Title:
Soccer Goalkeeper Glove
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
Sports gloves include a multilayer palm section that includes an outer layer and one or more inner layers, at least one of which is a layer of slow rebound, open cell polyurethane to provide a glove with better impact control and protection while also providing a user with better feel for a ball striking the palm.



Inventors:
Storelli, Claudio (New York, NY, US)
Liang, Jing (New York, NY, US)
Application Number:
13/885949
Publication Date:
12/19/2013
Filing Date:
11/17/2011
Assignee:
STORELLI CLAUDIO
LIANG JING
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63B71/14
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
SUTTON, ANDREW W
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
VINSON & ELKINS, L.L.P. (FIRST CITY TOWER 1001 FANNIN STREET, SUITE 2500 HOUSTON TX 77002-6760)
Claims:
1. A sports glove comprising a palm area and in which the palm area comprises an outer layer and one or more inner layers, wherein at least one inner layer comprises slow-rebound foam.

2. The sports glove of claim 1, wherein the slow rebound foam is an open-cell polyurethane foam.

3. The sports glove of claim 1, wherein the inner layer comprising slow-rebound foam is from about 1 mm to about 7 mm thick.

4. The sports glove of claim 1, wherein the durometer of the slow rebound foam is from about 8 to about 18.

5. The sports glove of claim 1, wherein the slow-rebound foam's time to recovery to 90% of pre-compression thickness is from about 0.3 to about 0.8 seconds.

6. The sports glove of claim 1, wherein the glove is a soccer goalkeeper glove.

7. The sports glove of claim 1, comprising patches or dots of a rubber or polymer material having a kinetic friction coefficient greater than the kinetic friction coefficient of the outer layer when the surface is contacted with a moving thermoplastic polyurethane surface.

8. The sports glove of claim 1, wherein the outer layer comprises latex foam.

9. The sports glove of claim 1, wherein one or more inner layers comprises an anti-bacterial, anti-microbial, bacteriostatic or microbiostatic material.

10. The sports glove of claim 1, comprising a layer of mesh between the outer layer and the slow rebound foam layer.

11. The sports glove of claim 1, further comprising a layer of mesh backing attached to the slow rebound foam layer on the side opposite the outer layer.

12. The sports glove of claim 1, further defined as a soccer goalkeeper glove, a hockey glove, a lacrosse glove, a football receiver's glove, or a baseball hitter's or fielder's glove.

13. A sports glove comprising a palm area and in which the palm area comprises an outer layer and one or more inner layers, wherein at least one inner layer comprises a layer of from about 1 mm to about 7 mm thick slow-rebound foam composed of open-cell polyurethane foam.

14. The sports glove of claim 13, wherein the durometer of the slow rebound foam is from about 8 to about 18.

15. The sports glove of claim 13, wherein the slow-rebound foam's time to recovery to 90% of pre-compression thickness is from about 0.3 to about 0.8 seconds.

16. (canceled)

17. A sports glove comprising a palm area, wherein the palm area comprises: an outer layer of latex foam; a layer of mesh bonded to the inside of the outer layer of latex foam; a layer of slow rebound open-cell polyurethane foam bonded to the mesh layer on the side opposite of the outer layer; and a mesh backing layer bonded to the slow rebound layer.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Gloves are used by players in various sports, including soccer goalkeepers to assist in catching the ball, holding on to the ball, and also protecting hands and fingers from injuries. The usage of goalkeeper gloves is a trend that started in the past 50 years. The design of goalkeeper gloves has evolved over this period from simple cotton garden gloves to modem goalkeeper gloves made of synthetic materials. The typical modem glove has a palm side that includes a latex foam, and the backside made of latex or polyurethane. On some gloves, protective spines are also inserted into the glove to protect fingers from over-extension injuries. Today's goalkeeper gloves strive to optimize properties such as impact-absorption, tackiness/grip for the ball, touch/feel for the ball, and protection. To better illustrate the nuance of glove designs, it is useful to define what these properties mean.

Impact absorption is defined as how much of the soccer ball's momentum (mass×velocity) is absorbed by the glove upon contact. Since the mass of the ball is constant, impact-absorption can be simply defined as the reduction of velocity between the incoming and the rebounding ball. A glove with high impact absorption capabilities makes it easier for a player to catch the ball.

Tackiness or grip for the ball is defined here as how well a soccer ball is trapped to the palm of the glove. Tackiness is a function of (1) coefficient of kinetic friction between the ball surface and the palm, and (2) the size of the surface area. Kinetic friction is different from static friction. Static friction is the force resisting movement between 2 non-moving surfaces. Kinetic friction is the force resisting the movement between 2 moving surfaces in contact with each other. A key difference between the two different types of frictional forces is that static friction is not dependent on the size of surface contact area, whereas kinetic friction is dependent on the size of the contact area. Given the kinetic nature of a soccer ball, kinetic friction is more relevant in assessing tackiness/grip. A glove with high friction capabilities makes the surface of the glove stickier, making it easier for the player to hold on to a ball (e.g., reduce slippage).

