Title:
Method of play and training device for development of soccer skills
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A method of play and soccer skill training device that is played outdoors. The device can be used to develop basic soccer skills such as ball handling, passing, and shooting accuracy as well as advanced skills such as strategy and teamwork. The method and apparatus of the invention which can be used with a soccer ball comprises a plurality of arches extending upwardly from the ground level through which a soccer ball is passed with the feet or head.



Inventors:
Peterson, David P. (Orland Park, IL, US)
Peterson, Herbert J. (Bonfield, IL, US)
Application Number:
09/821241
Publication Date:
10/03/2002
Filing Date:
03/29/2001
Assignee:
PETERSON DAVID P.
PETERSON HERBERT J.
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63B63/00; A63B69/00; (IPC1-7): A63B69/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
ARYANPOUR, MITRA
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Michael R. McKenna (Chicago, IL, US)
Claims:

What is claimed is as follows:



1. A training device for development of soccer skills which can be used with a soccer ball on a field of ground comprising at least one rod and a complementary number of means for supporting the at least one rod in an upright arching position, said means for supporting the at least one rod in an upright arching position being operable independent of a fastener.

2. The training device of claim 1, wherein each of the at least one rod is flexible and each end of the rod is insertable and releasable from one of an upper opening in the means for supporting.

3. A training device for development of soccer skills which can be used with a soccer ball on a field of ground comprising: a. a flexible rod, and b. means for supporting the flexible rod in an upright arching position, said means for supporting the flexible rod in an upright arching position being operable independent of a fastener.

4. A training device for development of soccer skills which can be used with a soccer ball on a field of ground comprising: a. a flexible rod with a first end and a second end, and b. means for supporting the flexible rod in an upright arching position, i. said means for supporting the flexible rod in an upright arching position being operable independent of a fastener, ii. said means for supporting comprising a pair of tubes, iii. each of said tubes being disposable uprightly in the ground at a predetermined distance from one another, and iv. each of said first end and said second end being respectively slidably insertable into an upper opening in one of said pair of tubes.

5. The training device of claim 4, wherein each end of the flexible rod is releasable from the upper opening.

6. The training device of claim 4, wherein at least one end of the flexible rod is slidably releasable from the means for supporting upon being subjected to a separating force exceeding a threshold level.

7. The training device of claim 4, further comprising a lubricant disposed on at least one of at least one end of the flexible rod and at least one of said pair of tubes to promote slidable release of the rod from the means for supporting.

8. The training device of claim 4, further comprising means for limiting the depth to which at least one of the first end and the second end of the flexible rod can be inserted into the upper opening in one of said pair of uprightly disposed tubes.

9. The training device of claim 8, wherein the means for limiting comprises at least one spacer plug suitable sized and adapted for use within the tube to limit travel of the rod therein.

10. The training device of claim 4, wherein each of said tubes comprises a tube wall with a hole disposed proximate to the upper opening, said hole being adapted for use to receive a hook for removal of each of said tubes from the ground.

11. A training device for development of soccer skills which can be used with a soccer ball on a field of ground comprising: a. at least one flexible rod with a first end and a second end; and b. a complementary number of means for supporting the flexible rod in an upright arching position, i. said means for supporting the flexible rod in an upright arching position being operable independent of a fastener, ii. said means for supporting comprising a pair of tubes, iii. each of said tubes being disposable uprightly in the ground at a predetermined distance from one another, and iv. each of said first end and said second end being respectively slidably insertable into an upper opening in one of said pair of tubes and at least one end of the flexible rod is slidably releasable from the means for supporting upon being subjected to a separating force exceeding a threshold level.

12. A method of play for development of soccer skills which can be used with a soccer ball and a training device on a field of ground for at least one player comprising: a. assembling the training device by erecting a plurality of spaced apart gates through which the soccer ball may be played including i. slidably inserting one of a first end and a second end of one of a plurality of flexible rods in to one of a plurality of means for supporting said one of the plurality of the flexible rods in an upright arching position independent of a fastener and slidably inserting the other of the first end and the second end of the one of the plurality of the flexible rods in to the one of the plurality of the means for supporting said one of the flexible rods in an upright arching position independent of a fastener, and ii. repeating the previous step at least one time equal in number to the number of said plurality of spaced apart gates reduced by one; b. consecutively numbering each of the plurality of spaced apart gates with at least one primary number; c. identifying at least one series of primary numbered gates in sequence; and d. passing the soccer ball through each of the at least one series of primary numbered gates in sequence.

13. The method of play for development of soccer skills of claim 12, further comprising reducing potential injury from a snagging contact with any one of the flexible rods of the plurality of spaced apart gates by releasing said one of the flexible rods from the means for supporting upon being subjected to a separating force exceeding a threshold level.

14. The method of play for development of soccer skills of claim 12, further comprising: a. spacing each one of said plurality of spaced apart gates along one of a plurality of transit lines that (a) passes through said one of said plurality of spaced apart gates, (b) is generally parallel to an upper surface of the ground, and (c) is perpendicular to a plane containing said one of said plurality of spaced apart gates; b. aligning a first set of at least two of said plurality of spaced apart gates to lie proximate to a common plane; c. aligning a second set of at least two of said plurality of spaced apart gates in such a way that the transit line of one of said at least two of said plurality of spaced apart gates is collinear with the transit line of another of said at least two of said plurality of spaced apart gates, wherein the transit lines of the second set are perpendicular to the common plane of the first set without extending along the transit lines of the first set; and d. passing the soccer ball through one of (a) one of said plurality of spaced apart gates lying proximate to a common plane and then through one of said at least two of said plurality of spaced apart gates having collinear transit lines, and (b) one of said at least two of said plurality of spaced apart gates having collinear transit lines and then through one of said plurality of spaced apart gates lying proximate to a common plane, whereby, the at least one player can pass the soccer ball through an askew series of spaced apart gates to develop soccer skills.

