Title:
INDOOR/OUTDOOR BALL CONTROL TRAINING DEVICE
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A variety of training boards and panel assemblies are supported by an indoor floor base to provide targets with rebound capability for developing and improving ball handling skills. Panel supporting uprights extend upwardly from a base housing to provide backing and necessary stability for a rebound panel. The supporting uprights are configured to provide supporting surfaces to which the rebound panels are attached, with the supporting surfaces aligned to position the rebound panels in a desired orientation. To provide stability, the base housing includes frictional elements to help hold in place for while in a gym floor. Also, the base housing is configured to hold weights of a desired configuration, thus cooperating with the frictional elements to hold the training board in place while being subjected to forces from balls. In addition, the supporting uprights have multiple support surfaces capable of aligning the panels in a desired orientation, thus providing multiple rebound characteristics to the user.



Inventors:
Snyder, Gregory P. (Bloomington, MN, US)
Application Number:
12/166135
Publication Date:
10/23/2008
Filing Date:
07/01/2008
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63B69/00
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
20040077428Power cue stickApril, 2004Oliver et al.
20070054757Strike Zone ApparatusMarch, 2007Will et al.
20080051229LACROSSE CONNECTOR SYSTEMFebruary, 2008Devoe et al.
20020193187Snap BatDecember, 2002Bickel et al.
20060281593Clad surface arrow constructionDecember, 2006Young
20060223653Golf driver having titanium alloy head and flexible shaftOctober, 2006Iizuka
20080032811Golf practice apparatusFebruary, 2008Bearden
20090069127BAT CONDITIONING DEVICE AND METHODMarch, 2009James
20090293215GOLF CLUB CLEANING PADS ATTACHABLE TO SHOESDecember, 2009Zhou
20100041500BAT SWING TRAINING DEVICEFebruary, 2010Whitney et al.
20090023508Bowling Ball With Weight BlockJanuary, 2009Sposato



Primary Examiner:
ARYANPOUR, MITRA
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
LARKIN HOFFMAN DALY & LINDGREN, LTD. (8300 Norman Center Drive Suite 1000, Minneapolis, MN, 55437, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. An indoor athletic training device positionable on a floor surface to provide a ball return for practicing ball handling and ball control skills, comprising: a floor contact housing with a bottom surface having frictional components thereon to interact with the floor surface; a supporting structure coupled to the floor contact housing, the supporting structure having a plurality of supporting uprights movable between an upwardly extending support position and a folded position, wherein the upright extends upwardly from the floor in a predetermined orientation when in the support position, with each supporting upright having at least one panel supporting surface; and a rigid rebound panel coupled to the supporting structure such that a first panel surface is adjacent the at least one panel supporting surface of each supporting upright and a ball return surface of the panel on a side opposite the supporting structure so as to allow the ball return surface to be exposed to users thereby providing the ball return in response to the ball contacting the ball return surface.

2. The indoor athletic training device of claim 1 wherein the plurality of uprights further comprises a second supporting surface on a side opposite the at least one panel supporting surface of each supporting upright.

3. The indoor athletic training device of claim 2 wherein the panel supporting surface and the second supporting surface are both oriented to be substantially perpendicular to the bottom surface of the floor contacting housing when in the supporting position.

4. The indoor athletic training device of claim 1 wherein the rebound panel is separate from the supporting structure and is selectively coupled to the supporting structure using connectors.

5. The indoor athletic training device of claim 1 wherein the rebound panel, supporting structure and the floor contacting housing are permanently coupled to one another and adjustable wherein the panel is movable between a use position wherein the panel is aligned with the supporting surface thereby achieving the desired orientation for the panel and a storage position wherein the panel is aligned in a storage orientation.

6. The indoor athletic training device of claim 2 further comprising a second panel coupled to the supporting structure at a location opposite the rebound panel such that the training device is capable of interacting with users from both the rebound panel and the second panel.

7. The indoor athletic training device of claim 2 wherein the at least one panel supporting surface and the second supporting surface are oriented at angles with respect to the bottom surface which are unequal to one another.

8. The indoor athletic training device of claim 1 wherein the support surface includes a resilient member attached thereto for absorbing shock produced by the ball contacting the ball surface.

