US20140309059A1 - Sports training device and a method for training athletes - Google Patents

Sports training device and a method for training athletes Download PDF

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Publication number
US20140309059A1
US20140309059A1 US14/254,861 US201414254861A US2014309059A1 US 20140309059 A1 US20140309059 A1 US 20140309059A1 US 201414254861 A US201414254861 A US 201414254861A US 2014309059 A1 US2014309059 A1 US 2014309059A1
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ball
device
display
impact
training device
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Abandoned
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US14/254,861
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Keith D. MINCH
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Keith D. MINCH
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Priority to US14/254,861 priority patent/US20140309059A1/en
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    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63BAPPARATUS FOR PHYSICAL TRAINING, GYMNASTICS, SWIMMING, CLIMBING, OR FENCING; BALL GAMES; TRAINING EQUIPMENT
    • A63B43/00Balls with special arrangements
    • A63B43/06Balls with special arrangements with illuminating devices ; with reflective surfaces
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63BAPPARATUS FOR PHYSICAL TRAINING, GYMNASTICS, SWIMMING, CLIMBING, OR FENCING; BALL GAMES; TRAINING EQUIPMENT
    • A63B69/00Training appliances or apparatus for special sports
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63BAPPARATUS FOR PHYSICAL TRAINING, GYMNASTICS, SWIMMING, CLIMBING, OR FENCING; BALL GAMES; TRAINING EQUIPMENT
    • A63B69/00Training appliances or apparatus for special sports
    • A63B69/0051Training appliances or apparatus for special sports not used, see subgroups and A63B69/00
    • A63B69/0053Apparatus generating random stimulus signals for reaction-time training involving a substantial physical effort
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63BAPPARATUS FOR PHYSICAL TRAINING, GYMNASTICS, SWIMMING, CLIMBING, OR FENCING; BALL GAMES; TRAINING EQUIPMENT
    • A63B71/00Games or sports accessories not covered in groups A63B1/00 - A63B69/00
    • A63B71/06Indicating or scoring devices for games or players, or for other sports activities
    • A63B71/0619Displays, user interfaces and indicating devices, specially adapted for sport equipment, e.g. display mounted on treadmills
    • A63B71/0622Visual, audio or audio-visual systems for entertaining, instructing or motivating the user
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63BAPPARATUS FOR PHYSICAL TRAINING, GYMNASTICS, SWIMMING, CLIMBING, OR FENCING; BALL GAMES; TRAINING EQUIPMENT
    • A63B71/00Games or sports accessories not covered in groups A63B1/00 - A63B69/00
    • A63B71/06Indicating or scoring devices for games or players, or for other sports activities
    • A63B71/0686Timers, rhythm indicators or pacing apparatus using electric or electronic means
    • GPHYSICS
    • G09EDUCATION; CRYPTOGRAPHY; DISPLAY; ADVERTISING; SEALS
    • G09BEDUCATIONAL OR DEMONSTRATION APPLIANCES; APPLIANCES FOR TEACHING, OR COMMUNICATING WITH, THE BLIND, DEAF OR MUTE; MODELS; PLANETARIA; GLOBES; MAPS; DIAGRAMS
    • G09B19/00Teaching not covered by other main groups of this subclass
    • G09B19/003Repetitive work cycles; Sequence of movements
    • G09B19/0038Sports
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63BAPPARATUS FOR PHYSICAL TRAINING, GYMNASTICS, SWIMMING, CLIMBING, OR FENCING; BALL GAMES; TRAINING EQUIPMENT
    • A63B71/00Games or sports accessories not covered in groups A63B1/00 - A63B69/00
    • A63B71/06Indicating or scoring devices for games or players, or for other sports activities
    • A63B71/0619Displays, user interfaces and indicating devices, specially adapted for sport equipment, e.g. display mounted on treadmills
    • A63B71/0622Visual, audio or audio-visual systems for entertaining, instructing or motivating the user
    • A63B2071/0625Emitting sound, noise or music
