Title:
Pool cue systems
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
Pool cue systems are disclosed which include at least one graphical icon on the pool cue shaft adapted to be observed with the shooter's peripheral vision while shooting pool. The icons are preferably aligned along the length of the pool cue shaft at predetermined distances indicative of game parameters such as stroke lengths, bridge hand locations, or stroke speed indicator lengths. The icons are adapted to enable easy peripheral observation of pool cue stick motion, including 3-axis rotations, while shooting pool with the eyes focused on an object billiard ball. The icons may additionally indicate physical properties of the pool cue shaft. The icons may additionally have decorative or commercial uses. In some embodiments, an icon location may be adjustable between two or more predetermined distances.



Inventors:
Evans, Kirk Boyd (Chandler, AZ, US)
Evans, Wayne Kirk (Chandler, AZ, US)
Application Number:
11/192516
Publication Date:
02/09/2006
Filing Date:
07/30/2005
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63D15/08
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
GRAHAM, MARK S
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
KEITH L. JENKINS, Registered Patent Attorney, LLC (Maricopa, AZ, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A pool cue system including a pool cue shaft for training to improve the quality of pool shooting and for playing pool, the pool cue shaft having a length, an exterior surface, a tip end, a distal end, and a ferrule-receiving portion of the pool cue shaft proximate the tip end, said pool cue system comprising: at least one icon appearing on the exterior surface of the pool cue shaft observable within a user's peripheral vision when the pool cue shaft is in use; wherein said at least one icon is located at least one predetermined distance along the length of the pool cue shaft from the ferrule-receiving portion of said pool cue shaft; and said at least one predetermined distance has a relationship to at least one game parameter.

2. The pool cue system of claim 1, wherein said at least one predetermined distance further has a relationship to at least one stroke parameter.

3. The pool cue system of claim 1, wherein said at least one predetermined distance further has a relationship to at least one pool cue shaft property.

4. The pool cue system of claim 1, wherein said at least one predetermined distance further relates to at least one external factor.

5. The pool cue system of claim 1, wherein said at least one icon comprises two icons and said at least one predetermined distance comprises two distinct predetermined distances providing a distance between at least part of each icon of said two icons.

6. The pool cue system of claim 1, wherein said at least one icon comprises at least one icon disposed circumferentially about said pool cue shaft.

7. The pool cue system of claim 1, wherein said at least one icon comprises at least one feature of at least one larger iconic design.

8. The pool cue system of claim 1, wherein said at least one icon comprises at least one sequence of discrete icons arranged longitudinally.

9. The pool cue system of claim 1, wherein said at least one icon comprises at least one sequence of discrete icons arranged circumferentially.

10. The pool cue system of claim 1, wherein said at least one icon comprises at least one trademark logo.

11. A pool cue shaft for improving the quality of pool shooting in practice and during competition, the pool cue shaft having a length, an exterior surface, a tip end, a distal end, and a ferrule-receiving portion of the pool cue shaft proximate the tip end, said pool cue shaft comprising: at least one icon appearing on the exterior surface of said pool cue shaft observable within a user's peripheral vision when the pool cue shaft is in use; and at least one bridge length separating said at least one icon from the ferrule-receiving portion of said pool cue shaft.

12. The pool cue shaft of claim 11, further comprising: at least one second icon; and at least one stroke length separating said at least one icon from said at least one second icon.

13. The pool cue shaft of claim 11, further comprising: at least one icon; and at least one stroke length separating said at least one icon from said ferrule-receiving portion.

14. The pool cue shaft of claim 11, wherein said at least one icon and said at least one second icon further comprise at least one linear sequence of icons along a portion of the length of said pool cue shaft, wherein said at least one linear sequence of icons is configured to improve peripheral observation of stroke speed by a pool cue user.

15. The pool cue shaft of claim 11, wherein said at least one icon further comprises at least one trademark logo.

16. A pool cue shaft for improving pool shooting in practice and during competition, the pool cue shaft having a length, a longitudinal axis, an exterior surface, a tip end, a distal end, and a ferrule-receiving portion of the pool cue shaft proximate the tip end, said pool cue shaft comprising the combination of: a plurality of icons on the pool cue shaft that are peripherally observable by a pool cue user during shot preparation and shooting; at least one predetermined distance between at least one icon of said plurality of icons and said ferrule-receiving portion of the pool cue; wherein said at least one predetermined distance represents at least one of at least one bridge hand location, at least one stroke length, and at least one stroke speed indicator length; and wherein said plurality of icons is configured to improve peripheral observation of cue shaft horizontal alignment to a shot direction, cue shaft vertical alignment to a shot direction, and cue shaft rotation about said longitudinal axis.