9. An indoor/outdoor training device for providing ball rebounds to user, comprising: a multiuse panel having a substantially planar rebound surface configured to receive a ball and produce a desired rebound; a support structure attached to a back side of the multiuse panel, the back side being opposite the rebound surface, the support structure comprising a plurality of support members with each support member movable between a support position and a transport position, the support position being oriented to hold the multiuse panel in a desired orientation by having a portion of the support member contacting the ground while also having a portion of the support member affixed to the back side of the multiuse panel; and an indoor base coupleable to the multiuse panel for indoor use, the indoor base having a floor contact housing and a plurality of uprights movably coupled thereto, each of the plurality of uprights having a panel support surface and an attachment structure, with the back side of the multiuse panel positioned adjacent the support surface and the attachment structure coupling the upright and the multiuse panel when used for indoor use, wherein the floor contact housing has frictional elements on a bottom surface to increase friction between the bottom surface and the indoor surface supporting the indoor base.

10. The indoor/outdoor training device of claim 9 wherein the attachment structure includes a plurality of threaded posts and related connectors.

11. The indoor/outdoor training device of claim 9 wherein the uprights include two opposite support surfaces on opposite sides thereof, each independently capable of receiving the multiuse panel.

12. The indoor/outdoor training device of claim 11 further comprising a second multiuse training panel, wherein the multiuse training panel and the second multiuse training panel are each attached to the support surfaces on opposite sides of the upright.

13. The indoor/outdoor training device of claim 9 wherein one of the plurality of support members is coupled to the indoor base when the indoor base is coupled to the multiuse panel thereby providing additional support to hold the rebound surface in the desired position.

14. The indoor/outdoor training device of claim 11 wherein the two opposite support surfaces of the uprights include a first support surface which is oriented at approximately 90 degrees with respect to the floor contact surface and wherein a second support surface which is oriented at approximately 105 degrees with respect to the floor contact surface.

15. The indoor/outdoor training device of claim 9 wherein the support structure comprises at least three support members, and wherein each of the support members includes an aperture in an end thereof to receive an anchoring stake to be placed into the ground.

16. The indoor/outdoor training device of claim 9 wherein the support members are adjustable to allow the rebound surface to be easily positioned at various angles when used outdoor and staked to the ground.

17. The indoor/outdoor athletic training device of claim 9 wherein the support surface includes a resilient member attached thereto for absorbing shock produced by the ball contacting the ball surface.

18. The indoor/outdoor athletic training device of claim 9 wherein the indoor base comprises support surfaces for supporting additional weights.

19. An indoor/outdoor training device for use in athletic training activities involving a ball, wherein the ball is propelled toward the training device and the training device provides the capability of returning the ball in a predictable manner, the training device comprising: a multiuse panel having a rebound surface and a back surface on an opposite side from the rebound surface, the rebound surface having the strength and rigidity to withstand the force of the propelled ball; a support structure adjacent the back surface for supporting the multiuse panel in a desired orientation when the support structure is in its supporting position, the supporting structure further capable of being positioned in a storage position adjacent the back surface; and an indoor base structure having a bottom surface with a plurality of frictional contact elements positioned thereon for providing increased frictional force when positioned on an indoor floor surface, the indoor base structure further having a pair of supporting uprights movable between an upright position and a folded position, each upright having a first supporting surface and a second supporting surface on substantially opposite sides of the supporting upright, each supporting surface further having a resilient member attached thereto for absorbing shock created by the propelled ball, and each supporting surface capable of supporting the multiuse panel; wherein the supporting structure and the indoor base are independently capable of supporting the multiuse panel in the desired orientation with the indoor base being coupled to the multiuse panel and the supporting structure being in the folded position when the training device is used indoors, and wherein the indoor base is removed and the supporting structure is in the supporting position when the training device is used outdoors, where the supporting a supporting portion of the supporting structure is in contact with the ground surface.

20. The training device of claim 19 wherein the support structure comprises a plurality of legs foldable between the support position and the storage position, wherein each leg has a first end hingedly attached to the back surface and a second end extendable to contact the ground when in the supporting position, wherein the second end further includes an aperture therein configured to receive an anchoring stake which is extended into the ground to provide further anchoring.

