Title:
System for training athletes
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A system for training athletes in running activities, such as sprints or team field sports, provides a resistance to an athlete attempting to run. The system comprises a drive unit, and in an embodiment, the drive unit comprises a motor having a motor shaft and a pulley operatively coupled to the shaft. The system further comprises a rope adapted to be rolled on the pulley, a unit controller adapted to control operation of the drive unit, and a programmable logic controller, which logic controller may display and storage of data related to the operation of the system. In use, the rope may be fastened to an athlete, and thereafter the athlete may be allowed to run in a direction away from the drive unit, where the pulley will provide a resistive force on the athlete.



Inventors:
Eldridge, Mark (Brasher Falls, NY, US)
Application Number:
12/576575
Publication Date:
04/15/2010
Filing Date:
10/09/2009
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63B24/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
GANESAN, SUNDHARA M
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
JAY M. SCHLOFF (West Bloomfield, MI, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A system for training athletes, the system comprising: a drive unit comprising at least one pulley, a rope adapted to be rolled on the pulley, a drive unit controller adapted to control operation of the drive unit, and a programmable logic controller operatively coupled to the drive unit controller.

2. The system of claim 1, wherein the drive unit comprises a motor, a motor shaft, and a pulley operatively coupled to the shaft.

3. The system of claim 1, wherein the drive unit comprises a magnetic brake and a spring rewind pulley operatively coupled to the magnetic brake.

4. The system of claim 2, wherein the motor is one of an alternating current (AC) motor and a direct current (DC) motor.

5. The system of claim 1, wherein the unit controller controls parameters of the drive unit, which parameters comprise at least one of voltage, torque, rotational speed of the drive unit, a change in direction of the drive unit, a maintenance of steady tension on the rope, a desired pull-in force, a desired pull-in speed, a desired pull-out force, a one-time increase in speed or torque of the drive unit, a reduction or elimination in force, an increase to force over a distance or time interval, and a decrease to force over a distance or time interval.

6. The system of claim 5, wherein the unit controller further comprises a variable frequency drive, wherein said variable frequency drive may control the rotational speed of the motor, and wherein said controller further comprises a dynamic brake resistor, which dynamic brake resistor may provide a braking torque for stopping the motor.

7. The system of claim 1, wherein the programmable logic controller transmits parameters from the unit controller to the drive unit.

8. The system of claim 5, wherein said the unit controller controls modes of the programmable logic controller, said modes comprising at least one of a constant torque mode, a variable torque mode, a maximum speed mode, and a constant speed mode.

9. The system of claim 1, wherein said system further comprises a remote control operatively coupled to one of the unit controller or drive unit of the system.

10. The system of claim 1, wherein the programmable logic controller further comprises an audio-visual interface, which interface may display data generated by operation of the system.

11. The system of claim 1, wherein the programmable logic controller further comprises processing data generated by the operation of the system and producing output based on said data processing.

12. The system of claim 1, wherein the system further comprises an electronic interface that is compatible via Ethernet or internet protocol networking for allowing a first system to communicate with a server or with a second system.

13. The system of claim 1, wherein the system further comprises a cabinet capable of enclosing at least one of the elements of the system.

Description:

I. CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

The present application claims priority under 35 U.S.C. §119 on the U.S. provisional patent application Ser. No. 61/103,986, filed on Oct. 9, 2008, the disclosure of which is incorporated by reference.

II. FIELD OF THE DISCLOSURE

The present disclosure generally relates to sport training equipment, and, more particularly, to a system for training athletes involved in a variety of sports such as football, basketball, and track and field, and particularly, track events, such as sprints.

III. BACKGROUND

Running is an important athletic skill in and of itself, and as part of other sports. Running is an integral part of track and field events. Running is also a vital component of the sports of football and basketball, as athletes participating in such sports run back and forth in the course of play. Running also has collateral benefits to athletes engaged in still other sports that do not involve running during the course of play (such as hockey, for example), as running offers benefits to an athlete's conditioning.

Running events, such as sprints and relay races, are featured competitions in track and field athletics. During such events, an athlete is required to run at a high speed. For example, during a running event, such a sprint event, an athlete is required to cover a substantially short distance in a short time interval. Accordingly, the athlete participating in the sprint event is expected to acquire a high running speed such that he or she will be able to cover the short distance in the small amount of time. In other sports, such as team sports, running speed, quickness, power, and acceleration have benefits in evading opposing players, for example.

