Title:
Roller hockey pants
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
Roller hockey pants include a pair of pant legs. Each pant leg has a knee portion and a distal end. A shin portion extends between the knee portion and the distal end. A length of the shin portion is configured so that, when the knee portion is arranged generally adjacent a wearer's knee, the distal end is arranged at or adjacent a wearer's ankle. A strap is operatively connected to each pant leg at a location in the shin portion closer to the knee than to the distal end. The strap is configured to selectively tighten the pants about a wearer's leg. Embodiments of such a strap can be suitably employed in various types of sporting leggings.



Inventors:
Hoffman, Justin (Rancho Santa Margarita, CA, US)
Application Number:
11/064991
Publication Date:
08/24/2006
Filing Date:
02/24/2005
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A41D1/06
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
PATEL, TAJASH D
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
KNOBBE MARTENS OLSON & BEAR LLP (IRVINE, CA, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. Roller hockey pants, comprising: a pair of pant legs, each pant leg comprising a knee portion and a distal end, a shin portion extending between the knee and the distal end, a length of the shin portion configured so that, when the knee portion is arranged generally adjacent a wearer's knee, the distal end is arranged at or adjacent a wearer's ankle; and a strap operatively connected to each pant leg at a location in the shin portion closer to the knee than to the distal end, the strap configured to selectively tighten the pants about a wearer's leg.

2. The roller hockey pants of claim 1, wherein a portion of the strap is rigidly connected to the pants.

3. The roller hockey pants of claim 1, wherein each pant leg comprises a strap channel, and a portion of the strap is held within the strap channel.

4. The roller hockey pants of claim 3, wherein each strap is sewn to the respective pant leg.

5. The roller hockey pants of claim 1, wherein the strap comprises an elastic material.

6. The roller hockey pants of claim 1, wherein each strap comprises a closure, and the closure is disposed generally on a back side of the respective pant leg.

7. The roller hockey pants of claim 1, wherein each strap is generally hidden from direct view from a front of the respective pant leg.

8. The roller hockey pants of claim 1, wherein the pant legs are configured so that the straps are positioned between a top of shin guards worn by the wearer and the knee portion.

9. The roller hockey pants of claim 1, wherein the pant legs are adapted such that the straps each surround a shin guard and a wearer's leg.

10. Sporting leggings, comprising: a pair of leggings, each legging configured to encircle a wearer's leg and comprising an upper leg portion, a lower leg portion, and a knee portion connecting the upper and lower leg portions; and a pair of straps, each strap comprising an elongated body connected to a selectively refastenable closure; wherein the straps are connected to a corresponding lower leg portion of the leggings so that when a wearer wears the leggings, the closures secure the lower leg portion against the wearer's leg and the strap is at a location closer to the wearer's knee than to the wearer's foot.

11. The sporting leggings of claim 10, wherein the closure is permanently refastenable.

12. The sporting leggings of claim 11, wherein the permanently refastenable closure comprises a hook and loop fastener and the elongated body comprises elastic material.

13. The sporting leggings of claim 11, wherein the permanently refastenable closure comprises one or more snaps.

14. The sporting leggings of claim 10, further comprising a pair of apertures in each legging, the elongated body of each strap extending through a corresponding pair of apertures and held within the sporting leggings.

15. The sporting leggings of claim 13, each legging further comprises a passage extending between each of the pairs of apertures, the elongated body of each strap positioned in the corresponding passage.

16. The sporting leggings of claim 14, wherein the passage has a length of at least 1 inch.

17. The sporting leggings of claim 14, wherein the passage extends about a portion of the legging.

18. The sporting leggings of claim 10, wherein each legging comprises a pair of channels, the elongated body configured to pass through the channels and the closure is adapted to not pass through the channels.

19. The sporting leggings of claim 10, wherein the leggings are configured so that each of the straps is position between a shin guard worn by the wearer and the knee portion.

20. The sporting leggings of claim 10, wherein the leggings are adapted such that the straps each secure a shin guard to a wearer's leg.

21. The sporting leggings of claim 10, wherein each legging comprises a plurality of pairs of apertures formed in the lower leg portion, the apertures configured to receive a strap.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

This invention relates to sporting clothing and more particularly relates to sporting leggings for hockey players.

2. Description of the Related Art

Hockey is a fast moving, competitive game that is typically played on ice or on a hard skating surface. Ice hockey is played on ice, and roller hockey is typically played on a pavement.

