Title:
Method and apparatus for portable flat faced rebounding soccer training goal
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A method and apparatus for a portable flat faced rebounding soccer training goal includes trapezoid spring tension and edge spring tension.



Inventors:
Grunfeld, Dan Y. (Denver, CO, US)
Application Number:
09/844502
Publication Date:
01/31/2002
Filing Date:
04/27/2001
Assignee:
GRUNFELD DAN Y.
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63B69/00; A63B63/00; (IPC1-7): A63B69/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
ARYANPOUR, MITRA
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Dan Grunfeld (Denver, CO, US)
Claims:
1. A flat-faced goal, comprising: (a) a frame describing a trapezoidal shape, said frame having a top and a base roughly parallel to one another, the top being shorter than the the base, (b) a net of generally rectangular shape, attachable to said frame, (c) wherein the net is sized in relation to said frame so that a top and a bottom edge of the net each corresponds generally in length with the top of the frame.

2. The goal of claim 1, wherein said net is edged with a webbing, the webbing including at least one section of stretch webbing interspersed between sections of non-stretch webbing.

3. A flat-faced goal, comprising: (a) a two-dimensional frame, (b) a net attachable to said frame, (c) wherein the net is edged with a webbing, the webbing including at least one section of stretch webbing interspersed between sections of non-stretch webbing.

4. A method of establishing tension in a flat-faced goal, comprising the steps of: (a) shaping a frame in the shape of a trapezoid, and (b) attaching a generally rectangular net to said frame.

5. The method of claim 4, further comprising the step of edging said net with webbing, interspersing in said webbing at least one section of stretch webbing between sections of non-stretch webbing.

6. A method of establishing tension in a flat-faced goal, comprising the steps of: (a) edging a net with webbing, (b) interspersing in said webbing at least one section of stretch webbing between sections of non-stretch webbing, (c) attaching the net to a two-dimensional frame.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

[0001] This patent application claims priority of co-pending provisional U.S. patent application Ser. No. 60/200,571, filed Apr. 28, 2000, entitled “Method and Apparatus for Portable Flat Faced Rebounding Soccer Training Goal”, incorporated herein by this reference in its entirety.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0002] 1. Field of the Invention

[0003] This invention relates to soccer goals, and more particularly to a flat-faced rebounding training goal. Such a soccer goal is flat-faced, that is, it includes the rectangular front face of a traditional soccer goal, but without the rear extension of a traditional goal. A net is pulled tightly over the rectangular frame thereby creating the “flat-face” of this training goal. An object of such a training goal is to permit players to practice various skills of kicking on goal, without the necessity of using a goalie to block and/or return the ball. In a traditional, non-rebounding, soccer goal which is not attended by a goalie, a ball kicked into the net is likely to remain in the net, inside the goal pocket. A flat-faced rebounding training goal is intended to rebound the kicked ball without allowing the ball to become trapped inside the goal pocket.

[0004] 2. Description of the Prior Art

[0005] A soccer goal is a rectangle into which a soccer ball is kicked in order to score in the game of soccer. A typical goal is framed by two vertical posts joined by a horizontal top post and enclosed by a net attached to the posts and drawn back behind them so as to contain any ball struck into the goal. Such soccer goals are well known and are in common use for regulation games and practice exercises.

[0006] Practice exercises and drills for soccer include many versions of taking a shot on goal. A hard, accurate kick with an eye towards taking a follow-up shot if an initial shot is deflected, rebounded or blocked out of the goal is desirable. To maximize the efficiency of practice drills, it would be desirable for a player to be able to strike a ball into a soccer goal that simulates a traditional soccer goal but which will rebound the ball so that a player may take a series of rapid fire shots on goal, and/or take a power shot on goal and immediately follow through with a rebounding shot after the first shot is deflected back out of goal.

[0007] Examples of previous work done in providing a soccer practice goal, or a portable training goal are described in U.S. Pat. No. 4,083,561 of Daffer for a soccer practice net; U.S. Pat. No. 4,116,446 of Thompson for a game net support apparatus; U.S. Pat. No. 4,127,272 of Pennell for a portable soccer goal; U.S. Pat. No. 4,258,923 of Senoh for a football goal structure; U.S. Pat. No. 4,407,507 of Caruso for a portable soccer goal; U.S. Pat. No. 5,048,844 of Haseltine for a portable rebounding soccer training goal; U.S. Pat. No. 5,080,375 of Moosavi for an adjustable soccer goal; and U.S. Pat. No. 5,308,083 of Grunfeld for a rebounding portable soccer goal.

