Title:
Training apparatus
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
This invention relates to a training system comprising an apparatus for use by an athlete in order to improve footwork dexterity and upper body creative movement. Such apparatus are often used by athletes in training sessions, and may be used in conjunction with music or rhythmic sounds in order for the athlete to be encouraged to maintain a particular rhythm.



Inventors:
Severino, Carmelo (Ipswich, GB)
Application Number:
10/546166
Publication Date:
10/12/2006
Filing Date:
02/19/2004
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
482/121
International Classes:
A63B21/06; A63B21/02; A63B23/04; A63B26/00; A63B69/00; A63B71/02
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
GANESAN, SUNDHARA M
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
BOURQUE & ASSOCIATES (MANCHESTER, NH, US)
Claims:
1. A training apparatus for use by an athlete to improve footwork dexterity comprising a ladder assembly, the ladder assembly comprising two resilient cords each cord extending between two weights; and a plurality of rungs extending between the two cords.

2. A training apparatus according to claim 1, wherein the rungs are attachable to any point on the cord, such that distance between two consecutive rungs is adjustable.

3. A training apparatus according to claim 1, wherein the angle between a rung and a cord is other than 90 degrees.

4. A training apparatus according to claim 3, wherein each rung is attachable in two orientations such that the ladder assembly may be created having many possible configurations by varying the orientation of adjacent rungs.

5. A training apparatus according to claim 1, wherein the rung is attachable to the cord by threading the cord through a bore.

6. A training apparatus according to claim 1, wherein the cord is attachable to the weight by a hook and eye attachment.

7. A training apparatus according to claim 6, wherein the cord has a hook at each end and the weight has an eye positioned for attachment of a hook.

8. A training apparatus according to claim 1, wherein the weight has a plurality of attachments such that further ladder assemblies may be connected.

9. A training apparatus according to claim 1, wherein each weight four evenly spaced attachments.

10. A training apparatus according to claim 1, wherein each weight is encapsulated in a rubberised material.

11. A training apparatus according to claim 1, wherein a rung may be held in place by a toggle.

12. A training apparatus according to claim 1, further including an obstacle which is affixed to the rung by a clip.

13. A training apparatus according to claim 1, wherein a rung includes an audible alarm which sounds when contact is made with the rung.

14. (canceled)

Description:

TECHNICAL FIELD

This invention relates to a training system comprising an apparatus for use by an athlete in order to improve footwork dexterity and upper body creative movement. Such apparatus are often used by athletes in training sessions, and may be used in conjunction with music or rhythmic sounds in order for the athlete to be encouraged to maintain a particular rhythm.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION

An apparatus for athletic training and exercise is disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 6,477,427. This apparatus has a number of drawbacks, particularly when stability of the apparatus and resilience to inadvertent impact during use are considered.

In this known apparatus, bar-like rungs are used to prevent inelastic flexible railings from being dislodged during use. However, the system is still relatively unstable, and moves easily when knocked. If the apparatus is staked then leads may be connected to the railings by snap connectors to allow the ladder to break away from its stake when it is subjected to extreme force. This apparatus is very inconvenient to use, as it is not stable when simply laid out onto a floor. When it is staked a break away' feature must be implemented. The apparatus must be reattached every time it breaks away' which is extremely inconvenient. Furthermore, the only anchoring mechanism suggested is to stake into the ground, which is not feasible for indoor use.

This known apparatus has rungs which are substantially parallel to each other. It has been discovered that repeated identical drills can be detrimental for the athlete rather than beneficial.

SUMMARY

The training system provides athletes, coaches and conditioning specialists with a training system rather than just a training aid that is innovative and dynamic in its concept. The use of the full training system allows the athlete/s to develop their co-ordination, proprioception, rhythm, balance and provides kinaesthetic feedback via the use of dance like movement patterns and thus facilitating the improvement of specific and general areas of their footwork and upper body creative movement.

The system can integrate movement patterns and training drills that are specific to a chosen sport. Such training can reduce the difficulty of implementing footwork and upper body creative movement/dance drills during a normal training sessions by providing a training apparatus that is a complete training system in itself. However, it also has the flexibility to be used as a supplement to other training apparatus, systems and methods such as plyometrics, core stability and reaction training.