Hockey players typically wear protective gear to protect themselves against injuries including abrasions, bruising, or other injuries sustained from contacting a hockey puck, hockey stick, other players, the wall of a hockey rink, etc. Many times, this protective gear is incorporated into the clothing of the hockey player. For example, hockey players generally wear shin guards to protect their lower legs. Shin guards can protect the player's bones (e.g., the tibia) and muscles (e.g., the tibialis anterior), or other body parts. Ice hockey players typically wear ice hockey leggings over their shin guards in order to help hold the shin guards and other pads in place and to insulate the player's legs. Ice hockey pants typically are short-type pants and are worn and positioned so that the legs of the shorts terminate above the top of the shin guards.

Roller hockey players typically wear protective gear and clothing that is generally similar to ice hockey equipment, but includes some differences to accommodate for differences between ice hockey and roller hockey. There is a need for hockey protective gear, especially roller hockey gear, that improves the fit of leggings, especially around the wearer's lower leg and, in some cases, about the shin guards.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In accordance with one embodiment, the present invention provides roller hockey pants comprising a pair of pant legs. Each pant leg comprises a knee portion and a distal end, and a shin portion extends between the knee and the distal end. A length of the shin portion is configured so that, when the knee portion is arranged generally adjacent a wearer's knee, the distal end is arranged at or adjacent a wearer's ankle. A strap is operatively connected to each pant leg at a location in the shin portion closer to the knee than to the distal end. The strap is configured to selectively tighten the pants about a wearer's leg.

In accordance with another embodiment, sporting leggings comprise a pair of leggings. Each legging is configured to encircle a wearer's leg and comprises an upper leg portion, a lower leg portion, and a knee portion connecting the upper and lower leg portions. The sporting leggings also comprise a pair of straps. Each pair of straps comprises an elongated body connected to a selectively refastenable closure. The straps are connected to a corresponding lower leg portion of the leggings so that when a wearer wears the leggings, the closures secure the lower leg portion against the person's body and the strap is at a location which closer to the wearer's knee than to the wearer's foot.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a roller hockey player wearing a preferred embodiment of roller hockey pants having features of the present invention.

FIG. 2 is a side view of the roller hockey pants of FIG. 1 having a strap assembly.

FIG. 3 is an enlarged view of the roller hockey pants and strap assembly of FIG. 2 taken along 3-3.

FIG. 4 is a front view of the roller hockey pants of FIG. 1.

FIG. 5 is a back view of the roller hockey pants of FIG. 1.

FIG. 5a is a cross-sectional view taken along line 5-5 of FIG. 5.

FIG. 6 is a cross-sectional view of the hockey pants of FIG. 1 having a passage configured to receive a portion of a strap assembly.

FIG. 7 is a perspective view of a preferred embodiment of a strap assembly having features of the present invention, the strap assembly is in a closed position.

FIG. 8 is a front view of the strap assembly of FIG. 7, wherein the strap assembly is generally flat and in an open position.

FIG. 9 is a partial cross-sectional view of another embodiment of roller hockey pants having a strap assembly being worn by a hockey player.

FIG. 10 is a cross-sectional view of the roller hockey pants and strap assembly of FIG. 9 along 10-10.

FIG. 11 is a side view of another embodiment of roller hockey pants on the leg of a hockey player.

FIG. 12 is a perspective view of a roller hockey player wearing a preferred embodiment of roller hockey pants having features of the present invention.

FIG. 13 is a side view of another embodiment of roller hockey pants on the leg of a hockey player.

FIG. 14 is a side view of another embodiment of roller hockey pants on the leg of a hockey player.

FIG. 15 is an enlarged view of a portion of a strap assembly of FIG. 14 along 15-15.

FIG. 16 is a side view of another embodiment of roller hockey pants on the leg of a hockey player.

FIG. 17 is a top view of the roller hockey pants of FIG. 16 along line 17-17, wherein the leg of the hockey player is not illustrated.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

Roller hockey has become increasingly popular in recent years because the game can be played on hard, generally smooth surfaces, such as pavement or cement. Roller hockey skates, typically in-line roller skates, can be skated on in a similar manner as ice skates and can be used to achieve similar skating speeds. While playing roller hockey, a player can be injured in a similar manner as an ice hockey player. For example, hockey pucks, hockey sticks, or other objects can contact a roller hockey player and cause an injury.