[0008] Of the foregoing examples, U.S. Pat. No. 5,308,083 of Grunfeld describes a portable soccer goal with rebounding net to return a ball struck into the net. According to the abstract of this invention, the frame of the goal is formed by a pair of vertical posts and a long horizontal tube and is secured to the ground by a pair of base supports. Pivotable struts further support the vertical posts. The net has a sleeve that positively joins the net to the frame over the entire horizontal length of the frame, and there is a resilient mainstay cord threaded into the net near the periphery. The net and mainstay cord are secured by hooks at the base supports, and the net is oriented to the outside of the struts. When the struts are spread outwards, the tension in the net is increased so as to be sufficient to rebound a ball struck into the net. (U.S. Pat. No. 5,308,083, Abstract). This goal resembles a traditional soccer goal; it is not a flat faced goal, but uses tension in the net to rebound the ball.

[0009] Of the foregoing examples, U.S. Pat. No. 5,048,844 of Haseltine describes a flat faced goal. According to the abstract of this invention, it is a soccer goal practice device having a frame and a net extending within the frame. The frame has first and second upstanding side members and a cross member extending between, and connected to the top ends of, the side members. The net is formed as a lattice having a perimeter corresponding substantially in shape and size to the frame. The net includes a rugged perimeter cord along the perimeter of the net, and the perimeter cord has a length shorter than that of the perimeter of the net. The perimeter cord is fastened to the frame such that the net extends between the side members and the cross member. Due to the reduced perimeter of the perimeter cord, the net will include a slight blouse when extending over the frame. This blouse causes ground balls entering the net to be rebounded with an upward velocity component, such that rebounded ground balls bounce. (U.S. Pat. No. 5,048,844, Abstract).

[0010] None of the prior art of which the applicant is aware fully solves the problem of providing a safe, stable, light weight, portable, easy to setup and remove soccer goal that also returns the ball to the kicker after the ball is struck into the net. It is the object of this invention to answer those needs. The present invention provides a method and apparatus for an improved practice goal in the form of a flat-faced goal having increasing the tension in the net. Increased net tension is achieved according to this invention by trapezoidal spring tensions and/or by edge spring tension. These and other improvements and inventive features of this invention will be explained in more detail below.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0011] The flat-faced goal of this invention includes a frame formed by a pair of vertical posts and a long horizontal crossbar. Because the device is portable, the frame's vertical and horizontal posts are assembled in tubular pieces (preferably aluminum sections) joined by telescoping sleeves (preferably steel). Corner elbow sections, bent at an angle, telescope onto the horizontal posts at each end of the assembled horizontal to form a bent end, and the vertical posts telescope into the other ends of the corner sections to complete the frame. A net is then attached to the frame. The inventor has found several ways to increase the net's tension, and thereby to increase the ball rebounding action of the flat-faced goal of this invention. In the description which follows, two such tension-increasing devices will be referred to as “trapezoid spring tension” and “edge spring tension.”

[0012] Trapezoid Spring Tension

[0013] As noted, there is an angle between the vertical posts and the horizontal crossbar, which in traditional goals is about 90 degrees. The inventor has found that by varying the bend angle on the frame, thereby forming a trapezoidal (rather than a rectangular) frame shape, and by attaching thereto a rectangular shaped net, increased spring tension is achieved. In one embodiment, the angle of bend formed at the junction of the goal's horizontal crossbar and the goal's vertical post is about 100 degrees, and this creates a trapezoid of greater length at the base than at the top. When a rectangular net is attached to such a frame (with the length of the net set according to the length of the top of the frame), the net is stretched under tension at the wider base of the frame. This combination of a rectangular net with a trapezoidal frame creates a spring-loading effect on the net, and achieves a higher degree of tautness in the net at the bottom of the trapezoidal frame compared to a the tautness of a net in a traditional rectangular frame.

