Title:
Blocking Shield
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A blocking shield configured to be worn over a person's chest includes a pad cover. The pad cover has a maximum width that is roughly the same as a distance across the person's chest. The blocking shield includes padding configured to fill an inner volume of the pad cover, a first shoulder fitting strap adapted to be connected between a first location on an upper portion of the pad cover and a first location on a bottom portion of the pad cover, and a second shoulder fitting strap adapted to be connected between a second location on the upper portion of the pad cover and a second location on the bottom portion of the pad cover. The blocking shield further includes a back fitting strap adapted to be connected between a third location on the bottom portion of the pad cover and a fourth location on the bottom portion of the pad cover.



Inventors:
Hawthorne Jr., George (US)
Application Number:
13/111964
Publication Date:
11/22/2012
Filing Date:
05/20/2011
Assignee:
HAWTHORNE, JR. GEORGE
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A41D13/05
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
KINSAUL, ANNA KATHRYN
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
George Hawthorne, Jr. (Gilbert, AZ, US)
Claims:
1. A blocking shield configured to be worn over a person's chest, the blocking shield comprising: a pad cover, the pad cover having a maximum width that is roughly the same as a distance across the chest of the football player; padding configured to fill an inner volume of the pad cover; a first shoulder fitting strap adapted to be connected between a first location on an upper portion of the pad cover and a first location on a bottom portion of the pad cover; a second shoulder fitting strap adapted to be connected between a second location on the upper portion of the pad cover and a second location on the bottom portion of the pad cover; and a back fitting strap adapted to be connected between the a third location on the bottom portion of the pad cover and a fourth location on the bottom portion of the pad cover.

2. The blocking shield of claim 1, further comprising a plurality of snap buckles, the snap buckles including a female part and a male part, wherein a distal end of each of the first shoulder fitting strap, second shoulder fitting strap, and back fitting strap is attached to one of the female parts or male parts of the snap buckles.

3. The blocking shield of claim 1, further comprising a back strap, the back fitting strap adapted to be inserted through the back strap.

4. The blocking shield of claim 1, further comprising: a first shoulder strap attached between the first shoulder adjustment strap and the first location on the upper portion of the pad cover; and a second shoulder strap attached between the second shoulder adjustment strap and the second location on the upper portion of the pad cover.

5. The blocking shield of claim 1, wherein the pad cover is greater than about six inches thick.

6. The blocking shield of claim 1, wherein the pad cover has a polygonal shape.

7. The blocking shield of claim 1, wherein the pad cover has a circular shape.

8. The blocking shield of claim 1, wherein the pad cover has an oval shape.

9. The blocking shield of claim 1, wherein a thickness of the pad cover is greater than about five inches.

10. The blocking shield of claim 1, wherein the pad cover comprises a tear-resistant, water-proof material.

11. The blocking shield of claim 1, wherein the first shoulder fitting strap, second shoulder fitting strap, and back fitting strap are configured to secure the pad cover to the chest of the football player and adjust a position of the pad cover on the chest of the football player.

Description:

BACKGROUND

1. Technical Field

This disclosure relates to sports training equipment, and more particularly, to an improved blocking shield for training in football and other contact sports.

2. Description of the Related Art

Conventional football blocking shields are padded devices that are designed to be grasped or held by a football player who is being blocked by another football player during a practice or training scenario. The blocking shield may prevent injuries to a player's hands and fingers, by preventing them from being jammed against the hard plastic pads of the other player. While such a conventional blocking shield can prevent inadvertent injury during practice, it may not provide a realistic training experience. For example, an offensive player may not develop a realistic “feel” for blocking a defensive player using his hands and arms if there is a blocking shield interposed between the defensive player and the hands and arms of the offensive player.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

In the accompanying drawings which form part of this utility patent application, like reference numerals refer to like elements throughout. For purposes of clarity, the accompanying drawings may not be drawn to scale, and certain features that are not necessary for an understanding of example embodiments may not be shown.

FIG. 1 is a schematic diagram illustrating a front-view aspect of a football blocking shield according to an example embodiment.

