Title:
Training Soccer Ball
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
In the present invention, a training soccer ball includes an initial contact area with a first set of designations and a follow-through area with a second set of designations. The first and second set of designations can be the numbers “1” through “12”, in a split clockface design. The initial contact area has a different color than the follow-through area. Players learn to kick the ball with the correct biomechanics with reference to a designation for initial contact and a designation for follow-through.



Inventors:
Brown, Stewart (Dallas, TX, US)
Application Number:
11/752512
Publication Date:
11/27/2008
Filing Date:
05/23/2007
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
473/604
International Classes:
A63B69/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
WONG, STEVEN B
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Anderson & Levine, L.L.P. (2100 Creekside Circle South, Irving, TX, 75063, US)
Claims:
1. A soccer ball for training comprising: an initial contact area with a first set of designations; a follow-through area with a second set of designations; wherein a kick resulting in the ball traveling in a selected path can be effected by initiating contact at a first area of the ball proximate a specified one of the first set of designations and following through to a second area of the ball proximate a specified one of the second set of designations.

2. The soccer ball of claim 1 wherein the initial contact area has a first background color different from a second background color used for the follow through area.

3. The soccer ball of claim 2 and further comprising a non-contact area having a third background color different from the first and second background colors.

4. The soccer ball of claim 1 wherein the first background color is white and the second background color is yellow.

5. The soccer ball of claim 4 wherein the third background color is red.

6. The soccer ball of claim 1 wherein the first set of designations comprises a set of numbers.

7. The soccer ball of claim 1 wherein the second set of designations comprises numbers.

8. The soccer ball of claim 1 wherein the first set and second sets of designations combined include the numbers from 1 to twelve, and wherein the numbers are arranged in a split clockface design.

9. The soccer ball of claim 1 wherein the first set of designations comprises a set of letters.

10. The soccer ball of claim 1 wherein the second set of designations comprises letters.

11. The soccer ball of claim 1 and further comprising a first arc shape disposed proximate the first set of designations and a second arc shape disposed proximate the second set of designations.

12. The soccer ball of claim 1 and further comprising a central designation disposed between the first and second set of designations.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

Not Applicable

STATEMENT OF FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH OR DEVELOPMENT

Not Applicable

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Technical Field

This invention relates in general to athletic balls and, more particularly, to a ball for training proper kicking technique.

2. Description of the Related Art

Hundreds of hours of practice are typically required before an athlete can make consistent contact with a soccer ball in an effective, efficient, correct manner to control the speed, direction and curve of the ball. Many players develop their kicking technique through experimentation and happenstance, or through coaching in youth leagues. Either of these may lead a player into a pattern of kicking a ball improperly. Once a player learns to kick a ball with an improper technique, learning a proper technique becomes much harder.

Leg motion, strength and rhythm are all characteristics that lead to an efficient and proper kicking motion, but it is the set biomechanical patterns that program the kicker to be able to produce the types of ball motion, by kicking, that they desire at any given time during a game of soccer or training.

To control the ball during game situations, the player must make instantaneous determinations of (1) where to make the initial contact on the ball with the foot and (2) the important visual of the follow though motion after the contact of the ball. These two factors will in large part determine the direction and curve, if any, of the ball once it leaves the player's foot. The distance and force of the kick is dependent upon the amount of energy transferred from the kicker to the ball at the point of initial contact.

Players who consistently kick the ball in a controlled manner have programmed their kicking motion through repetitive drills. During these drills, it is important that the player kick the ball with the same motion to achieve a certain result; in this manner, the kicking motion becomes second nature to a player.

However, it is often difficult for a player, and especially new or young players, to visualize the correct motion. Video tape of a players leg movement can help to a certain extent, but it is often difficult for a young player to grasp relatively small differences in kicking technique from a video.

Therefore, a need has arisen for a method and apparatus for training proper kicking technique.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In the present invention, a training soccer ball includes an initial contact area with a first set of designations and a follow-through area with a second set of designations. A kick resulting in the ball traveling in a selected path can be effected by initiating contact at a first area of the ball proximate a specified one of the first set of designations and following through to a second area of the ball proximate a specified one of the second set of designations.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE SEVERAL VIEWS OF THE DRAWINGS

For a more complete understanding of the present invention, and the advantages thereof, reference is now made to the following descriptions taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, in which:

FIG. 1 illustrates a front view of the soccer ball of the present invention;

FIG. 2 illustrates a back view of the soccer ball of the present invention;

FIG. 3 illustrates a top view of the soccer ball of the present invention;

FIG. 4 illustrates a bottom view of the soccer ball of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

The present invention is best understood in relation to FIGS. 1-4 of the drawings, like numerals being used for like elements of the various drawings.

FIGS. 1-4 illustrate front, back, top and bottom views of a soccer ball 10 using the present invention. The ball 10 is of any typical construction with the addition of upper and lower arcs 12 and 14, respectively. In the embodiment shown in FIG. 1, upper arc 12 is a semicircular arc with a radius of approximately 1.75 inches (approximately 22 mm). Bottom arc 14 is a semicircular arc with a radius of approximately 2.5 inches (approximately 43 mm).