[0014] Edge Spring Tension

[0015] A soccer net is typically a lattice with an edge along its perimeter to protect the integrity of the net. The edge is often formed by webbing. A lattice formed of nylon mesh, and edged with nylon webbing is not uncommon. When the soccer goal is set up, it is desirable to stretch the net taut to the frame. A limitation in stretch is often found in the webbing because the webbing material will typically not have as much “give” as does the nylon mesh of the net. Thus, the net is often not pulled as tightly as the lattice would allow, because the webbing does not allow the same degree of stretch as does the lattice. For example, when the webbing is made entirely of (non-stretch) nylon, the webbing limits the degree to which the nylon mesh lattice of the net can be stretched. Of course, if the webbing were made entirely of (stretch) nylon, the webbing would stretch well, but current costs of materials make this an expensive solution. Current prices make a stretch nylon webbing significantly more expensive than a (non-stretch) webbing.

[0016] The inventor has found that interspersing web materials of different tensile properties yields significant improvements in stretch, and at only a modest increase in cost. That is, the webbing would include one or more sections of (stretch) nylon webbing interspersed between sections of (non-stretch) nylon webbing. Moreover, the inventor has determined that the lengths (both absolute and relative) of the stretch nylon webbing compared to the non-stretch nylon webbing is significant. If too long a section of stretch nylon webbing is inserted, the increased stretch will tend to pull out the stitching. If too short a section of stretch nylon webbing is inserted, there is insufficient gain in added stretch to make a change in the rebounding ability of the net.

[0017] For example, in a net of about [8 feet by 24 feet], it has been found that a section of (stretch) nylon webbing about 1 foot in length, interspersed with (non-stretch) nylon yields about an extra 4 inches of “pull” or stretch on the net. In one embodiment, two such sections of webbing interspersed along the lengths of the edging perimeter of the net, and two such sections interspersed along the widths of the edging perimeter of the net achieved good results. At the same time, the net was able to be pulled significantly more taut than the traditional net with webbing of but a single, low-stretch, tensile property (i.e., with non-stretch webbing); was significantly cheaper in material than a traditional net of webbing with but a single, high-stretch, tensile property (i.e., with nothing but stretch webbing); and was significantly more durable than a composite webbing which had too great a length of stretch webbing interspersed with non-stretch webbing. That is, the composite edging of this invention which combines controlled lengths of stretch and non-stretch webbing provided increased stretch (in the embodiment discussed, two sections of one-foot-long stretch webbing on the length and width of the perimeter yielded about 4 more inches per section, and a total of 8 more inches of stretch in each direction); relatively low cost (in the embodiment discussed, the webbed edge perimeter would be about 8 by 24 by 8 by 24 feet, or 64 feet in all; yet only 2 feet per side, or 8 feet in all, would require the more expensive stretch nylon, with the remainder of the perimeter using the less expensive non-stretch nylon); and more durable than other combinations (it was found, for example, that the one foot lengths of stretch nylon in a net of this size did not exhibit undue strain on the stitching, but that 18 inch lengths of stretch nylon did exhibit a tendency to pull the stitching as the net was stretched).

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0018] The accompanying drawings, which are incorporated in and form a part of the specification, illustrate the preferred embodiments of the present invention, and together with the descriptions serve to explain the principles of the invention.

IN THE DRAWINGS

[0019] FIG. 1 is a front plan view of the frame and net of the invention;

[0020] FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the frame and net of the invention;

[0021] FIG. 3 is a detailed view of the elbow pieces of the invention;

[0022] FIG. 4 is a view showing the attachment of net to frame;

[0023] FIG. 5 is a view of the webbing on the net edge showing the interspersed sections of stretch and non-stretch edging according to this invention;

[0024] FIG. 6 is a view of the disassembled pieces of this invention;

[0025] FIG. 7 is a view showing both the base of the frame, and a suggested method of net attachment at the base.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

[0026] With reference to FIG. 1, it may be understood that the flat-faced goal of this invention includes a frame 10 formed by a pair of vertical posts 12L and 12R and a long horizontal crossbar 14. Because the device is portable, the frame's vertical and horizontal posts are assembled in tubular pieces (16, with reference to FIG. 3) joined by overlapping telescoping sleeves (18, still with reference to FIG. 3). Corner sections (20, with reference to FIG. 3), bent at an angle, telescope into the horizontal crossbar 14 (now with reference to FIG. 1) at each end of the horizontal post to form a bent end, and the vertical posts 12 telescope into the other ends of the corner sections 20 to complete the frame 10. A net 22 is then attached to the frame. With reference to FIG. 2, it can be seen that, to set up the goal on a grass surface, two bases 24, each with pad 26 (visible in FIG. 7) are used with spikes 28.

