Title:
HOCKEY PUCK GATE AND METHOD OF OPERATING SAME
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A target gate and a method of operating same are provided. The target gate comprises i) an impact surface for selectively blocking a projectile; ii) a support structure for supporting the impact surface; and iii) at least one coupling for coupling the impact surface to the support structure such that the impact surface is moveable from a first position to a second position when hit by the projectile traveling at not less than a minimum velocity. The at least one coupling comprises a biasing element for biasing the impact surface to move from the second position to the first position, the biasing element being adjustable to pre-select the minimum velocity.



Inventors:
Sheehan, Murray (Pickering, CA)
Application Number:
11/831360
Publication Date:
02/05/2009
Filing Date:
07/31/2007
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
273/388
International Classes:
A63B69/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
CHAMBERS, MICHAEL S
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
BERESKIN & PARR LLP/S.E.N.C.R.L., s.r.l. (TORONTO, ON, CA)
Claims:
1. A target gate comprising: an impact surface for selectively blocking a projectile; a support structure for supporting the impact surface; and, at least one coupling for coupling the impact surface to the support structure such that the impact surface is moveable from a first position to a second position when hit by the projectile traveling at not less than a minimum velocity; wherein the at least one coupling comprises a biasing element for biasing the impact surface to move from the second position to the first position, the biasing element being adjustable to pre-select the minimum velocity.

2. The target gate as defined in claim 1 wherein the impact surface in the second position is oriented to admit the projectile through a space occupied by the impact surface in the first position; and, the impact surface in the first position is oriented to block the projectile from passing by the impact surface.

3. The target gate as defined in claim 2 wherein the impact surface comprises a plurality of impact sectors each impact sector coupled to the support structure such that each impact sector is moveable from a first sector position to a second sector position when hit by the projectile traveling at not less than the pre-selected minimum velocity.

4. The target gate as defined in claim 3 wherein the impact surface is in the second position when at least one impact sector in the plurality of impact sectors is in the second sector position to admit the projectile through the space occupied by the impact sector in the first sector position.

5. The target gate as defined in claim 2 wherein the biasing element comprises a spring.

6. The target gate as defined in claim 5 wherein the spring is a compression spring.

7. The target gate as defined in claim 5 wherein the spring is a torsion spring.

8. The target gate as defined in claim 7 wherein the biasing element further comprises a spring lock for locking the torsion spring in a pre-tensioned position, wherein the pre-tensioned position is adjustable to adjust the minimum velocity.

9. The target gate as defined in claim 2, wherein the biasing element comprises a first bias spring for providing a first level of resistance in resisting the impact surface moving from the first position to the second position.

10. The target gate as defined in claim 9 further comprising a second spring for replacing the first spring, wherein the biasing element is adjustable to replace the first spring with the second spring such that that biasing element provides a second level of resistance for the impact surface moving from the first position to the second position, the second level of resistance being higher than the first level of resistance.

11. The target gate defined in claim 10 wherein the biasing element is further adjustable to replace the second spring with the first spring.

12. The target gate as defined in claim 2 wherein the minimum velocity is adjustable from thirty miles an hour to one hundred and twenty miles an hour.

13. The target gate as defined in claim 1 wherein the support structure comprises at least one mounting attachment for mounting the target gate to a hockey net.

14. The target gate as defined in claim 1 wherein the at least one coupling couples the impact surface to the support structure about an inner side of the impact surface; the impact surface comprises an outer side opposite to the inner side; and, the support structure comprises a frame member adjacent to the outer side of the impact surface for blocking the projectile from passing between the outer side of this impact surface and the frame member.

15. A method for training athletes comprising: a) determining a minimum velocity for a projectile; b) providing an impact surface in a first position to block a path of travel of a projectile, wherein the impact surface is movable from the first position to a second position to unblock the path of travel; and, c) providing a biasing element for biasing the impact surface to move from the second position to the first position, the biasing element being adjustable to pre-select the minimum velocity such that the impact surface is movable from the first position to the second position to unblock the path of travel when hit by the projectile traveling at not less than the minimum velocity.

16. The method as defined in claim 15 wherein step c) comprises adjusting the biasing element to pre-select the minimum velocity.

17. The method as defined in claim 16 further comprising d) selecting a target area to shoot at; wherein step b) further comprises providing the impact surface in the first position in the target area.