Roller hockey players typically wear protective gear and clothing that is similar but somewhat different than ice hockey players to accommodate and account for the different skating conditions. For example, pavement generally has a higher coefficient of friction than ice, resulting in a higher possibility that a roller hockey player will sustain an abrasion injury from a fall. To reduce the frequency and magnitude of injuries when a roller hockey player falls on pavement, roller hockey players typically wear long-legged roller hockey pants that extend from their waist all the way to their in-line skates. These roller hockey pants can reduce the frictional interaction between the hockey player and the rough pavement. Thus the clothing can prevent severe abrasions and/or bruising attributable to the sudden deceleration when the player contacts the pavement. As discussed above, ice hockey players typically employ somewhat different equipment. For example, ice hockey players typically wear close-fitting leggings that fit over their legs. Roller hockey players do not typically wear ice hockey-type leggings over their shin guards. One reason is that the ice hockey leggings could cause the roller hockey player to become uncomfortably hot. Roller hockey is typically played at substantially higher temperatures (e.g., normal room temperature) than ice hockey, thus making ice hockey-type leggings less preferable for roller hockey apparel. Accordingly, there is a need in the art for hockey clothing that is comfortable to wear and suitable for roller hockey. In this specification, the term leggings is a broad term used in its ordinary sense as a full or partial covering for the legs, and including, without limitation, socks, hosiery, pants, and the like.

With reference first to FIG. 1, a hockey player 30 is depicted wearing sporting clothing 32 and skates 60 and is holding a hockey stick 36. The clothing 32 comprises a shirt 38 and roller hockey pants 40, as well as protective gear such as gloves, helmet and padding. Padding 41 (shown in phantom) preferably includes shoulder and chest pads, elbow pads, knee pads, shin guards, and a girdle comprising padding for protecting a player's hips, pelvis, and/or thighs. Additional padding can also be employed. Preferably, the shirt and pants are sized to fit over and/or accommodate much of the padding. The roller hockey pants 40 have a pair of pant legs 42, 44, each having a strap assembly 46. The roller hockey pants 40 preferably cover a substantial portion of the legs of the player 30.

With reference next to FIGS. 1 and 2, the illustrated roller hockey pants 40 have a waist 48 that is connected to thigh portions 50 which, in turn, form upper portions 51, 53 of the pant legs 42 and 44. The thigh portions 50 preferably extend between the waist 48 and a knee portion 52 of each leg 42, 44. Each of the legs 42, 44 also comprises a shin portion 54 that extends between the knee portion 52 and a distal end 56. The pant leg 44 preferably is generally similar to the pant leg 42 and, therefore, will not be described separately.

The roller hockey pants 40 are configured such that when the player 30 wears the pants, the knee portion 52 and the shin portion 54 generally correspond to the player's knee and shin, respectively. Thus, the knee portion 52 is arranged generally adjacent the wearer's knee and the distal end 56 is disposed near the player's ankle. The shin portion 54 is disposed generally adjacent to the wearer's shin and, if the wearer is wearing a shin guard, a shin guard.

In the illustrated embodiment, the distal end 56 forms an opening of the pants 40 that receives and surrounds at least a portion of the skate 60, preferably an in-line skate. The distal end 56 of the pants 40 is disposed about the upper ends 62 (shown in phantom) of the in-line skates 60. Although not illustrated, the distal end 56 of the roller hockey pants 40 can be tucked into the upper end 62 of the skate 60. Of course, in another embodiment, the pants 40 can be sized so that distal end 56 does not engage the skates 60.

The roller hockey pants 40 can be made out of fabric, such as nylon fabric or polyester fabric, that has suitable abrasion resistance, tear strength, and air permeability. In some embodiments, the roller hockey pants 40 can comprise several materials. For example, the roller hockey pants 40 can comprise elastic material (e.g., SPANDEX™) that provides elasticity so that the pants 40 can be stretched for increased comfort. However, it is understood that other types and combinations of materials may be used to construct the pants 40. For example, the pants 40 can be formed from natural fibers (e.g., cotton), synthetic fibers, polymers, or combinations thereof. A skilled artisan can select desired materials to form the pants 40 to achieve the desired abrasion resistance, tear strength, air permeability, durability, comfort, and/or other desired properties.

