Title:
Basketball and soccer training device and associated method
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A basketball or soccer training device has a base, a body having a lower body portion and an upper body portion with the lower body portion overlying the base. The upper body portion has a first pair of arms projecting generally outwardly in generally-opposite directions and a second pair of arms projecting generally upwardly in relative spaced relationship. The lower body portion may have a pair of legs terminating in weighted feet. The base may be hollow and be dimensioned and structured to receive an inflatable, basketball training device when in deflated condition. A corresponding method is provided.



Inventors:
Johnson, Victor (Pittsburgh, PA, US)
Application Number:
12/001143
Publication Date:
06/11/2009
Filing Date:
12/10/2007
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
473/446
International Classes:
A63B69/00
View Patent Images:



Foreign References:
DE321370C1920-06-01
Primary Examiner:
KLAYMAN, AMIR ARIE
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
ECKERT SEAMANS CHERIN & MELLOTT LLC (Pittsburgh, PA, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A training device comprising: a base, a body having a lower body portion and an upper body portion, an upper body portion having a first pair of arms projecting generally outwardly in generally-opposite directions, a second pair of arms extending generally upwardly in relative spaced relationship with respect to each other, a first pair of spaces defined between said first pair of arms and said lower body portion, a second pair of spaces defined between said first pair of arms and said second pair of arms, and a third space defined between said second pair of arms.

2. The training device of claim 1 including: said lower body portion having a pair of legs.

3. The training device of claim 2 including: said lower body portion secured to said base.

4. The training device of claim 1 including: said first, second, and third spaces being of such size as to permit a basketball to pass therethrough.

5. The training device of claim 1 including: said upper body portion and said lower body portion being inflated.

6. The training device of claim 1 including: said base being hollow and being structured to receive said body in uninflated condition.

7. The training device of claim 2 including: said lower body portion having a pair of feet, and said feet being weighted to resist undesired movement of said body.

8. The training device of claim 7 including: said base being tapered generally upwardly.

9. The training device of claim 7 including: said base and said weighted feet structured to resist undesired upsetting of said device when contacted by a basketball.

10. The training device of claim 6 including: said base having a movable wall to facilitate opening said base to permit access to the interior thereof.

11. The training device of claim 1 including: said body approximating in the size of a human being.

12. The training device of claim 1 including: said upper body portion having an upwardly-projecting head disposed generally in the space between said second arms.

13. The training device of claim 1 including: said third space having a dimension of at least about 18 to 22 inches.

14. The training device of claim 1 including: said first pair of spaces each having a dimension of at least about 18 to 22 inches.

15. The training device of claim 1, including: said second pair of spaces each having a dimension of at least about 18 to 22 inches.

16. The training device of claim 12 including: said head having the general shape of a basketball.

17. The training device of claim 11 including: said body being a crouched, defensive basketball player.

18. The training device of claim 1 including: said body composed of a material selected from the group consisting of rubber and plastic.

19. The training device of claim 1 including: said body being secured to said base.

20. The training device of claim 1 including: said base having a lower wall with an opening therein to permit entry of the upper portion of a second base for stacking during storage.

21. The training device of claim 1 including: said base having a partition wall for cooperating with exterior walls of said base to define a recess for receipt of a portion of said body during storage.

22. The training device of claim 1 including: a bladder having a suitable valve secured to a portion of said body and to said base to facilitate inflation of said body and deflation of said body.

23. A method of practicing basketball skills comprising: providing a base, a body having a lower body portion and an upper body portion, an upper body portion having a first pair of arms projecting generally outwardly in generally-opposite directions, a second pair of arms extending generally upwardly in relative spaced relationship with respect to each other and spaced from each other, a first pair of spaces defined between said first pair of arms and said lower body portion, a second pair of spaced defined between said first pair of arms and said second pair of arms, a third space defined between said second pair of arms, periodically shooting a basketball over said body or through said third space, periodically passing a basketball through said first pair of spaces or said second pair of spaces, and periodically dribbling a basketball around said body.