“Touch & feel” is the degree of control a goalkeeper feels through the glove both in catching and passing and/or throwing the ball by hand. When a glove is worn, touch and feel for the ball is dampened because the glove reduces the feedback sensitivity between the hand and the ball. Manufacturers of goalkeeper gloves have tried to optimize the touch and feel of the glove by varying the shape of the catching surface, flexibility around the joints of the glove, and the softness of materials used in the glove.

Protection is defined as the degree in which the glove protects a hand from injuries resulting from contact between the hand and the ball. The most common hand injuries for soccer goalkeepers are hyperextensions, dislocation, and broken fingers. Finger spines consist in bendable plastic sticks that allow the fingers of the glove to bend forward (e.g., allowing the goalkeeper to close the hand), but prevent it from bending backwards (i.e., reduce risk of hyper-extension and broken fingers).

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present disclosure can be described in certain embodiments as an improved sports glove and in certain embodiments as an improved soccer goalkeeper's glove. As disclosed herein, providing a layer of a slow rebound foam in the palm area of a glove is effective to increase impact absorption and improve tackiness & grip for the ball. Additionally, bacteriostatic, or anti-bacterial/anti-infective materials are used to combat the problem of glove odor, a.k.a. “smelly gloves”, commonly caused by bacteria nurtured by sweat deposited unto the materials of the glove. While described primarily as a soccer goalkeeper's glove, the present disclosure is also applicable to other sports gloves, including but not limited to a soccer goalkeeper glove, a hockey glove, a lacrosse glove, a football receiver's glove, or a baseball hitter's, catcher's or fielder's glove.

In certain embodiments, a slow-rebounding foam layer is attached under a latex foam layer in the palm area that is used for catching the ball. The purpose of the layer is to improve the impact absorption of the glove palm. The slow-rebound foam layer has the property that upon compression, it returns to its pre-compression state slowly relative to latex or other conventional foams, over a period of up to a second, for example. In the context of catching a soccer ball, this slow-rebound property reduces the foam's pressure on the rebounding ball, thus decreasing its rebounding velocity and allowing a player to catch the ball more easily. This reduction in rebound force helps goalkeepers in gaining control of the soccer ball. The combination of the slow-rebound foam layer and the latex foam layer thus will have improved impact-absorption characteristics relative to the latex foam layer alone.

The present disclosure also provides a novel approach to increase the tackiness/grip of the palm surface—the surface that contacts the soccer ball. Latex foam is the preferred foam used for the palm surface due to its good balance between tackiness, and softness—which improves touch and feel for the ball. Current approaches to optimizing the grip of the palm surface primarily involve changing the composition of latex foam. Current top of the line soccer balls use thermoplastic polyurethanes (TPU) for their surface panels. As disclosed herein, coating the latex foam surface with thin “dots” of materials exhibiting higher kinetic friction against TPU panels improves the overall tackiness of the palm surface. As opposed to coating the whole surface of the latex palm, which can make the surface more rigid, thus compromising on the touch and feel, coating it with only dots of the material retains the flexibility and softness of the latex palm.

In certain embodiments, the construction of the disclosed gloves includes anti-bacterial materials to reduce the potential for pungent glove odor. Anti-bacterials in a sports glove are contemplated to reduce the growth of bacteria in the moist environment of an athletic glove and to inhibit infection in broken skin that is in contact with the glove.

DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The following drawings form part of the present specification and are included to further demonstrate certain aspects of the present disclosure. The disclosure may be better understood by reference to one or more of these drawings in combination with the detailed description of specific embodiments presented herein.

FIG. 1 illustrates the construction of the palm area of a glove.

FIG. 2 illustrates the coating of the latex foam surface with dots of tackier materials against the surface of a TPU soccer ball

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

FIG. 1 depicts an embodiment of the incorporation of a layer of slow-rebound foam behind the latex foam palm surface of the glove. A four layer construction is shown in which the uppermost layer is the outside of the glove that contacts the ball and the lowermost layer contacts the skin of a user when the glove is worn. Layer A, the outmost layer is constructed of a latex foam. Layer B is an optional thin layer of mesh material for providing durability to the foam layers. Layer C is slow-rebound viscoelastic foam for improving impact absorption. Layer D is mesh backing for increased comfort and improved durability. This layer helps protect the foam from ripping.