Typically, to become able to acquire a high running speed, the athlete may undertake an exercise or training regimen. For example, the athlete may undergo running and/or jogging as part of this regimen. However, such a regimen may not be efficient enough to improve the athlete's running speed quickness, power, or acceleration to a desired level that would enable the athlete to excel, for example, during the running event, such as a sprint.

Currently, various exercising devices are available that may help the athletes to improve their running speed, quickness, power, and acceleration. However, most of the currently available exercising devices do not enable the athletes to perform exercises in a controlled manner. More specifically, the exercising devices are not capable of being set into specific modes that may enable the athletes to perform exercises in the controlled manner.

For example, an athlete may wish to train for an overspeed mode of running for a track and field event, such as a sprint. The term “overspeed” used herein refers to a high speed at which the athlete needs to be trained for the sprint event. Specifically, in a sprint event, the athlete is required to run at an accelerated speed in order to excel. However, the currently-available exercise devices lack ability to provide training of the overspeed mode in an accurately and effectively controlled manner. Moreover, such exercise devices are incapable of providing information, data collection, and graphing, for example, regarding the performance of the athlete using the devices.

Accordingly, there persists a need for training athletes in capabilities required for excelling in running events and field sports that incorporate running. Specifically, there exists a need for a system for training athletes involved in running events, such as sprints, and field events that incorporate running. Also, there is a need for a system for training athletes in a controlled manner. Additionally, there exists a need for a system for training athletes by providing updates, data collection, and graphing of data, on the athletes' performance.

Therefore, it is an object of the present disclosure to obviate the above and other disadvantages from existing art and to provide a system for training athletes involved in the activity of running or a sport that incorporates running.

It is further an object of the present disclosure to provide a system for training athletes in a controlled manner.

It is further an object of the present disclosure to provide a system for training athletes by updating the athletes about their performance.

III. DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWING

The advantages and features of the present disclosure will become better understood with reference to the detailed description taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawing, wherein like elements are identified with like symbols, and in which:

FIG. 1 illustrates a block diagram of a system for training athletes, in accordance with an exemplary embodiment of the present disclosure.

IV. DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE DISCLOSURE

The best mode for carrying out the disclosure is presented in terms of its preferred embodiment, herein depicted in FIG. 1. The preferred embodiments described herein provide detail for illustrative purposes are subject to many variations. It is understood that various omissions and substitutions of equivalents are contemplated as circumstances may suggest or render expedient, but are intended to cover the application or implementation without departing from the spirit or scope of the present disclosure.

The terms “a” and “an” herein do not denote a limitation of quantity, but rather denote the presence of at least one of the referenced item.

The present disclosure provides a system for training athletes involved in running activities, such as sprints or team field sports, by facilitating an improvement in the athletes' running speed, power, acceleration, and quickness. More specifically, the disclosed system provides a resistance to an athlete attempting to run in a forward direction, or in any direction or movement pattern that can be done while running to and away from a position, such as a pattern around a series of cones or other obstacles, a pattern whereby the athlete performs a pivot or series of pivots, or a pattern that includes a series of “cuts” or changes of direction, thereby enhancing speed management skills of an athlete. Further, the system of the present disclosure provides the resistance to the athlete in a controlled manner, thereby providing safe training to the athlete. Moreover, the system of the present disclosure enables in training the athlete by informing the athlete about his or her performances.

Referring to FIG. 1, a block diagram of a system 100 for training athletes (hereinafter referred to as system 100) is illustrated, in accordance with an embodiment of the present disclosure. The system 100 includes a drive unit 101, (depicted in FIG. 1 as a motor 102 having a motor shaft 104 (hereinafter referred to as shaft 104) and a pulley 106 operatively coupled to the shaft 104) a rope 108 adapted to be rolled on the pulley 106, a unit controller (depicted in FIG. 1 as a motor controller 110) adapted to control operation of the drive unit 101, and a programmable logic controller 112 (hereinafter referred to as PLC interface 112) operatively coupled to the unit controller. The PLC interface 112 is capable of facilitating display and storage of data related to the operation of the drive unit 101.