24. The basketball-practicing method of claim 23 including: said third space having a dimension of at least about 18 to 22 inches.

25. The basketball-practicing method of claim 23 including: said first pair of spaces each having a dimension of at least about 18 to 22 inches.

26. The basketball-practicing method of claim 23 including: said second pair of spaces each having a dimension of at least about 18 to 22 inches.

27. The basketball-practicing method of claim 23 including: said body is inflated.

28. The basketball-practicing method of claim 23 including: said body being a crouched, defensive basketball player.

29. The basketball-practicing method of claim 23 including: said body being secured to said base.

30. A method of practicing soccer skills comprising: providing a base, a body having a lower body portion and an upper body portion, an upper body portion having a first pair of arms projecting generally outwardly in generally-opposite directions, a second pair of arms extending generally upwardly in relative spaced relationship with respect to each other and spaced from each other, a first pair of spaces defined between said first pair of arms and said lower body portion, a second pair of spaced defined between said first pair of arms and said second pair of arms, a third space defined between said second pair of arms, periodically kicking a soccer ball over said body or through said third space, and periodically kicking a soccer ball through said first pair of spaces or said second pair of spaces.

31. The soccer-practicing method of claim 30 including: periodically passing a soccer ball through at least one space from said first pair of spaces, at least one space of said second pair of spaces, and said third space.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to the field of athletic training aids, and more particularly, it relates to a comprehensive practice aid for use in the training of offensive and defensive skills of basketball and soccer players and a related method.

2. Description of the Prior Art

Since its inception in about 1891, the sport of basketball has primarily consisted of two basic and fundamental components: offense, i.e., having the basketball and attempting to score, and defense, i.e., not having the basketball and attempting the prevention of scoring. The concept of offense incorporates the possession of the basketball. Having the basketball in one's possession, a player has essentially three options with respect to the basketball. He or she can either attempt to shoot the ball at the basket, attempt to pass the ball to another player, or attempt to dribble or drive the basketball with the intention of performing one of the two prior options. Having the basketball in one's possession, prior to initiating any of these three options, is commonly known in the art of basketball as the triple threat. The concept of defense in basketball consists of preventing a player with the basketball in his or her possession from scoring, passing to another player, or dribbling with the intention of scoring or passing.

The offensive and defensive skill levels needed to successfully play the game of basketball require dedication, hard work, and many hours of practice with a basketball on a basketball court, or other suitable location, providing adequate surface and space. In particular, the development of a basketball player's shooting, passing, and dribbling skills requires a player to be able to practice the ability to shoot, pass, or dribble drive a basketball under the pressure of a defensive distraction. Often, the availability of another player to provide a defensive distraction to practice one's offensive skills is not an option, as many players must practice alone. Furthermore, most basketball practicing environments involving multiple or individual players, in an effort to improve the fundamentals of offensive basketball skills, have primarily utilized the basic traffic safety cone as a defensive distraction.

An example of such a defensive distraction is disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 2,333,273. Although not originally designed for use as a basketball training aid, such a cone, due to its shape and small size, has become the most popular and most utilized aid on a basketball court. However, beyond distracting an offensive basketball player's straight forward motion, the cone does very little to enhance an offensive basketball player's triple threat, i.e., shooting, passing, and dribble driving skills.

There has been a plethora of defensive devices, mechanisms, and contraptions designed to enhance the offensive skills of a basketball player—none of which have been visible in the general basketball community or are comprehensive in their approach to enhancing all three aspects of the offensive triple threat. None of these have successfully supplanted the popularity of the basic traffic cone despite its obvious shortcomings.

Many basketball training aids, which have been designed to provide an interactive distraction for an individual practicing basketball, have involved complex and expensive articulating systems, which limit their practicality, present a potential safety hazard to players, or pose a potential danger to the surfaces of a basketball court. Also, many involve complex, electronically-energized, mechanical systems. Players coming into contact with certain equipment can be injured.