FIG. 2 is a schematic diagram illustrating a rear-view aspect of the football blocking shield of FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 is schematic diagram illustrating a closed-cell foam insert forming a part of the football blocking shield of FIG. 1.

FIG. 4 is a simplified schematic diagram illustrating the football blocking shield of FIG. 1 as it may be worn by a football player.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

While effective at protecting a football player's hands and fingers, conventional blocking shields are often rather large and cumbersome items that do not lend themselves to a realistic practice experience. For example, offensive linemen are frequently taught to block against the chest pads of the defensive player, keeping their hands between the shoulders of the defensive player. If the offensive player's hands are positioned in this area, the chances of receiving an offensive holding penalty during a game are unlikely, unless the offensive player grabs the defensive player's jersey. On the other hand, if the offensive players' hands contact the defensive player on the “outside” of the defensive player's chest pads, referees will frequently call the player for offensive holding.

Because a conventional blocking shield is typically wider than the player's chest pads, a football player may develop the unwanted habit of adopting a relatively wide placement of the hands, along the sides of the blocking shield. This habit can lead to harmful team penalties during a game. Thus, it may be advantageous to provide a blocking shield that is capable of being worn by football player when blocking techniques are practiced, and which does not require the player wearing the blocking shield to be actively grasping or holding it.

Thus, according to example embodiments, a blocking shield is provided that may be positioned over the chest of the football player that is wearing it, and that may be securely fastened using a plurality of straps and buckles. Such a blocking shield is advantageous for at least two reasons. First, the football player wearing the blocking shield need not be concerned about maintaining the shield in the appropriate position using his hands and arms. Second, because a football blocking shield according to example embodiments is designed to be worn on a player's chest, the blocking shield is roughly the same distance across as the player's chest pads. Both features enable a more realistic training experience, and the smaller-sized blocking shield encourages the proper positioning of a player's hands when blocking drills are practiced, which in turn may result in less holding penalties during a game.

In the detailed description that follows, aspects of one or more example embodiments are described in conjunction with the accompanying diagrams. It should be emphasized that these examples are provided for purposes of illustrating one or more inventive concepts that may be present in numerous embodiments as defined by the attached claims, and not for purposes of limitation. In some instances, particular details that are not necessary for a clear understanding of one or more inventive concepts are not presented, in order to avoid obscuring the one or more inventive concepts.

FIG. 1 is a schematic diagram illustrating a front-view aspect of a football blocking shield 100 according to an example embodiment. FIG. 2 is a schematic diagram illustrating a rear-view aspect of the football blocking shield 100. FIG. 3 is a schematic diagram illustrating a closed-cell foam insert 180 forming a part of the football blocking shield 100. FIG. 4 is a simplified schematic diagram illustrating the football blocking shield 100 as it may be worn by a football player in accordance with an example embodiment.

Referring to FIGS. 1-4, a blocking shield 100 according to an example embodiment includes a pad cover 110, shoulder straps 120, attachment loops 130, snap buckles 140, shoulder fitting strap 150, zipper 160, back strap 170, back fitting strap 175, and a foam insert 180. As shown, snap buckles 140 include two component parts, a female part 140A and a male part 140B. To form a secure link, male part 140B is inserted into female part 140A, where the edges of the male part 140B are initially drawn together but then spring outwards after the initial constriction has been cleared. To release, the sides of male part 140B are squeezed together, allowing it to slide out from inside female part 140A. The above-described interaction between female part 140A and male part 140B of snap buckle 140 is familiar and well-understood, and will not be described in further detail here.

As illustrated in FIG. 2, proximal ends of each shoulder strap 120 are affixed to an upper part of pad cover 110. As shown, proximal ends of shoulder straps 120 are preferably stitched to upper part of pad cover 110, at locations near corners of the pad cover 110. Likewise, proximal ends of shoulder fitting straps 150 are affixed to distal ends of corresponding shoulder straps 120. Distal ends of shoulder fitting straps 150 may be inserted through openings on ends of male part 140B of snap buckle 140, doubled back on itself, and re-inserted through the openings on an end of male part 140B, thus forming a loop that secures male parts 140B of snap buckles 140 to distal ends of shoulder fitting straps 150.