21. The training device of claim 19 wherein the first support surface which is oriented at approximately 90 degrees with respect to the bottom surface of the indoor base and wherein the second support surface is oriented at approximately 105 degrees with respect to the bottom surface of the indoor base.

22. The indoor/outdoor athletic training device of claim 19 wherein the indoor base comprises support surfaces for supporting additional weights.

Description:

RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application is a continuation-in-part of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/249,677, filed Oct. 12, 2005, entitled “Ball Control Training Device,” which claims the benefit of Provisional Application No. 60/618,039 entitled “Pass Back,” filed Oct. 12, 2004.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to sports training boards and other equipment designed to improve ball handling skills, and more particularly to targets with rebound capability for use in improving a soccer player's reactions and ball handling skills, which can be used both indoors and outdoors.

Regardless of their levels of ability and experience, soccer players retain the need and desire to improve their kicking and other ball handling skills, and improve their reactions to approaching soccer balls, whether passed or deflected. While soccer matches and practice sessions certainly afford opportunities to further develop these reactions and skills, many players seek additional opportunities to work on their playing skills, at locations other than soccer fields where space may be limited, and at times when other soccer players may not be available.

A known product intended to address these needs includes a face panel or board designed to provide a rebound surface, two support boards hinged to the panel and positionable to extend rearwardly from the face panel to support it on the ground, and a center board also hinged to the face panel for keeping the support boards spaced apart and in position when the product is in use. While this product is useful for certain practice activities, it is unduly heavy and lacks the flexibility to accommodate a wide range of training activities.

Further approaches to providing a training resource, which is not as heavy but provides desired stability, have included a training board or panel designed to provide a rebound surface and related support structures which may be staked into the ground. Obviously, this staking process provides more stability and a more rigid structure. This approach can be very beneficial and effective when used outdoors where staking is possible, however, does not adapt itself well to indoor applications. Clearly, most indoor athletic facilities do not appreciate having devices staked into the floor.

When utilized indoors, the challenge for such a training structure such as those disclosed or described above relates to stability. Obviously, it is possible to create a supported upright structure which is itself rigid and stable. However, it is much more challenging to provide a structure which will stay in place when used indoors and will not slide across the floor. This is especially true when permanent anchoring structures are not available.

Therefore, it is an object of the present invention to provide an athletic training device that is compact and lightweight, yet durable and able to withstand repeated contact with soccer balls and other projectiles.

Another object is to provide a ground supported target with rebounding capability and a means for securely and releasably fixing the target to the ground.

An additional object is to provide a training device that can be used indoors or outdoors.

A further object is to provide a training device with rebound capability that is more flexible in terms of providing target areas of different sizes and different angles relative to the ground.

Yet another object is to provide a portable, ground supported athletic training device that is easier to use, transport, and store.

Also, an object of the present invention that can support multiple rebound surfaces when used indoors.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

To achieve these and other objects, there is provided an indoor/outdoor athletic training device. The device includes a generally rectangular structure having length, width and thickness directions. A substantially smooth rebound surface extends generally in the length and width directions and is appropriately exposed to allow a ball to be kicked there against. A first panel support arm is mounted to the panel structure for pivoting between a panel support position in which the first arm extends rearwardly away from the panel structure, and a storage position in which the first arm is disposed along and adjacent the panel structure. A second panel support arm is also mounted to the panel structure for pivoting between a panel support position in which the second arm extends rearwardly away from the panel structure, and a storage position in which the second arm is disposed along and adjacent the panel structure. A similar third support arm may likewise be attached to provide additional support. The first arm and second arm, when in their respective support positions, are adapted to support the panel structure in an upright position on generally level ground with the width direction at a predetermined angle relative to the ground. A plurality of panel anchoring members or stakes are insertable into the ground to releasably secure the panel structure to the ground in the upright position when being used outdoors.

Each of the panel anchoring members can have an elongate shaft and an enlarged head at one end of the shaft. Preferably the panel structure and the support arms are provided with apertures running through these components, and the anchoring members extend through the apertures and into the ground. Thus, the anchoring members cooperate to securely fix the panel structure against sliding or skidding over the ground in response to horizontal forces, such as the impact from a kicked soccer ball. As compared to designs that rely on the weight of the board and support structure to resist sliding, the anchoring members provide a secure hold, yet allow a lightweight target construction.