U.S. Pat. No. 3,552,749 discloses a basketball practicing device with rotatable spokes driven by an electric-mounted motor and a gear train. In addition to being a safety hazard, the device is not capable of providing an adequate or realistic defensive posture as a distraction for an offensive triple threat. It also contributes little to a players' defensive knowledge. The need for electrical power makes the device both cumbersome and impractical for use in certain locations.

U.S. Pat. No. 3,675,921 discloses a motor-driven device, as well. It discloses a player with a pair of upwardly-projecting arms, which may be moved up and down. This device is also not capable of providing a simulated triple threat defensive position.

U.S. Pat. No. 4,989,862 discloses a basketball device, which features a telescoping system involving a moveable mechanism of springs and coils to adjust torso height and rotate arms. In addition to inadequately providing a defensive posture for the offensive triple threat, this device also presents a potential safety concern.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,160,138 discloses a basketball training device featuring a carriage with at least one wheel and a shot-blocking projection extending from the carriage. The user is tethered to the moving device. This device is unsafe for young, developing basketball players and does not offer any assistance toward executing the triple threat offense.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,485,993 discloses a basketball training device having a pair of movable arms. A paramount problem with this design is safety. This device contains materials, such as springs, coils, and steel, which are unsuitable for a basketball court; especially a basketball court with young, developing basketball players. The device presents an inadequate simulation and an unrealistic defensive challenge.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,816,951 discloses a sport training device having a fluid-motive operating system for moving limbs. A fluid-containing actuating system presents a potential hazard for anyone playing basketball on a court. Although the patent indicates that the device may be configured to utilize a gas, such as air, the system employs a complex plumbing and activation system, which renders it cumbersome and impractical. The device also fails to provide a comprehensive defensive distraction for the offensive triple threat.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,527,185 discloses an athletic training device comprising a base, an upright supported by the base, and a planar training shape simulating a human athlete mounted on the upright. The height of the figure can be adjusted, and the arms can be articulated. This device presents obvious safety concerns for a young, developing basketball player on a basketball court because of the use of metal sheets and brackets. This device fails to provide a comprehensive challenge for the offensive triple threat, especially for the dribble drive penetration option. It does not simulate a realistic defensive posture for an offensive triple threat. It narrowly focuses on the blocking of an offensive shot.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,890,985 discloses a basketball training aid to improve a basketball player's shooting accuracy. It has a pair of hands secured to flexible supports. It is not a realistic game condition distraction. The device is severely limited in its ability to challenge the triple threat of an offensive basketball player. Such a device requires the aid of a second participant, which renders it useless to the individual attempting to practice alone. See also United States Patent Publication No. 2006/0199676.

United States Patent Publication No. 2006/0003856 discloses a basketball training device, wherein a wrist support is secured to a longitudinal, rod-like member, which may be reciprocated, so as to adjust the manner in which a player shoots the basketball.

United States Patent Publication No. 2003/0211906 discloses a device, which has a representation of a head and two upreaching arms, attached to a post and secured to a human being, so as to provide an adjustable means of defending against a second player who is shooting the basketball.

United States Design Pat. No. Des. 321,370 discloses a simulated basketball player. The design does not simulate the correct defensive posture to defend the triple threat of an offensive player, as it fails to provide an adequate challenge for the dribble drive option of the triple threat.

United States Design Pat. No. Des. 351,632 discloses a practice dummy for sports. This design has no apparent stabilization, is in an upright position, and does not represent the required position to adequately distract the triple threat of an offensive player.

United States Design Pat. No. Des. 516,629 discloses a sports mannequin. This design is in an upright position and does not represent the required position to adequately distract or simulate a defense against the triple threat of offensive player.

United States Design Pat. No. Des. 539,373 discloses a basketball training device having rotatable arms. This design also fails to address the comprehensive defensive position required to adequately challenge the three options of a triple threat offensive player.