With continued referenced to FIGS. 1 and 2, the roller hockey pants 40 comprise a pair of strap assemblies 46. Each of the strap assemblies 46 are operatively connected to and configured to hold their corresponding pant legs 42, 44. Specifically, each strap assembly selectively tightens the corresponding pant leg about the wearer's leg. At least one of the strap assemblies 46 is preferably at a location at or below the knee portion 52. In some embodiments, including the illustrated embodiment, the strap assemblies 46 of each pant leg 42, 44 are connected to a portion of the pants 40 at a location closer to the knee portion 52 than to the player's foot, as shown in FIGS. 1 and 2. Preferably, the strap assembly 46 is positioned at some point between the knee portion 52 and a mid-point between the knee portion 52 and the distal end 56. Thus, the strap assembly 46 can be located at a position that is closer to the player's knee than to the player's foot.

With reference next to FIG. 3, the strap assembly 46 selectively tightens the roller hockey pants 40 about the wearer's leg 64 (shown in phantom). The strap assembly 46 comprises a closure 70 connected to an elongated body or strap 72, which is disposed within the pants 40. The strap assembly 46 preferably tightly holds the pants 40 to the leg of the hockey player 30.

With continued reference to FIG. 3, the strap 72 is disposed through an aperture 74 defined through the pants 40 toward a front side of the pants. The strap 72 extends around the wearer's legs within the pants 40 so that a portion of the strap 72 is not exposed outside of the pants 40. As shown in FIG. 4, the pants 40 have strap assemblies 46 that are generally hidden from direct view from the front. Advantageously, because the strap 72 is internally disposed within the roller hockey pants 40, the strap 72 may not get caught on other player's equipment, such as a hockey stick blade, skates, etc. The strap 72 preferably extends about the anterior portion 78 of the pants.

With continued reference to FIG. 3, the strap assembly 46 includes the closure 70 that preferably extends about the backside of the wearer's leg and tightly holds the back or posterior portion 80 of the pants 40 against the back of the wearer's leg. Thus, the pants 40 are disposed between the closure 70 and the wearer's leg. As shown in FIG. 5, which is a back view of the pants 40, the closures 70 are exposed and positioned outside the pants 40. Each closure 70 is conveniently accessible for opening or closing in order to put on, remove, or adjust the fit of the pants 40.

With reference to FIG. 5a, the strap assembly 46 preferably extends at least about 25° (i.e., α≧25°) around the posterior portion 80 of the pants 40. In some embodiments, including the illustrated embodiment, the strap assembly 46 subtends an angle α in the range of about 40° to about 210° when the pants 40 are worn by the player 30. When a person wears the pants 40, the posterior portion 80 may be wrinkled and collapsed so that the apertures 74 are brought close together about the wearer's leg. The angle α can therefore be increased or decreased to regulate the length of the strap assembly 46 to accommodate a person's leg. It is to be understood that, when worn, an anterior portion 78 of the pants may also be wrinkled and gathered by the straps.

With reference to FIGS. 3, 5, and 5a, the pant leg 42 is configured to receive at least a portion of the strap assembly 46. The pant leg 42 has the pair of apertures 74 configured to receive the strap 76 of the strap assembly 46. The strap assembly 46 can therefore pass and extend through each of the apertures 74 and into the pants 40. At least a portion of the strap 72 is preferably enclosed within a channel or passage 82 defined by the pants 40.

As shown in FIGS. 3 and 6, the strap passage 82 can have a height that is generally equal to or greater than the height of the strap 72 of the strap assembly 46. A portion of the strap 72 is therefore captured within the material forming the pants 40 to ensure that the anterior portion 78 of the pants 40 is held tightly against the player's shin, or shin guard. The passage 82 is formed by an outer layer 84 and an inner layer 86. In the illustrated embodiment, the inner layer 86 is a strip of material that is sewn to the outer layer 84. The upper end 90 and lower end 92 of the inner layer 86 can be sewn to the outer layer 84. In this manner, the inner layer 86 is attached to the outer layer 84 so that the passage 82 is defined between the layers 84, 86. The passage 82 extends between the apertures 74. The passage 82 preferably has a length of at least about 1 inch. In some non-limiting exemplary embodiments, the passage 82 has a length in the range of about 3 inches to about 17 inches. In yet another embodiment, the passage 82 has a length in the range of about 6 to 15 inches. The length of the passage 82 may vary depending on the size of the pants 40. Thus, the passage 82 extends about a portion of a corresponding pant leg. Alternatively, the passage 82 can extend about at least ⅓ of the periphery of the corresponding pant leg 42. In another embodiment, the passage 82 can extend about at least ½ of the periphery of the pant leg 42. Also, the passage 82 and strap 72 do not interfere with the leg when putting on and/or taking off of the pants 40. In still another embodiment, the passage 82 is discontinuous, and resembles belt loops formed on the inside, or outside, of the pant legs.

