Bowling caddy
Kind Code:

A method and apparatus for recording and researching bowling shot information. A bowler records information relative to the making of the bowling shot on a portable computing device. The bowling shot information includes bowling lane conditions on which the shot was made, equipment used by the bowler in making the shot, the bowler alignment in making the shot and the trajectory of the bowling ball down the lane towards the pin set. The bowling shot information is stored in the computing device memory and later retrieved by the bowler, enabling the bowler to immediately adjust his or her alignment and bowling shot-making strategy when later encountering similar lane conditions.

Bates, Booker T. (Harrisburg, PA, US)
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International Classes:
A63B71/06; (IPC1-7): A63B69/00
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1. A method of recording bowling shot information, said method comprising the steps of: i) recording a first set of information regarding bowling lane conditions; ii) recording a second set of information regarding bowling equipment used by a bowler in making the bowling shot; iii) recording a third set of information regarding alignment in making the bowling shot; and iv) recording a fourth set of information regarding trajectory of a bowling ball in making the bowling shot.

2. The method according to claim 1, wherein the bowling lane condition information comprises a bowling center name, type of material from which the bowling lane is manufactured and an amount of oil on the bowling lane.

3. The method according to claim 1, wherein the bowling equipment information comprises a bowling ball manufacturer and a material from which the bowling ball is manufactured.

4. The method according to claim 3, wherein the second set of information further comprises a name for the bowling ball, a weight of the bowling ball and a bowling shoe manufacturer.

5. The method according to claim 1, wherein the alignment information includes an initial approach position and final approach position of the bowler in making the bowling shot.

6. The method according to claim 5, wherein the alignment information further comprises a first board position of the bowlers feet beginning the bowling shot, a second board position of the bowlers feet in completing the bowling shot, a spot on which the bowler releases the bowling ball, and a third board position at which the bowler releases the bowling ball on the bowling lane.

7. The method according to claim 1, wherein the trajectory of information comprises a length along the bowling lane at which the bowling ball begins to curve, and a fourth board position at which the bowling ball begins to curve.

8. The method according to claim 1, further comprising the step providing a portable computing device having a memory in which the bowling information is stored.

9. The method according to claim 8, further comprising the step of searching the bowling information by the bowler to compare bowling shot information.

10. A handheld sports statistical device comprising: i. means for inputting player identification information; ii. a memory for storing game information (concerning predetermined game statistical information); iii. a display screen for displaying sports information; iv. calculating means for determining said predetermined game statistical information; and v. wherein said display screen displays said predetermined game statistical information from said stored game information.

11. A bowling computer comprising: i. input means for inputting bowling information ii. a memory for storing bowling information; iii. a display screen for presenting questions to a user for reviewing said bowling information; and iv. means for searching said memory.


[0001] This patent application is closely related to my pending Provision Patent Application Ser. No. 60/207,268 filed on May 26, 2000.


[0002] 1. Field of the Invention.

[0003] The invention relates to a handheld apparatus for calculating sports information and statistics, and more particularly to a handheld computerized device for assisting bowlers in making shot selections.

[0004] 2. Description of the Prior Art.

[0005] The use of computerized handheld devices has grown within the last few years, due to the miniaturization of computer components. Thus, handheld devices are used for various functions such as calculators, address books, word processing and e-mail functions, for example. In addition, handheld computer games for a variety of different sports activities and game simulators are well known in the art.

[0006] The use of personal digital assistants (PDAs) incorporating all these functions are also well know. Apparatuses such as those based on the Windows CE operating system and the Palm Pilot are widespread. These apparatuses are small, light weight and very portable such that they can be carried by the user easily in their pocket.