[0027] In one embodiment, the soccer goal is sized to about 8 feet by 24 feet, and includes the following components (reference, e.g., FIG. 6):

[0028] tubular pieces 16: ten pieces, each about 43 inches long, formed of aluminum;

[0029] sleeves 18: seven sleeves, each about 13 inches long;

[0030] corner sections 20: two bent (upper) corner sections;

[0031] bases 24/pads 26: two zinc bases with attached neoprene pads. spikes 28: eight zinc plated spikes;

[0032] net 22: nylon mesh.

[0033] With reference to FIG. 4, one suggested method of net attachment to the base frame is shown. It should be understood that the user has woven (or threaded) three sides of the net's perimeter onto one or more of the inter-connected tubes of the vertical posts 12L and 12R and the horizontal crossbar 14, alternating every other square, and the detailed view of FIG. 7 shows the bottom of one of the vertical posts. For yet further enhanced rebounding in this embodiment, an attachment at the bottom of net 22 is made using a two-foot long bungee cord 30 with a hook 32 at each end connected to grommet 34 provided on the perimeter of the edge of net 22. One of the hooks 32 of the bungee cord 30 is hooked to the grommet near the vertical post 12R, the bungee cord is stretched out under the flat base 24 and back to reconnect with the same grommet 34 with the hook 32 at the other end of the bungee cord. This may be repeated at the other vertical post 12L.

[0034] The soccer goal according to this same embodiment may be assembled by a user according to the following steps:

[0035] (a) Attach the net 22 to one or more tubular pieces 16 interconnected by sleeves 18;

[0036] (b) connect up to six tubular pieces 16 (using sleeves 18) to form the goal's horizontal crossbar 14;

[0037] (c) connect the longer length of each bent corner section 20 to ends of horizontal crossbar 14;

[0038] (d) with the entire horizontal post assembly on the ground, place one base 24 at each of the two bent corner sections 20, (this will “lock” the connections);

[0039] (e) secure the bases 24 by driving spikes 28 through the base holes (lifting flaps on neoprene pads 26 to access holes, and being sure to drive the spikes at varied angles, not perpendicular to the ground;

[0040] (f) using one sleeve 18 per side, connect two tubular pieces 16 (on each side) to form the goal's vertical posts 12L and 12R.

[0041] (g) attach both vertical posts 12L and 12R to each of the bent corner sections 20 of the horizontal crossbar 14.

[0042] (h) with assistance, and while grasping vertical posts 12L and 12R, lift the fully assembled goal, then place bottom of vertical posts 12L and 12R onto respective base center nubs 36 of the bases 24;

[0043] (i) spread the net 22 across the entire horizontal crossbar 14 and down the vertical posts 12L and 12R.

[0044] The sleeves 18 are designed to fit tightly around the tubes 16. The goal's width and height are adjustable (based upon how many tubes and sleeves are used) for many possible combinations, with appropriately sized netting. A typical set-up time is seven minutes.

[0045] Again, with reference to the particular embodiment being discussed herein, further information about the specifications and dimensions of materials is as follows:

[0046] Size: 7′9″×23′4″(assembled).

[0047] Weight: Approximately 41 pounds shipping weight.

[0048] Composition: Aluminum and high-tensile steel tubing.

[0049] Finish: Bases 24 and spikes 28 are zinc electro-plated, [tubes 16.] sleeves 18 and corner elbows 20 are powder-coated.

[0050] Neoprene: Double lined, ¼″ thick, 5″×26″ base pads 26.

[0051] Net 4″ square nylon, 1″ perimeter webbing.

[0052] Now that the basics of the flat-faced soccer goal are understood, it can also be understood that the inventor has found several ways to increase the tension, and thereby to increase the rebound activity of the flat-faced goal of this invention. In the description which follows, two such tension-increasing devices will be referred to as “trapezoid spring tension” and “edge spring tension.”