As shown in FIG. 3, the inner layer 86 can be held snuggly against the wearer's shin and the outer layer 84 is free to move relative to the strap assembly 46. Alternatively, if the person is wearing shin guards, the inner layer 86 can be held snuggly against the shin guards. The strap 72 can slide along the passage 82 to position the strap assembly 46. In other embodiments, the strap assembly 46 is rigidly connected to the pants. For example, at least a portion of the strap assembly 46 can be sewn to the passage 82. In some embodiments, the strap 72 is sewn to the material forming the passage 82.

The ends 104, 106 of the strap assembly 46 are sized generally greater than the aperture 74 so that the ends 104, 106 are captured outside of the pants 40. That is, the ends 104, 106 are adapted to not pass through the apertures 74. As shown in FIG. 3, the ends 106, 104 have heights H106, H104 that are generally greater than both the height Hs of the strap 72 and the height of the aperture 74 so that the ends 104, 106 cannot pass easily through the aperture 74.

The height Hs of the strap 72 can be generally uniform along length of the strap 72. However, in other embodiments, the strap 72 has a height Hs that varies along its length. The ends 104, 106 can have height H104, H106 that are generally greater than the height Hs of the strap 72.

With reference to FIGS. 3, 7, and 8, when the strap assembly 46 is disposed within the pants 40, the closure 70 is preferably located at the back side of its respective pant leg. In some embodiments, including the illustrated embodiment, the closure 70 is configured so that it can be opened and closed repeatedly. For example, closure 70 preferably comprises a generally permanently refastenable fastener, such as a hook and loop-type fastener (e.g., VELCRO™). The enlarged end 104 has loop portion 100 and the enlarged end 106 has a hook portion 102 that are configured to fasten with each other when the closure 70 surrounds the wearer's leg. The loop portion 100 is disposed on one side of the strap assembly 46 and the hook portion 102 is disposed on the other side of the strap assembly 46, such that the portions 100, 102 face each other when the ends 104 and 106 are brought around toward each other.

Other fastening means can be used to couple the ends 104, 106 to each other. For example, the ends 104, 106 can have snaps, ties, buttons, or any other suitable structures for repeatedly opening and closing the closure 70. Advantageously, the strap assembly 46 is integral with the pants 40 because the ends 104, 106 are captured by the pants 40. Previously, adhesive tape has been used to tighten pants about a person's leg. Unfortunately, the adhesive tape is not permanently refastenable because the adhesive of the tape typically is ineffective for securing the person's pants after the tape has been adhered to a surface. Also, adhesive tape has to be removed before the hockey pants are washed/cleaned. Then new adhesive tape has to be reapplied when the pants are again worn by the player. Advantageously, the strap assembly 46 is reusable, and in one embodiment remains connected to the pants 40 during a hockey game and during and after a washing/cleaning process.

The length of the strap assembly 46 can be selected so that the strap assembly can completely surround the wearer's leg. Thus, the length of the strap assembly 46 can be increased or decreased depending upon the distance around (e.g., the circumference) the wearer's leg.

With continued reference to FIGS. 7 and 8, the strap 72 can be formed of an elastic material so that the strap 72 can hold the pants 40 to the wearer's legs while applying a constant pressure. In the illustrated embodiment, the strap assembly 46 comprises substantially an elastic material. For example, the strap 72 and/or the ends 104, 106 can comprise an elastic material. In other embodiments, the strap assembly 46 can be made of non-elastic materials. For example, the strap assembly 46 can have a strap 72 and ends 104, 106 that are made of a synthetic material (e.g., nylon), natural material (e.g., cotton), or combinations thereof. Optionally, the strap assembly 46 can comprise generally non-elastic and elastic materials.

In operation, the strap assembly 46 can be spaced so that a player's legs can be inserted into the roller hockey pants 40. When the strap assembly 46 is in the open position, the player 30 can put on the pants 40 in a conventional manner without interference from the strap assembly 46. After the hockey player 30 is wearing the pants 40, the ends 104, 106 of the strap assembly 46 can be gripped to wrap the strap assembly 46 around the player's legs. When the desired tension has been applied to the strap assembly 46, the ends 104, 106 can be drawn towards each other and fastened together.