15. A method of play for development of soccer skills which can be used with a soccer ball and a training device on a field of ground for at least one player comprising: a. assembling the training device by erecting seven spaced apart gates through which the soccer ball may be played including i. slidably inserting one of a first end and a second end of one of seven flexible rods in to one of seven means for supporting said one of the seven flexible rods in an upright arching position independent of a fastener and slidably inserting the other of the first end and the second end of the one of the seven flexible rods in to the one of the seven means for supporting said one of the seven flexible rods in an upright arching position independent of a fastener, and ii. repeating the previous step six times to complete the assembly of the seven spaced apart gates; b. spacing each one of seven spaced apart gates along one of a plurality of transit lines that (a) passes through said one of said seven spaced apart gates, (b) is generally parallel to an upper surface of the ground, and (c) is perpendicular to a plane containing said one of said seven spaced apart gates; c. aligning a first set of three spaced apart gates to lie proximate to a common plane; d. aligning a second set of spaced apart gates consisting of two in number in such a way that the transit line of one of said second set of spaced apart gates is collinear with the transit line of the other of said second set of spaced apart gates, wherein the transit lines of the second set are perpendicular to the common plane of the first set without extending along the transit lines of the first set; e. aligning a third set of spaced apart gates consisting of two in number in such a way that the transit line of one of said third set of spaced apart gates is collinear with the transit line of the other of said third set of spaced apart gates, wherein the transit lines of the third set are perpendicular to the common plane of the first set without extending along the transit lines of the first set and the second set; f. passing the soccer ball through one of (a) one of said first set of spaced apart gates, then through one of said second set of spaced apart gates, and then through one of another of said first set of spaced apart gates and one of said third set of spaced apart gates, and (b) one of said second set of spaced apart gates, then through one of said first set of spaced apart gates, and then through one of another of said second set of spaced apart gates of spaced apart gates and one of said third set of spaced apart gates, whereby, the at least one player can pass the soccer ball through an askew series of spaced apart gates to develop soccer skills.

16. The method of play for development of soccer skills of claim 15, further comprising at least two players intermittently touching the soccer ball interpolatively between successive passes through at least two of the spaced apart gates.

17. A method of play for development of soccer skills which can be used with a soccer ball and a training device on a field of ground for at least one player comprising: a. assembling the training device by erecting a plurality of spaced apart gates through which the soccer ball may be played including i. slidably inserting one of a first end and a second end of one of a plurality of flexible rods in to one of a plurality of means for supporting said one of the plurality of the flexible rods in an upright arching position independent of a fastener and slidably inserting the other of the first end and the second end of the one of the plurality of the flexible rods in to the one of the plurality of the means for supporting said one of the flexible rods in an upright arching position independent of a fastener, and ii. repeating the previous step at least one time equal in number to the number of said plurality of spaced apart gates reduced by one; b. spacing each one of said plurality of spaced apart gates along one of a plurality of transit lines that (a) passes through said one of said plurality of spaced apart gates, (b) is generally parallel to an upper surface of the ground, and (c) is perpendicular to a plane containing said one of said plurality of spaced apart gates; c. aligning a first set of at least two of said plurality of spaced apart gates to lie proximate to a common plane; d. aligning a second set of at least two of said plurality of spaced apart gates in such a way that the transit line of one of said at least two of said plurality of spaced apart gates is collinear with the transit line of another of said at least two of said plurality of spaced apart gates, wherein the transit lines of the second set are perpendicular to the common plane of the first set without extending along the transit lines of the first set; e. numbering each of the plurality of spaced apart gates with at least one primary number; f. identifying at least one series of primary numbered gates in sequence; and g. passing the soccer ball through each of the at least one series of primary numbered gates in sequence, whereby, the at least one player can develop soccer skills while reducing potential injury from a snagging contact with any one of the flexible rods of the plurality of spaced apart gates which can be released from the means for supporting upon being subjected to a separating force exceeding a threshold level.

18. The method of play for development of soccer skills of claim 17, further comprising passing the soccer ball through one of (a) one of said plurality of spaced apart gates lying proximate to a common plane and then through one of said at least two of said plurality of spaced apart gates having collinear transit lines, and (b) one of said at least two of said plurality of spaced apart gates having collinear transit lines and then through one of said plurality of spaced apart gates lying proximate to a common plane, whereby, the at least one player can pass the soccer ball through an askew series of spaced apart gates to develop soccer skills.