17. The pool cue shaft according to claim 16, wherein at least one icon of said plurality of icons is located to indicate at least one physical property of said pool cue shaft.

18. The pool cue shaf according to claim 17, wherein said at least one physical property of said pool cue shaft comprises a spine, wherein said at least one icon of said plurality of icons is located to indicate said spine.

19. The pool cue shaft according to claim 16, wherein at least one icon of said plurality of icons comprises a trademark logo.

20. The pool cue shaft according to claim 16, further comprising projection means for projecting said at least one icon onto said exterior surface of said pool cue shaft.

Description:

RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/599,832 filed Aug. 5, 2004 entitled POOL CUE SYSTEMS.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to a pool cue system including a novel pool cue shaft and more particularly to a pool cue system including pool cue stick with a pool cue shaft having one or more distance graduations iconified thereon which are within the peripheral vision of a pool cue stick user.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Pool cue sticks are used for shooting pool and in related billiard games. Typically, a pool cue stick has a smooth-surfaced forward portion, or pool cue shaft, having a first end upon which a tip for impacting a billiard ball or pool cue ball is attached. The attachment may include a ferrule for holding a tip in place or for other purposes. Pool cue sticks are commercially available in single-piece and two-piece construction. With the single-piece construction pool cue stick, a handle portion, or butt or cue, extends continuously in generally axial alignment from the second end of the pool cue shaft. A pool cue stick having two-piece construction typically has a coupling between the pool cue shaft and the handle portion that may be connected or disconnected by hand. Decoration of the handle portion is well known, with some ornate versions selling for thousands of dollars. Pool cue sticks are manufactured in various standard lengths for persons of respectively varied sizes.

In shooting pool, the pool cue stick is used to impact and propel a cue ball to subsequently impact an object ball in order to propel the object ball, or a subsequently impacted billiard ball, into a pocket near the periphery of a pool table playing surface. The motion of the pool stick toward the cue ball is called the “stroke.” When making the pool shot, the pool shooter's eye should be focused on the object ball for best results. The cue ball and the pool cue shaft are usually within the peripheral vision of the pool shooter. Control of the pool cue stick during the stroke is critical to accuracy, as both the resultant spin and velocity of the cue ball will determine the subsequent path of the object ball toward the pocket.

To learn to control the pool cue stick requires observing the motion of the cue stick while shooting, in order to learn how variations in pool cue motion affect the shot. The need to observe cue stick motion conflicts with the shooter's need to focus his vision on the object ball. For example, unintended small sideways motions of the pool cue stick will degrade shot accuracy. Other motion of the stick, such as stroke speed, rotation, and vertical motion are also important to shot accuracy. To observe these pool cue stick motions, beginners often focus their eyes on the pool cue stick and/or the point where the tip of the pool cue shaft will impact the cue ball, with frustrating results. Another need is for shot consistency, especially among different types of shots. Consistency in shooting requires consistent bridge length. Unfortunately, maintaining a consistent bridge length for each type of shot is difficult to learn.

A number of apparatuses for improving aiming with pool cue sticks have accompanied the increasing popularity of the sport of pool and related billiard games. Assorted training devices for improving aim are available, but cannot generally be used in competition. Many of these are cumbersome, such as mechanical devices that attach to the pool cue shaft or other practice devices that cannot be used in tournament play. Some of the mechanical devices may interfere with the bridge hand (the hand upon which or within which the pool cue stick slides during a shot), thereby teaching worse practices. Still other approaches require the pool shooter to focus on the point where the tip of the pool cue stick impacts the cue ball, thereby preventing the student from focusing on the object ball, which is the preferred method. One apparatus that can be used in competition provides a pair of longitudinal sighting references that do not improve stroke length or stroke speed visualization and do assist in establishing a consistent bridge length.