In addition to the above-discussed ability to stake the support structure into the ground, the present invention also provides the ability to utilize the same board in an indoor setting by incorporating an indoor base unit which is easily coupled to the above-referenced structure. The indoor base includes a floor contacting panel which is designed to be placed upon an indoor floor of different types. The floor contacting panel includes frictional components intended to provide sufficient friction with the floor, thus keeping the indoor base in place when encountering ball forces. In addition, the indoor base includes uprights, which attach to the board and provide supporting structures to maintain the board in a desired position.

In order to provide additional versatility, the indoor base includes at least two supporting structures on opposing sides of the uprights. These supporting structures are oriented at slightly different angles with respect to the floor contacting surface, thus providing the ability to place the related board at similar varying orientations. Further, the multiple support surfaces allow for multiple boards to be simultaneously used, thus providing a 2-sided training structure.

In accordance with yet another aspect of the present invention, the panel structure can incorporate components for generating sensible signals in response to a soccer ball or other object contacting the rebound surface. More particularly, pressure sensitive components, speakers and associated circuitry as taught in U.S. Pat. No. 6,808,462 (Snyder, et al.). Further, the panels can incorporate selection circuitry for generating different sounds or visible displays in response to different episodes of soccer ball contact.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE DRAWINGS

For a further understanding of the above and other features and advantages, reference is made to the following detailed description and to the drawings, in which:

FIG. 1 is a frontal elevation of a training board for soccer, constructed in accordance with the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a side elevation showing the training board mounted on level ground;

FIG. 3 is a rear elevation of the training board;

FIG. 4 is a rearward perspective view of an alternative embodiment of the training board;

FIG. 5 is an enlarged perspective view of part of the training board of FIG. 4;

FIG. 6 is a forward elevation of a further alternative embodiment soccer training board;

FIG. 7 is a side elevation of the training board shown in FIG. 6;

FIG. 8 is a top plan view of the training board;

FIG. 9 is a top plan view of a curved training board;

FIG. 10 is a top plan view of a training board configuration incorporating pressure-responsive signaling components;

FIG. 11 is a block diagram of the signaling components;

FIG. 12 and FIG. 13 are perspective views of the front side and back side of an indoor training board;

FIG. 14 is a side view of the indoor base unit;

FIG. 15 is a top view of the indoor base unit;

FIG. 16 is a side view of an alternative embodiment for the indoor training device which illustrates two training boards utilized by a single device; and

FIG. 17 is a rear view of the multi-use panel.

DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

Turning now to the drawings, there is shown in FIG. 1 a training board 16 for soccer practice and training, for example to develop more accuracy in kicking and other ball handling techniques, and for improving the ability to react quickly to ball movement, specifically rebounds from board 16. The training board can be formed of suitable polymeric materials such as urethane and high density polyethylene, wood, or aluminum and other metals. The training board can have a length in the range of 3 feet to 6 feet, a width ranging from 12 inches to 18 inches, and a thickness on the order of one-half inch to one and one-half inches.

Training board 16 has a smooth, substantially planar rebound surface 18 which optionally can bear a visible target as indicated at 20. A pair of stakes 22 and 24, located near opposite ends 26 and 28 of the board, protrude downwardly from the training board.

FIG. 2 shows training board 16 mounted to the ground 30, which preferably is substantially level. Stake 24 (and stake 22, not shown) protrude into the ground, and tend to maintain board 16 in an upright position as shown, in which the direction of the board width is substantially vertical, and a bottom edge 32 of the board is contiguous with the ground. A pair of support arms, one of which is shown at 34, extend rearwardly from the training board when in the support position shown in FIG. 2, to support board 16 in the upright position. Support arm 34 is coupled to the training board through a hinge 36, to pivot relative to the board about a vertical (width direction) axis. Arm 34 has a rearward support region 38 that contacts the ground to support the training board in the upright position. A stake 40, passing through an aperture in support region 38 and into the ground, keeps the support arm in place and cooperates with stakes 22 and 24 to prevent the training board and arms from skidding or slipping horizontally over the ground in response to the impact of a soccer ball striking rebound surface 18, or other horizontal forces. Stake 40 includes an elongate shaft 42 that readily passes through the aperture in arm 34, and a head 44 larger in diameter than the aperture.