Female parts 140A of snap buckles 140 are affixed to a bottom portion of pad cover 110 using attachment loops 130. Attachment loops 130 are passed through ends of female parts 140A of snap buckles 140. As shown, attachment loops 130 are preferably stitched to the bottom portion of pad cover 110, at locations near bottom corners of pad cover 110. Attachment loops 130 securely attach female parts 140A of snap buckles 140 to bottom portion of pad cover 110. As shown, male parts 140B and female parts 140A of snap buckles 140 are adapted to secure shoulder straps 120 and attached shoulder fitting straps 150 to a bottom portion of pad cover 110.

A proximal end of back fitting strap 170 is secured to a bottom corner of the pad cover 110, preferably at the same location as one of the attachment loops 130, although other embodiments are not so limited. Back fitting strap 170 is passed through optional back strap 175. Back strap 175 constitutes a sleeve-like cover for back fitting strap 170, and may provide additional comfort to the wearer of blocking shield 100, much like shoulder straps 120 (also optional) may provide additional comfort to the wearer of blocking shield 100. It should be apparent that shoulder straps 120 and back strap 175 need not be present in all embodiments, as blocking shield 100 can be adequately secured by attaching proximal ends of shoulder fitting straps 150 directly to pad cover 110, and back fitting strap 170 does not require back strap 175 in order to attach to another corner of pad cover 110.

A male part 140B of a snap buckle 140 is attached to a distal end of back fitting strap 170, in the same manner that male parts 140B of snap buckles 140 are attached to distal ends of shoulder fitting straps 150. Furthermore, a second female part 140A is secured to a second bottom corner of the pad cover 110, preferably at the same location as the other one of the attachment loops 130, although other embodiments are not so limited.

As shown, each shoulder strap 120 and corresponding shoulder fitting strap 150 can be securely attached to an upper corner and a corresponding lower corner of pad cover 110, forming two loops that correspond to a right shoulder and a left shoulder of a person wearing the blocking shield 100. Likewise, back fitting strap 170 is securely attached to a bottom corner and an opposite bottom corner of pad cover 110, forming a single loop that corresponds to a waist or torso of a person wearing blocking shield 100. These loops and their associated connections as described above, make it possible for a football player to wear blocking shield 100 such that pad cover 110 is disposed substantially over the chest of such football player, as illustrated in FIG. 4.

The use of snap buckles 140 to secure the shoulder fitting straps 150 and back fitting strap 170 to the pad cover 110 allows the fitting straps 150, 170 to be quickly and easily released. Snap buckles 140 also allows one to easily adjust an effective length of the shoulder fitting straps 150 and back fitting strap 175. Therefore, an effective length of the fitting straps 150, 175 may be easily shortened or lengthened, based on a size of a player wearing blocking shield 100, in order to hold the pad cover 110 securely over the chest of a player, allowing the player the uninhibited use of their hands and arms. Thus, example embodiments may be used for all sizes of players, from very large adult men to relatively small grade school children. Of course, the overall size of the pad cover 110 may need to be sized appropriately depending on the size of the player.

Preferably, and as shown in FIG. 2, proximal ends of shoulder straps 120, a proximal end of back fitting strap 170, and attachment loops 130 may be affixed to pad cover 110 using heavy duty thread and an hourglass-shaped stitching pattern, although a variety of different stitching patterns may alternatively be used. Similarly, proximal ends of shoulder fitting straps 150 can be affixed to distal ends of shoulder straps 120 in the same manner, e.g., with heavy-duty thread. It will be appreciated that there are many other conventional devices that can be used to secure straps such as shoulder straps 120, shoulder fitting straps 150, or back fitting strap 170 to pad cover 110. For example, according to other embodiments, detachable snap-type fasteners may be used, or alternatively, hook-and-loop fasteners.