A basketball training device called the “Ben Wallace Inflatable Defender” has been marketed. It fails to provide a comprehensive defense for the triple threat offensive player. It stands in an upright position and is designed primarily as a distraction for shooting. At the height of seven feet, the device is impractical for the small, young, developmental basketball player.

In spite of the foregoing prior art, there remains fundamental disadvantages of these approaches in their failure to simultaneously account for all three offensive options utilized by a triple threat offensive basketball player. The devices go to great lengths to simulate an opponent blocking a basketball shot or blocking a basketball pass. However, very little attention has been given to the third of the triple threat option, namely, the need for an offensive player to dribble drive the basketball around an accurately-positioned defensive basketball player.

The defensive positioning of a defensive basketball player takes on a substantially unique posture when attempting to distract or stop the dribbling penetration of an offensive basketball player. Those skilled in the art would acknowledge that the optimum defensive posture needed to successfully distract or stop an offensive basketball player from completing a dribble drive penetration around a defender is to execute a simulated, seated posture with the feet spread at least shoulder width apart. Such posture, in conjunction with outstretched arms, forces the offensive basketball player to utilize a wider approach to the basket. Mastering the trajectory necessary to successfully initiate the dribble drive penetration requires an accurate and realistic defensive distraction.

There remains, therefore, a need for a comprehensive and multi-dimensional, yet simple, practical, and safe, basketball training aid that will enable a basketball player to improve his or her shooting, passing, and dribble driving skills under the most realistic basketball game conditions.

There is also a need for a basketball training aid, which enhances the defensive skills of developmental basketball players by providing a visually-accurate and real defensive posture, while simultaneously providing a defensive distraction enabling an offensive player to practice and improve his or her ability to execute the triple threat option of shooting the basketball, passing the basketball, or dribble driving the basketball with the intention of either shooting or passing. The training aid should be capable of simulating a defensive basketball opponent in a real and accurate defensive posture, such that the offensive basketball handler can practice shooting, passing, and dribble penetration under realistic conditions.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention provides a basketball or soccer training device, which includes a base, a body having a lower body portion and an upper body portion with the lower body portion overlying the base. The upper body portion has a first pair of arms projecting generally outwardly in generally-opposite directions and a second pair of arms projecting generally upwardly and spaced with respect to each other and with respect to the first pair of arms. A first pair of spaces is defined between the first pair of arms and the base. A second pair of spaces is defined between the first pair of arms and the second pair of arms. A third space is defined between the second pair of arms. The lower body portion preferably has a pair of legs, which may be weighted in a lower portion, as in the feet, for example. The lower body portion may be secured to the base.

The openings in the fives spaces are preferably of such size so as to permit a basketball or soccer ball to pass therethrough.

In one embodiment of the invention, the body is inflated.

The base is preferably tapered upwardly and is hollow so as to be structured to receive the deflated body. The base has a movable wall to permit access to the interior thereof. The body may have an upwardly-projecting head disposed in the space between the second pair of arms.

A method of basketball or soccer training corresponding to the structure is also provided.

It is an object of the present invention to provide a simulated, defensive basketball opponent, which reflects accurate defensive posture and positioning, known to those skilled in the art, which can provide an offensive basketball handler a realistic distraction for improving shooting, passing, and dribble penetration skills and a related method.

It is another object of the present invention to provide a comprehensive and multidimensional basketball or soccer training aid and related method simulating a defensive basketball or soccer player capable of enabling an offensive basketball player to realistically practice and improve the triple threat options of shooting the basketball, passing the basketball, and dribble driving penetration with the intention of either shooting or passing the basketball.

It is another object of the present invention to provide a comprehensive and multidimensional basketball training aid simulating a defensive basketball player that is simple and safe for young and developing basketball players, and operates without complex and expensive articulating systems.