18. The method as defined in claim 17 wherein step d) comprises determining the target area within a hockey net; and, step b) comprises coupling the impact surface to the hockey net using the biasing element such that the impact surface is movable from the first position to the second position when hit by the projectile traveling at not less than the minimum velocity.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to a hockey gate for attaching a hockey net, and a method of operating same.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

In hockey, as well as in other sports, aim is important. That is, it is important, for example, to be able to shoot a puck at a particular portion of a net. Various means have been developed to detect speed as well as position of a projectile, such as a puck.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In accordance with an aspect of an embodiment of the invention, there is provided a target gate comprising: i) an impact surface for selectively blocking a projectile; ii) a support structure for supporting the impact surface; and iii) at least one coupling for coupling the impact surface to the support structure such that the impact surface is moveable from a first position to a second position when hit by the projectile traveling at not less than a minimum velocity. The at least one coupling comprises a biasing element for biasing the impact surface to move from the second position to the first position, the biasing element being adjustable to pre-select the minimum velocity.

In accordance with another aspect of an embodiment of the invention, there is provided a method for training athletes comprising: a) determining a minimum velocity for a projectile; b) providing an impact surface in a first position to block a path of travel of a projectile, wherein the impact surface is movable from the first position to a second position to unblock the path of travel; and, c) providing a biasing element for biasing the impact surface to move from the second position to the first position, the biasing element being adjustable to pre-select the minimum velocity such that the impact surface is movable from the first position to the second position to unblock the path of travel when hit by the projectile traveling at not less than the minimum velocity.

These and other features of the applicant's teachings are set forth herein.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The skilled person in the art will understand that the drawings, described below, are for illustration purposes only. The drawings are not intended to limit the scope of the applicants' teachings in anyway:

FIG. 1, in a front view, illustrates a hockey net incorporating a target gate in accordance with an aspect of an embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 2, in a cut-away perspective view, illustrates a support structure of the target gate of FIG. 1.

FIG. 3, in a front view, illustrates the target gate of FIG. 1.

FIG. 4, in a side view, illustrates the target gate of FIG. 1.

FIG. 5, in a front perspective view, illustrates a target gate in accordance with an aspect of a further embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 6, in a rear perspective view, illustrates the target gate of FIG. 5.

FIG. 7, in a perspective view, illustrates the target gate of FIG. 5.

FIG. 8, in a top view, illustrates the target gate of FIG. 1 incorporating a compression spring as the biasing element.

FIG. 9, in a front view, illustrates various torsion springs suitable for incorporation into the target gate of either FIG. 1 or FIG. 5.

FIG. 10, in an exploded view, illustrates a notched method for adjusting the torsional resistance of the target gate of either FIG. 1 or FIG. 5.

FIG. 11, in a front view, illustrates the partially assembled components of FIG. 10.

FIG. 12, in an exploded view, illustrates an alternative threaded method for adjusting the torsional resistance of the target gate of either FIG. 1 or FIG. 5.

FIG. 13, in a front view, illustrates the partially assembled components of FIG. 12.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

Referring to FIG. 1, there is illustrated a front view of an example target gate 100. FIG. 1 depicts target gate 100 optionally mounted onto the upper left hand corner of hockey net 102. Target gate 100 consists of an impact surface 104 coupled with support structure 106. In one embodiment, support structure 106 is an L-shaped angle support. Support structure 106 can be made out of many different materials, such as, for example, without limitation, iron. Support structure 106 can also consist of mounting attachments, labeled as 108, that can be used to attach target gate 100 to hockey net 102. In one embodiment, as illustrated in FIG. 1, the two ends of support structure 106 can comprise U-shaped mounting attachments 108 that can be used to attach target gate 100 to hockey net 102. Frame member 110 can surround the perimeters of impact surface 104 that are not bordered by support structure 106. In one embodiment, frame member 110, which can be made of steel, for example, can be added to mirror the L-shaped support structure 106. In such an embodiment, frame member 110 could be situated such that it reflects support structure 106 about an imaginary axis that connects the two U-shaped mounting attachments 108. The L-shaped frame member 110 could constitute the two outer sides of an enclosed, approximately square structure; the angle support structure 106 could comprise the two opposing inner sides of this approximately square structure. Impact surface 104 can be made out of materials such as metal, for example steel, or polyboard. In some embodiments, impact surface 104 is a plate, for example, a steel plate. When frame member 110 is included, impact surface 104 can occupy the space enclosed by support structure 106 and frame member 110. The objective of the participating athlete could be to strike impact surface 104 with a projectile, such as a hockey puck, at a minimum pre-selected velocity.