19. A method of play for development of soccer skills which can be used with a soccer ball and a training device on a field of ground for at least one player comprising: a. assembling the training device by erecting a plurality of spaced apart gates through which the soccer ball may be played including: i. imbedding a plurality of means for supporting in to said ground at a spaced distance from each other with a primary set of said plurality of means for supporting disposed along a first path and at least one secondary set of said plurality of means for supporting disposed along a second path, wherein each of the at least one second path is transverse to the first path; ii. slidably inserting one of a first end and a second end of one of a plurality of flexible rods in to one of the plurality of means for supporting said one of the plurality of the flexible rods in an upright arching position independent of a fastener and slidably inserting the other of the first end and the second end of the one of the plurality of the flexible rods in to the one of the plurality of the means for supporting, and iii. repeating the previous step at least one time equal in number to the number of said plurality of means for supporting reduced by one; b. consecutively numbering each of the plurality of spaced apart gates with at least one primary number, said numbering alternating between gates consisting of means for supporting disposed in the first path and gates consisting of means for supporting disposed in the second path; c. identifying at least one series of primary numbered gates in sequence; and d. passing the soccer ball through each of the at least one series of primary numbered gates in sequence.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

[0001] This invention relates to equipment and methods used to develop skills and strategies used in playing the game of soccer. A method of play and training device is taught for use on a turf playing field which improves the safety of participants by construction of an inherently safe design comprising arches constructed of flexible tube or rod supported by hollow ground tubes that are inserted into the ground so that the upper edge of the hollow ground tube is equal to or below the ground level. Spacer plugs may be inserted into the hollow ground tubes to reduce the amount of force required to dislodge the arch from the hollow ground tubes. The use of an environmentally safe lubricant to reduce the friction and force required to dislodge the arch from the ground may also be employed.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0002] Public interest in the game of soccer has dramatically increased over the last few years and with it so have the number of children playing at both recreational and competitive levels. Recreational and competitive soccer programs are increasingly developed for younger age groups so those players may begin training at the earliest age possible. Formal soccer practice under the supervision of a knowledgeable trainer has been the most common activity used to improve soccer skills by the vast majority of children, youth and adults interested in this sport. Development of soccer skills by this method is very effective for age groups with adequate maturity to maintain concentration during the practice. With younger children it is beneficial to make the practice fun and safe.

[0003] During a search of patent office records several references were discovered. U.S. Pat. No. 5,746,669 issued in 1998 to Sinsheimer et. al. for a game and training device for teaching soccer skills discloses multiple goals that have targets in them to practice passing the ball through. Note that the arch assembly is anchored to the ground with a ground spike 33.

[0004] U.S. Pat. No. 5,553,863 issued in 1996 to Wynne discloses a practice goal or ball control ground mounted arch with side supporting springs which flex if kicked. This patent is concerned with goal flexibility so that when it is struck or fallen into, it will flexibly give way.

[0005] U.S. Pat. No. 6,068,488 issued in May, 2000 to Sinsheimer et. al. for a game and training device for teaching soccer skills discloses arches with a target in the middle that are staggered to enforce ball control habits. Note that the arch assembly is anchored to the ground with a ground spike 33.

[0006] U.S. Pat. No. 5,961,403 issued to Caruso in 1999 for a training device for soccer discloses a wooden structure that a soccer ball can roll through or be rebounded off.

[0007] One principal disadvantage associated with previously referenced patents is that all of the inventions require parts that appear above the ground which can injure a user if fallen on, slid into, or tripped over. These patents do not specifically teach the novel aspects of the present invention including the means for supporting each end of the arch that allows it to break away from the ground by sliding up and out of the supports. The present invention provides equipment that is inherently safe. The present invention also provides a game-like situation in which children can develop soccer skills while avoiding the monotony of repetitive drills. Another advantage of the present invention is that the equipment and method of play provide an opportunity for team play where timing, strategy and cooperation are important.

[0008] These together with other objects of the invention, along with the various features of novelty which characterize the invention are pointed out with particularity in the claims annexed to and forming a part of this disclosure. For a better understanding of the invention, its operating advantages and the specific objects attained by its uses, reference should be had to the accompanying drawings and descriptive matter in which there is illustrated preferred embodiments of the invention.

[0009] Still other advantages will be apparent from the disclosure that follows. The citation of the foregoing publications is not an admission that any particular publication constitutes prior art, or that any publication alone or in conjunction with others, renders unpatentable any pending claim of the present application. None of the cited publications is believed to detract from the patentability of the claimed invention.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0010] The present invention comprises a plurality of arches consisting of flexible tubing or rods arranged in an outdoor playing area. The arches are arranged on the ground by means of a section of tube secured in the ground and not protruding above ground level. The present invention provides a training device for development of soccer skills which can be used with a soccer ball on a field of ground. It comprises at least one rod and a complementary number of means for supporting the at least one rod in an upright arching position, said means for supporting the at least one rod in an upright arching position being operable independent of a fastener.

[0011] The product of the present invention is designed for use on an outdoor turf playing field for development of skills associated with the game of soccer such as ball handling, passing, shooting, team play, and game strategy.

[0012] The tubes of the present invention have no exposed points above the ground. The arches disposed above the ground are strong enough to change the path of a soccer ball but flexible enough to prevent injury should the player engage the device with a foot, leg or other body part.

[0013] The essential core method of play is that the soccer ball must be passed through a series of arches called gates in a defined sequence. The sequence that the gates must be passed through are defined by assigning at least one number to each gate. A number of different setup configurations are possible with the present invention. The preferred implementation of the invention is to configure the gates in the shape of two diamond-shaped structures connected at a shared middle gate. This double diamond configuration allows game situations that can be played individually, with multiple players on the same team or with multiple players on different teams.