The motor 102 may be one of an alternating current (AC) motor and a direct current (DC) motor. In the present embodiment, the motor 102 is an AC motor. The motor 102, and particularly, the shaft 104 thereof may rotate upon receiving an electrical signal from the motor controller 110. Due to the rotation of the shaft 104, the pulley 106 may rotate. The rotation of the pulley 106 facilitates winding or unwinding of the rope 108 thereon. It will be evident to a person skilled in the art that the winding or unwinding of the rope 108 on the pulley 106 is dependent on a direction of the rotation of the pulley 106, which in turn is dependent on the direction of rotation of the shaft 104.

As disclosed herein, the operation of the drive unit 101 is controlled by a unit controller, and, in an embodiment, the operation of the motor 102 is controlled by the motor controller 110. More specifically, parameters input (hereinafter referred to as control parameters) to the drive unit 101 are controlled by the unit controller, and, in an embodiment, the motor 102 are controlled by the motor controller 110. Examples of the control parameters may include, but are not limited to, input voltage, torque, rotational speed of the motor 102, and the like. In one embodiment of the present disclosure, the motor controller 110 may include a variable frequency drive (VFD) for controlling the rotational speed of the motor 102. More specifically, the VFD may control a torque of the motor 102 by controlling frequency of electrical power supplied to the motor 102. The VFD may utilize the method of direct torque control (DTC) for controlling the torque of the motor 102. Further, the motor controller 110 may include a dynamic brake resistor to be used in conjunction with the VFD for providing a braking torque to stop the motor 102.

Other control parameters that may be fed to the system through the PLC interface 112 include, but are not limited to a change in direction of the drive unit 101, a maintenance of steady tension (within a range of ½ to 1 pound, for example), to avoid the build-up of slack in the rope, a desired pull-in force, a desired pull-in speed, a desired pull-out force, a one-time increase in speed or torque of the drive unit 101 (with a return to a previous speed or torque level thereafter), a reduction or elimination in force, an increase to force over a distance or time interval, whether constant or at sub-intervals or sub-distances, or a decrease to force over a distance or time interval, whether constant or at sub-intervals or sub-distances. Furthermore, the PLC interface 112 may further provide the system 100 with parameters based on a total torque calculation, which calculation is reached by adding the starting torque to the increase in torque over a specified distance or time that the athlete is using the system. It will be apparent to one skilled in the art that one may reduce the total torque by increasing the distance or time in which an athlete is engaged to the system in its operational mode.

The control parameters to be acquired from the motor controller 110 may be fed to the system 100 through the PLC interface 112. As explained herein, the PLC interface 112 enables in displaying and storing data related to the operation of the motor 102. The data related to the control parameters may be fed into the PLC interface 112 for allowing the motor 102 to operate in various modes. Further, the PLC interface 112 may facilitate in setting profiles related to the various modes (which modes will be explained in further detail below) for enabling a user to operate the motor 102 according to the various set profiles. For example, the motor 102 may be set to operate in one of the various modes, such as a constant torque mode, a variable torque mode, a maximum speed mode, and a constant speed mode.

The disclosed system 100 is capable of providing a resistive force to an athlete for training the athlete in various kinds of modes such as an overspeed mode of running, or modes such as constant resistance, increasing resistance, decreasing resistance, and varying and constant speed modes. In use, the rope 108 may be fastened to a body portion, such as a back or a torso of the athlete, and thereafter the athlete may be allowed to run in a direction away from the motor 102. Further, the motor 102 may be set to rotate the pulley 106 to pull the rope 108, thereby providing a resistive force to the athlete running away from the motor 102, or thereby providing a pulling force on an athlete running toward the motor. It will be evident to a person skilled in the art that the resistive force offered by the system 100 to the athlete in accordance with a predetermined range of running speeds of the athlete.

The system 100 may be operated in at least one mode of the various modes from a distance by means of a remote control 114. Specifically, the drive unit 101 or the motor 102 of the system 100 may be operated in the various modes by using the remote control 114. Moreover, the remote control 114 facilitates in training the athlete in a controlled manner. For example, while training the athlete in a maximum torque mode, the athlete may experience a large amount of resistive force from the motor 102. In the event that the athlete is not able to balance or accommodate the resistive force from the motor 102, a coach or trainer of the athlete may decrease or cease the resistive force offered by the motor 102 by means of the remote control 114, thereby avoiding any chance of injury to the athlete. In one embodiment of the present disclosure, the system 100 may include a sensor (not shown) capable of detecting the rotation of the pulley 106 in a manner such that the sensor facilitates in turning OFF the motor 102 upon detecting that the pulley 106 has stopped rotating.