U.S. Pat. No. 941,728 to issued to R. J. Preast on Nov. 30, 1909 discloses a pool cue made from laminates of different colors that create bands on the pool cue and shaft, but Preast does not disclose using the bands for any purpose except decoration. The variables controlling the location of the bands are the thicknesses of the laminates and the taper angle of the pool cue shaft. Preast does not disclose thicknesses of the laminates and the taper angle of the pool cue shaft as variables, nor does he disclose preferred values for these variables nor even suggest that they be controlled to produce bands at specific distances along the pool cue shaft. UK Patent Application GB2219517A to Joseph Gibney published Dec. 13, 1989 discloses a V-outline marking on a cue that improves observation of cue alignment. Gibney does not disclose placing the V-outline mark specific distances from the ferrule for distance graduation purposes. U.S. Pat. No. 6,165,078 issued to Samuel H. Holt on Dec. 26, 2000 discloses a pool cue with transparent, interiorly illuminated, decorative sections on the shaft, but does not disclose controlling placement or dimensioning of the transparent sections for distance graduation purposes. U.S. Pat. No. 3,965,590 issued to Algaze on Jun. 29, 1976 discloses a method for placing identification on the handles of elongated objects but does not disclose displaying trademarks by his methods. U.S. Pat. No. 3,462,147 issued to Mancuso on Aug. 19, 1969 discloses a two-part sectional cue without disclosing markings on the pool cue shaft. U.S. Pat. No. 1,280,876 issued to Seenan on Oct. 8, 1918 discloses a hollow pool cue. U.S. Pat. No. 1,241,194 issued to Carlson, et al., on Sep. 25, 1917 discloses a method of making ornamental pool cue handles using woods of different colors, but does not disclose pool cue shaft ornamentation or distance graduation. U.S. Pat. No. 1,173,070 issued to Walter on Feb. 22, 1916 discloses an aluminum pool cue with ferrules around the cue for strengthening and ornamentation. Walter does not disclose positioning the ferrules for distance graduation purposes.

The present inventors have identified and isolated the problem: what is lacking are methods and apparatuses (together comprising a pool cue system) which enable easy peripheral observation of various pool cue stick motions and easy observation of bridge hand locations and stroke lengths by the pool shooter and which can be used during tournament play. Accordingly, what is needed is a pool cue system including a pool cue stick having a device that easily reveals pool cue stick motion and game parameters to the peripheral vision of the pool shooter. A further need is that the device for revealing pool cue stick motion and game parameters does not interfere with the stroke of the pool cue stick during preparatory strokes and shots. Another need is for the device to easily reveal game parameters such as bridge length, stroke length, and stroke speed to the peripheral vision of the pool shooter. A further need is for the device to be allowable in tournament play. Yet a further need is for the pool cue system to easily reveal rotational motion of the pool cue stick about each of three axes of rotation. Yet another need is for the pool cue system to indicate properties of the pool cue shaft. Yet another need is for a pool cue system to assist in advertising during tournament play. Yet another need is for the pool cue system to be economical, practical, and durable. To meet the above-mentioned needs and to solve the above-mentioned problems, applicants present what follows.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

One embodiment of the present invention provides one or more graduations indicated by graphical icons appearing on the pool cue shaft that have axes aligned with the long axis of the pool cue shaft. The icons are located at predetermined distances that are related to game parameters and may additionally be related to stroke parameters, the size of the pool stick, and ergonomic factors. Icon location may additionally indicate physical properties of the cue. In a preferred embodiment, the graphical icons are circumferential about the pool cue shaft. Partially circumferential icons are also acceptable. The icons may be formed using any means. Preferably, the icons do not protrude from the smooth surface of the pool cue shaft.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The above and other objects and advantages of the present invention will become more apparent from the following description taken in conjunction with the following drawings in which:

FIG. 1 is a perspective cutaway view illustrating a pool shooter using an exemplary embodiment of the pool cue system according to the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a side view illustrating an exemplary embodiment of a pool cue shaft of the exemplary pool cue system of FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a side view illustrating another exemplary embodiment of a pool cue shaft of an exemplary pool cue system according to the present invention and showing section lines for section 3-3′;

FIG. 4A is a sectional view along section 3-3′ of FIG. 3 illustrating the interior 400 of the exemplary embodiment of the exemplary pool cue system of FIG. 3;

FIG. 4B is a sectional view along section 3-3′ of FIG. 3 illustrating the interior of an alternate exemplary embodiment of the exemplary pool cue system of FIG. 3

FIG. 5 is a side view illustrating an embodiment of an exemplary pool cue stick of an exemplary pool cue system having a pool cue shaft portion according to the present invention; and

FIG. 6 is a side view illustrating an embodiment of a pool cue shaft of an exemplary pool cue system.