In embodiments in which the target gate 100 is attached to hockey net 102, the dimensions of the impact surface 104 should be suitably selected given the dimensions of the hockey net 102. For example, a hockey net would typically have an open side that is approximately 6 ft by 5 ft. Thus, in many embodiments, the impact surface could be less than 2 ft by 2 ft, and in many of these embodiments, the impact surface 104 could be less than 1 ft by 1 ft.

FIG. 2 shows a cut-away perspective view of the target gate of FIG. 1, showing the square space delineated by support structure 106 and frame member 110. The embodiment shown includes an L-shaped frame member 110, but such perimeter framing is not essential to the invention. If frame member 110 is present, a rigid connection can be provided at each of the two ends where support structure 106 meets frame member 110. One purpose of frame member 110 is to deflect projectiles that are not placed exactly on target (i.e. not entirely on impact surface 104). The frame member 110 can also impede projectiles, such as a puck, from slipping around peripheral portions of impact surface 104, despite hitting impact surface 104 at below the specified minimum velocity. Impact surface 104 has been cut-away from FIG. 2 for illustrative purposes.

FIG. 2 shows a detailed example embodiment of support structure 106. As illustrated in this particular embodiment, support structure 106 includes a front wall 112 and a bottom wall 114. For such a configuration, front wall 112 can serve a similar purpose as frame member 110, as it also works to deflect projectiles that are not completely on target. When a hockey net is used, front wall 112 can work in harmony with the outer face of the net posts to deflect projectiles that do not directly strike impact surface 104. For this embodiment, bottom wall 114 interacts with front wall 112 to form an L-shaped cross-section throughout the length of support structure 106. As a result, when the target gate is mounted to a hockey net, lower wall 114 can rest flush below the inner side of the cross-bar and flush along the inside face of the left post of the net for the portion of the net occupied by target gate 100, as shown in FIG. 1. U-shaped mounting attachments 108 can clamp onto hockey net 102 to form a secure, but ideally non-permanent, connection between target gate 100 and hockey net 102. For such an arrangement, front wall 112 and lower wall 114 of the angle support structure may not assist in attaching the hockey gate to the support structure, but they could enhance overall integration between target gate 100 and hockey net 102. This increased integration may enhance the structural stability and rigidity of the mounted embodiment. Target gate 100 does not necessarily have to be mounted onto a hockey net, but could alternatively be mounted on other structures.

FIG. 3 provides a front view of the FIG. 1 target gate, including impact surface 104, situated within the space enclosed by support structure 106 and frame member 110. In the embodiment shown, an optional U-shaped mounting attachment, labeled as 108, is provided at each end of support structure 106.

FIG. 4 provides a side view of the target gate of FIG. 1. In an aspect of one embodiment, frame member 110 can intersect with optional U-shaped mounting attachments 108 of the support structure 106 to form a fixed connection.

FIG. 5 shows another embodiment for target gate 100. FIG. 5 provides a detailed front perspective view of target gate 100. The perspective view also illustrates an alternative embodiment for support structure 106. In the description that follows, like reference numerals are used to designate like elements in the embodiments of FIGS. 1 and 5. In the illustrated embodiment, the support structure is an L-shaped angle support with an approximately rectangular cross-section. This cross-section may be a fully enclosed hollow section, or a solid mass throughout the length of support structure 106.

In the embodiment of FIG. 5, impact surface 104 is divided into impact sectors. The impact surface can be divided into multiple sectors, or it may comprise only one panel (as illustrated in FIG. 1 and FIG. 3). In the embodiment shown in FIG. 5, impact surface 104 is divided into two triangular sectors, impact sector 116 and impact sector 118. In this particular embodiment, the separation of the two illustrated impact sectors occurs about division line 120. Division line 120 consists of a very narrow air gap in which the two sectors may not come into contact with one another, or at most, may gently touch one another. In the illustrated embodiment, upon projectile impact, sector 116 is capable of rotating into the page, about axis A-A, as shown on FIG. 5. Similarly, sufficient projectile impact will cause sector 118 to rotate into the page about axis B-B, as shown on FIG. 5. In FIG. 5, both impact surface sectors are in the first (i.e. closed) position, as a projectile has not yet struck them, or they have been struck by a projectile traveling below the minimum velocity.