The apparatus and system can be integrated into all phases of a team or individual's physical conditioning. The training system can be used as a system to enhance foot movements in new or complex skills training. The system/apparatus can also be used as part of a core training programme by overloading physiological systems that may not normally be stressed in current training systems. This may be due to the coach needing to devise specific and complex scenarios that require more than a performance of repetitive, non-challenging situations and require preparation that is too time consuming for many coaching set-ups. The training system has also been devised for the rehabilitation of an individual or pool of athletes after injury. The training system can be adapted to provide a progressive and individual approach to any rehabilitation programme and enhance key physiological adaptations that may have been neglected or been too difficult to implement without a separate and specific training system.

The training system enhances a rehabilitation programme by concentrating on the development of dynamic footwork and upper body creative movement movement with an aim to re-develop elements of co-ordination, proprioception, rhythm and balance.

According to the invention there is provided a training apparatus for use by an athlete to improve footwork dexterity comprising a ladder assembly, the ladder assembly comprising two resilient cords each cord extending between two weights and a plurality of rungs extending between the two cords.

This apparatus allows a ladder to be created from a number of rungs which are attached between two resilient cords for example elasticated cords may be used. The use of weights allows the apparatus to be used both indoors and outdoors because it is not necessary to have soft ground in order to anchor the apparatus. The use of resilient cords means that it is not necessary to implement a method for the ladder to break away from the anchor in the event of an impact.

Furthermore, using the apparatus of the invention allows large layouts to be created, as will be described later, which are still stable, and restore themselves to their original configuration when knocked, or kicked.

It is an advantage if the method used to attach the rungs to the cord is such that the rung is attachable to any point on the cord. This allows the ladder assembly to be configured with variable distances between two consecutive rungs.

Preferably each rung can be attached to the cord in one of two orientations so that the angle between the cord and a rung may be for example, a or 180°-a. This allows the ladder assembly to be created having each consecutive rung in one of two orientations which allows for a very large number of possible configurations.

As will be explained in more detail later, this means that each time an athlete performs a drill the path taken across the apparatus will be slightly different, and the athlete will not suffer detrimental effects of repeating identical drills.

In a preferred embodiment the rung is attachable to the cord by threading the cord through a bore which in the end of the rung. The bore may be drilled at an angle which is other than 90° to the longitudinal axis of the rung.

The cords may have a hook at each end which attaches to an eye on the weight, although the eye could equally well be attached to the cord with the hook attached to the weight. Preferably each weight has a number of attachments so that further ladder assemblies may be attached to various points on the weight.

If each weight has four equally spaced attachments, then a number of square and rectangular layouts of ladder assemblies are possible.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Embodiments of the invention will now be described, by way of example only, with reference to the accompanying drawings, in which

FIG. 1 is a schematic illustration of an embodiment of training apparatus according to the present invention;

FIG. 2 is an illustration of a preferred embodiment of a weight

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of a preferred embodiemtn of a rung;

FIG. 4 is a perspective view of a preferred embodiment of a toggle for holding a rung in place;

FIGS. 5a and 5b are perspective and side views of a hook;

FIG. 6 is a schematic illustration of a a second embodiment of training apparatus according to the present invention;

FIG. 7 is a schematic illustration of the apparatus of FIG. 6 assembled in a different configuration;

FIG. 8 illustrates different paths an athlete might take through the apparatus of FIG. 1, and FIG. 3;

FIGS. 9a and 9b illustrate schematically means for attaching a rung to a cord;

FIG. 10 is a schematic illustration of a training apparatus comprising a plurality of ladder assemblies;

FIG. 11 is a schematic illustration of another training apparatus comprising a plurality of ladder assemblies;

FIG. 12 illustrates a clip on hurdle; and

FIGS. 13, 13a and 13b illustrate a clip on cone.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

Referring to FIG. 1 a ladder assembly 1 comprises four weights 2 and two elasticated cords 3. Each cord 3 is attached to two weights 2 by means of a hook and eye assembly, 4ag 4b. In this particular embodiment each cord 3 has a hook 4a at each end and each weight 2 has an eye 4b to which the hook is attached. The two cords 3 have a plurality of rungs 5 extending between them. Each rung has a bore at each end and the rung is attached to the cord by threading the cord through the bore. The rung 5 may be held in place by means of a toggle 6 (illustrated in FIG. 4) although other fixing means may equally well be used. Usually the ladder has approximately 16 rungs although less are shown in the Figures for clarity.