[0014] There has thus been outlined, rather broadly, the more important features of the invention in order that the detailed description thereof that follows may be better understood, and in order that the present contribution to the art may be better appreciated. There are, of course, additional features of the invention that will be described hereinafter and which will form the subject matter of the claims appended hereto. Those skilled in the art will appreciate that the conception upon which this disclosure is based, may readily be utilized as a basis for the designing of other structures, methods and systems for carrying out the several purposes of the present invention. It is important, therefore, that the claims be regarded as including such equivalent constructions insofar as they do not depart from the spirit and scope of the present invention.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0015] Preferred embodiments of the invention are described hereinafter with reference to the accompanying drawing wherein:

[0016] In FIG. 1, an arch consisting of a flexible tube or rod 1 is held in position by a hollow tube 3 inserted into the ground. A spacer plug 2 may control the depth that the flexible tube or rod 1 is inserted into the hollow ground tube 3.

[0017] FIG. 2 is the preferred embodiment of the method of using the present invention. A plurality of arches 1 are arranged in the pattern of a double diamond configuration. The preferred path 7 taken for maneuvering a soccer ball 8 through the arches 1 is illustrated. There are 7 physical arches. Each arch is assigned one or two numbers to indicate the sequence that the soccer ball should pass through the arches. The gate numbers assigned in the preferred embodiment are located to the right of each arch.

[0018] FIG. 3 is a magnification of one hollow ground tube 3 used to hold each end of the arch to the ground.

[0019] FIG. 4 and FIG. 5 illustrate the sequential actions taken to complete the method of play titled Two-Player Timed. Each action is sequentially labeled with Arabic numerals inside a circle.

[0020] FIG. 6 and FIG. 7 illustrate the sequential actions taken to complete the method of play titled Four Player Timed. Each action is sequentially labeled with Arabic numerals inside a circle.

[0021] FIG. 8, FIG. 9, FIG. 10, FIG. 11, and FIG. 12 illustrate the sequential actions taken to complete the method of play titled Four Player Triple Diamond. Each action is sequentially labeled with Arabic numerals inside a circle.

[0022] FIG. 13 and FIG. 14 illustrate the sequential actions taken to complete the method of play titled Two Player Crossover. Each action is sequentially labeled with Arabic numerals inside a circle.

[0023] FIG. 15 illustrates one preferred configuration of the field design for the method of play. In the event that sufficient area is not available for this configuration, the field design may be scaled down to accommodate the area available.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

[0024] Without departing from the generality of the invention disclosed herein and without limiting the scope of the invention, the discussion that follows, will refer to the invention as depicted in the drawing.

[0025] As shown in FIG. 1, the preferred embodiments of the apparatus depicted in the drawing illustrate the components of the present invention and how they are assembled. Two appropriately spaced vertical holes 4 are made in the ground 5 with appropriate dimensions to receive and immobilize the hollow ground tube 3. The hollow ground tube 3 is inserted into the ground hole 4 so that the top of the hollow ground tube 3 is level with or below the surface of the ground. An optional spacer can be inserted into the hollow ground tube 3 to control the amount of force required to dislodge the flexible tubing or rod 1. Finally, each end of the flexible tubing or rod 1 is inserted into one of the hollow ground tubes 3 to form an arch under and through which the soccer ball can be maneuvered. The preferred composition of the material used for the arch is a semi-flexible plastic or rubber material. The distance between the inside of the arch is about 27 inches in one preferred embodiment. The point of maximum height of the arch is 27 inches above the ground in one preferred embodiment. The lower portion of the ends of the flexible tubing or rod 1 may be lubricated with an environmentally safe lubricant 6 to reduce the friction and force required to dislodge the arch from the ground. Small caps, used to close the opening to the ground tube 3 when the arch is removed are considered part of the invention. This will prevent dirt and other materials from accumulating inside the ground tube 3 when the arch is not inserted. Alternatively, the means for supporting may be slidably and releasably disposed in the ground. This may be accomplished with a series of multiple sleeves. The characteristics of this arch assembly are such that a soccer ball striking the arch will be deflected from its path of travel. An additional characteristic is that a player which slides into, falls on, or engages the arch with their body will not be injured because the flexible tubing or rod 1 will separate from the hollow ground tube 3 by sliding, or the flexible tubing or rod 1 will bend. One advantage of this invention is that the flexible tubing or rod 1 may be removed from the field of play while leaving the hollow ground tubes 3 in the ground 1. This allows the playing field to be used for other activities. Once the hollow ground tubes 3 are placed into the ground 1, the invention can be set up in a matter of minutes. The structure of the device includes an arch, constructed of a flexible tubing or rod and the means for supporting each end of the arch. The means for supporting the end of the arches is a plurality of cylindrically shaped members including tubes, each with an open top. The tubes are inserted into the ground. Each cylindrical tube has an inside diameter that is slightly larger than the outside diameter of the arch tubing or rod. Assembly of the device is accomplished by sliding the flexible tubing or rod into the cylindrical tubes. Each end of the arch can be withdrawn from the ground tube by a sliding action, allowing a safe release of the arch from the ground in the event that a foot, leg, or other body part engages it. The portion of the arch or rod inserted into the tube contained in the ground may be lubricated to facilitate sliding. A spacer plug of variable length may be inserted into the cylindrical tubes which will shorten the length of the arch inserted into the ground thereby further reducing the energy required for a safe release of the arch in the event a foot, leg, or other body part engages it.

[0026] A training device for development of soccer skills which can be used with a soccer ball on a field of ground comprising at least one rod and a complementary number of means for supporting the at least one rod in an upright arching position, the means for supporting the at least one rod in an upright arching position being operable independent of a fastener.

[0027] Preferably, each of the at least one rod is flexible and each end of the rod is insertable and releasable from one of an upper opening in the means for supporting.

[0028] In a first embodiment of the training device for development of soccer skills which can be used with a soccer ball on a field of ground of the present invention a flexible rod and means for supporting the flexible rod in an upright arching position are provided and the means for supporting the flexible rod in an upright arching position is operable independent of a fastener.