If a projectile impacts only one panel, but hits it at above the specified impact velocity, the projectile can be admitted through the gate by movement of one panel only. As an example, if a projectile strikes only panel sector 116, sector 116 can rotate about axis A-A to the second position and admit the projectile through the gate, despite sector 118 remaining at the first (i.e. closed) position. If the projectile impacts a portion of each sector at the required velocity, both sectors will move to the second position (i.e. into the page of FIG. 5) to admit the projectile. Therefore, the movement of both sectors of impact surface 104 to the second position is possible, but not essential, to admit a projectile traveling at a sufficient velocity.

FIG. 6 provides a rear perspective view of the target gate of FIG. 5. Hinges 122 couple the impact surface 104 to support structure 106. These hinges also allow for impact surface sector 116 to rotate out of the page about axis A-A, and allow sector 118 to rotate out of the page about axis B-B.

It is not always easy to tell the speed at which a projectile, such as a puck, is shot. Target gate 100 can selectively allow a projectile to pass-through, depending on the speed of the projectile. In order to create this selective admission, a biasing element can be used to pre-define a minimum admittance velocity. In the embodiment of FIG. 6, a biasing element 124 is affixed to support structure 106. Multiple biasing elements may be used for each movable panel sector of impact surface 104. Alternatively, a single separate biasing element can be used for each moveable sector. In the example of FIG. 6, the biasing element is coupled to impact surface 104 with a connection arm 126, which can be made out metal, for example. This connection arm has an end portion 128 and a main portion 130. The end portion 128 can lie along the same plane as the backside of impact surface 104. The entire length of end portion 128 can be attached to the backside of its respective impact surface sector (116 or 118). Looking at connection arm 126 in more detail, main portion 130 couples end portion 128 to biasing element 124. Hinges 122 allow for plate sector rotation (out of the page, for FIG. 6), while biasing element 124 limits this rotation in accordance with a pre-selected minimum projectile impact velocity.

FIG. 7 provides a detailed perspective view of a variant of the target gate of FIG. 5. A further alternative embodiment for support structure 106 is shown in FIG. 7. In the illustrative example, support structure 106 consists of an angle support with a hollow circular cross-section.

Within the perspective view of FIG. 7, both plate sectors 116 and 118 of impact surface 104 are in the first (i.e. closed) position. An incoming projectile, such as a hockey puck, has not yet struck the front faces of either impact surface sector 116 or sector 118. Alternatively, a projectile may have been shot at impact surface 104, but at a velocity below the minimum specified value.

FIG. 7 also provides a perspective view of target gate 100 wherein both plate sectors 116 and 118 of impact surface 104 have moved from the first to second (i.e. open) position. This movement may have occurred because a projectile impacted at least of portion of the front faces of both sectors 116 and 118 of impact surface 104 at a velocity exceeding the pre-selected minimum. Plate sector 116 has moved in the direction of projectile travel, rotating about axis A-A. Similarly, plate sector 118 has moved in the direction of projectile travel, rotating about axis B-B. Each sector has rotated to the second position about hinges 122. The second position of each sector is at an angle of rotation (relative to the first position) that is large enough to allow the projectile to pass through target gate 100.

As previously discussed, target gate 100 is configured to only allow a projectile hitting impact surface 104 at a minimum specified velocity to pass through the target gate (i.e. cause the impact surface to occupy a second, open position). It is important for a training athlete to project an object, such as a puck, with not only accuracy, but also with enough speed to, for example, shoot past a goaltender. The biasing element can be adjusted such that a minimum projectile velocity is required for impact surface 104 to occupy the second (i.e. open) position. The projectile velocity resisted by a typical biasing element can be somewhere in the range of 30 mph to 120 mph. Some embodiments for achieving an acceptable biasing system are discussed below.