As seen in FIG. 3, a support arm 46 is mounted pivotally to the training board through a hinge 48, and includes a rearward support region 50 positioned to engage the ground and having an aperture therethrough adapted to receive a stake similar to stake 40 for maintaining and securing training board 16 in the upright position. Arms 34 and 46 are shown in a storage position, in which each arm is disposed along and adjacent a reverse surface 52 of the board. Stakes 22 and 24, also mounted pivotally relative to the training board, are shown in an upwardly pointing storage position adjacent the training board.

As seen in FIG. 4, an alternative panel assembly 54 is illustrated, which includes a reinforcing structure designed to reduce weight. The reinforcing structure includes a plurality of spaced apart vertical wall sections 72, a plurality of horizontal (lengthwise) wall sections 74, and a plurality of inclined wall sections 76, all extending rearwardly from the face panel. The wall sections cooperate to impart strength to the panel assembly, in particular resistance to bending and breaking under stress due to impact of soccer balls or other objects striking rebound surface 58. As is readily apparent in FIG. 4, wall sections 72-76 occupy only a fraction of the total volume occupied by the reinforcing structure. As compared to a solid panel assembly, panel assembly 54 requires much less material, and thus weighs considerably less.

Panel support arms 78 and 80 are mounted to the panel assembly near opposite side edges 82 and 84 through hinges 85 and 87, for rotation about respective vertical axes. Wall sections 72-76 are configured to provide pockets 86 and 88 to contain the support arms, so that the arms when in the storage position are recessed as indicated for arm 78. Support arm 80 is shown in the panel support position.

FIG. 5 is an enlarged view of a portion of the panel near side edge 82, showing several wall sections and hinge 85 in more detail.

FIG. 6 illustrates a further alternative embodiment training board assembly 118 including an elongate panel 120 and panel support brackets 122 and 124 on opposite sides of the panel. Upper pins 126 and 128, and lower pins 130 and 132 project outwardly from the panel through openings in the brackets.

As seen in FIG. 7, bracket 124 includes an upright section 134 disposed along a side edge of the panel, a horizontal forward extension 136 with several openings 138-142 formed therethrough, and an elongate rearward horizontal extension 144. Apertures 146 and 148 through extension 144 accommodate stakes insertable into the ground to releasably support and secure the bracket and panel 120 in the manner previously described. Optionally, bracket 124 can be hinged near the forward end of extension 144 as indicated at 150, to allow a user to fold the bracket into a storage position against panel 120.

Panel support bracket 122 is substantially the same as bracket 124.

Lower pin 132 is spring loaded, and accordingly can be pushed inward to free it from bracket 124, and lower pin 130 likewise can be freed from bracket 122. This facilitates a pivoting of panel 120 about a horizontal axis determined by upper pins 126 and 130. By selecting one of openings 138-142 to receive pin 132, panel 120 can be releasably locked into any one of several vertical or nearly vertical angles relative to the ground. The non-vertical angles are selected to provide elevated returns or “kick-backs” of soccer balls kicked against the panel.

FIG. 8 is a top view showing a stabilizing arm 152 secured at its opposite ends to support brackets 122 and 124. As an option to further secure the assembly to the ground, stake-receiving apertures can be formed through the stabilizing arm as indicated at 154 and 156.

FIG. 9 is a top view of an alternative training board 208 and a pair of supporting arms 210 and 212 pivotable to the support positions shown. Board 208 is curved about an axis that extends in the panel width direction, and is convex in the direction toward a player using the board. This arrangement tends to scatter rebounds of the soccer ball over a wider range, to provide practice in reacting to the deflected and passed balls. Alternatively, curved boards could also be concave in the direction toward the player.

FIG. 10 shows a further alternative panel assembly 214 including a face panel 216, a panel reinforcing structure 218, and a sensing and signaling layer 220 between the panel and reinforcing structure. A speaker 222 and a light source 224 are mounted to opposite sides of the panel assembly.