FIG. 7 is a side sectional view of an alternative pool cue shaft comprising a hollow interior and transparent wall and an image projection apparatus according to an alternate embodiment of the pool cue system.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The following detailed description is merely exemplary in nature and is not intended to limit the invention or the application and uses of the invention. Furthermore, there is no intention to be bound by any expressed or implied theory presented in the preceding technical field, background, brief summary or the following detailed description.

FIG. 1 is a perspective cutaway view illustrating a pool shooter 102 using an exemplary embodiment of the pool cue system 100 according to the present invention. Pool shooter 102 is shown using an exemplary embodiment of the pool cue stick 104, including pool cue shaft 106, ferrule 110, and tip 108. The pool shooter 102 has aligned the pool cue stick 104 with a desired velocity vector of the cue ball 114 towards the object ball 116 in expectation of causing the object ball 116 to fall into a pocket 118. The eyes of the pool shooter 102 are focused on the object ball 116, creating line of sight 126 as indicated by the dashed line. The iconic graduations (hereinafter “icons” or “graduating icons”) 122 and 124 appearing on the pool cue shaft 106 are within the peripheral vision 120 of the pool shooter 102, as indicated by the dotted lines. The icons 122 and 124 are referred to as “graduations” by virtue of being located at predetermined distances from the tip 108 or the ferrule 110 in order to be used as stroke length and stroke speed indicator length graduations and to improve peripheral visibility of, among other things, off-axis motion of the pool cue shaft 106 when in use. As defined and used herein, the term “icons” refers to graphical symbols appearing on a pool cue shaft at respective, graduated, predetermined distances from the ferrule 110. As defined and used herein, “predetermined distance” refers to a distance that is specifically determined prior to the manufacture of pool cue shaft 106. As defined and used herein, the term “game parameter” means at least one of bridge length, stroke length, and stroke speed. As defined and used herein, the term “bridge length” means the distance from the ferrule-receiving portion 230 (FIG. 2) of the pool cue shaft 106 to a user-preferred position of his bridge hand 112. As defined and used herein, the term “ferrule-receiving portion” 230 means a portion of the pool cue shaft 106 adapted for receiving a ferrule 110 for holding a tip 108 and, particularly for purposes of measuring predetermined distances, refers to the edge of such ferrule-receiving portion 230 furthest from the tip 108.

For example, the first icon 122 may be located immediately proximate the shooter's bridge hand 112 when the tip 108 of the pool cue shaft 106 is almost touching the cue ball 114, and a second icon 124 may be located immediately proximate the shooter's bridge hand 112 at the end of the stroke. In that example, the predetermined distances of the icons 122 and 124 and their relationship to each other defines the desired stroke length. In an alternate embodiment having only a single icon 122 or 124, a predetermined distance between the ferrule 110 and the icon 122 or 124 by define a stroke length. The icons 122 and 124 are graphical designs appearing to the peripheral vision 120 of a pool shooter 102 at the exterior surface of the pool cue shaft 106 when the pool cue 104 is in use. The icons 122 and 124 should be large enough to be distinct in the peripheral vision 120 of the pool shooter 102. A minimum width and length of ¼ inch is preferred. Those skilled in the art, upon reading the teachings of this specification, will appreciate that, under appropriate circumstances, considering such issues as various pool shots and techniques, expertise of the prospective user, and ergonomic factors, other predetermined distances, such as those adapted for particular shots or techniques, etc., may be used with pool cue system 100.

Pool shooter 102 preferably observes pool cue shaft 106 motion with his peripheral vision 120 during preparatory motions of the pool stick 104 and during the actual shot. The preparatory motions are strokes similar to a pool shot stroke but which do not contact the cue ball 114. Peripheral observations made during preparatory motions enable the pool shooter 102 to refine his shot by peripherally observing repeated pool cue shaft 106 preparatory motions and sequentially reducing unwanted elements of pool cue stick 104 motion. When unwanted pool cue stick 104 motions have been satisfactorily reduced, the stroke is said to be “locked in”, and the shot stroke is then executed. Preferably, the icons 122 and 124 are positioned, sized, surface-treated, and shaped to be clearly observable in the peripheral vision 120 of the pool shooter 102 during preparatory motions. Icons 122 and 124 are useful in both training for playing pool and for tournament play. Those skilled in the art, upon reading the teachings of this specification, will appreciate that, under appropriate circumstances, considering such issues as the various pool shots to be made, user preference, and ergonomic factors, etc., other arrangements of icons 122 and 124, such as arrangements adapted to enhance peripheral visibility for a plurality of the various shots during preparatory motions, etc., may be used with pool cue system 100.