The PLC interface 112 of the system 100 may be further set in at least one of the various profiles for enabling the athlete to be trained in one of the various modes. For example, the motor 102 may be set into a constant torque mode, in which the motor 102 provides a constant resistive force to the athlete running away from the motor 102. Alternatively, the motor 102 may be set into a maximum speed mode such that the motor 102 may provide a highest resistive force to the athlete running away from the motor 102. Upon removal of the resistive force offered by the system 100 to the athlete, the athlete may run faster, thereby improving his or her running speed.

While operating the motor 102 in a constant speed and constant torque mode, the PLC interface 112 may set the motor 102 to run at a constant speed and provide a constant torque such that the athlete may experience a constant resistive force. Specifically, when the athlete moves away from the motor 102, the athlete may be pulled by the rope 108, thereby experiencing the constant resistive force from the motor 102. Alternatively, when the athlete moves toward the motor 102, the speed and the torque may be set at a constant value such that the rope 108 may rewind on the pulley 106 at the set speed and torque. Accordingly, the athlete may be pulled by the rope 108 and may thereby experience a constant pulling force from the motor 102. Similarly, upon removal of the pulling force offered by the system 100 to the athlete, the athlete may run faster, thereby improving the running speed thereof.

In an embodiment of the present disclosure, the remote control 114 may comprise a plurality of buttons or keys for inputting commands that the control may transmit to the system 100. The commands that may be selected by a user manipulating the remote control 114 may include starting the motor operation, stopping the motor operation, increasing the torque generated by the motor, decreasing the torque generated by the motor, causing a sudden increase in the motor's speed or torque, with a subsequent return to the immediately-prior speed or torque level, signaling of the onset of the operation of a motor (by way of a horn, buzzer, light, or other audible or visual signal device that may be incorporated in the system), or selecting a programmed mode or sequence of operation, such as a constant torque mode, an increasing torque mode, a decreasing mode program, and a constant speed mode.

Where the system 100 is in a mode where the pulley is rewinding the rope, the remote control 114 may further transmit to the system 100 commands such as selecting or adjusting the tension exerted of the rope 108, and selecting and adjusting the speed of the pulley 106.

In one embodiment of the present disclosure, the PLC interface 112 may further facilitate in displaying and collecting data related to a performance of the athlete. Specifically, the PLC interface 112 enables in updating the athlete about his or her performance on using the system 100 during training. For example, the PLC interface 112 collects data associated with a force and a speed of each pull-out throughout an entire length of the rope 108 pull-out by the athlete. More specifically, the PLC interface 112 may facilitate an evaluation of a force applied by the athlete to overcome the resistive force offered by the system 100, and a speed with which the athlete runs while overcoming the resistive force offered by the system 100.

In an embodiment, the data collected by the PLC may include a velocity in feet per seconds, a distance in feet, a time (in seconds, for example), tension on the rope for at least one stride (striking of a foot on a surface), time of a foot's contact with a surface, work (in watts), reaction time, stride frequency, stride length, number of strides for each pull-out or run-in, or an angle or angles of the rope that occur when the athlete moves laterally with respect to the center of the cabinet 116 (described further below) of the system.

In one embodiment of the present disclosure, the PLC interface 112 may be capable of evaluating a reaction time associated with a starting motion of the athlete. More specifically, the system 100 may include an option of cueing the athlete with either a light system or an audible system for initiating the starting motion. For example, the system 100 may include sensors (not shown) to record the reaction time from the cue until the athlete actually starts running. Accordingly, upon displaying such data using the PLC interface 112, the athlete may be updated about his or her performance.

In another embodiment, the PLC interface 112 may be capable of processing data collected from an athlete, and may produce output in the form of graphs, tables, histograms, and the like. Output produced by the PLC may include acceleration of an athlete (the change in velocity with respect to a time interval), power (the multiple of force and distance over a time interval) of an athlete, and the like. The output may further be in the form of a single graph that includes processed data from a plurality of athletes or a plurality of runs conducted by a single athlete (under varying conditions), to enable the user to compare a plurality of athletes' performance against one another, or to compare a single athlete's performance under different conditions, for example.