In some embodiments, the strap assembly 46 surrounds both the wearer's leg and a conventional shin guard. The strap assembly 46 can therefore advantageously hold both one of the legs 42, 44 of the pants 40 and the shin guard tightly against the wearer's leg. Alternatively, the strap assembly 46 can be wrapped around only the wearer's leg. For example, the hockey player 30 may not wear protective shin guards. In other embodiments, the strap assembly 46 can be interposed between the top of the shin guard and the wearer's knee.

Optionally, the strap assemblies 46 can be used to regulate the length of the pant legs 42, 44. For example, the strap assembly 46 secured to an upper portion of the wearer's leg can reduce the relative length of the pant leg to the length of the player's leg. Advantageously, the strap assembly 46 therefore can cause the knee portion 52 to bunch up for a comfortable, non-constraining fit of the upper part of the pants 40. In some embodiments, a wearer can use the strap assembly 46 to reduce the effective length of the pant leg. For example, the wearer can position the strap assembly 46 such that the distal end 56 of the pant leg rests on, or is positioned above the skate 60. The strap assembly 46 can tighten about a higher or lower position along the wearer's leg to reduce or increase, respectively, the effective length of the pant leg. A skilled artisan can select the position that the strap assembly 46 is secured to the player's leg to achieve the desired fit.

Because the hockey player 30 can be very active during a hockey game, one or both of the strap assemblies 46 of the pants 40 may shift or move relative to the player's body. The strap assemblies 46 may advantageously be opened by separating the ends 104, 106 for readjustment. While the strap assembly 46 is in the open position, the player 30 can conveniently position the strap assembly 46 in a desired position. After the strap assembly 46 is in the desired position, the closure 70 can be closed to secure the strap assembly 46 and corresponding pant leg to the player 30. This readjustment process can be repeated many times throughout a hockey game. In some embodiments, the strap assembly 46 can be adjusted within less than about 15 seconds.

The strap assemblies 46 may also inhibit or prevent the pant legs 42, 44 from being caught on another player's equipment. The anterior portion 78 of the pants 40 preferably forms a generally smooth surface over the strap assembly 46, thereby reducing the likelihood that the assembly 46 will become caught on equipment. Typically, another hockey player's equipment does not engage the back side of the legs of the player 30. The ends 104, 106 preferably are exposed on the wearer's back side for convenient access for opening and closing the strap assemblies 46.

Another embodiment of roller hockey pants is described below. This embodiment is generally similar to the roller hockey pants 40, except as further disclosed below. Where possible, similar elements are identified with identical reference numerals in the depiction of the embodiments described above.

FIG. 9 illustrates a portion of another embodiment of roller hockey pants 140. The roller hockey pants 140 comprise a strap assembly 146 that secures at least a portion of the protective gear and/or clothing to the hockey player 30.

The strap assembly 146 holds the back side or posterior portion 148 of the pants against the wearer's leg 150. The strap assembly 146 surrounds a portion of the protective gear 152. In the illustrated embodiment, the protective gear 152 is in the form of a shin guard. However, the protective gear can be pads, shield, or any other type of protective gear. Also, in another embodiment, the shin guard is attached to a knee pad. Further, a calf guard preferably oriented to protect a player's calf, may be employed.

The strap assembly 146 can be different or similar to the strap assembly 46 described above. In the illustrated embodiment, the strap assembly 146 comprises a closure 156 connected to a strap 158, which passes through a pair of apertures 160 formed on either side of the pant legs (e.g., the leg 150 shown in phantom) of the pants 140. The apertures 160 are located on either side of the wearer's leg at any suitable position. The strap 158 extends from the apertures 160 and surrounds the shin guard 152 to tightly hold the shin guard against the wearer's leg 150.