In various alternate embodiments, additional icons 122 and 124 may be added for various stroke lengths corresponding to various shots. For example, a longer stroke length may be indicated for a break shot than for an ordinary pool shot. In another preferred embodiment, there may be a single icon 122 or 124 having a predetermined distance from the ferrule 110. Those skilled in the art, upon reading the teachings of this specification, will appreciate that, under appropriate circumstances, considering such issues as level of expertise of the prospective user, sophistication of the prospective user, and ergonomic factors, other arrangements of icons, such as larger numbers of icons, equally spaced-apart sequences of icons, icons having various sizes scaled to the graduation distances, various designs of icons 122 and 124, etc., may be preferred with pool cue system 100.

FIG. 2 is a side view illustrating an exemplary embodiment 200 of a pool cue shaft 106 of the exemplary pool cue system 100 of FIG. 1. The pool cue shaft 106 preferably has a tip end 220 and a distal end 240. A ferrule-receiving portion 230 of pool cue shaft 106 supports the ferrule 110 and the tip 108, while the distal end supports coupling 210. Icons 122 and 124 are illustrated as circumferential bands, or rings, about the pool cue shaft 106. Circumferential icons 122 and 124 may be applied superficially or may be discs built into the pool cue shaft 106. The icons 122 and 124 may be of any material having a surface that will be easily visible in the peripheral vision 120 of the pool shooter 102. For example, metals, holographic materials, stones, plastics, wood of a contrasting color, composite materials, ceramics, pigments, or bone. Preferably, the material forming the icons 122 and 124 is selected to maintain the stiffness and elasticity of the material of the pool cue shaft 106. In embodiments in which the icons 122 and 124 are created by inlaying materials into the pool cue shaft 106, the materials inlaid will preferably have nearly the same elasticity and hardness as the material making up pool cue shaft 106. Icons 122 and 124 may be of different materials. Those skilled in the art, upon reading the teachings of this specification, will appreciate that, under appropriate circumstances, considering such issues as user preference, desired contrast level, and materials availability, other types of materials, such as mother-of-pearl, rhinestones, electronic materials, etc., may be used with pool cue system 100.

In some alternate embodiments, the icons 122 and 124 may be images caused to appear at the outer surface of the pool cue shaft 106. For example, a projection apparatus (for example, a light source, a lens, and an iconic mask) located inside a transparent pool cue shaft 106 may project an iconic image through the transparent pool cue shaft 106, causing the icon 122 or 124 to become apparent to an outside viewer. A first advantage of such a system may be the ability to adjust the positions of the icons 122 or 124 on a particular pool cue shaft 106 between two or more predetermined distances by changing the projection apparatus position or focus. Another advantage of such a pool cue system 100 may be the ability to turn the icons 122 and 124 off when desired. For another example, the icon 122 or 124 may be formed by providing a transparent material in an iconic shape inlaid in an opaque pool cue shaft 106 and illuminated from within the pool cue shaft 106. Those skilled in the art, upon reading the teachings of this specification, will appreciate that, under appropriate circumstances, considering such issues as cost, pool cue stick 104 weight and balance, etc., other types of iconic imaging, such as external projection, liquid crystal displays, etc., may be used to produce graduating icons 122 and 124 appearing on pool cue shaft 106 of pool cue system 100.

In a preferred embodiment, icon 122 is located slightly more than four inches from the ferrule 110 and icon 124 is located approximately ten inches from the ferrule 110. This relationship enables easy peripheral observation of the motions and positions of the pool cue shaft 106 during a shot. For example, the pool shooter 102 may wish to shoot with a ten-inch bridge length, and so will initially place his bridge hand 112 at icon 124. In drawing back the pool cue 104 for a shot, pool shooter 102 can peripherally observe his stroke length by observing the relationship of the icons 122 and 124 relative to his bridge hand 112 in the drawn back position. For a shape shot, the pool shooter 102 may wish to shoot with a four-inch bridge length, and so will place his bridge hand 112 at icon 122. By having icons located at various bridge hand 112 locations along pool cue shaft 106, shooter 102 can easily achieve consistent bridge hand location. In making the shot, the rate at which the icons 122 and 124 move through, or relative to, the pool shooter's 102 bridge hand 112 enables peripheral observation of the stroke speed. Thus, game parameters are peripherally observed using the icons.