Symbols 16 (referenced as 16a for the upper symbols and 16b for the lower symbols) are positioned around the upper and lower arcs 12 and 14. In the illustrated embodiment, numbers are used for the symbols, with the numbers “1”-“12” are positioned around the two arcs 12 and 14 in a split-clockface arrangement, with the numbers “10”, “11”, “12”, “1”, and 2 proximate the upper marking (with “12” in the center of the arc 12) and the numbers “3”, “4”, “5”, “6”, “7”, “8”, and “9” positioned around the bottom marking (with “6” in the center position of the arc).

A central designation 17 is marked in the center of the circle that would contain the lower arc 14. The central designation 17 has two uses: (1) it aides the kicker when placing the ball by having this small central designation 17 facing the kicker and visually in the center of the ball 10 and (2) the central designation 17 is used to teach the kicker to hit a low-straight or “knuckle” motion to the left or right, depending on the follow-through, as described later.

While the numbers can be positioned on either the inside or outside of the arcs 12 and 14, in the preferred embodiment, the upper symbols 16a are located above the upper arc 12 to provide a clear view to the kicker, whose eyes will be above the ball 10 as it is kicked. The lower designations 16b are placed below the lower arc 14 at the lower part of the ball 10 and have a larger font than the upper designations 16a. When the ball is set on the ground for initial contact, the two outer-most designations (numerals “3” and “9”) are in a line parallel to the ground and at the same horizontal level as the center designation 17. The lower designations 16b are separated consistently and are a uniform distance from each other and a uniform distance from the central designation 4. These lower designations 16b should be visible to the kicker during the motion leading up to the initial contact of the ball 10 when it is placed appropriately on the ground.

A regulation soccer ball is manufactured in three standard sizes: size 3, size 4 and size 5 with each size being used in training and/or competition for different age groups. Size 3 balls are used for soccer players aged 8 years old and younger, has a standard weight of 11-12 ounces and a circumference of 23-24 inches. Size 4 balls are used for soccer players aged 8-12 years old, has a standard weight of 12-13 ounces and a circumference of 25-26 inches. Size 5 balls are used for soccer players older than 12 years old, has a standard weight of 14-16 ounces and a circumference of 27-28 inches. The dimensions provided for the upper and lower markings are for the size 5 ball; smaller radius arcs 12 and 14 would be used for the size 4 and 5 balls.

Soccer balls can be made from a variety of shaped panels. This design and training method can be used on all three sized balls. A thirty-two panel ball is most commonly used with twenty hexagonal and twelve pentagonal panels. Eighteen and twenty-six panel balls are also common. The upper arc 12 can be positioned to intersect four of the vertices of one of the hexagonal panels and the lower arc 14 can be positioned outside of a hexagonal panel immediately below that panel. The lower arc approximate bisects the seams emanating from the bottom four vertices of the lower hexagon.

Commonly, soccer balls come in various patterns and colors for ornamental use. This preferred embodiment of the ball 10 uses a pattern that highlights the initial contact area 18 (designated as white in the Figures) and follow-through area 20 (designated as cross-hatched in the Figures). In one preferred embodiment, the initial contact area 18 is colored white, the follow-through area 20 is colored yellow. The actual colors used, however, are not critical.

The non-impact area 22 (designated by vertical stripes in the Figures) of the ball 10, i.e., the back side of the ball 10, can be distinguished by a color (such as red) not used on the initial-contact area 18, but can be the same color as the upper designations 16a and/or lower designations 16b of the ball 10. The importance of this is two fold: (1) it visually separates the ball into three areas, the initial contact area 18, the follow-through area 20 and the non-impact area 22 and (2) the non-impact area 22 and the initial-contact area 18 meet at the spot 24 of the ball which will be placed on the ground to provide the kicker with the proper alignment of the ball 10 when the two outside designations (numerals “3” and “9”) are parallel to the ground. If the non-impact area 22 of the ball 10 is the same color as the rest of the ball, the bottom of the ball 10 should have designation at spot 24 to show the user/kicker where to place the ball 10 on the ground prior to use.

With consistent use and training, the ball 10 will allow the soccer player the ability to pass, cross and shoot with a purpose. The objectives are to provide the user of this ball set patterns (initial-contact to follow-through), to teach the soccer player how to kick the ball straight (high-to-low), to hit the ball with a curve from left-to-right (high-to-low), to hit the ball with a curve from right-to-left (high-to-low); to “chip” the ball, to produce a “knuckle” ball motion from right-to-left, and to produce a “knuckle” ball motion from left-to-right.

The function of this training ball is to provide a visual aide for soccer players to learn the biomechanical movements associated with each kicking method and each motion of the kicked ball. The markings on the ball provide the kicker with a specific point of initial-contact (impact) and a direction of follow-through to create the motion desired with each method and motion. The ball can be used by the kickers left and right foot as desired.