As shown in FIG. 2, zipper 160 may be disposed across a top part of pad cover 110, although other embodiments may have zipper 160 disposed in different locations on the pad cover 110. Zipper 160 may be opened to allow access to an interior of pad cover 110, such that foam insert 180 may be inserted within the pad cover 110. When closed, zipper 160 and pad cover 110 cooperatively retain foam insert 170 inside pad cover 110. In alternative embodiments, other types of fasteners such as buttons, snap-type fasteners, or hook-and-loop fasteners may be used in place of the zipper 160.

According to preferred embodiments and as illustrated in FIGS. 1-3, foam insert 180 has substantially the same size and shape as pad cover 110, such that when foam insert 180 is disposed within pad cover 110, a volume of pad cover 110 is substantially occupied by foam insert 180. As illustrated in FIG. 3, foam insert 180 and pad cover 110 are shaped as a quadrilateral, that is, the foam insert 180 and pad cover 110 are shaped as a four-sided polygon. The foam insert 180 and pad cover 110 may be shaped as special types of quadrilaterals, such as squares or rectangles. In still other alternative embodiments, the foam insert 180 and pad cover 110 may be circular, oval, or lozenge-shaped. In other embodiments, the foam insert 180 and pad cover 110 may be triangular, or even have polygonal shapes with more than four sides.

In alternative embodiments, other types of padding may be used instead of foam insert 180. For example, tiny polystyrene beads (not illustrated), such as the type used to provide cushioning in the well-known “bean-bag” type of lounge furniture, may be used to fill an inner volume of pad cover 110. As another possible padding material, an inner volume of pad cover 110 may be filled with crumpled newspaper, which is an environmentally-friendly alternative considering that the newspaper may be removed and recycled when it has lost its effectiveness as padding. Numerous other natural and bio-degradable alternatives exist. For example, grain such as rice or wheat could be used in conjunction with a waterproof liner to prevent the grain from becoming damp and spoiling. Sand could be used if additional weight was desired.

In preferred embodiments, a material used to construct pad cover 110, shoulder straps 120, and back strap 175 comprises a heavy-duty and waterproof material capable of withstanding repeated impacts and blows without rupturing or tearing. Vinyl upholstery fabric is one such material that is suitable for constructing the pad cover 110, shoulder straps 120, and back strap 175. Other possible materials may include a variety of natural or man-made materials such as leather, synthetic leather, or nylon fabric.

According to the illustrated embodiments, shoulder fitting straps 150, back fitting strap 170, and attachment loops 130 may be formed with varying lengths of webbing. Webbing is a ribbon-like material that, unlike rope, has a substantially rectangular cross-section. Webbing may be preferred because it is strong, water-resistant, and provides a relatively large and flat surface area that may be securely stitched to a material of pad cover 110 and shoulder straps 120. Webbing may be obtained in varying widths, such as ¼ or ½ inch. Likewise, snap buckles 140, which are typically formed of molded plastic, may be obtained in varying sizes. Preferably, according to example embodiments, openings in snap buckles 140 are wide enough to accommodate a width of the webbing that is used for shoulder fitting straps 150, back fitting strap 170, and attachment loops 130.

FIG. 4 is a simplified schematic diagram illustrating blocking shield 100 as it may be worn by a person, such as a football player, who is represented by the athletic tee-shirt 190. As illustrated in FIG. 4, the design of blocking shield 100 may allow a football player to wear the blocking shield 100 such that it is substantially centered on the football player's chest, which is illustrated by a placement of blocking shield 100 relative to the front of an athletic tee-shirt 190. Thus, blocking shield 100 may provide a hands-free mode of operation that is superior to a conventional blocking shield, giving a football player an ability to make direct contact with hands and arms on another football player, which may greatly increase the realism of training and therefore, the effectiveness of such training.

The example embodiment described above was presented for purposes of illustration, and not limitation. Those skilled in the art will appreciate and understand that numerous slight changes may be made to the example embodiment described herein, but those changes may nevertheless be encompassed within the literal meaning of the following claims or their equivalents when the claim terms are interpreted in light of the specification.





 
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