[0053] Trapezoid Spring Tension

[0054] As noted, there is an angle between the vertical posts 12L and 12R and the horizontal crossbar 14, which in traditional goals is about 90 degrees. The inventor has found that by varying the bend angle on the frame, thereby forming a trapezoidal (rather than a rectangular) frame shape, and by attaching thereto a rectangular shaped net 22, increased spring tension is achieved. In one embodiment, the angle of bend on the corner pieces 20 formed at the juncture of the goal's horizontal crossbar and the goal's vertical post is about 100 degrees, and this creates a trapezoid of greater length at the base than at the top. When a rectangular net is attached to such a frame (with the length of the net set according to the length of the top of the frame), the net is stretched under tension at the wider base of the frame. This combination of a rectangular net with a trapezoidal frame creates a spring-loading effect on the net, and achieves a higher degree of tautness in the net at the bottom of the trapezoidal frame compared to a the tautness of a net in a traditional rectangular frame.

[0055] Edge Spring Tension

[0056] A soccer net is typically a lattice with an edge along its perimeter to protect the integrity of the net. The edge is often formed by webbing. A lattice formed of nylon mesh, and edged with nylon webbing is not uncommon. When the soccer goal is set up, it is desirable to stretch the net taut to the frame. A limitation in stretch is often found in the webbing because the webbing material will typically not have as much “give” as does the nylon mesh of the net. Thus, the net is often not pulled as tightly as the lattice would allow, because the webbing does not allow the same degree of stretch as does the lattice. For example, when the webbing is made entirely of (non-stretch) nylon, the webbing limits the degree to which the nylon mesh lattice of the net can be stretched. Of course, if the webbing were made entirely of (stretch) nylon, the webbing would stretch well, but current costs of materials make this an expensive solution. Current prices make a stretch nylon webbing significantly more expensive than a (non-stretch) webbing.

[0057] The inventor has found that interspersing web materials of different tensile properties yields significant improvements in stretch, and at only a modest increase in cost. That is, the webbing would include one or more sections 30 (reference FIG. 5) of stretch nylon webbing interspersed between sections 32 of non-stretch nylon webbing. Moreover, the inventor has determined that the lengths (both absolute and relative) of the stretch nylon webbing compared to the non-stretch nylon webbing is significant. If too long a section 30 of stretch nylon webbing is inserted, the increased stretch will tend to pull out the stitching, although the inventor has found that “zig-zag” stitching may alleviate or resolve this problem. If too short a section 30 of stretch nylon webbing is inserted, there is insufficient gain in added stretch to make a satisfactory change in the rebounding ability of the net.

[0058] For example, in a net of about 8 feet by 24 feet, it has been found that a section 30 of stretch nylon webbing about 1 foot in length, interspersed with sections 32 of non-stretch nylon yields about an extra 4 inches of “pull” or stretch on the net. In one embodiment, two such sections 30 of stretch webbing interspersed along the lengths of the edging perimeter of the net, and two such sections 30 of stretch webbing interspersed along the widths of the edging perimeter of the net achieved good results. At the same time, the net was able to be pulled significantly more taut than the traditional net with webbing of but a single, low-stretch, tensile property (i.e., with non-stretch webbing); was significantly cheaper in material than a traditional net of webbing with but a single, high-stretch, tensile property (i.e., with nothing but stretch webbing); and was significantly more durable than a composite webbing which had too great a length of stretch webbing interspersed with non-stretch webbing. That is, the composite edging of this invention which combines controlled lengths of stretch and non-stretch webbing provided increased stretch (in the embodiment discussed, two sections 30 of one-foot-long stretch webbing on the length and width of the perimeter yielded about 4 more inches per section, and a total of 8 more inches of stretch in each direction); relatively low cost (in the embodiment discussed, the webbed edge perimeter would be about 8 by 24 by 8 by 24 feet, or 64 feet in all; yet only 2 feet per side post, and 2 feet across the horizontal crossbar or 6 feet in all, would require the more expensive stretch nylon, with the remainder of the perimeter using the less expensive non-stretch nylon); and more durable than other combinations (it was found, for example, that the one foot lengths of stretch nylon in a net of this size did not exhibit undue strain on the stitching, but that 18 inch lengths of stretch nylon did exhibit a tendency to pull the stitching as the net was stretched). Certainly other combinations could be used, and the stretch and non-stretch sections could be alternated along the vertical and horizontal for trade-offs between higher cost and higher stretch as more stretch sections were used.