[0029] In another embodiment of the training device for development of soccer skills, a flexible rod with a first end and a second end, and means for supporting the flexible rod in an upright arching position, the means for supporting the flexible rod in an upright arching position which is operable independent of a fastener are included. The means for supporting comprises a pair of tubes. Each of the tubes is disposable uprightly in the ground at a predetermined distance from one another, and each of the first end and the second end is respectively slidably insertable into an upper opening in one of the pair of tubes.

[0030] Preferably, each end of the flexible rod is releasable from the upper opening. Another preferred aspect of the training device requires that at least one end of the flexible rod is slidably releasable from the means for supporting upon being subjected to a separating force exceeding a threshold level. To assist the release a lubricant can be disposed on at least one of at least one end of the flexible rod and at least one of the pair of tubes to promote slidable release of the rod from the means for supporting. A separating force is any force having an upward component. A separating force exceeding a threshold level is one having an upward component sufficient to withdraw an end of the rod from an upper opening of the tube in which it has been inserted.

[0031] Additionally, means for limiting the depth to which at least one of the first end and the second end of the flexible rod can be inserted into the upper opening in one of the pair of uprightly disposed tubes may be included. The means for limiting may comprise at least one spacer plug suitable sized and adapted for use within the tube to limit travel of the rod therein.

[0032] The training device may further have each of the tubes comprising a tube wall with a hole disposed proximate to the upper opening. The hole is adapted for use to receive a hook for removal of each of the tubes from the ground.

[0033] In another preferred embodiment of the training device for development of soccer skills which can be used with a soccer ball on a field of ground, at least one flexible rod with a first end and a second end, and a complementary number of means for supporting the flexible rod in an upright arching position are provided. The means for supporting the flexible rod in an upright arching position is operable without a fastener. The means for supporting comprises a pair of tubes, with each of the tubes being disposable uprightly in the ground at a predetermined distance from one another, and each of the first end and the second end being respectively slidably insertable into an upper opening in one of the pair of tubes and at least one end of the flexible rod is slidably releasable from the means for supporting upon being subjected to a separating force exceeding a threshold level.

[0034] FIG. 2 illustrates the preferred orientation of the arches on the playing field. The arches 1 are spaced at defined intervals that are proportionate to the overall dimensions of the playing field. The arches may be numbered to differentiate a specific sequence of arches the soccer ball must be maneuvered through. In a preferred method of play, the soccer ball 8 must be sequentially maneuvered in a defined path 7 through all the arches using the feet or head. In FIG. 2, the gate on the left is gate number G1 when maneuvering the ball through the gate from left to right. This same gate is gate number G10 when maneuvering the ball through the gate from right to left. The center gate is gate number G3 when maneuvering the ball through the gate from left to right. This same gate is gate number G8 when maneuvering the ball through the gate from right to left. The gate on the right is gate number G5 when maneuvering the ball through the gate from left to right. This same gate is gate number G6 when maneuvering the ball through the gate from right to left. The remaining gates, G2, G4, G7 and G9 have unique numbers and the ball is maneuvered through these gates in only one direction. Specific methods of play have been developed for this invention and are more fully described in METHOD OF PLAY.

[0035] A method of play for development of soccer skills which can be used with a soccer ball and a training device on a field of ground for at least one player is taught by the present invention including the steps of assembling the training device by erecting a plurality of spaced apart gates through which the soccer ball may be sequentially played which includes slidably inserting one of a first end and a second end of one of a plurality of flexible rods in to one of a plurality of means for supporting the one of the plurality of the flexible rods in an upright arching position independent of a fastener and slidably inserting the other of the first end and the second end of the one of the plurality of the flexible rods in to the one of the plurality of the means for supporting the one of the flexible rods in an upright arching position independent of a fastener, and repeating the previous step at least one time equal in number to the number of the plurality of spaced apart gates reduced by one. Furthermore, each of the plurality of spaced apart gates is consecutively numbering with at least one primary number, and at least one series of primary numbered gates in sequence is identified. Next, the soccer ball is passed through each of the at least one series of primary numbered gates in sequence. Potential injury from a snagging contact with any one of the flexible rods of the plurality of spaced apart gates is reduced by releasing the one of the flexible rods from the means for supporting upon being subjected to a separating force exceeding a threshold level.

[0036] The method of play for development of soccer skills further provides for spacing each one of the plurality of spaced apart gates along one of a plurality of transit lines that (a) passes through the one of the plurality of spaced apart gates, (b) is generally parallel to an upper surface of the ground, and (c) is perpendicular to a plane containing the one of the plurality of spaced apart gates; aligning a first set of at least two of the plurality of spaced apart gates to lie proximate to a common plane; aligning a second set of at least two of the plurality of spaced apart gates in such a way that the transit line of one of the at least two of the plurality of spaced apart gates is collinear with the transit line of another of the at least two of the plurality of spaced apart gates, wherein the transit lines of the second set are perpendicular to the common plane of the first set without extending along the transit lines of the first set; and passing the soccer ball through one of (a) one of the plurality of spaced apart gates lying proximate to a common plane and then through one of the at least two of the plurality of spaced apart gates having collinear transit lines, and (b) one of the at least two of the plurality of spaced apart gates having collinear transit lines and then through one of the plurality of spaced apart gates lying proximate to a common plane. In this way, the at least one player can pass the soccer ball through an askew series of spaced apart gates to develop soccer skills.