The slow-rebound foam is made of open-cell viscoelastic polyurethane or other foam materials with similar properties. In certain embodiments the thickness of the slow rebound foam layer is from about 1 mm to about 7 mm, depending on the amount of impact absorption required. The durometer of the slow rebound foam is from about 8 to about 18. The slow-rebound foam's time to recovery to 90% of pre-compression thickness is from about 0.3 to about 0.8 seconds. An example of a slow rebound foam is Poron® Slow Rebound Material marketed by Rogers Corporation. The compression force deflection of the foam is from about 0.3 to about 10 psi. The term “about” as used herein is meant to convey “approximately” and is understood to mean within experimental or measurement error and up to about 10% of the value of the modified number. The foam can also be perforated with holes to improve heat release or ventilation.

The slow-rebound layer can be directly laminated or sewn to the latex layer or both layers can be laminated or sewn to a thin mesh fabric sandwiched between the 2 foam layers. The side of the slow-rebound foam layer contacting the hand may also be laminated to a thin mesh fabric layer. This layer of mesh fabric touching the hand (a) improves comfort when the glove is worn, and (b) increases the strength/durability of the foam thus helps prevent tearing/ripping of the foam palm.

FIG. 2 depicts the dotting of higher-friction materials on the surface of the latex foam palm. The deposited “dots” can be round (domed) or of any other appropriate shape. The thickness of the “dots” can be from about 1 um to about 1 cm. The material used for these dots has a higher kinetic friction coefficient than the latex foam layer underneath. Many rubber or polyurethane materials are known in the art to have the durability and “tackiness” to be useful for the disclosed gloves. All such appropriate materials are contemplated for the present disclosure.

As shown in FIG. 2, layers A-D are the same as those same letter indicators in FIG. 1. Layer E is a patterned layer of dots of high kinetic friction material.

Antibacterial/antimicrobial materials can be applied to any parts of the glove to help prevent or reduce glove odor. Anti-microbial properties can be conferred to the different components of the glove through various means such as (a) usage of nanosilver threads woven into the fabric used to construct the glove, (b) surface coating with anti-microbial agents, (c) covalently bonding antimicrobial agents to the fibers of fabrics or polymers of the foam or (d) selection of foam materials with native anti-microbial properties.

Three tests were conducted to test the palm material disclosed herein. These tests were designed to test for improved shot absorption, impact protection and feel for the ball, respectively. The material from the palm of a top selling commercially available goalkeeper's latex foam glove (“control”) was compared to a glove palm material as disclosed herein (“test”).

In a first test, to determine effect on shot absorption, a steel ball of about 0.5 inch diameter and weighing approximately 50 grams was dropped through a tube onto the control material and the test material from a height of approximately 1 meter. The ball dropped on the control rebounded to at least 14 inches while an identical ball dropped on the test material rebounded only about 6 inches, or about half the height of the control. This demonstrates the superior shot absorption of the test material.

In a second test, to determine improvement in feel for the ball, a chicken egg was dropped onto the control and test materials from a height of approximately 30 inches. In each test, the egg broke upon hitting the control material, but no egg was broken upon hitting the test material. This demonstrates the superior feel for the ball provided by the disclosed glove material, as it provided a more controlled deceleration of the object.

In a third test, to determine improvement in impact protection, a steel ball as in the first test was dropped through the one meter tube onto the control and test materials which were each covering a standard incandescent light bulb. For the control material, the steel ball completely smashed the light bulbs through the control material, but the test material completely protected the bulbs from any harm. This demonstrates the superior impact protection of the disclosed material. The test suggests better dissipation of the impact force, which would help protect goalkeepers' hands from injuries.

The gloves as disclosed herein were also tested by collegiate and professional level soccer goalkeepers for their impressions of the gloves while using them in practice and live game situations. At the professional level, a pair of production gloves was used by a goalkeeper in a US Major League Soccer game, and by another goalkeeper in an Irish Premier League soccer game. Additionally, the gloves have been evaluated by goalkeepers from clubs in the English Premier League and in the Spanish La Liga league. The goalkeepers have been pleased with the performance and feel of the gloves.

All of the articles, compositions and/or methods disclosed and claimed herein can be made and executed without undue experimentation in light of the present disclosure. While the systems, compositions and methods of this disclosure have been described in terms of certain embodiments, it will be apparent to those of skill in the art that variations may be applied to the systems, compositions and/or methods and in the steps or in the sequence of steps of the method described herein without departing from the concept, spirit and scope of the disclosure. More specifically, it will be apparent that certain physical structures may be substituted for the physical structures described herein and the same or similar results would be achieved. All such similar substitutes and modifications apparent to those skilled in the art are deemed to be within the spirit, scope and concept of the disclosure as defined by the appended claims.