[0007] In the sport of bowling there are many variables which effect the shot made by the bowler. Bowling balls come in various weights, sizes and compositions such as plastics, proactive, reactive resin, hard rubber, etc. Lane conditions also affect the rotation of the ball down the lane, as the lanes may be made of wood or composite materials over which is applied oil, synthetics or other material to effect the friction between the ball and the lane. For example, a bowling ball typically will slide along a length of the lane prior to the ball actually rolling down the lane. Friction also effects the trajectory of the shot in that the ball tends to hook or curve at some point down the length of the lane, the degree of the curve also being affected by the lane conditions. A standard bowling lane is of uniform dimensions being X feet long and Y feet wide. The width of the bowling lane is segmented by “boards”, which are either actual wood boards applied to the surface of the lane or simulated with composite materials. The typical bowling lane is 40 boards wide.

[0008] In making a shot a bowler will proceed down the approach towards the “foul line” prior to releasing the ball. An area on the approach is designated by triangular diamonds or spots which also have corresponding markings a predetermined length down the bowling lane past the foul line. These dots help the bowler in his lane or board position such that he or she can predict where down the lane the ball will begin to curve and uses such markings to aim where to release the ball to slide and roll down the lane. All bowlers also release the ball differently such that the ball lands on the lane surface at different speeds and distances away from the foul line depending on the style used by that bowler.

[0009] Because lane surfaces and conditions vary from bowling center to bowling center, a bowler may generally have more than one bowling ball that they use. The bowling balls will be made of different materials and weights, and are chosen by the bowler depending on the lane conditions. Lane conditions currently can only be estimated by the bowler depending on how his or her particular ball reacts on the surface as the bowler makes a number of practice shots. The bowler must then rely his or her own skill and judgement in determining which ball to use and where along the board position that bowler must make his or her approach.

[0010] Typically in tournament or other competitions, a bowler has a limited number of practice rolls that he or she can perform prior to the actual competition occurring. Thus, when the competition actually starts a bowler in an unfamiliar bowling location is at a disadvantage in choosing the optimum ball composition and lane or board position to utilize in making bowling shots. It may be halfway through a bowling competition, made up of ten frames, by the time the bowler has correctly identified the lane conditions and the proper placement for his or her bowling shot. A player with more skill or quicker judgement therefore has an advantage over other bowlers by being able to make that decision by using less shots and can more accurately predict their ball trajectory and increase his or her score over the opponent. Another problem commonly encountered by bowlers is that practice lanes are not necessarily the same as the tournament lanes. While lane conditions within a particular bowling center may be generally uniform, due to increase use on the practice lanes the conditions are not exactly the same on tournament lanes. Thus while a bowler may get a general indication of lane conditions within a bowling center, it is not until the actual competition begins and at least two or three frames into the competition when the bowler can judge the actual tournament lane conditions.

[0011] Since it is difficult for tournament bowlers or even the average league bowler to remember different bowling centers locations and/or lane conditions, ball reaction experience and the other numerous factors that go into the bowling ball trajectory, it would be desirable if a bowler could have access to a database of such bowling shots. Since the bowling shot is unique for each individual bowler, that database should be preferably only to a particular bowlers actual shot performance. With the advent of the PDAs and their vast memory capabilities, the ability to store the differing shot parameters for a bowler at different bowling centers having different lane conditions would be desirable.

[0012] It is therefore the object of the present invention to provide a personal bowling system for a bowler in order to assist the bowler in analyzing different lane conditions at various bowling centers.

[0013] It is the further object of the present invention to provide instant analysis to a bowler of shot statistics so as to provide to the bowler an indication as to how to approach his or her bowling shot at that bowling center.


[0014] The above and other objects are attained by the present invention, according to which, briefly stated a handheld reporting statistical device comprises, means for inputting player identification information, a memory for storing game information; a display screen for displaying sports information concerning predetermined game statistics information and a calculating means for determining the predetermined game statistic information; wherein the display screen displays predetermined game statistic information from the stored game information.

[0015] A handheld bowling computer comprising: input means for inputting bowling information; a memory for storing bowling information; a display screen for presenting questions to a user for reviewing said bowling information; and means for searching said memory.

[0016] Wherein the second set of information comprises a bowling ball manufacture, material from which the bowling ball is manufactured.