As indicated schematically in FIG. 11, sensing and signaling layer 220 includes a pressure-responsive sensor 226, a signaling component 228, and optionally further includes a selection component 230 coupled between the sensor and signaling component. As described in U.S. Pat. No. 6,808,462, which patent is incorporated by reference herein, sensor 226 generates an electrical signal responsive to pressure from the impact of a soccer ball against the face panel. Upon receiving the electrical signal, component 230 selects one of several outputs and provides the selected output to signaling component 228, which may be either speaker 222 or light source 224. The speaker (or light source) emits one of several sounds (or one of several light displays), depending on the output selected. Of course, if only a single audio or visible response is desired, the selection component is eliminated and the sensor is coupled directly to the light source or speaker.

Referring now to FIGS. 12 and 13, an embodiment of the indoor/outdoor training wall of the present invention are shown in perspective view. In these particular views, the training wall is set up for indoor use. In order to achieve this, indoor/outdoor training wall 250 includes a multi-use wall or panel 252 in conjunction with an indoor base 254. As can be seen, multi-use panel 252 is primarily formed as a board or wall and includes a ball return surface or rebound surface 256 which is designed to withstand the force of balls being propelled towards this surface, and providing rebounds in a predictable manner. Multi-use panel 252 also includes a reverse side 258 which is designed to provide a stable backing or supporting structure. As discussed in reference to the various embodiments above, the supporting structures provided on reverse side 258 often include foldable legs or extensions designed to be placed on a field of grass surface when utilized outside. In this particular embodiment, this outdoor supporting structure includes a first leg 260, a second leg 262, and a third leg 264. As can be seen, first leg 260 is extended outwardly and attached to indoor base unit 254. Further discussion regarding this leg and its function is outlined below. Second leg 262 and third leg 264, however, are shown in their retracted or folded positions, both being adjacent to first side 258 of multi-use panel 252.

As illustrated in FIGS. 12 and 13, indoor base 254 includes a floor contact housing 266 along with a first upright 268 and a second upright 270. First upright 268 and second upright 270 are configured, in this embodiment, to be identical to one another. As can be seen, both first upright 268 and second upright 270 are coupled to floor contact unit 266 in a manner to allow folding between an upright position and a storage/transport position.

Referring now to FIG. 14, there is shown a more detailed view of second upright 270. To provide the desired folding capabilities, a hinge pin 274 is threaded through an interacting tabbed portion made up of tabs configured on second sidewall 270 and floor contact unit 266. As can be recognized, this allows second upright 270 to be folded down to a position which is adjacent floor contacting unit 266.

Second upright 270 is configured to have a first supporting surface 280 and a second supporting surface 282, both of which are configured to support and appropriately align multi-use panel 252 (not shown). In this particular embodiment, first supporting surface 280 is configured to be at a 90-degree angle with respect to a floor contacting surface 276. Similarly, second supporting surface 282 is configured to be oriented at an angle of approximately 105 degrees with respect to floor contacting surface 276. As will be discussed further below, this allows two different configurations and two different orientations for multi-use panel 252. This alternative positioning thus produces different reactions or rebounds when a ball strikes the respective rebound surface.

In this particular embodiment, first support surface 280 and second support surface 282 are formed by attaching appropriate contact plates 284 and 286, respectively. Each contact plates 284 and 286 are primarily sheet metal with respective folded tabs 290 to accommodate attachment to a molded plastic upright housing 292. In order to better provide appropriate ball rebounds, first support surface 280 and second support surface 282 also include resilient pads 294 and 296, designed to absorb some of the shock produced when a ball hits an attached panel surface. Resilient padding will also cause a rebound or spring effect, thus providing a more lively rebound which is desirable for those utilizing the device.

As can be seen in the various figures, molded upright 292 includes a number of cutouts or recesses. For example, a first pair of recesses 302 are provided adjacent to first support surface 280. Similarly, a second pair of cutouts 304 are positioned adjacent to second support surface 282. Referring now back to FIG. 13, a plurality of connecting knobs 310 are shown to exist within the recesses. As similarly illustrated in FIG. 17, each pair of recesses accommodates a similar pair of connecting knobs. In the preferred embodiment, multi-use panel 252 will include a number of threaded studs (not shown) extending from the back side thereof. These threaded studs will extend through openings in first contact plate 284 or second contact plate 286, as desired, to accommodate attachment. Connecting knobs 310 are each configured to interact and couple with the existing threaded studs. Naturally, those skilled in the art will appreciate that many different types of connection methodologies can be utilized including spring loaded coupling mechanisms, cotter pins, etc. In the present embodiment, threaded studs provide for very secure attachment, thus creating a more solid unit and consequently ball rebounds are more desirable.

