present invention to allow a player to more easily accomplish drag flicking during play.

It is a further advantage of the present invention to allow a player to more easily shoot or pass the ball with the front surface of the shaft.

In accordance with the above and the other advantages of the present invention, a field hockey stick is provided that includes a shaft having an upper end, a lower end, a front surface extending between the upper end and the lower end, and a convexly curved back surface that is opposite from the front surface for retaining a field hockey ball. A ball possession area, or ball portion, is formed in at least a portion of the shaft front surface. A handle section is located near the upper end of the shaft and a toe section having a ball contacting surface adjacent to the shaft front surface is located near the lower end of the shaft.

The ball possession area provides an area to maintain the position of the ball, or seat the ball, when the ball is being captured onto the front surface and raised off the ground to a shooting position and shot, otherwise known as drag flicking. Further, the ball possession area allows the player to shoot the ball more accurately off of the lower end of the stick in line with the major axis and with increased velocity when drag flicking. In other words, the ball possession area allows the field hockey ball to be channel guided along the major axis of the field hockey stick when shooting the field hockey ball using the drag flicking technique.

Other advantages and features of the present invention will become apparent when viewed in light of the detailed description of the invention and taken in conjunction with the attached drawings and claims.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a field hockey stick in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a front view of the field hockey stick of FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a cross-sectional view of the field hockey stick of FIG. 2 taken along line 3-3 in FIG. 2;

FIG. 4 is a cross-sectional view of the field hockey stick of FIG. 2 taken along line 4-4 in FIG. 2; and

FIG. 5 is a front view of a field hockey stick in accordance with another embodiment of the present invention.

DESCRIPTION OF INVENTION

In the following Figures, the same reference numerals will be used to refer to the same components. FIGS. 1 and 2 illustrate an embodiment of a field hockey stick in accordance with the present invention. The field hockey stick 20 includes a shaft 22 having a lower end 24, an upper end 26, a front surface 28 extending between the lower end 24 and the upper end 26 and a convexly curved back surface 30 disposed opposite the front surface 28. The front surface 28 of the shaft 22 includes a ball portion 32 formed in at least a portion of the front surface 28. Located near the upper end 26 of the shaft 22 is a handle section 34, which allows a player to hold and handle the stick. Located near the lower end 24 of the shaft 22 is a toe section 36. The toe section 36 has a ball-contacting surface 38 that is located adjacent to the shaft front surface 28 for contacting a field hockey ball. The field hockey stick 20 is preferably constructed of a composite material or wood. However, the field hockey stick 20 can also be constructed from a variety of other suitable materials.

The ball portion 32, or ball possession area, is intended to be used to stabilize a ball (e.g. to prevent the ball from rolling off to a side edge of the shaft 22), and to launch the ball (by guiding the field hockey ball towards the toe section 36 (downward in FIG. 2) of the stick 20 along the major axis 44 for shooting or passing), an act known as dragflicking to those of ordinary skill in the game of field hockey. To accomplish this, the ball portion 32 can take on a variety of different configurations. In the embodiment shown in FIG. 14, the ball portion 32 consists of a recess. In other words, the ball portion 32 is set back with respect to the front surface 28 of the shaft 22 to allow the ball to rest therein. As shown in FIG. 1, the ball portion 32 has a generally oval shaped outer perimeter or periphery 40. While the outer perimeter 40 preferably lies in the same plane as the front surface 28 of the shaft 22, it will be understood that the outer perimeter 40 can be raised slightly with the ball portion 32 being recessed the same amount or a lesser amount to prevent compromising the integrity of the stick. It will also be understood that the outer perimeter 40 can take on a variety of different configurations as desired and still achieve the advantages of the present invention.

In an alternate embodiment, the ball portion 32 has a gradually increasing width from the second end 50 of the major axis 44 to the first end 48 of the major axis 44. In other words, the minor axis increases in size from the second end 56 to the first end 48. In a still further embodiment, the ball portion 32 consists of a plurality of recesses spaced along the length of the shaft 22. It will be understood that the width, length, and perimeter shape of the ball portion 32 can vary as desired.

Additionally, the ball portion 32 is preferably integrally formed with the shaft 22. However, it will be understood that the ball portion 32 may be secured to the shaft 22 in a post-manufacturing process, such as through an adhesive. Moreover, the ball portion 32 can be formed in other parts of the stick 20, including in the handle section 34.

With respect to FIG. 2, an imaginary longitudinal axis 42 is defined by the length of the shaft 22 and runs through an approximate center of the shaft 22. The imaginary longitudinal axis 42 is approximately parallel with the front and back surfaces 28, 30 of the shaft 22. The ball portion 32 defines a major axis 44 that is positioned generally parallel to the shaft's imaginary longitudinal axis 42 and a minor axis 46 that is positioned generally perpendicular to the shaft's imaginary longitudinal axis 42. In this embodiment, the major axis 44 is longer than the minor axis 46.

The major axis 44 has a first end 48 positioned near the lower end 24 of the shaft 22 and a second end 50 positioned near the upper end 26 of the shaft 22. In FIG. 2, the first end 48 of the major axis 44 is spaced apart from the toe section 36. In other words, the ball portion 32 does not abut the bottom edge 52 of the field hockey stick 20, rather it terminates prior to the toe section 36 of the stick. Additionally, in this embodiment, the ball portion 32 does not extend all the way to the handle section 34.

FIG. 5 illustrates an alternative embodiment that is similar in every aspect to the disclosed embodiment except that the first end 148 of the major axis 144 is positioned within the toe section 136. In this embodiment, the first end 148 of the ball portion 132 terminates closer to the bottom edge 152 of the shaft 22 then in the embodiment illustrated in FIGS. 1 and 2.

Referring to FIG. 3, the cross-section 54 of the ball portion 32 in this embodiment along the minor axis 46 is generally concave. Referring to FIG. 4, the cross-section 56 of the ball portion 32 along the major axis 44 is generally concave.

In a preferred embodiment, the ball portion 32 has a depth 58 in the range of 2-5 millimeters (mm). This measurement is calculated from the front surface 28 of the shaft 22 or the outer perimeter 40 of the ball portion 32 to its deepest point along either the major axis 44 or the minor axis 46.

Additionally, the major axis 44 of the ball portion 32 has a length in the range of about 200-400 millimeters (mm). The minor axis 46 of the ball portion 32 has a width in the range of about 30-40 millimeters (mm). However, as discussed above, the ball portion 32 can have axis 44, 46 with measurements that are outside of these ranges or have a larger or smaller depth.

As shown in the embodiment of FIGS. 3 and 4, the ball portion 32 consists of a generally concave shape to allow the ball to be stabilized and launched. It will be understood that the ball portion 32 can take on a variety of different configurations, i.e. uniform radius of curvature, varying radius curvature, or two or more planer surfaces. The ball portion provides an area on the shaft where the ball can be guided along axis 44 to prevent it from rolling off the sides of the shaft. Moreover, because the ball portion 32 does not extend along the curvature leading to the end of the toe section 36 opposite the lower end 24 of the shaft 22, the ball is maintained along the major axis 44 when dragflicking, therein leading to more accurate shots as compared with known field hockey sticks having a recessed portion that extends along the curvature of the toe section.

While the invention has been described in connection with one or more embodiments, it is to be understood that the specific mechanisms and techniques which have been described are merely illustrative of the principles of the invention, numerous modifications may be made to the methods and apparatus described without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention as defined by the appended claims.