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63BAPPARATUS FOR PHYSICAL TRAINING, GYMNASTICS, SWIMMING, CLIMBING, OR FENCING; BALL GAMES; TRAINING EQUIPMENT
    • A63B71/00Games or sports accessories not covered in groups A63B1/00 - A63B69/00
    • A63B71/06Indicating or scoring devices for games or players, or for other sports activities
    • A63B71/0619Displays, user interfaces and indicating devices, specially adapted for sport equipment, e.g. display mounted on treadmills
    • A63B2071/0655Tactile feedback
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63BAPPARATUS FOR PHYSICAL TRAINING, GYMNASTICS, SWIMMING, CLIMBING, OR FENCING; BALL GAMES; TRAINING EQUIPMENT
    • A63B71/00Games or sports accessories not covered in groups A63B1/00 - A63B69/00
    • A63B71/06Indicating or scoring devices for games or players, or for other sports activities
    • A63B2071/0694Visual indication, e.g. Indicia
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63BAPPARATUS FOR PHYSICAL TRAINING, GYMNASTICS, SWIMMING, CLIMBING, OR FENCING; BALL GAMES; TRAINING EQUIPMENT
    • A63B2220/00Measuring of physical parameters relating to sporting activity
    • A63B2220/40Acceleration
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63BAPPARATUS FOR PHYSICAL TRAINING, GYMNASTICS, SWIMMING, CLIMBING, OR FENCING; BALL GAMES; TRAINING EQUIPMENT
    • A63B2220/00Measuring of physical parameters relating to sporting activity
    • A63B2220/50Force related parameters
    • A63B2220/51Force
    • A63B2220/53Force of an impact, e.g. blow or punch
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63BAPPARATUS FOR PHYSICAL TRAINING, GYMNASTICS, SWIMMING, CLIMBING, OR FENCING; BALL GAMES; TRAINING EQUIPMENT
    • A63B2225/00Other characteristics of sports equipment
    • A63B2225/20Other characteristics of sports equipment with means for remote communication, e.g. internet or the like
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63BAPPARATUS FOR PHYSICAL TRAINING, GYMNASTICS, SWIMMING, CLIMBING, OR FENCING; BALL GAMES; TRAINING EQUIPMENT
    • A63B2225/00Other characteristics of sports equipment
    • A63B2225/50Wireless data transmission, e.g. by radio transmitters or telemetry
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63BAPPARATUS FOR PHYSICAL TRAINING, GYMNASTICS, SWIMMING, CLIMBING, OR FENCING; BALL GAMES; TRAINING EQUIPMENT
    • A63B2243/00Specific ball sports not provided for in A63B2102/00 - A63B2102/38
    • A63B2243/0066Rugby; American football
    • A63B2243/007American football
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63BAPPARATUS FOR PHYSICAL TRAINING, GYMNASTICS, SWIMMING, CLIMBING, OR FENCING; BALL GAMES; TRAINING EQUIPMENT
    • A63B69/00Training appliances or apparatus for special sports
    • A63B69/0002Training appliances or apparatus for special sports for baseball
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63BAPPARATUS FOR PHYSICAL TRAINING, GYMNASTICS, SWIMMING, CLIMBING, OR FENCING; BALL GAMES; TRAINING EQUIPMENT
    • A63B69/00Training appliances or apparatus for special sports
    • A63B69/002Training appliances or apparatus for special sports for football

Abstract

A sports training device is provided that includes a housing. The housing has a size, shape and configuration that mimics the size, shape and configuration of a sports equipment member such as a baseball or football. A sensor is provided for sensing an impact on the sports training device and a signaling device is in communication with the sensor for selectively emitting and not emitting the human detectable display in response to an impact sensed by the sensor. A timer is provided that is in communication with the sensor and the signaling device for controlling the timing of the signaling device.

Description

    PRIORITY STATEMENT
  • This application claims priority to U.S. Provisional Application No. 61/853,990, which was filed on 16 Apr. 2014 and which is fully incorporated herein by reference.
  • I. TECHNICAL FIELD OF THE INVENTION
  • The present invention relates to sports training devices, and more particularly to a sports training device that provides feedback to the person being trained in order to improve his or her performance.