Referring again to FIG. 14, floor contacting surface 276 includes a number of frictional elements 314. Each of these frictional elements 314 are intended to prevent indoor base 254 from sliding when placed upon a floor surface, such as a gymnasium floor. Several different configurations for frictional elements 314 are possible, including rubber feet, rubberized strips, or any similar structures which could be utilized to create friction. Further, if it is intended to use the training wall on synthetic grass surfaces, other types of frictional elements may include hook-and-loop type materials (e.g. Velcro®). To increase the effectiveness of frictional elements, 314, indoor base 254 will typically be held down by weights of some type. FIG. 13 illustrates the placement of two sand bags 316 upon the top of floor contact unit 266. Naturally, many types of weights are possible.

As generally discussed above, the training device of the present invention is capable of both indoor and outdoor use. As discussed, first leg 260, second leg 262, and third leg 264, all attached to the back surface of multi-use panel 252, can easily accommodate outdoor use. In this particular configuration, indoor base 254 is simply removed and stored for later use.

Referring to FIG. 15, a top view of indoor base 254 is provided. In this particular view, first upright 268 and second upright 270 are shown in their upright positions, thus only the end is visible. As illustrated by dotted lines 318, a footprint area is reserved for folding down of these uprights. Also illustrated is a top view of floor contact housing 266 to which first upright 268 and second upright 270 are coupled. As further illustrated, floor contact housing 266 includes a first recess 320 and a second recess 322, both to accommodate existing structures attached to multi-use panel 252. More specifically, staking hardware is attached to the back side of multi-use panel for staking into the ground during outdoor use. To avoid the necessity for removing the staking hardware, first recess 320 and second recess 322 are simply provided in floor contact housing 266. Similarly, a pair of handle cutouts 324 are provided for ease in carrying indoor base 254 when not in use. Lastly, floor contact housing 266 includes a first threaded pin connector 326 and a second threaded pin connector 328 to accommodate the attachment of first leg 260 when desired. As illustrated in FIG. 13, first leg 260 can easily be utilized during indoor use to provide additional stability. As can be contemplated, stability of the training device is a primary concern due to the forces applied during use. By providing the ability to utilize first supporting leg 260, such stability is enhanced.

As suggested above, indoor base 254 is capable of accommodating multiple multi-use panels at a single time. In the configuration illustrated in FIG. 16, a first multi-use panel 340 and a second multi-use panel 342 are simultaneously attached to indoor base 254. Again, a plurality of connection knobs 310 are each utilized to achieve this connection scheme. In this configuration, both sides of indoor/outdoor training wall 250 can simultaneously be utilized, with each side providing a very different reaction. As can be illustrated, first multi-use panel 340 is oriented at approximately 90 degrees with respect to the bottom surface of indoor base. In a similar manner, second multi-use panel 342 is configured at an angle with respect to the bottom surface of indoor base. As such, a ball kicked toward second multi-use panel will rebound or be returned through the air, thus providing this type of training experience for the user. It is contemplated that similar structures could potentially be used to support more than three multi-use panels.

As shown in the various figures, and specifically in FIGS. 13 and 14, floor contact housing 266 is substantially planar, and designed to have floor contact surface 276 placed on a floor or similar type surface. The opposing or upper surface is specifically configured to provide a weight supporting surface. This weight supporting surface can accommodate weights or sand bags to provide additional stability where necessary. As can be anticipated, the number and type of weights utilized will vary depending upon the particular application and the particular use of indoor/outdoor training device 250. Additionally, specific grooves or receiving structures (not shown) could be included to accommodate and closely hold these weights or sandbags.