A compression spring configuration is incorporated into one biasing embodiment. FIG. 8 provides a top view of the FIG. 1 target gate in which biasing element 124 consists of compression spring 131. In one embodiment, the backside surface 132 of impact surface 104 is connected to biasing element 124 via connection arm 126. FIG. 8 does not show multiple impact sector panels, although such an embodiment is envisioned. For the compression spring system, the connection arm 126 can be modified from the connection arm shown in FIGS. 5 to 7. The modified connection arm 126 shown in embodiment of FIG. 8 is a substantially triangular wedge that connects the backside of impact surface 104 to biasing element 124. As depicted in FIG. 8, the biasing element is a compression spring located between connection arm 126 and extension 134 off of support structure 106. In the illustrated embodiment, extension 134 runs at approximately a 45-degree angle to the lower wall 114 of the angle iron support. In the example embodiment, as a projectile impacts the front (face 136) of impact surface 104, the impact surface will rotate counterclockwise, in the direction of projectile travel. However, impact surface 104 will only rotate if the velocity exceeds the preset impact velocity. This pre-selected minimum velocity can be governed by the compression coefficient of the spring. Alternatively, using adjustment knob 137, the compression spring can be pre-stressed to various extents to alter the minimum impact force required to move impact surface 104 to the second position. A user can adjust the compression resistance offered by the spring to preset the minimum projectile velocity.

Alternatively, a biasing element 124 consisting of a torsion spring may be used for the target gate embodiments shown in FIG. 1 and FIG. 5. As shown most clearly by FIG. 6, for one example embodiment, biasing element 124 consists of torsion spring 133. The embodiment shown in FIG. 6 also consists of an arrangement in which the biasing mechanism is fixed to support structure 106. As a projectile impacts the front face of impact surface 104, connection arm 126 can transfer a torsion force to biasing element 124. This force can be transferred to the torsional spring in that main portion 130 of the connection arm can actually constitute a straight portion of the torsional spring itself. The biasing element can be set to resist the twisting motion, so as to keep impact surface 104 in the first position, when impacted by a projectile traveling below the specified velocity. When impact surface 104 is in the closed position, the projectile cannot pass through the target gate. The preset resistance offered by the torsional spring can keep the impact surface sector within the first position if the minimum projectile velocity is not achieved.

There are several means by which the torsional resistance offered by a biasing element can be adjusted.

FIG. 9 shows different embodiments for torsion spring 133 suitable for incorporation into the target gate of either FIG. 1 or FIG. 5. Within each illustrated embodiment, the coiled spring portion 138 can similarly wrap around support bar 140; however, the spring thickness and number of coils for each torsion spring shown vary from one to another. As illustrated by the embodiments of FIG. 9, the main portion 130 of connection arm 126 (also shown in FIG. 6) can be considered to be a straight extension of the coiled spring portion 138. As the thickness of the coiled spring portion 138 increases, the torsional resistance offered by the biasing spring also increases. As an example, torsion spring example 133d could provide less torsional resistance than torsion spring example 133e. Similarly, as the number of coils within coiled spring portion 138 increases, the torsional resistance offered by the biasing element also increases. As an example, spring example 133a could provides less torsional resistance than torsion spring example 133b. As the torsional resistance increases, the projectile impact velocity required to move impact surface 104 to the second position also increases. According to aspects of one embodiment, spring 133 (as shown in FIG. 6) can be removed and replaced with a spring of a different thickness and/or coil frequency to provide a different biasing resistance.

Another means of setting the torsional resistance offered by the biasing element is to spring lock the torsion spring into a pre-tensioned position, wherein the pre-tensioned position can be correlated to a minimum impact velocity. This pre-tensioning can be achieved by such means as a notched method of adjusting tension, or by a threaded bolt method of adjusting tension, as described below in relation to FIGS. 10 and 12, respectively.

FIG. 10 provides an exploded view of the parts that can be used to implement the notched method for adjusting torsional resistance (i.e. pre-tensioning the torsion spring). This method can be used to adjust the biasing element 124 for both the target gate embodiments of FIG. 1 and FIG. 5. Coiled portion 138 of the torsion spring can wrap around support bar 140. During pre-tensioning, coiled portion 138 and support bar 140 can be placed within support clamp 142. The south end of support bar 140 can be placed into lower aperture 144 of support clamp 142. Stopper 146 can prevent north-south movement of support bar 140 within aperture 144. Threaded north portion 148 of support bar 140 can be inserted into side aperture 150 of support clamp 142. Nut 152 surrounds support bar 140, just below threaded portion 148. Nut 152 has one vertical hole 154 to receive the north end of coiled spring portion 138 and another vertical hole 156 to receive support bar 140. Nut 152 also has horizontal holes 158, which are designed to receive pry bar 160 and metal plug 162.