[0037] Another method of play for development of soccer skills which can be used with a soccer ball and a training device on a field of ground for at least one player comprises:

[0038] a. assembling the training device by erecting seven spaced apart gates through which the soccer ball may be played including

[0039] i. slidably inserting one of a first end and a second end of one of seven flexible rods in to one of seven means for supporting the one of the seven flexible rods in an upright arching position independent of a fastener and slidably inserting the other of the first end and the second end of the one of the seven flexible rods in to the one of the seven means for supporting the one of the seven flexible rods in an upright arching position independent of a fastener, and

[0040] ii. repeating the previous step six times to complete the assembly of the seven spaced apart gates;

[0041] b. spacing each one of seven spaced apart gates along one of a plurality of transit lines that (a) passes through the one of the seven spaced apart gates, (b) is generally parallel to an upper surface of the ground, and (c) is perpendicular to a plane containing the one of the seven spaced apart gates;

[0042] c. aligning a first set of three spaced apart gates to lie proximate to a common plane;

[0043] d. aligning a second set of spaced apart gates consisting of two in number in such a way that the transit line of one of the second set of spaced apart gates is collinear with the transit line of the other of the second set of spaced apart gates, wherein the transit lines of the second set are perpendicular to the common plane of the first set without extending along the transit lines of the first set;

[0044] e. aligning a third set of spaced apart gates consisting of two in number in such a way that the transit line of one of the third set of spaced apart gates is collinear with the transit line of the other of the third set of spaced apart gates, wherein the transit lines of the third set are perpendicular to the common plane of the first set without extending along the transit lines of the first set and the second set;

[0045] f. passing the soccer ball through one of (a) one of the first set of spaced apart gates, then through one of the second set of spaced apart gates, and then through one of another of the first set of spaced apart gates and one of the third set of spaced apart gates, and (b) one of the second set of spaced apart gates, then through one of the first set of spaced apart gates, and then through one of another of the second set of spaced apart gates of spaced apart gates and one of the third set of spaced apart gates,

[0046] whereby, the at least one player can pass the soccer ball through an askew series of spaced apart gates to develop soccer skills.

[0047] The method of play may further comprise at least two players interpolatively touching the soccer ball between successive passes through at least two of the spaced apart gates.

[0048] Another method of play for development of soccer skills which can be used with a soccer ball and a training device on a field of ground for at least one player comprises assembling the training device by erecting a plurality of spaced apart gates through which the soccer ball may be played including slidably inserting one of a first end and a second end of one of a plurality of flexible rods in to one of a plurality of means for supporting the one of the plurality of the flexible rods in an upright arching position independent of a fastener and slidably inserting the other of the first end and the second end of the one of the plurality of the flexible rods in to the one of the plurality of the means for supporting the one of the flexible rods in an upright arching position independent of a fastener, and repeating the previous step at least one time equal in number to the number of the plurality of spaced apart gates reduced by one. Furthermore, each one of the plurality of spaced apart gates can be spaced along one of a plurality of transit lines that (a) passes through the one of the plurality of spaced apart gates, (b) is generally parallel to an upper surface of the ground, and (c) is perpendicular to a plane containing the one of the plurality of spaced apart gates. Additionally, a first set of at least two of the plurality of spaced apart gates can be aligned to lie proximate to a common plane, and a second set of at least two of the plurality of spaced apart gates can be aligned in such a way that the transit line of one of the at least two of the plurality of spaced apart gates is collinear with the transit line of another of the at least two of the plurality of spaced apart gates, wherein the transit lines of the second set are perpendicular to the common plane of the first set without extending along the transit lines of the first set. By numbering each of the plurality of spaced apart gates with at least one primary number and identifying at least one series of primary numbered gates in sequence, the soccer ball can be passed through each of the at least one series of primary numbered gates in sequence. Whereby, the at least one player can develop soccer skills while reducing potential injury from a snagging contact with any one of the flexible rods of the plurality of spaced apart gates which can be released from the means for supporting upon being subjected to a separating force exceeding a threshold level.

[0049] The method of play may further include passing the soccer ball through one of (a) one of the plurality of spaced apart gates lying proximate to a common plane and then through one of the at least two of the plurality of spaced apart gates having collinear transit lines, and (b) one of the at least two of the plurality of spaced apart gates having collinear transit lines and then through one of the plurality of spaced apart gates lying proximate to a common plane, whereby, the at least one player can pass the soccer ball through an askew series of spaced apart gates to develop soccer skills.

[0050] Another method of play for development of soccer skills comprises assembling the training device by erecting a plurality of spaced apart gates through which the soccer ball may be played including imbedding a plurality of means for supporting in to the ground at a spaced distance from each other with a first set of the plurality of means for supporting disposed along a first path and at least one second set of the plurality of means for supporting disposed along a second path, wherein each of the at least one second path is transverse to the first path, slidably inserting one of a first end and a second end of one of a plurality of flexible rods in to one of the plurality of means for supporting the one of the plurality of the flexible rods in an upright arching position independent of a fastener and slidably inserting the other of the first end and the second end of the one of the plurality of the flexible rods in to the one of the plurality of the means for supporting, and repeating the previous step at least one time equal in number to the number of the plurality of means for supporting reduced by one. By consecutively numbering each of the plurality of spaced apart gates with at least one primary number, numbering alternatively between gates consisting of means for supporting disposed in the first path and gates consisting of means for supporting disposed in the second path, and identifying at least one series of primary numbered gates in sequence, the soccer ball can be passed through each of the at least one series of primary numbered gates in sequence to develop soccer skills.