It is another object of the present invention to provide a comprehensive and multidimensional basketball training aid that accurately simulates the correct posture required by a defensive basketball player to adequately distract or stop an offensive basketball players' use of the triple threat, i.e., shooting the basketball, passing the basketball or dribble driving the basketball with the intention of shooting or passing.

It is another object of the present invention to provide a comprehensive and multidimensional basketball training aid that accurately simulates the correct posture required by a defensive basketball player such that young, developing basketball players have an accurate visualization of the correct defensive posture to utilize when confronted with a triple threat offensive basketball player.

It is another object of the present invention to provide a comprehensive basketball training aid capable of simulating a defensive opponent which will enable an offensive basketball player to practice an approach to the triple threat offensive options of passing, shooting, or dribble driving around a well-positioned defender effectively.

It is another object of the present invention to provide an inexpensive, simple, safe, and practical aid for basketball training, which provides a comprehensive and multidimensional distraction, without requiring complex, electrically-energized, mechanical systems, to assist young, developmental basketball players to acclimate to such distractions, and therefore, improve their real game skills.

It is another object in one embodiment of the present invention to provide an inflatable, basketball or soccer training aid, which includes a life-sized, simulated human figure including a head, four arms, and two legs in a defensive position.

Another object of the present invention is to provide a comprehensive and multidimensional basketball training aid that is durable, requires no assembly, and is operational indoors or outdoors.

It is another object of the present invention to provide such an aid and method, which can be employed beneficially by an individual practicing basketball or soccer alone or a group of individuals practicing together.

These and other objects of the present invention will be more fully understood in the following detailed description of the invention on reference to the illustrations appended hereto.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a front, elevational view showing an embodiment of the basketball training device of the present invention.

FIG. 2 is a rear, elevational view of the basketball training device of FIG. 1 shown with the base open.

FIG. 3 is a right-side, elevational view of the basketball training device of FIG. 1.

FIG. 4 is a left-side, elevational view of the basketball training device of FIG 1.

FIG. 5 is a top, plan view of the basketball training device of FIG. 1.

FIG. 6 is a bottom, plan view of the basketball training device of FIG. 1. FIG. 6a shows bottom view of a detail of a bladder with an appropriate valve secured to a portion of a base.

FIG. 7 is a perspective view of a base of one embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 8 is a top, plan view of the base of FIG. 7 shown with a bladder in place.

FIG. 9 is a perspective view of the base of FIG. 7 in a partially-open position.

FIG. 10 is a perspective view of the base of FIG. 7 in the open position.

FIG. 11 is a perspective view of the base of FIG. 7 in an open position with an inflatable embodiment of the present invention extending out of the base.

FIG. 12 is a perspective view of an illustration of a removable panel of the base of FIG. 7.

FIG. 13 is a reverse-angle, expanded view of the base with the body in the stored position and the removable wall of FIG. 12.

FIG. 14 is a partially broken-away, top plan view of another embodiment of the present invention, wherein a partition wall creates a compartment structured to receive a portion of the stored figure.

FIG. 15 is a partially-schematic view of a base of the form of FIG. 14 showing two such bases vertically nested for storage.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

FIG. 1 illustrates a particular embodiment of the present invention as an inflatable basketball or soccer training aid having a simulated human figure attached to a generally frusto-conical shaped, storage housing or base 2. As shown in FIGS. 1 and 7, the generally frusto-conical shaped, storage base 2 has a hollow interior and consists of a bottom wall 4, side panels 8, 10, 12, and one removable closure quarter panel 14. The generally frusto-conical shaped base 2 tapers upwardly-toward opening 20 (FIG. 6), which culminates at a flushing ridge. The frusto-conical shaped base 2 is hollow. A bladder 22 preferably overlies and is preferably secured to the base 2 adjacent opening 20 (FIGS. 7 and 8) and is in communication with and secured to the body in a manner to be described herein. The frusto-conical shaped base 2 can be formed from a relatively strong and durable, yet lightweight, material, such as plastic, which among other options, can be blow-molded or compression-molded. If desired, one or more outwardly-projecting handles may be formed on or secured to side panels 8, 10, 12, 14, such as handles 9, 11 (FIGS. 1 and 8, for example), to facilitate handling the basketball training device.