Other aspects of pool cue shaft 106 motion may be observed in addition to game parameters. For example, if the pool shooter 102 inadvertently moves the pool cue stick 104 sideways during a shot, the two icons 122 and 124 will change alignment relative to the pool shooter's 102 line of sight 126 (FIG. 1) to the object ball 116, and this will appear in the pool shooter's 102 peripheral vision 120 (FIG. 1) along with the previously described game parameters. Inadvertent vertical motion of the pool cue shaft 106 can be easily observed in the same way. For visualization of rotational motion about the longitudinal axis 201 of the pool cue stick 104, circumferential icons 122 and 124 are preferably non-uniformly circumferential. For example, a circumferential band of icons, such as diamonds, connected or discrete, provides improved peripheral visualization of rotational motion of the pool cue shaft 106. In another preferred embodiment using one icon 124, that icon 124 is located approximately ten inches from the ferrule 110, which may also serve as a relative point of reference for peripheral observation. Stroke speed may also be observed, thereby permitting improved control of the speed of the cue ball 114 (FIG. 1). Peripheral observation of pool cue stick 104 motion improves shooting. Experimentation with the embodiment of FIG. 2 improved the experimental subjects' ratings by 1 to 1.5 levels.

FIG. 3 is a side view illustrating another exemplary embodiment 300 of a pool cue shaft 106 of the exemplary pool cue system 100 according to the present invention and showing section lines for section 3-3′. In a preferred embodiment, icon 302 is located a first predetermined distance 312 from ferrule 110 along length 316 and that first predetermined distance 312 has a relationship to at least one game parameter, such as bridge hand 112 location. Icon 304 is located a second predetermined distance 313 from ferrule 110 and that second predetermined distance 313 has a relationship to at least one game parameter, such as a stroke length or a second bridge hand location. The relationship between the predetermined distance 313 and the game parameter may be equality, an offset by a ferrule 110 length, or other function. Icon 304 is thereby a third predetermined distance 314 from icon 302, and that third predetermined distance 314 has a relationship to a game parameter, such as a stroke length. Icon 306 is located a fourth predetermined distance 315 from ferrule 110 and that fourth predetermined distance 315 is related to a game parameter, such as a second stroke length. Icon 306 also creates fifth and sixth predetermined distances 318 and 320, which are related to at least one game parameter. Stroke parameters, such as cue shaft rotation, off-axis motion, etc., may also be observed using icons 302, 304, and 306 and predetermined distances 312, 313, 314, 315, 318 and 320. As used and defined herein, “stroke parameters” include at least one on of cue shaft rotation about a longitudinal axis, alignment in the horizontal plane, and alignment in the vertical plane. Icons 302, 304, and 306, taken collectively, may also define stroke speed indicator lengths 313, 318, and 320. During shot preparation or shooting, the stroke speed game parameter is indicated by the rate at which the icons 302, 304, and 306 pass through the bridge hand 112. That rate will depend on predetermined stroke speed indicator lengths 313, 318, and 320 and the actual stroke speed.

In the above-mentioned preferred embodiment, third predetermined distance 314 represents a first stroke length for a first type of shot and sixth predetermined distance 320 represents a second stroke length for a second type of shot. The first predetermined distance 312 from the ferrule 110 to the icon 302 is preferably more than four inches. However, icons 302, 304, and 306 may be placed anywhere along the length 316 of the pool cue shaft 106, depending on the game parameters to which the predetermined distances are related. Preferably, the icon 306 closest to the coupling 210 is at least four inches from the coupling 210. Those skilled in the art, upon reading the teachings of this specification, will appreciate that, under appropriate circumstances, considering such issues as age and size of the intended user, particular game parameters, and length 316 of the pool cue shaft 106, other or additional predetermined distances, such as shorter, longer, etc., may be used with pool cue system 100.

Graduating icons 302, 304, and 306 preferably contrast with the color of the pool cue shaft 106 for easy peripheral observation. The icons 302, 304, and 306 may be of any shape or design and are preferably symmetrical along the longitudinal axis 201 of the pool cue shaft 106 and are aligned along the longitudinal axis 201 of the pool cue shaft 106. The icons 302, 304, and 306 may be decorative as well as functional. For example, game-related shapes such as diamonds, circles, clubs, spades, hearts, dice, arrows, and the like, or sub-cultural icons 302, 304, and 306 such as moons, bats, dragons, motorcycles, skulls, crosses, and the like, may be used. In some embodiments, trademark logos may used as icons 302, 304, and 306 to provide advertising, for example, during televised pool competitions which often have an overhead television camera showing pool cue shafts 106. Those skilled in the art, upon reading the teachings of this specification, will appreciate the wide variety of icons 302, 304, and 306, such as coats of arms, flags, team colors or logos, etc., that may be used with pool cue system 100.