[0017] A method of recording bowling shot information, comprises the steps of recording a first set of information regarding bowling lane conditions, recording a second set of information regarding bowling equipment used by a bowler in making the bowling shot, recording a third set of information regarding alignment in making the bowling shot, and recording a fourth set of information regarding trajectory of a bowling ball in making the bowling shot. Preferably the bowling shot information is recorded on a handheld portable computing device for later research and retrieval of saved bowling shot information.


[0018] Various other objects, features and advantages of the invention will become more apparent by reading the following detailed description in conjunction with the drawings, shown by way of example only, wherein:

[0019] FIG. 1 is a schematic diagram of a typical bowling lane; and

[0020] FIGS. 2 through 20 are various screen displays for inputting shot information to the personal bowling caddy of the present invention.


[0021] Referring now to the drawings in detail, there is shown in FIG. 1 a typical bowling lane 11 which comprises an approach 14 and a lane 17 separated by a foul line 20. A series of targeting dots and arrows are provided on both the approach and the lane, as will be described more fully hereinafter. Generally speaking the lane 17 is further divided into a front end 22, middle 24 and backend 26, with the ten pins 29 being set at the back end 26. The pins are numbered one through ten. For purposes of clarity, the individual boards are shown only on the approach 14.

[0022] On the approach there are three sets 32, 35, 38 of seven dots. The first set 32 is located approximately fifteen feet from the foul line 20 and the second set 35 is at approximately twelve feet, and the third set 38 is approximately three inches from the foul line 20. In some instances the outer most dots are not provided at the twelve and fifteen foot levels. The dots 35, 32 at the twelve and fifteen foot area from the foul line 20, respectively, are used by a bowler to select his or her board position to stand along the width of the approach 14 when beginning the bowling shot. The third set 38 of dots closest to the foul line 20 is used as the touchdown point where the ball contacts the front end 26 of the lane 17 upon release by the bowler.

[0023] On the front end 26 of the bowling lane 17 there is a set of seven arrows 41 at approximately fifteen feet from the foul line 20 and a set of ten dots 44 located approximately six feet from the foul line 20. The arrows 41 are generally lined up with the pins 29 at the backend 26 of the bowling lane 20. A bowler will use the ten dots 44 as an indicator, together with approach dots 32, 35 over which the ball should roll after it is released at the touchdown point so as to visually indicate to the bowler where to begin and end his or her approach and to release the ball in order to maximize his or her score, by knocking down as many pins 29 as possible. For example, in rolling the first ball in a frame the player attempts to make a strike, which is knocking down all the pins with the first ball. In the event that one or more pins remain standing after the first ball, a player then attempts to get a spare, which is defined as knocking down all the remaining pins with the second ball. The alignment system of the dots 44 and arrows 41in conjunction with the approach dots 32, 35, 38 are also used by the bowler in attempting to knock down the remaining pins 29 with the second shot. For example, if the four and seven pins (on the left) remain standing, a bowler will begin the approach and adjust his or her alignment differently than if only the ten pin remains (on the right). These visual aids are well known to the bowler and are used with the present invention. In helping the bowler to determine how to begin his or her bowling match according to the lane conditions, the trajectory of practice shots are observed and analyzed with the assistance of the present invention, as more fully described hereinafter.

[0024] In order to assist bowlers in making their shots the bowling caddy 50 of the present invention was developed. In a preferred embodiment, the bowling caddy 50 is a software program loaded onto a PDA, such as a Palm Pilot or a Windows CE device. It will be appreciated by those skilled in the art that the present invention could be incorporated into a dedicated handheld bowling statistics computing device. As shown in FIGS. 2 through 20 information is inputted into the handheld computer device according to shots made by the bowler, which information is stored in a database for later analysis and retrieval by the bowler. The bowling caddy 50 stores information about the best type of equipment and the best techniques to use by a bowler when encountering specific lane conditions. This enables the bowler to immediately make better shots in a tournament competition instead of searching for the shot to play for the current lane conditions during the course of the tournament.