[0051] Another method of play comprises arranging a plurality of spaced apart gates through which the soccer ball may be played at a spaced distance from each other with a primary set of the plurality of spaced gates disposed along a first path and at least one secondary set of the plurality of spaced gates disposed along a second path, wherein each of the at least one second path is transverse to the first path, consecutively numbering each of the plurality of spaced apart gates with at least one primary number, with the numbering alternating between gates consisting of spaced apart gates disposed in the first path and gates consisting of spaced apart gates disposed in the second path, and identifying at least one series of primary numbered gates in sequence, the soccer ball can be through each of the at least one series of primary numbered gates in sequence to develop soccer skills.

[0052] FIG. 3 is a magnification of the hollow ground tube 3 showing it's relationship to the ground 5 and the hole 9 near the surface end of the hollow ground tube 3. The hole 9 is used to extract the hollow ground tube 3 from the ground in the event this tube needs to be relocated or removed from the ground. One end of an S-hook 10, or similar means for extracting, is placed in the hole 9 and the hollow ground tube 3 is pulled vertically from the ground 5.

Method of Play

[0053] A field design and method of play which provides a game like setting to improve basic soccer skills such as ball handling, passing, and shooting accuracy and advanced skills such as strategy and teamwork comprising at least one of the following:

[0054] Traditional Method of Play played by a plurality of players wherein each player has his/her own soccer ball and maneuvers said ball sequentially through all gates; One Player Timed method of play wherein a soccer ball is maneuvered through all gates by an individual player, wherein the player with the lowest elapsed time is the winner; Two Player Timed method of play wherein a team of two players maneuver a single soccer ball through all gates, and wherein the team with the lowest elapsed time is the winner; Four Player Timed method of play wherein a team of four players maneuver a single soccer ball through all gates, wherein the team with the lowest elapsed time is the winner; Four Player Timed Triple Diamond method of play wherein a team of four players maneuver a single soccer ball through specific gates while maintaining a diamond formation between all four players, wherein the team with the lowest elapsed time is the winner. Two Player Crossover method of play wherein two teams consisting of two players per team compete to maneuver their respective soccer ball through specific gates, wherein the team with the lowest elapsed time is the winner.

[0055] The following methods of play were developed to play on the preferred orientation of the playing field.

[0056] 1. Traditional Method of Play

[0057] This method of play has similarities to the game of croquet. Each player (2-6 players) has his/her own soccer ball and shoots in turn. The order of play may be determined by age-the youngest player goes first and the oldest player goes last, or another reasonable selection process. The object of the method of play is to maneuver through all gates in the sequence illustrated in FIG. 2. Players begin their turn behind gate G1. The player must kick the ball through gate G1 in the direction of gate G2. The ball is passed, generally by kicking or heading, sequentially through the remainder of the gates including gate G2, gate G3, gate G4, gate G5, gate G6, gate G7, gate G8, gate G9, and gate G10. Each player gets one kick per turn unless he strikes an opponent's ball during his turn. If a player strikes an opponent's ball during play, he has two options. Option 1 is to immediately take another turn. If more than one ball is struck, the player may take 1 extra turn for each ball struck. Once a ball is struck within a player's turn, the player will not receive additional turns if the same player's ball is struck a second time. Option 2 is to use his head to move the ball of the player who was struck. The player moving the opponent's ball stands over the spot the struck player's ball landed. He tosses the ball directly above that point and uses his head to drive the ball in any direction desired. The game is won by being the first player to pass all ten gates.

[0058] 2. One Player Timed

[0059] In this method of play each player is timed with a stopwatch or the like, as the player maneuvers the ball through all ten gates. The sequence of gates that the ball must be maneuvered through is the same as the Traditional Method of Play, as illustrated in FIG. 2. The player with the lowest elapsed time is the winner.

[0060] 3. Two Player Timed (Using Both Feet)

[0061] FIG. 4 and FIG. 5 illustrate the sequence of actions in this method of play. Two players are timed as they alternately pass through all ten gates. The sequence of actions taken is described in FIG.4 and FIG. 5 next to Arabic numerals that are circled. In FIG. 4, player P1 and Player P2 stand behind gate G1 when player P1 starts the method of play by kicking the ball through gate G1 toward gate G2. Player P2 runs toward gate G2, dribbles the ball through gate G2, and then passes the ball to player P1 advancing toward gate G3. Player P1 dribbles the ball through gate G3 and then passes to player P2 advancing toward gate G4. Player P2 dribbles the ball through gate G4 and then passes to player P1 advancing toward G5. In FIG. 5, after passing the ball to player P1, player P2 crosses the field to gate G7. Player P1 dribbles the ball through gate G5 and then passes the ball to player P2 advancing toward gate G7. Player P2 dribbles through gate G7 and then passes to player P1 advancing toward gate G8. Player P1 dribbles through gate G8 and then passes to player P2 advancing toward gate G9. Player P2 dribbles through gate G9 and then passes to player P1 advancing toward gate G10. Player P1 dribbles through gate G10 and the elapsed time is recorded. The 2-player team with the lowest elapsed time after successfully passing through all 10 gates is the winner.