With reference to FIG. 10, the strap 158 of the strap assembly 146 is coupled to the shin guard 152. A coupler 162 is fastened to the shin guard 152 to reduce or prevent movement between the strap 158 and the shin guard 152. The coupler 162 is preferably interposed between the strap 158 and the outer surface 164 of the shin guard 152. In some embodiments, including the illustrated embodiment, the coupler 162 is a hook and loop type fastener. One of the strap 158 and the shin guard 152 can have a hook portion and the other of the strap 158 and the shin guard 152 can have a loop portion. The strap 158 and the shin guard 152 can be positioned so that the hook and loop portions interact to couple the strap assembly 146 to the shin guard 152. The coupler 162 can therefore inhibit or prevent relative movement between the strap 158 and the shin guard 152 to hold the shin guard 152 in place. In other embodiments not illustrated, the coupler 162 can comprise snaps, adhesives, one or more loops or slots configured to receive the strap 158, or other suitable structures for coupling the strap assembly 146 to the shin guard 152.

In other embodiments, the strap assembly 146 is generally permanently coupled to the shin guard 152. For example, the coupler 162 can comprise stitching that connects the strap 158 to the shin guard 152. Alternatively, the coupler 162 can comprise permanent adhesive, staples, or any other type of coupler for permanently attaching the strap assembly 146 to the shin guard 152. After the person puts on the shin guard 152 and the attached strap assembly 146, the ends of the strap assembly 146 can be inserted through the apertures 160 and drawn around the back of the person's leg. The ends of the strap assembly 146 are then fastened together.

With reference to FIG. 11, another embodiment comprises a pair of pants 240 having a strap assembly 246 that is disposed below the knee portion 252 at some point along the shin portion 254. The pants 240 and the strap assembly 246 are generally similar to the pants and strap assemblies described above, except as further detailed below.

A pant leg 244 of the pants 240 comprises one or more strap loops 248 that are configured to capture the strap assembly 246. In the illustrated embodiment, the pants leg 244 comprises a plurality of strap loops 248 spaced about the periphery of the pant leg 244. The strap loops 248 are sewn to the fabric forming the leg 244. The strap assembly 246 preferably has a closure 260 to open and close the strap assembly 246. When the closure 260 is in the open position, the closure 260 can be threaded through the strap loops 248 so that the strap assembly 246 can be conveniently removed from the pant leg 244. In the illustrated embodiment, loops are on the outside of the pant leg. Further, in the illustrated embodiment, the strip can be arranged so that a closure is in back, front, sides, or any desired position on the pant leg. Although not illustrated, the loops can be located on the inside of the pant leg.

With reference to FIG. 12, another embodiment of a pair of roller hockey pants 40 has a plurality of strap assemblies 46. Each leg 42, 44 of the pants 40 have a plurality of strap assemblies 46. The strap assemblies 46 can be positioned at any point along their corresponding leg 42, 44. In some embodiments, including the illustrated embodiment, a first strap assembly 46 of each leg 42, 44 is positioned along the shin portion 54 near to the knee portion 52. A second strap assembly 46 of each leg assembly 42, 44 is positioned near the distal end 56 of the roller hockey pants 40. A skilled artisan can position the strap assemblies 46 at any desired location along the pants 40. Although not illustrated, any of the roller hockey pants described herein can have pant legs with a plurality of strap assemblies.

Each leg 42, 44 of the pants 40 can have a plurality of pairs of apertures. As shown in FIG. 12, the pants 40 have a group 261 of apertures vertically spaced along each of the pant legs 42, 44. Preferably, the group 261 comprises a plurality of vertically spaced pairs of horizontally spaced apertures 74U, 74, and 74L. The strap 72 of the strap assembly 46 can be positioned through a corresponding pair of the apertures for convenient adjustability. The strap 72 of the strap assembly 46 can be positioned through any one of the pairs of apertures to achieve a desired fit. For example, the strap assembly 46 can be positioned through different pairs of apertures to accommodate changes as the wearer's body grows and/or to accommodate different padding configurations. Additionally, the pants 40 can fit player having a wide range of heights. For example, a tall player may wear a strap assembly through the lower apertures 74L of the group 261 while a short player wears a strap assembly through the upper apertures 74U of the groups 261. A passage similar to the passage 82 can extend between corresponding pairs of apertures 74. In some embodiments, including the illustrated embodiment, the group 261 is positioned at the upper end of the shin portion 54. A skilled artisan can select the number and position of the apertures for the desired adjustability. Although not illustrated, more than one strap assembly 46 can be worn in the group 261 to, e.g., selectively hold the shin portion 54 about the leg of the wearer. For example, a first strap assembly 46 can be disposed through the upper pair of apertures 74U, and a second strap assembly 46 can be disposed through the lower pair of apertures 74L of the group 261.