Referring to FIGS. 1 through 5, further details of an embodiment of the invention will be considered. In this embodiment, the training device has a body 30, which includes an upper body portion 32 and a lower body portion 34. The upper body portion 32 has a pair of first arms 40, 42 extending generally outwardly in opposite directions and terminating, respectively, in hands 44, 46. The upper body portion 32 also has a second pair of arms 48, 50, which extend generally upwardly and terminate, respectively, in hands 52, 54. The training device body 30 also has a head 56, which in the form illustrated, is in the shape of a basketball.

The lower body portion 34 has a pair of legs 60, 62, which terminate, respectively, in feet 64, 66. The lower body portion 34 overlies to the upper part of base 2. it is secured to and in connection with bladder 22.

As indicated hereinbefore, it is an objective to provide a basketball training device, which, as a result of its configuration, permits an individual to practice the three needed skills, i.e., shooting, passing, and driving while dribbling. The present invention provides a configuration, which facilitates effective practicing in this manner.

Referring to FIGS. 1 and 2, a first pair of spaces 70, 72 is defined between the first pair of arms 40, 42 and legs 60, 62, respectively. A second pair of spaces 74,76 is defined between the first pair of arms 40, 42 and the second pair of arms 48, 50, respectively. A third space 80 is defined between the second pair of arms 48, 50. It will be appreciated that, in this manner, the semi-squatting configuration of the basketball training device body 2 provides obstructions to all three of the basketball options for the player in possession of the ball.

Referring to FIG. 1, in a preferred embodiment of the present invention, the first pair of spaces 70, 72 will each have a dimension D of at least about 18 to 22 inches measuring thigh to bicep, the second spaces 74, 76 will each have a dimension D2 of at least about 18 to 22 inches measured from inner elbow to outer elbow, and the third space 80 will have a minimum dimension D3 above the head of at least about 18 to 22 inches.

In order to enhance stability of the training device, it is preferred that feet 64, 66 be weighted in order to enhance stability of the basketball training device. This may readily be accomplished by providing metal weights or sand, for example, within the feet. Further stability is provided by having the body secured to the upper portion of the base 2.

It will be appreciated that, as shown in FIGS. 1 through 5, the defensive player presented by the basketball training device of the present invention has the body and limbs proportioned and shaped generally as that of a human being with the exception, of course, of the additional pair of arms and the head, which may be provided in the form of a representation of a human being's head, as contrasted with the illustrated basketball.

Referring to FIG. 6, there is shown a bottom plan view of a basketball training device of the present invention. The generally-flat bladder 22 is in communication with the interior of the body 30. A suitable valve 70 provides a means for introducing air into the body 30 to inflate it and also serves as a means for deflating the body 30 for storage within base 2. The bladder 22 is preferably secured to base 2 as by thermal welding or adhesive, for example, adjacent opening to the upper edge 90 (FIG. 7).

Referring to FIG. 6A, it will be seen that the bladder 22 has an appropriate valve 70 for permitting the introduction of air into the body 30 and withdrawal therefrom. The bladder is shown being circular to the inner surface 61 of wall 10 by attaching portion 63 thereto. Securement may be effected by any suitable means, such as formal welding or adhesive, for example.

It will be appreciated that in the shooting mode, the practicing basketball or soccer player will be shooting over hands 52, 54 and may pass through the space 80 depending upon the height of the player and the position of the player on the court. Spaces 70, 72, 74, 76 are regions through which passes may be made either in the air or bounce passes to another player. Finally, the dribbling resistance is provided by the entire structure with the extension of arms 40, 42 enhancing the obstacle, which must be circumvented by the dribbling basketball player.