Some pool cue shafts 106 have a stiffness that is non-uniformly distributed radially about the longitudinal axis 201 of the pool cue shaft 106. When such a pool cue shaft 106 is held horizontally and rotated about the longitudinal axis 201 to provide the greatest stiffness in a vertical plane, the top edge of the pool cue shaft 106 is referred to as the “spine” of the pool cue shaft 106. Pool cue shaft 106 having a non-uniform stiffness is preferably used with the spine upward. For such non-uniformly stiff pool cue shafts 106, the graduating icons 302, 304, and 306 may be aligned to indicate the spine, thereby combining the primary function of peripheral observation of game parameters with peripheral observation of stroke parameters, and peripheral observation of the spine orientation. In an alternate embodiment, graduating icons 302, 304, and 306 may appear in pairs bracketing the spine, thereby indirectly indicating spine location. Providing trademark logos as graduating icons 302, 304, and 306 on the spine of the pool cue shaft 106 may improve advertising where the logo-bearing exterior surface of pool cue shaft 106 will be facing the overhead television camera during televised competition. Preferably, the trademark logo is repeated in sequence about the circumference of the pool cue shaft 106 to ensure that the logo is visible in any orientation. Those skilled in the art, upon reading the teachings of this specification, will appreciate that, under appropriate circumstances, considering such issues as advances in the art of controlling the uniformity of stiffness in pool cue shafts 106, other rotational non-uniformities in characteristics of a pool cue shaft 106, nodal vibrations, etc., other arrangements for graduating icons 302, 304, and 306, such as strength indicators, modal vibration node indicators, etc., may be used with pool cue system 100.

FIG. 4A is a sectional view along section 3-3′ illustrating an embodiment 400 of the interior of the exemplary embodiment 300 of the exemplary pool cue system 100 of FIG. 3. The icons 302, 304, and 306 may be created by various methods. For examples, straining, applique, inlay (of any material), decal, paint, marking, embossing, engraving, carving, build-in, or cladding may be used. Icon 302 is illustrated as being formed with a dowel 401 through the pool cue shaft 106. The dowel 401 is preferably inserted into a pool cue shaft 106 blank before the blank is machined on a lathe into final form. Dowel 401 is preferably made of the same material as the pool cue shaft 106 and of a contrasting color. For example, with a wooden pool cue shaft 106, dowel 401 may be of the same wood, stained a contrasting color, and inserted to align its grain with the grain of the pool cue shaft 106. For those iconographic approaches that interrupt the smooth exterior surface 403 of the pool cue shaft 106, the smooth exterior surface 403 is preferably reestablished. For example, an engraved icon 304 may be filled with an acrylic material 405 and polished to make the exterior surface 403 of the pool cue shaft 106 smooth. Those skilled in the art, upon reading the teachings of this specification, will appreciate that, under appropriate circumstances, considering such issues as economics, advances in the art of manufacturing pool cue shafts 106, new image transfer techniques, etc., other methods of creating icons 302, 304, and 306 for pool cue shafts 106, such as lithography, computer printing, laser engraving, laser printing, etc., may be used with pool cue system 100.

FIG. 4B is a sectional view along section 3-3′ illustrating an embodiment 470 of the interior of an alternate exemplary embodiment 300 of the exemplary pool cue system 100 of FIG. 3. For example, an embossed, decaled, clad, or appliqued icon 306 (illustrated in exaggerated relief) may define a new exterior surface 402 for pool cue shaft 106. A coating material 410 of preferably equal thickness may be applied to the remainder of the exterior surface 403 of pool cue shaft 106 to re-create a new smooth exterior surface 402. Coating material 410 may also be used to cover tactile variations that may be produced in making icons 302 and 304, as shown. Those skilled in the art, upon reading the teachings of this specification, will appreciate that, under appropriate circumstances, considering such issues as economics, advances in the art of manufacturing pool cue shafts 106, new adhesion and coating techniques, etc., other methods of applying material icons to the surfaces of pool cue shafts 106 and re-creating a smooth exterior surface 402, such as film deposition, pressure bonding, and metal plating, etc., may be used with pool cue system 100.