To further illustrate the details of a multi-use panel 252, FIG. 17 illustrates one embodiment thereof. More specifically, FIG. 17 illustrates the backside 258 of multi-use panel 252 including several of the components discussed above. In this particular embodiment, a number of anchoring leg assemblies are attached to the reverse side 258 of multi-use panel 252. More specifically, a first anchoring leg assembly 350, a second anchoring leg assembly 352, and a third anchoring leg assembly 354 are illustrated. As can be seen, the first anchoring leg assembly 350 includes first leg 260 as one component thereof. First leg 260 is attached to a base plate 360 which accommodates attachment to rear surface 258. Also included in anchoring leg assembly 350 is a first anchoring stake 370, which is again coupled to first base plate 360. As briefly discussed in relation to FIG. 13 above, first leg 260 is hingedly attached a first end thereof to allow hinging movement to occur. In this particular figure, the upper or top end of first leg 260 is attached in this manner to first base plate 360 thus the bottom or lower end is permitted to move away from first base plate 360. To further accommodate adjustment, first leg 260 includes a first leg extension 261 which is allowed to extend in a telescoping manner.

As mentioned above, first anchoring leg assembly 350 includes a first anchoring stake 370. First anchoring stake 370 is held in place by a number of coupling components, which easily allow for movement. Most significantly, an end holding component 380 contains and captures an upper angled end of first anchoring stake 370 while also allowing it to be released. Once released, upper and can be pulled away from first base plate 360, thus allowing the stake to slide downwardly. This allows first anchoring state 370 to be driven into the ground, thus staking and holding multi-use panel 252 when used outdoors. First coupling element 380 is thus obviously capable of holding first anchoring stake in a withdrawn a position when the staking device is not desired. This will be specifically helpful when utilized in conjunction with indoor base. This embodiment illustrates one approach to staking when used for outdoor use. Certainly alternatives exist, such as having stakes placed on the ends of multi-use panel 252 to provide anchoring into the ground.

As further illustrated in FIG. 17, second anchoring leg assembly 352 and third anchoring leg assembly 354 all include virtually identical component to those discussed above. Thus, second anchoring leg assembly 352 includes second leg 262 having second extension 263, second base plate 362, second anchoring stake 372 and second coupling element 382. Similarly, third anchoring leg assembly 354 includes third leg 264 having third extension 265, third base plate 364, third anchoring stake 374 and third coupling element 384.

Also shown in FIG. 17 are a plurality of removable anchoring stakes 390, each capable of being held within appropriate structures in the back side of multi-use panel 352. Further, removable stakes 390 can be utilized with first leg 260, second leg 262, and third leg 264 when the indoor/outdoor training wall 250 is utilized outdoors. More specifically, each of these removable stakes 390 are inserted into apertures within first leg extension 261, second leg extension 263, and third leg extension 265 to provide additional stability and support. Naturally, these removable stakes could take on many different forms and features. Shown here, a woven strap 392 is attached to an upper end of each stake thus accommodating easy removal.

To accommodate indoor use, back surface 258 also includes coupling plates 396 which have the threaded posts 398 used to attach indoor base. While this embodiment uses a place to support threaded posts 398, the posts could also be simply embedded in the board structure.

In addition to several of the variations mentioned above, the components outlined above could be molded or formed to create a single unit which is collapsable and transportable. For example, the indoor base 254 and multi-use panel 252 could easily be coupled to one another in such a manner to be folded relatively flat. Such a configuration could include a hinged attachment between the indoor base 254 and multi-use panel 252 which allow for the configuration outlined above, in addition to a folded orientation that causes rebound surface 256 and bottom surface 276 to be adjacent to one another.

As another potential alternative, stakes could be provided on the outside of first upright 268 and second upright 270 which would accommodate staking of the indoor base 254 into the ground when it is desired to use that structure outdoors. Such a configuration would allow for indoor and outdoor use of this base unit, which may provide advantages. Naturally, many other staking alternatives are possible.

A further embodiment of the present invention could utilize uprights that include adjustable supporting surfaces. Such a structure could include a movable support capable of adjusting the angle with respect to the bottom of indoor base, thus allowing a panel to produce different rebounds depending on the setting.

The above embodiments of the present invention have been described in considerable detail in order to illustrate their features and particular operation. It is clearly understood, however, that various modifications can be made without departing from the scope and spirit of the present invention. Accordingly, the present invention is not limited to the particular embodiments which have been described herein. Rather, reference should be made to the appended claims as indicative of the scope and content of the present invention.