  • II. BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
  • “Keep your eye on the ball” is a common phrase heard by little leaguers, and expressed by coaches across the country. Although it is easy to tell a baseball player to “keep your eye on the ball”, it is not as easy to actually train players to do so. Players tend to look past the ball, close their eyes before hitting or catching the ball, or otherwise not follow the ball all the way to the bat or to the glove.
  • One of the hardest things to teach a young baseball player, is to watch the baseball all the way to the point where the ball contacts the bat. Coaches at all levels constantly have to remind their batters to watch the ball all the way to the bat. Unfortunately, it is difficult to train a batter to watch the bat and ball meet
  • When attempting to hit a baseball it is very important for the player to maintain eye contact with the ball all the way until impact with the ball is made with the bat. When attempting to catch a ball, it is very important for the player to maintain eye contact with the ball until the player catches the ball within the glove.
  • A variety of products exist in the market today which attempt to aid in this training. A numbered ball system from Diamond Sports includes multiple training balls, each with a different number affixed to the ball. The batter is instructed to keep his eye on the ball, and to tell the pitcher, or the coach, which number ball he is attempting to hit. The pitcher, or coach, then selects a numbered ball from a plurality of different numbered ball choices and pitches the ball to the batter in training. The batter attempts to watch the ball, and attempts to figure out the number that is on the ball as the batter makes bat to ball contact with the ball.
  • An additional training device is a training ball that has a plurality of different colors affixed to the ball. The pitcher, or coach, pitches the ball to the batter, and the batter is instructed to tell the pitcher or coach what color his bat made contact with when he hit the ball.
  • Although these devices provide some help for a batter, room for improvement exists.
  • In addition to baseball, one can also improve a participant's performance by training the athlete to watch the ball during the time that he is either trying to strike the ball with a club, stick, racquet or body part, or during the time that he is trying to catch the ball, with either a club, stick, racquet, glove or body part. Many sports require the type of timing with hand eye coordination that the present invention seeks to improve.
  • The present invention seeks to improve upon the prior art, to provide an improved sports training device that will be useful in improving the performance of persons participating in sporting activities.
  • III. SUMMARY
  • In accordance with the present invention, a sports training device is provided that includes a housing. The housing has a size, shape and configuration that mimics the size, shape and configuration of a sports equipment member. A sensor is provided for sensing an impact on the sports training device and a signaling device is in communication with the sensor for selectively emitting and not emitting the human detectable display in response to an impact sensed by the sensor. A timer is provided that is in communication with the sensor and the signaling device for controlling the timing of the signaling device.
  • Preferably, the device is placeable in each of a sleep mode, and a ready mode. In the sleep mode, an impact will not cause the signaling device to emit a human detectable display, while in the ready mode, an impact will cause the signaling device to emit a human detectable display.
  • A switch is provided that is capable of placing the device in each of a first ready position and a second ready position. In the first ready position, the impact sensed by the sensor activates the timer to actuate the signaling device to emit a human detectable display for a predetermined time interval after impact. In the second ready position, an impact sensed by the sensor actuates the timer to actuate the signaling device to emit the human detectable display after a predetermined time interval has elapsed.
  • The display emitted by the signaling device can vary depending upon the use.
  • A sporting device, when used in the first ready position, preferably includes a display that comprises a light source for providing a lighted display. Preferably, the lighted display is capable of exhibiting at least three different colors of display. Upon impact of the device, the sensor sends a signal to the timer, that sends a signal to the display to light up the display in a particular, single color for a predetermined time interval. The user then observes the display and reports the color of the display to his coach or trainer.
  • Through this process, the student is trained to keep his eye on the sports training device during the time period when the sports device is being impacted, such as when a sports training device such as a baseball is being hit by a club like device such as a bat. Preferably, the timer causes the signaling device to emit a display as soon as possible after impact, and to extinguish the display shortly thereafter, in an interval after also measured in a fraction of a second. By doing this, the student's failure to be watching the ball at impact will likely preclude the student from discovering and reporting the correct color displayed.
  • The above described method of training can be used in connection with a large variety of sports, but is especially adaptable for use in connection with a baseball type sports training device used to train students in ball hitting exercises.