FIG. 5 is a side view illustrating an embodiment 500 of an exemplary pool cue stick 502 of the pool cue system 100 having a pool cue shaft 106 portion according to the present invention. Pool cue stick 500 is illustrated as being of one-piece construction but may also represent an assembled two-piece construction pool cue stick 502. The overall length 506 of the pool cue stick 500 may be of any size acceptable for a particular type of billiard game. Handle length 504 and shaft length 316 are typically each about one-half the overall length 506. The predetermined distances 312, 313, 314, 315, 318, and 320 of icons 302, 304, and 306 may be proportional to the overall length 506 and the shaft length 316. The predetermined distances 312, 313, 314, 315, 318, and 320 are determined based upon game parameters and optionally may additionally be used for peripheral observation of stroke parameters and for peripheral observation of cue shaft property parameters such as spine indication or other physical properties of pool cue shaft 106. Predetermined distances 312, 313, 314, 315, 318, and 320, which are initially chosen for their relationship to a game parameter, may additionally have a relationship to external factors, such as ergonomic factors, personal preference, or production standardization. For example, persons who are seven feet tall may prefer a different bridge length than persons who are four feet tall. For further example, cue shafts of a particular length may be known to a manufacturer to be used by persons with a certain range of heights, and those persons may have known preferences for bridge lengths, allowing standardization in the manufacture of the pool cue shafts 106. In a particular embodiment, a longitudinal sequence of discrete icons, each one-inch long, may serve for a range of user-preferred game parameters. Those skilled in the art, upon reading the teachings of this specification, will appreciate that, under appropriate circumstances, considering such issues as emerging research findings in pool ergonomics, peripheral vision, and pool physics, as well as market research, etc., other arrangements of icons and predetermined distances, such as for additional shot types, variation about the pool cue shaft 106 circumference, adaptation to a children's billiard game, etc., may be used with pool cue system 100.

FIG. 6 is a side view illustrating an embodiment 600 of the pool cue shaft 106 of the exemplary pool cue system 100. The graphical icons 602 and 604 may be features of a larger iconic design 601 visible at the exterior surface 403 of the pool cue shaft 106. For example, a larger iconic design 601 comprising two transverse extensions 602 and 604 to a longitudinal line 606 may suffice to provide graduations along the pool cue shaft 106. Longitudinal line 606 may be, for example, representational of an iconic dragon's spine, an iconic alligator's spine, or the centerline of an iconic motorcycle, viewed from above. The transverse extensions 602 and 604 may represent iconic wings, legs, and handlebars, respectively. In an alternate embodiment, the extensions 602 and 604 may be at least partially circumferential about the pool cue shaft 106. In another alternate embodiment, the ferrule 110 may additionally support an icon 122, 124, 302, 304, 306, 602 or 604. Those skilled in the art, upon reading the teachings of this specification, will appreciate the wide variety of icon design features, such as dragon eyes, spots on butterfly wings, colored rings on a coral snake design, etc., that may be used to produce icons 602 and 604 for marking graduations on a pool cue shaft 106 in pool cue system 100.

FIG. 7 is a side sectional view of an alternative pool cue shaft 106 comprising a hollow interior 702 and transparent wall 703 and an image projection apparatus 710 according to an alternate embodiment of the pool cue system 100. Image projection apparatus 710 is capable of being adjusted by a user accessible adjustment 720 to project an iconic image 704 or 706 to the transparent wall 703, where it will be visible to the peripheral vision 120 of a pool shooter 102. The adjustment is preferably accomplished by repositioning optics in the projection apparatus to change beam positions, such as moving beam 714 to become beam 712. Those skilled in the art, upon reading the teachings of this specification, will appreciate the wide variety of approaches to making icons 704 and 706 adjustable between two or more predetermined distances, such as beam 712 and 714 selection, mechanical displacement of the projections apparatus, use of a liquid crystal display operable to display an icon in different positions, mechanical displacement of a material icon, etc., that may be used to produce adjustable icons for use on a pool cue shaft 106 in pool cue system 100.

While at least one exemplary embodiment has been presented in the foregoing detailed description, it should be appreciated that a vast number of variations exist. It should also be appreciated that the exemplary embodiment or exemplary embodiments are only examples, and are not intended to limit the scope, applicability, or configuration of the invention in any way. Rather, the foregoing detailed description will provide those skilled in the art with a convenient road map for implementing the exemplary embodiment or exemplary embodiments. It should be understood that various changes can be made in the function and arrangement of elements without departing from the scope of the invention as set forth in the appended claims and the legal equivalents thereof.