In one embodiment of the present disclosure, the system 100 may further include a cabinet 116 (shown with dotted lines) capable of enclosing elements of the system 100. More specifically, the cabinet 116 is capable of enclosing the elements, such as the motor 102, the pulley 106, the motor controller 110, and the PLC interface 112. As explained herein, the rope 108 is adapted to be rolled on the pulley 106. Accordingly, an end portion of the rope 108 may be disposed outside of the cabinet 116. In one embodiment of the present disclosure, the rope 108 may include a fastener (not shown) coupled to the end portion of the rope 108. The fastener may enable in coupling the rope 108 to the body portion of the athlete, while training the athlete with the help of the system 100.

The above-described embodiment can be modified into many alternative preferred embodiments. For instance, the PLC interface 112 may be a computer capable of displaying and storing data related to the operation of the motor 102 of the system 100. More specifically, the computer may enable in setting the motor 102 in various profiles based on the control parameters, such as the speed and the torque, to be provided by the motor controller 110. The computer may set profiles for the operation of the motor 102, thereby operating the motor 102 in the controlled manner. Further, the computer may enable in updating the athlete about his or her performance by displaying data, such as a force, a speed, and a reaction time, of the athlete.

The system 100 of the present disclosure may include a computer interface that is compatible via Ethernet/Internet Protocol (IP) networking for allowing the system 100 to select torque and speed profiles for controlling speed and torque of the motor 102. Further, the system 100 may provide capability to monitor both speed and torque via a computer network connection for purposes of observing and analyzing performance data in real time and for purposes of data collection. Moreover, as mentioned above the motor 102 may be turned ON and OFF with the help of the remote control 114.

The system 100 of the present disclosure may be utilized for training a plurality of athletes simultaneously. More specifically, a plurality of systems, such as the system 100, may be communicably coupled to a server (not shown) for operating the plurality of systems for training the plurality of athletes simultaneously. In such an instance, each system of the plurality of systems may include a drive system operatively coupled to a pulley such that each system may be utilized for an individual athlete. Accordingly, the server may enable in setting profiles for the each system of the plurality of systems, thereby operating the plurality of systems in various modes. Further, the server may enable in updating the plurality of athletes about their performances by displaying data, such as a force, a speed, and a reaction time thereof.

Further, in another embodiment of the preset disclosure, the drive unit 101 of the system 100 described herein may comprise a magnetic brake and a spring rewind pulley for providing the resistive force to the athlete.

Preferably, all the elements, such as the motor 102, the motor controller 110, and the PLC interface 112, utilized in the system 100 may conform to standards as per National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA). More specifically, most of the elements may conform to NEMA 12 standard. The NEMA 12 type enclosures are intended for use indoors to protect the enclosed equipment against designated environmental conditions, such as fibers, flying, lint, dust and dirt, and light splashing, seepage, dripping and external condensation of noncorrosive liquids. Further, the enclosures may have no holes, conduit knockouts, conduit openings, except that oil tight or dust tight mechanisms may be mounted through holes in the enclosure when provided with oil-resistant gaskets. Furthermore, doors of the enclosures may be provided with oil-resistant gaskets. In addition, enclosures for controllers may have hinged doors capable of swinging horizontally and may require a tool to open. When intended for wall mounting, NEMA 12 type enclosures may include mounting means external to the equipment cavity, captive closing hardware, and provisions for locking.

Further, the dynamic brake resistor may conform to NEMA 1 standard. The NEMA 1 type enclosure provides vented enclosure to allow heat dissipation. Moreover, the NEMA 1 type enclosure may be utilized in a portable system, such as the system 100. Additionally, the NEMA 1 type enclosure may enable in bearing light rain condition. In another embodiment of the present disclosure, the dynamic brake resistor may be rated as per NEMA 3R standard to be utilized in a permanent mounted system, such as the system 100.

The foregoing descriptions of specific embodiments of the present disclosure have been presented for purposes of illustration and description. They are not intended to be exhaustive or to limit the present disclosure to the precise forms disclosed, and obviously many modifications and variations are possible in light of the above teaching. The exemplary embodiment was chosen and described in order to best explain the principles of the present disclosure and its practical application, to thereby enable others skilled in the art to best utilize the present disclosure and various embodiments with various modifications as are suited to the particular use contemplated.