In use, the ball 10 is placed on the ground with the central designation 17 facing towards the kicker. The ball 10 makes contact on the ground at the area where the non-impact area 22 and the initial-contact area 18 at spot 24. The outside lower designations (numerals “3” and “9”) are in a line parallel to the ground with the upper designations 16a and lower designations 16b facing the kicker as he/she approaches the ball 10 to make contact.

As the kicker approaches the ball 10, in preparation to make contact, the kicker's kicking foot will make initial contact near the lower arc 14 at a specific lower designation 16b. The kicker will follow-through to a specific upper designation 16b in the follow-through area 20. The kicked ball 10 will rotate in the air depending upon the initial-contact point and the follow-through motion of the kicker.

There are optimum kicking areas on the kicker's foot which will make this more efficient and effective; the kicker will be responsible for selecting the area of the foot which makes the initial-contact with the ball 10. This can be explained and taught to the kicker by written materials, a DVD/CD ROM/VHS, and/or their coach.

Drills teach the correct kicking motion by reference to designations 16 on the ball 10. The coach can specify a desired path by reference to the designations, such as “kick the ball with your right foot from four to ten”. Alternatively, the instructions for a desired kick can be taken from written or visual instruction aids.

For a right footed kicker, to kick the ball 10 with a curve from right-to-left with height, the kicker will impact the ball near the lower arc 14 at a designation to the lower right of the ball (numerals “4” or “5”) and follow-through to a designation in the left side of the upper arc 12 (numerals “10” or “11”), sweeping his or her foot in an arc-like motion. The center (instep) of the kicker's foot will be the best area to make contact with the ball 10. The height of the kick can be varied by contacting the ball higher or lower in the initial-contact area 18; a kick that starts lower in the initial contact area 18 will cause a steeper trajectory, while a kick that starts in higher in the initial contact area 18 will cause a flatter trajectory. The curve of the ball (from right to left, in this example) can be controlled by the direction of the follow through. To curve the ball more sharply to the left, the follow through could be closer to numeral “10”, while for a mild curve, the follow through could be to numeral “11”.

For a left-footed kick to move the ball 10 from right-to-left the initial contact will be with the outer area of the kicker's foot on the lower right initial-contact area 18 and lower designations 16b (at numerals “4” or “5”) and follow-through to the left upper designations 2 (numerals “10” or “11”).

For a straight-high motion the kicker will contact the lower center initial-contact area 18 and at a lower designation 16b in the center of the lower arc 14 (at numeral “6”) and follow-through to a central upper designations 16b (numeral “12”). These designations are the same for each foot, left or right. The inside foot surface area is better for this ball motion.

For a straight-driven (low) ball the kicker will have an initial-contact on or near the central designation 17 and follow-through to the central upper designation 16b (numeral “12”). These designations are the same for each foot, left or right. A central area (instep) of the kicker's foot surface is better for this ball motion.

For a low curving ball from left-to-right, the kicker will make initial-contact on the ball at the right outer lower designation 16b (numeral “3”) and follow-through to the left upper designations 16a (numerals “10” or “11”). The inside of the kicker's right foot or outside of the kicker's left foot will create the best contact for this ball motion.

For a low curving ball from right-to-left, the kicker will create the initial-contact at the left outer lower designations 16b (numeral “9”) and follow-through to the right upper designations 16a (numerals “1” or “2”). The inside of the kicker's left foot or outside of the kicker's right foot will create the best contact for this ball motion.

For a low “knuckle” ball motion to the right, the kicker will create the initial-contact at the central designation 18 and follow-through to the left upper designations 16b (numerals “10” or “11”). The center (instep) of the kicker's foot, left or right, will create the best motion for this ball action.

For a low “knuckle” ball motion to the left, the kicker will create the initial-contact at the central designation 18 and follow-through to the right upper designations 16a (numerals “1” or “2”). The center (instep) of the kicker's foot, left or right, will create the best motion for this ball action.

While the present invention uses numbers for the designations 16, other symbols, such as letters or icons, such as straight and curved arrows, could be used in their place. Also, colored dots or other shaped designations could be used, with the instructions given to kick from an initial contact color to a follow-through color. For example, a kick from “4” to “10” in the illustrated embodiment could be from “green” to “green” and a kick from “4” to “11” could be from “green” to “blue”.

The present invention is a simple and effective training tool for soccer players to learn how to kick the ball effectively, efficiently, correctly and consistently with a purpose. The use of the designations, located in a manner that young soccer players can relate to on an everyday basis, creates great visual stimulation for the training of kicking a soccer ball. This ball is used in drills in a stationary manner and once the user has been working with it for a prolonged period of time he or she will be able to create the same motion and effect with a moving ball. The repetition of kicking the ball using the correct point of impact and correct direction of follow-through trains the user, and the biomechanical patterns of the user, to be able to choose and create the desired motion to pass, cross or shoot the ball.

Although the Detailed Description of the invention has been directed to certain exemplary embodiments, various modifications of these embodiments, as well as alternative embodiments, will be suggested to those skilled in the art. The invention encompasses any modifications or alternative embodiments that fall within the scope of the Claims.