The cord used is known as 8 mm elastic shock cord, which has a polypropylene yarn cover over natural rubber with a stretch of 140%+/−10%.

The weights 2 are fabricated from steel so as to provide stability to the apparatus during use, but any suitably heavy material could equally well be used. Field tests have found that a weight equal to 11.5 Kg is particularly effective.

Together with the elastic shock cord described above, lengths of ladder can be laid out which are up to 9.8 m.

The weights 2 may also be moulded, or formed from a heavy plastics material. In the preferred embodiment the weight 2 is encapsulated in rubber to provided traction, and protection for the floor. The weights are designed with male/female surfaces so that they may be easily and safely stacked.

In other embodiments, the weights may be seated upon a rubber matting or protective material for traction and floor protection. The rungs 5 are fabricated from moulded plastic tubes and an aluminium reinforced interior may be included.

The elasticated cords and plastic rungs have the advantage of being weather resistant.

FIG. 2 illustrates a preferred embodiment of a weight 2.

FIG. 3 illustrates a preferred embodiment of the rung. The rung 5 has an end cap 7 for protection, which may have an alarm incorporated, which generates an audible alarm, in the preferred embodiment a buzzer, when the rung is knocked during use. This provides feedback relating to the accuracy of the athletes footwork during an exercise. The alarms can be switched off if there are a large number of athletes using the equipment at any one time.

FIGS. 5a and 5b illustrate a hook 4a in accordance with the preferred embodiment of the invention. The hook 4a is designed to allow a cord to be threaded around it and clamped into place.

The length of a ladder can be altered easily by releasing the cord from the hook, sliding the hook along the cord, and reclamping the cord onto the hook. The weights may be repositioned to accommodate the shorter length. If necessary, rungs may be removed.

Referring now to FIG. 6, a preferred embodiment of a ladder assembly is illustrated schematically. The bore in the end of each rung is at an angle to the longitudinal axis of the rung, such that the rung may be attached to the cord in one of two orientations. In the embodiment shown in FIG. 6 one rung 5a is arranged in one orientation such that the angle between the rung 5a and a cord 3′ is α. An adjacent rung 5b is arranged in a second orientation such that the angle between the adjacent rung 5b and the cord 3′ is 180′-α. In FIG. 6 the rungs are assembled such that pairs of adjacent rungs have a different orientation to one another. It is worth noting that even where the bore is drilled at a 90° angle, due to tolerances it is still possible to place the rungs at a slight angle to the cord.

If the bores are drilled at 90 degrees angles and the rods are moved to a angled position, two problems are encountered. The rods are very difficult to move as the 90 degree bore does not accommodate the angled position and once in an angled position the railings are then distorted to form a zig zag line instead of a straight line.

The ladder configuration varies each time the ladder is set up due to minor differences in the distances between rungs (for example). The differences each time are very important for training an athlete to adapt to different circumstances rather than follow precisely the same moves each time. Toggles may be utilized to temporarily fix the rungs in place. A press and release mechanism allows the rungs to be easily repositioned during training if desired.

FIG. 7 illustrates a ladder assembly having a different configuration by arranging some of the adjacent rungs for example, rungs 5c and 5d in the same orientation as each other. It will be understood that by varying the orientation of consecutive rungs that a very large number of configurations for the ladder assembly are possible. Furthermore, in some embodiments of the invention the angle of the bore may be different for different rungs.

FIG. 8 illustrates an advantage of the ladder assembly of FIG. 7 over the ladder assembly of FIG. 1. If an athlete follows paths A, B or C over the ladder assembly of FIG. 7, then each path is different from each other path. In FIG. 8 the paths A, B, and C are all the same as each other. This advantage is achieved by having rungs with angles other than 90° to the cord.

The fact that the rung is attached to the cord by means of threading the cord through a bore in the end of the rung means that the rungs may be slid into various positions along the rung, in order to provide variable distances between adjacent rungs. FIGS. 9a and 9b illustrate in more detail the bore through which the cord is threaded for two consecutive rungs. The rung may be held in place using one or more toggles 6 such as that illustrated in FIG. 4.

FIG. 10 illustrates a possible configuration of three ladder assemblies formed into a “C” configuration together with a single cord forming a fourth side of an inner square. The use of single cord allows many footwork patterns around a straight line to be incorporated into a routine. Larger configurations can be created which are useful for squad or group work.