[0025] The handheld statistical system of the present invention provides numerous types of shot information to be inputted for bowling analysis. It will be apparent to those skilled in the art that the present invention could be adopted for any type of sports statistical information to enable a player to analyze their particular game. In the preferred embodiment there are approximately 14 different inputs for each shot, enabling the bowler to record all of the conditions present when a certain shot is perfected so as to maximize scoring. These can categorized as equipment information (such as bowling lane type and the bowler's equipment such as shoes and ball material), bowling shot alignment information and bowling ball trajectory information. As will be described hereinafter, some fields allow the entering of text which allows the bowler to record information in a flexible, personal manner. Other fields provide a menu of choices for inputting shot information to enable more efficient searching of certain conditions later. After the bowler has inputted the shot information, the software of the present invention presents an error checking/editing screen allowing the bowler to easily review and/or change shot information as to be most accurate. This screen can be edited as many times as required by bowler in order to most correctly input the information which is then saved in the database. The bowler is then able to search this database for shots by lane type, lane condition, bowling center or other shot parameters. The software will then display all the shots that match the particular search criteria. In order to facilitate correct inputting of information the present invention prompts the bowler each step of the way to facilitate bowling shot information storage.

[0026] The bowling caddy of the present invention can be provided as a stand alone dedicated handheld device. In the most preferred embodiment the program is provided as a download to a personal digital assistant (PDA), such as a Windows CE based device or a Palm PC. The software can also be run on a desktop PC to provide for analysis of a bowlers skills in practices on a home computer. In addition the information can be transmitted from a handheld device to a desktop PC.

[0027] After the program is installed or downloaded to the device, the program is initiated and the bowler may be instructed to enter his or her personal information such as name and handicap (not shown). Other personalized information such as a password to protect the bowlers information in the device can be prompted from the bowler. When the program is started (FIG. 2), the bowler is instructed 53 to continue or exit the program. On an initial option screen shown in FIG. 3, the bowler is provided with four options: new shot 56, search 58, help 60, exit 62 and edit 64. These options, by pressing on the appropriate button, allow the bowler to enter all the variables for a new shot, search for an existing shot, access online help for operating the program, quit the program, or edit bowling shot information parameters for previously saved shots, respectively. In creating and storing a new shot, the bowler will activate this button 62 and a first screen 68 (FIG. 4) will appear which will ask the bowler to enter the name of the bowling center at which the shot was made. This is the first screen for inputting a first set of information, regarding the equipment used by a bowler in making a bowling shot. Equipment includes bowling center location and lane conditions, as well as the bowlers equipment such as type of shoes being worn and ball being used. Entering this name can be by a keyboard attached to the device or by optical character recognition from a stylus as provided with the Palm PC, for example. Also a drop down menu can be activated with an arrow button 69, as is well know in the computer art. Although the bowler may bowl at the same bowling center, such activities may be at different lanes at the bowling center or with bowling balls of different compositions. For example, if a bowling center has ten lanes, and the bowler has bowled on lanes 3 and 4, when entering the shots taken on lane 3 the bowler will enter the bowling center's name followed by the numeral 3 to indicate that that shot what taken on lane 3 at that bowling center, and the numeral 4 for shots made at lane 4. For example, the bowler may enter “Harrisburg Bowling Center 3”.

[0028] After the bowling center has been entered, the next equipment information to be inputted shown in FIG. 5 is the lane type. Typically bowling lanes come in three types: wood, synthetic, and synthetic/wood, as shown in window 70. Generally the bowling center will have this type of information available for the bowler. A drop down menu 71 may be presented from which the bowler then selects the lane type such as synthetic, as shown in FIG. 5, and clicks on the “okay” or (“next”) button 74. As each okay or next button 74 is pressed this information is stored in the memory of the PDA and is presented later on in the edit screen, as was previously mentioned and will be more fully described hereinafter.