When pry bar 160 is inserted into nut 152 and motioned in a counterclockwise manner, it carries the north end of coiled spring portion 138 with it. Thus, tension on south end 130 of the torsion spring increases. When the desired tension is reached, metal plug 162 can be inserted into the hole 158 of nut 152 that is closest to notch 164 of support clamp 142. Tension can be kept on coiled spring portion 138 with pry bar 160 during this process. The pry bar can then be gently motioned in a clockwise manner until metal plug 162 (already inserted within hole 158 of nut 152) fits into notch 164 of support clamp 142. The pry bar can then be removed, as the notch-plug-nut connection will sustain the desired tension within coiled spring portion 138. This desired tension is transferred to the southern, straight portion 130 of the spring. This southern portion of the spring can be the same as main portion 130 of connecting arm 126 (shown in FIG. 6). Connecting arm 126 connects to impact surface 104. In one embodiment, connecting arm 126 connects to the backside of impact surface 104. The pre-tensioned forces within main portion 130 of connecting arm 126 create a quantifiable torsional resistance force for the biasing element 124 (see FIG. 6). This torsional resistance force governs the projectile impact velocity required to allow a given projectile to pass through (i.e. open) impact surface 104.

FIG. 11 provides a partially assembled view of parts of FIG. 10 for the notched method for adjusting torsional resistance. In assembled form, bolt 166 can be placed at thread top 148 of support bar 140. Bolt 166 serves to further secure support bar 140 to support clamp 142.

FIG. 12 provides an exploded view of the parts that can be used to implement the threaded method for adjusting torsional resistance (i.e. another method of pre-tensioning). This method can be used for the target gates of both FIG. 1 and FIG. 5. The threaded method operates similarly to the notched method, except that a threaded bolt connection is used instead of a notched connection to maintain the desired level of pre-tensioning within the torsion spring. Notch 164 (see FIG. 10) is replaced with aperture 168. In the same manner as with the notched method, pry bar 160 can be used to rotate nut 152 until the desired level of pre-tension is reached. For the threaded method, once the desired level of tension is reached, pry bar 160 can be used to align aperture 168 with the closest hole 158 on nut 152. Threaded side bolt 170 can then be threaded into apertures 168 and 158. This threaded connection can sustain the tension within coiled spring 138 at the desired level. The amount of pre-tensioning applied can govern the amount of torsional resistance offered by biasing element 124 (see FIG. 6).

FIG. 13 provides a partially assembled view of the components of FIG. 12 for use in the threaded method for adjusting torsional resistance.

The invention also encompasses a method for training athletes. By implementing this method, an athlete can practice his/her ability to deliver a sports projectile accurately and at high velocity. As non-limiting examples, a baseball player can practice throwing a baseball, a soccer player can practice shooting a soccer ball, a football player can practice throwing a football, and a hockey player can practice shooting a puck. In addition, this method can be implemented to assist another individual in practising his/her ability to deliver a sports projectile accurately and at a high velocity. Initially, an individual (usually an athlete or trainer) can select a minimum velocity for a projectile. That individual can then provide impact surface 104 (see FIG. 1 and FIGS. 3-8) that is movable from a first position to a second position (see FIG. 7). When a projectile hits the impact surface below the minimum velocity, the impact surface 104 will remain in the first position (FIG. 7) and will block the projectile. When the projectile exceeds the minimum velocity, impact surface 104 can move to a second position (FIG. 7), and the projectile's path will not be blocked by impact surface 104. In fully implementing this method of training, the athlete will be provided with not only an impact surface 104, but also a biasing element 124 (see FIGS. 6-8) that can be adjusted so as to pre-select the minimum projectile impact velocity required to move the impact surface 104 from a first, blocking position to a second, unblocking position. Once the embodiment outlined above is provided, an athlete can deliver a sports projectile towards the embodiment to practice the speed and accuracy of his/her projection.

Other variations and modifications of the invention are possible. For example, a hydraulic biasing element could be used to provide different levels of resistance for limiting the movement of impact surface 104 from the first position to the second position. All such modifications and variations are believed to be within the sphere and scope of the invention as defined by the claims appended hereto.





 
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