Such cascading of ladder assemblies is made possible by having a number of attachments on each weight so that more than one ladder assembly maybe attached to a single weight, and the ladder assemblies may be cascaded as shown. It will be appreciated that any number of ladders can be assembled in a training system, for example, in rectangles, in squares, in linked “C” shapes, or in “L” shapes. FIG. 11 illustrates two ladders assembled in a linear combination.

It is an advantage if further obstacles can be added to the training exercise.

FIGS. 12, 13, 13a and 13b illustrate obstacles which may attached to the apparatus. FIGS. 13, 13a and 13b illustrate a cone 8 which can be attached to a rung for the athlete to negotiate. FIG. 12 illustrates a hurdle 9 which may be used in conjunction with or as an alternative to use of a cone. Clips 10 facilitate attachment of the obstacles to the rungs.

The inherent stability of the apparatus allows such obstacles to be clipped onto the rungs. No known apparatus provides the required stability. In this invention the use of weights in conjunction with elasticated rungs provided a very stable system to which such obstacles may be attached.

The training apparatus may be used directly on any floor, or on grass. For athletes recovering from injury it is possible to use the apparatus over a cushioned mat.

The apparatus is assembled by threading a sequence of rungs onto two cords which are then tensioned between two weights. The rungs are then slid into the required position, and may be held in place by the use of toggles as described previously.

A major component determining skill acquisition is psychomotor ability. Psychomotor refers to skills that involve physical movement (“motor”) as well as a mental (“psycho”) component. In order to develop psychomotor skills, we need to consider perceptual skills, proprioception and motor skills:

Perceptual skills include reading the situation, being aware of the effect other players may have;

Balance is sometimes called proprioception to reflect the greater sense awareness of position as well as balance. It relies on information from our eyes, inner ear and somatic receptors (in the joint capsule, tendons, ligaments, and muscles). Information from these sense receptors pass to the brain stem and cerebellum regions of the brain, which then organises that information into spatial awareness. This information is used to enable us to co-ordinate movement into smooth sequence of events.

Motor skills include all those voluntary movements of muscles in the correct sequence. However, this does not just concern the muscles directly responsible for the desired movement, but also the appropriate postural muscles to enable us to remain upright and co-ordinated, hence the necessity for the information regarding proprioception.

There are three phases with learning a psychomotor skill, namely:

1. Early or Cognitive Phase

This is where we learn the steps of the task, for instance the controls of a car. Speed is important as at first there is too much information. If the task is slowed down we have less information to handle at any one time, which will facilitate learning.

2. Linking or Action Phase

The responses are now tied to an appropriate stimulus. For instance, when learning a poem one line tends to trigger the next. It is much harder to quote the last but one line and if asked, we would find ourselves mentally running through the entire poem to find the required part. Therefore, each line was the trigger for remembering the next.

3. Automatic Response

The skill becomes more and more automatically performed as control is taken over by the lower centres of the brain. There is some evidence that learning of a motor sequence initially involves the activation of the motor cortex and cerebellum but the acquired sequence, called the neurological pathway, is probably elsewhere, maybe the striatal cortical network. At this stage the performance is smooth and automatic. Therefore, psychomotor skills are retained as complete programmes or neurological pathways. The rhythm that was developed using music at the linking phase will now be embedded so the athlete increasingly depends on internal rather that external cues to time their responses.

Repeating a movement until it becomes embedded as a neurological pathway that can be called upon when required has obvious benefits to the athlete. We use this many times, for instance, when we have our tennis players repeatedly practising theirback hand. However, unfortunately, less attention is paid to footwork in many training regimens, yet it is an essential component of most sports. The football player that cannot avoid a defender will probably not be playing in the second half due to injury. A tennis player may have a perfect back hand but they will not be able to use that skill unless he or she can get themselves into the appropriate position. It is possible to use the footwork that occurs naturally when playing the particular sport and rely on normal training to generate enough practise. While this is how most footwork training has been carried out in the past, the training system provided by the invention facilitates an improved method.

The invention has been described by way of example only, and it will be understood that a skilled person would be able to make modifications in detail, without departing from the scope of the invention.

Modifications and substitutions by one of ordinary skill in the art are considered to be within the scope of the present invention, which is not to be limited except by the following claims.





 
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