[0029] After the lane type has been selected a menu 77 is then provided for the lane conditions, as shown in FIG. 6. Lane conditions can be of numerous types, which are show as broken down into seven categories which are dry, normal, light oil, medium oil, heavy oil (5′ to 5′), flat (even oil), or house shot (10′ to 10′). This refers to the amount of oil placed on the lane which varies from bowling center to bowling center, as well as lane to lane at that bowling center. Selection of the type of lane condition is determined by the bowler after he or she has rolled a ball down the lane in a typical bowling shot. Based on the reaction of the ball on the lane the bowler can predict what type of lane condition he is on. When this lane condition is selected the bowler clicks the okay button 80 and the next shot information input screen, shown in FIG. 7, is provided to the bowler. This is the lane backend condition. Again from the reaction of the ball on the lane, the bowler either selects from the menu 83 either normal, dry, heavy or moderate. After the selection is made the okay button 86 is clicked to proceed to the next information screen, relative ball speed 89 information shown in FIG. 8, is presented to the bowler. This depends on how hard or fast the bowler has made this particular shot. As this is related to bowling equipment (i.e. the ball), it is preferably included as part of the equipment information set. Next the bowling ball information screen 90 (FIG. 9) is presented to the bowler. This screen 90 shows four categories of ball information: ball type 92, name of ball 94, ball manufacturer 96 and ball weight 98. It will be understood that these categories may be provided on one or more individual screens and that other types of ball information, such as purchased date, can be inputted. Bowling balls can be made of various materials, such as plastic, pro-active, reactive resin, or urethane. The bowler may name his or her individual bowling balls in order to differentiate them from each other which is presented by the name menu 94. The bowler can also enter the weight of the ball 96 that was used on a particular shot, as well as on the bowling ball manufacturer 98.

[0030] The bowler next enters a second set of information regarding the bowlers alignment used in making the shot, as indicated by the board position using the arrows and dots provided on the approach 14 and the lane front end 20. The first alignment information to be entered is the feet position 104 of the bowler in starting the shot, shown in FIG. 10. Since the bowling lane typically comprises forty boards, the bowler can select from the first through the fortieth as the starting feet position. Generally the bowler begins counting from the right most board if they are right-handed, and the left most board if they are left-handed. Similarly the bowler also inputs the ending foot position 107. Since approach dots 32, 35, 38 are generally provided at the same board position even at different bowling centers, they aid the bowler in determining these positions. As shown in this FIG. 10, the bowler can also enter the shoe manufacturer 110 that the bowler was wearing when making the shot. Since a bowler will slide along the approach as the shot is made, the friction between the shoe and the approach can affect shot trajectory. Although this is equipment information, it is preferably included here since the ending foot position 107 is dependent on the bowlers slide. After this information is inputted by clicking on the okay button 113, the target position screen shown in FIG. 11 is then presented. The target position is chosen from those set of ten dots 44 on the bowling lane six feet past the foul line 29 (FIG. 2) which the bowler has aimed his or her bowling ball in making the shot which enables the bowler to determine the board position. In the FIG. 11 shown the target position 116 selected is the third board.

[0031] Next, the third set of information regarding the bowling ball trajectory as it travels down the lane 17 towards the pins is to be inputted. The break point 119, or where the ball began to curve on the lane, is selected; in the example, it is the 5th board. The arrows 41 on the bowling lane which are fifteen feet from the foul line 29 can be used by the bowler to estimate the approximate length from the foul line that the ball traveled before it began to break. In the example shown the break point distance 122 was selected at sixteen feet. Upon clicking the okay button 125 the bowler is then provided with a text screen 128 (FIG. 12) to input any additional comments such as the date that the bowler performed this shot as well as the result of that shot (“First 300 game”).