With reference to FIG. 13, in yet another embodiment the strap assembly 46 is rigidly connected to the pants 40. The strap assembly 46 is attached to the outer surface of the pants by a coupler 264, such as stitching. The strap assembly 46 has a closure 266 that can be used to size the loop formed by the strap assembly 46. The strap assembly 46 can be attached to the exterior or the interior of the pants 40.

In the above embodiments, the strap 72 can be an elongated member, including but not limited to, one or more flat strips, cords, string, ropes, and the like. It is to be understood that in other embodiments, the strap 72 can take various forms, shapes, and sizes, as well as various material properties.

With reference to FIG. 14, another embodiment of a strap assembly 46 comprises a strap 72 that is disposed within a passage 82 and is held by a closure 300. The straps 72 can comprise one or more cords for selectively tightening the pants 40 about the wearer's leg. In the illustrated embodiment, the strap assembly 46 comprises a single cord 72 that is sized to fit through the aperture 74 and through the passage 82. The passage 82 can have a somewhat circular, elliptical, curved, polygonal, elongated, or other cross section suitable for receiving the strap 72. In another embodiment, the pants 40 have a single aperture that the cord 72 enters and exits through. The passage 82 can extend from the single aperture and about the leg of the pants 40.

The coupler 300 can draw the ends of the cord 72 towards each other to selectively control the length of the loop formed by the cord 72. As shown in FIG. 15, the coupler 300 can be a tightener or actuatable adjustment mechanism that can have an actuator 306, which can be selectively moved to tighten and loosen the coupler 300 about the strap 72. The skilled artisan can select the design of the coupler 300 based on the configuration of the cord 72, the desired ease of re-adjustment, and stresses experienced by the cord 72.

FIG. 16 illustrates another embodiment of the pants 40. The pants 40 comprise one or more tabs configured to receive the strap assembly 46. The tabs 310 can be in similar or different positions as the apertures 74 described above. The strap assembly 46 can be disposed about a portion of the periphery of the pants 40 and extends through preferably a plurality of tabs 310. As shown in FIGS. 16 and 17, the strap assembly 46 can draw a pair of tabs 310 towards each other to selectively tighten the pants 40 about the wearer's leg within the pant leg. Each of the tabs 310 preferably has an opening or aperture 312 configured to receive the strap 72 of the strap assembly 46. The strap assembly 46 can have a closure similar to the closures described above for coupling the ends of the strap 72 together. Of course, the material 316 of the pants 40 can be bunched together as the strap assembly 46 pulls the tabs 310 towards each other.

With reference to FIGS. 16 and 17, the tabs 310 are preferably disposed and extend outwardly from the pants 40. The inner portion 314 of the tab 310 can be sewn or attached to the material forming the pant leg 40. The tabs 310 can be formed out of plastic, metal, fabric (natural and/or synthetic), and combinations thereof. A skilled artisan can select the design and location of the tabs 310 to achieve the desired fit about the wearer's leg. In another embodiment, straps can be connected directly to the pants without employing separate tabs.

The embodiments discussed herein have employed roller hockey pants to illustrate aspects of the invention. Such pants are considered to be included within the term leggings. It is to be understood that other sporting clothing having one or more strap assemblies may benefit from aspects disclosed herein. More particularly sporting clothing comprising leggings may include one or more strap assemblies disposed below the knee and configured to selectively tighten the leggings above the wearer's knee. In some embodiments, such strap assemblies also help hold an article of padding on the wearer's leg. For example, field hockey, ice hockey, soccer pants (indoor soccer pants), and football pants may use aspects discussed herein.

Although this invention has been disclosed in the context of certain preferred embodiments and examples, it will be understood by those skilled in the art that the present invention extends beyond the specifically disclosed embodiments to other alternative embodiments and/or uses of the invention and obvious modifications and equivalents thereof. In addition, while a number of variations of the invention have been shown and described in detail, other modifications, which are within the scope of this invention, will be readily apparent to those of skill in the art based upon this disclosure. It is also contemplated that various combinations or subcombinations of the specific features and aspects of the embodiments may be made and still fall within the scope of the invention. Accordingly, it should be understood that various features and aspects of the disclosed embodiments can be combined with or substituted for one another in order to form varying modes of the disclosed invention. Thus, it is intended that the scope of the present invention herein disclosed should not be limited by the particular disclosed embodiments described above, but should be determined only by a fair reading of the claims that follow.