[0062] 4. Four Player Timed (Using Both Feet)

[0063] FIG. 6 illustrates the sequence of actions in the first half of this method of play. Four players are timed as they pass through all ten gates. Player P1 and Player P2 stand behind gate G1. Player P3 and player P4 are standing at gate G3 and gate G9, respectively. Player P1 starts the method of play by passing the ball through gate G1 toward gate G2. Player P2 runs toward gate G2 and dribbles the ball through gate G2. Player P2 then passes to player P3 waiting at gate G3. Player P3 dribbles through gate G3 and then passes the ball to player P2 advancing toward gate G4. Player P2 dribbles through gate G4 and then passes the ball to player P3 advancing to gate G5. Player P3 dribbles through gate G5. FIG. 7 illustrates the sequence of actions in the second half of this method of play. Player P3 passes the ball to player P4 at gate G7. Player P4 dribbles through gate G7 and then passes the ball to player P1 who has moved forward to gate G8. After passing through gate G8, player P1 passes the ball to player P4 at gate G9. Player P4 goes through gate G9 and passes the ball to player P1 at gate G10. When player P1 passes the ball through gate G10, the time lapsed is recorded. The 4-player team with the shortest time interval wins.

[0064] 5. Four Player Timed Triple Diamond (Using Both Feet)

[0065] This method of play is illustrated in FIG. 8-12. In FIG. 8, player P1, player P2, player P3, and player P4 line up at gate G1, gate G2, gate G3, and gate G9, respectively. The players must maintain this diamond formation for the entire sequence of passing. To start the method of play player P1 passes the ball through gate G1 to player P2 at gate G2. Player P2 dribbles the ball through gate G2 and then passes to player P3 at gate G3. Player P3 dribbles the ball through gate G3 and then passes to player P4 at gate G9. Player P4 dribbles the ball through gate G9 and then passes to player P1 at gate G1. In FIG. 9, player P1 dribbles the ball to gate G3 as all four players stay in diamond formation and move down to the next gate in their lane. Player P2 runs to gate G4, player P3 runs to gate G5, and player P4 runs to gate G7. In FIG. 10 player P1 passes the ball through gate G3 to player P2 at gate G4. Player P2 dribbles the ball through gate G4 and then passes to player P3 at gate G5. Player P3 dribbles the ball through gate G5 and then passes to player P4 at gate G7. Player P4 dribbles the ball through gate G7 and then passes to player P1 at gate G8. Player P1 passes back to player P3 at gate G5. In FIG. 11, all players advance in the diamond formation to their original positions as player 3 dribbles the ball to gate G8. In FIG. 12, player P3 passes to player P1 at gate G1. Player 1 dribbles through gate GI and then passes to player P2 at gate G2. Player P2 dribbles through gate G2 and then passes to player P3 at gate G3. Player P3 dribbles through gate G3 and then passes to player P4 at gate G9. Player 4 dribbles through gate G9 and then passes to player P1 at gate G10. Player P1 dribbles through gate G10 to end the method of play. The elapsed time is recorded when the ball passes through gate G10 the final time. The 4-player team with the lowest elapsed time is the winner.

[0066] 6. Two Player Crossover

[0067] This method of play is illustrated in FIG. 13 and FIG. 14. Two opposing two-player teams compete in this method of play. Team A has player A1 and player A2. Team B has player B1 and player B2. As illustrated in FIG. 13, players A1 and B1 start the method of play behind gate G1 by passing the ball to players A2 at gate G2 and player B2 at gate G9, respectively. Immediately after passing the ball, players A1 and B2 run across the field to gate G7 and gate G4, respectively. Players A2 and B2 dribble through gate G2 and gate G9, respectively. Players A2 and B2 pass the ball across the field to player A1 at gate G7 and player B1 at gate G4. As illustrated in FIG. 14, Player A1 and player B1 dribble through gate G7 and gate G4, respectively. Players A1 and B1 pass the ball across the field to player A2 at gate G2 and player B2 at gate G9. Players A1 and B1 run toward gate G10 ready to receive a pass from their teammates. Player A2 dribbles through gate G2, Player B2 dribbles through gate G9. Player A2 passes to player A1, player B2 passes to player B1, both at gate G10. Players A1 and B1 receive the pass from their respective teammates and dribble through gate G10, ending the method of play. The team with the lowest elapsed time is the winner.

[0068] While this invention has been described in connection with the best mode presently contemplated by the inventor for carrying out his invention, the preferred embodiments described and shown are for purposes of illustration only, and are not to be construed as constituting any limitations of the invention. Modifications will be obvious to those skilled in the art, and all modifications that do not depart from the spirit of the invention are intended to be included within the scope of the appended claims. Those skilled in the art will appreciate that the conception upon which this disclosure is base, may readily be utilized as a basis for the designing of other structures, methods and systems for carrying out the several purposes of the present invention. It is important, therefore, that the claims be regarded as including such equivalent constructions insofar as they do not depart from the spirit and scope of the present invention.

[0069] My invention resides not in any one of these features per se, but rather in the particular combinations of some or all of them herein disclosed and claimed and it is distinguished from the prior art in these particular combinations of some or all of its structures for the functions specified.

[0070] With respect to the above description then, it is to be realized that the optimum dimensional relationships for the parts of the invention, to include variations in size, materials, shape, form, function and manner of operation, assembly and use, are deemed readily apparent and obvious to one skilled in the art, and all equivalent relationships to those illustrated in the drawings and described in the specification are intended to be encompassed by the present invention.

[0071] Therefore, the foregoing is considered as illustrative only of the principles of the invention. Further, since numerous modifications and changes will readily occur to those skilled in the art, it is not desired to limit the invention to the exact construction and operation shown and described, and accordingly, all suitable modifications and equivalents may be resorted to, falling within the scope of the invention.