Referring to FIGS. 7 through 10, a preferred embodiment of the base 2 will be described. The base 2 has a bottom wall 4 and four surrounding walls 8, 10, 12, 14, which cooperate to define a frusto-conical shape terminating in opening 20. Referring now, more specifically, to FIGS. 7, 9, and 10, it will be appreciated that wall 14 is removably secured to adjacent walls 12, 8 and that the uppermost portion of the base 2 has an opening 20. The wall 14 has an upper flange 92, which is received within notch 94 of wall 12 and a corresponding notch 95 at the top of wall 8. The wall 14 may be secured to walls 8, 12 by a friction fit with engagement between flange 92 and notches 94, 95, serving to provide for intimate securement. If desired, however, other means may be employed, such as a tie or elastomeric band going around the walls 8, 10, 12 and removable wall 14 with such retention being enhanced by the use of a groove (not shown) in wall 14 and corresponding ribs in portions of the other walls. In the alternative, as shown in FIGS. 10 through 13, grooves may be provided in the interior of walls 8, 12, and ribs projecting from the lateral edges 96, 97 of wall 14 may be designed to slide therewithin. It is preferred that the bottom wall 4 of the base 2 has an area, which is about 200 to 400 percent of the area of opening 20 at the upper portion of the frusto-conical shaped base 2.

It will be appreciated that the base 2 provides not only a convenient way of storing the body 30, but also when the body 30 is in the usable form, as shown in FIGS. 1 through 6, it serves to stabilize the assembly and resist undesired tipping over.

Referring now in greater detail to FIGS. 11 through 13, it will be seen that the wall 14, as shown in FIGS. 12 and 13, has been removed, thereby permitting access to the hollow interior of the base 2. The hollow interior provides a space 98 within which the body 30 is stored. In the view shown in FIG. 11, the body 30 has been removed from the hollow space 98 with access to the inflation valve 70 being provided, so as to facilitate inflation of this embodiment of the present invention. Once the body has been inflated, the wall 14 may be restored to its position as part of the base 2. It will be appreciated that the preferred construction of the basketball training device of the present invention does not, apart from having a pump to inflate the body, require motors, drives, or a source of electrical energy input. Also, as the device, once established, does not have moving parts, apart from that reflected in the inherent resiliency of the material or assembly, there is very little to wear out or break down. In addition, as a result of the absence of such needs, the device is much lighter. Further, the materials can be very durable and relatively inexpensive.

FIG. 13 is a rear view of the frusto-conical shaped base 2 illustrating the removal of the slidable closure panel 14 displaying the uninflated, simulated human figure as it is stored within the interior hollow 98 and securing fasteners 110, 112. Referring to FIG. 13, in a preferred embodiment of the present invention, the inner portion of base 2 may be provided with structured elements that facilitate efficient storage. The deflated body 30 may be folded and suspended from bladder 22. Stops 110, 112, which may have Velcro-type fasteners, may be employed to support the arms 40, 42. Upwardly-open storage boxes 120, 122 are secured respectively to walls 8, 12 and secured respectively to feet 64, 66, head 56, and arms 48, 50 are suspended downwardly.

The basketball training aid includes an air valve 70 on bladder 22 joined to the backside of the simulated human FIG. 30 and the top inside of the front quarter panel 10. The bladder 22 is made of a rubber material, which is permanently attached to the conical housing at the top inside of the front quarter panel 10 and the simulated human FIG. 30 so as to allow for the transfer of air from an air pump (not shown) connected to the air receptacle 70 through the bladder 22 into the simulated human FIG. 30.

FIG. 14 shows an embodiment of the invention, wherein a partition 140 defines a space 141 within which a portion of the deflated figure is positioned. Compartments 121, 123 receive the weighted feet, and an opening 142 is provided in the base bottom wall 144.

In the form shown in FIG. 15, a lower base 150 of a first unit is cooperating with a base 152 of another unit. The upper portion 154 of the lower base 150 extends through opening 142, thereby permitting vertical stacking of the units for storage. The degree of penetration of the upper portion 154 into upper unit 152 will depend upon the slope of the outer walls of base 150 and the size of the opening 142.