[0032] After all the values have been entered the bowler is then provided with a confirmation screen, or screens 131 (FIG. 13). Depending on the size of the display field the confirmation screen may be one or two, or more pages. By clicking on the type of information such as lane type the user is again present with the drop down menu 71 in order to confirm the information that was inputted. This can be done for all informational screens that were presented to the bowler. As shown in FIG. 13, the user can toggle between Page 1 and Page 2, if necessary. However, in the confirmation mode, when the user clicks the okay button on each individual screen, they are returned back to the confirmation screen 131 rather than proceeding through all the input screens again. After the bowler has confirmed all the shot information, the information is saved within the device's memory by clicking okay 134 and is confirmed as being saved (FIG. 14) by the bowling caddy 50. At this point an indication is given that shot has been added to the database, and the bowler has clicks on the okay button 135 to save all the information within the bowling caddy 50. The initial screen (FIG. 2) is then presented to the bowler for inputting more shots, show all saved shots, editing shots or searching.

[0033] At some later date when a bowler has entered information for numerous bowling centers, the bowler at a new bowling center or when returning to a previous bowling center can then search the information to indicate to the bowler where he or she should begin their targeting, which ball to use, what shoes to use and any other information that was inputted in order to maximize his or her score. Thus, the bowler is immediately provided with the information necessary in order to maximize his or her score at a typical bowling center.

[0034] In those instances where a bowler is at a new bowling center with which he or she is not familiar, the bowler can use the present invention to approximate where he or she should begin their bowling shot targeting in order to maximize their score more quickly. For example, after a few practice balls the bowler, knowing the lane type, can either approximate the lane conditions (in some instance the lane conditions are provided to the bowler) and can be provided with basic information about these lane conditions. At this point the bowler can use the bowling caddy 50 of the present invention to search the database to determine if there are similar type shots have occurred at other bowling centers. By clicking the search button 58, the bowler is presented with a search screen 150 shown in FIG. 15. According to the most preferred embodiment of the present invention, the software is configured to provide two dedicated search criteria: by lane type and condition 152; and by bowling center and lane condition 154. The bowler is then show the number of saved shots which match there criteria, and can review the shot performance. As will be readily apparent, the software can be configured to search using any of the shot information criteria either alone or in combination with others. FIG. 16 shows that the bowler has saved shots from two different bowling centers, DEERLAKES and RED CROWN. FIG. 17 shows the three types of lane conditions, which is similar to the input screen shown in FIG. 5.

[0035] When a similar bowling center lane condition are determined by the bowler, the bowler can use the information stored for that similar bowling center to begin to use his or her targeting adjustments in targeting in order to maximize his or her score. In this way the bowler is given instructional and targeting information without having to “waste” practice shots in order to get a feel for the lane. The bowler can be given a quick indication as to how his or her ball will react on each types of lanes and can more quickly begin to adjust his or her position according to the lane conditions. For example, once the bowler has identified the lane type and condition, the bowling caddy will give an indication of how many different shots are stored in the database with those conditions. After selecting the appropriate criteria, the bowling caddy 50 notifies the bowler how many saved shots satisfy these criteria. As shown in FIG. 18, two matching shots were found. In FIG. 19, the bowler has selected the shot made at DEERLAKES Bowling Center. All the shot information pertaining to this saved shot are shown in the search results screen(s) of FIG. 20. The bowler now knows immediately which equipment to use and how to perform the shot for maximum scoring.

[0036] By analyzing those records that have been filed the bowler can move his or her starting position on the approach to more quickly hone in on the best location to begin his or her approach and to release the ball down the lane. In this manner the bowler can more quickly find the optimal targeting and release touchdown point for his or her bowling ball and therefore maximize the pins knocked down within the frame. With the statistical scoring device of the present invention the bowler can maximize the number of strikes and spares within the bowling match without having to search for that optimal targeting position during the first two frames of the match. The bowler can more closely approximate in the first frame how to perform his or her bowling shot in order to maximize the score in the early frame, thus gaining an advantage over the bowler through the skill in the first couple of frames in the bowling match for positioning and targeting.

[0037] While specific embodiments of the invention have been described in detail, it would be appreciated by those skilled in the art that modifications and alterations would be developed in light of the overall teachings of the disclosure. Accordingly, the particular arrangements disclosed are meant to be illustrative only and not limiting as to the scope of the invention, which is to be given the full breadth of the appended claims and in any and all equivalent thereof.