While the body of the inflatable, simulated human figure can be constructed from a high-impact, durable, yet lightweight, plastic material, or rubber, the feet and shoes 64 and 66 will be made of a material, which allows for the containment of weight-bearing substances, such as sand, to facilitate the stabilization of the upper body. An example of such material would be strong and durable nylon or rubber.

In operation and use, the inflatable basketball training aid, having an attached frusto-conical shaped base 2, is removed from the base 2. It is fully inflated with the use of an air pump (not shown) attached to the air valve 70 and placed on a basketball court in the vicinity of an elevated basketball hoop. With the four arms 40, 42, 48, 50 and two legs 60, 62 fully extended and the feet 64, 66 spread shoulder width or more apart, the inflatable basketball training aid provides a substantive defensive distraction. The feet and shoe area, having enclosed a weighted substance, such as sand, in conjunction with the frusto-conical base, provide an anchoring stabilization for the inflated defensive aid. A practicing basketball player is able to practice and execute all three options of the triple threat. The second arms 48, 50, in conjunction with the upper hands 52, 54, provide a defensive distraction for the shooting or passing aspects of the triple threat by compelling the offensive player to shoot over or pass over or through the outstretched upper arms 48, 50. The first arms 40, 42, in conjunction with the second arms 48, 50 and their respective hands 44, 46. 52, 54, provide a substantive defensive distraction for the passing component of the triple threat. A practicing basketball player is able to practice and execute five separate and distinct passing motions. Spaces 70, 72, 74, 76, 80 provide a target for precision passing execution.

The collaboration of first arms 40, 42 and hands 44, 46, second arms 48, 50 and hands 52, 54, and legs 60, 62, as well as feet 64, 66, provide a substantive defensive distraction for the dribble driving component of the triple threat. The width of the lower arms 40, 42 compels the offensive ball handler, in his or her attempt to dribble drive around the defender, to practice a much wider trajectory, which will closely imitate real game trajectories. Thus the inflatable basketball training aid having a frusto-conical shaped storage housing allows a practicing basketball player to obtain a higher level of shooting, passing, and dribble driving confidence when in a real game situation.

Just as the extraction and inflation of the inflatable from the frusto-conical shaped housing is quick and easy, upon completing a practice session, the deflation and storage is equally as simple and quick. Once the slidable quarter side panel 14 is removed and the defender is deflated, one simply places the fully-deflated defender in the designated interior hollow compartments located within the inner walls of three sides 8, 10, 12 of the conical storage housing, not including the slidable quarter side panel 14. The front panel 10, which is located directly behind the inflated defender when it is extracted, houses the upper torso 30, the upper left arm 50, the upper left hand 54, the upper right arm 48, the upper right hand 52, and the basketball-shaped head 56.

While the preferred embodiment involving an inflatable body has been the focal point of the present invention, it will be appreciated that the basketball or soccer training device need not be inflatable. For example, it can be made of a suitable rubber, resinous plastic, or other material with the desired resiliency and flexibility with or without hollow portions within the body. It also can be made of composite materials, wherein the reinforcing elements, such as, for example, elongated resilient rods, which could hold the body in the desired condition when in the in-use position and yet would permit the desired flexibility so as to allow the basketball training device to be folded for storage.

For convenience of reference and simplicity of disclosure herein, focus has been placed upon basketball and use of the device and method of the present invention as a basketball training device. It will be appreciated that the device may be employed as a soccer training device, as well. The device may be employed, for example, as a soccer goalie or a soccer defensive player.

For simplicity of disclosure herein, reference has been made to the use of individual figures, it will be appreciated that a plurality of them may be used simultaneously to provide enhanced training.

Whereas particular embodiments of the invention have been described herein for purpose of illustration, it will be evident to those skilled in the art that numerous variations of the details may be made without departing from the invention as set forth in the appended claims





 
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