  • Also in accordance with the present invention, methods of employing a sports device of the present invention are provided for use in training a student. According to one method, a display containing ball is selected that is capable of selectively displaying and not displaying a first color from a plurality of display containing balls capable of selectively displaying one of at least a first, second and third color. The ball is actuated to place the ball in a ready-mode to provide a display upon impact. The trainer then determines the nature of the display and delivers the ball to the trainee. The student then impacts the ball such as by striking it with a bat, stick, racquet or a body part. The impact causes the signally device to emit a display. The timer shuts off the display after a predetermined time interval, and the student observes the color displayed and reports the displayed color to the trainer.
  • In another embodiment of the present invention, a display containing ball is provided that is capable of selectively displaying and not displaying at least a first, second and third color. The ball is programmed to display only a selected one of the first, second and third color upon impact. The ball is then delivered to the student, who impacts the ball, such as by catching the ball with his hands or striking the ball with a club, stick, racquet or other sports equipment member. The impact with the student's body part or sports equipment member causes the ball to display the selected color. Upon impact, the sensor within the ball causes the display to be emitted for a predetermined time interval, after which the timer shuts off the display. The student then observes the color displayed and reports the color displayed to the trainer.
  • Optionally, the ball can include a trigger or “ready” switch that enables the ball to be placed in the ready position by the trainer. Upon triggering, the ball displays the selected color to the trainer, so that the trainer will be aware of the color that will be displayed when the student impacts it.
  • The method described above works especially well in connection with the training of a football receiver, and wherein the sports training device comprises a football, although it is adaptable for use with a wide variety of other sports.
  • In accordance with a further method of the present invention, a display containing ball is selected that is capable of selectively providing and not providing a non-visual display. The ball includes a timer for selecting an interval after a triggering point at which to provide a non-visual display, and a ready switch for placing the ball in a ready position. The ball mounted ready switch member is used to at least perform one of (a) setting the time interval and (b) placing the ball in the ready position. The ball is then delivered to the student, who impacts the ball such as by catching the ball with his hand. The impact of the student's hand triggers the timer to begin a countdown. After a predetermined time interval has elapsed, the non-visual display is provided to tell the player that the selected time interval has elapsed. Optionally, a second indicia is provided to alert the trainer of the elapse of the selected time period.
  • The above described method and device is especially useful in training quarterbacks to give them a sense of timing and time intervals between the time when the ball is impacted, such as when they receive the hike, to the time when the ball should be released. Often, this is a 3 to 5 second interval. If the quarterback waits longer than that interval, his chances of being “sacked” or tackled with the ball increase substantially.
  • In accordance with a further embodiment of the present invention, a method of training a student comprises the step of selecting a display-containing ball capable of selectively displaying and not displaying at least a first, second and third color. The ball includes a timer and a color selector, and optionally, a programming and also a timer. The ball is actuated to place the ball in the ready mode to provide a display upon impact. The ball is then delivered to a first student who impacts the ball such as by kicking the ball (in soccer) or striking the ball with a stick (in hockey) or racquet (tennis) or catching the ball with a basket and stick (such as in lacrosse).
  • The impact causes a first color to be displayed and resets the signaling device to display a color upon a subsequent impact. The first student observes the first color displayed and reports the color displayed to the trainer. Preferably, the color selection is randomized so to avoid a fixed color rotation. In such a randomized display, the subsequent color may be the same or different color than the previously displayed color.
  • A second student then impacts the ball such as by kicking, striking with a stick or racket or catching in a basket and stick. The impact by the second student causes a second color to be displayed, and the ball is reset to display another color upon further impact. The second student observes the second color of the display and reports the color displayed to the trainer.
  • The prior three steps are then repeated as subsequent students impact the ball when subsequent colors are chosen to display upon impact.
  • An additional use of the device of the present invention is as a training ball designed to teach catchers, fielders, and other players who catch the ball to keep their eyes on the ball as the ball approaches their glove. In this case, a proximity sensor in the ball initiates the lighting of the ball in a predetermined color as the ball approaches a predetermined distance from the glove.
  • Other examples of this technology are applications where a user needs to be trained to watch a moving sports equipment member through the time of impact.
  • In an alternative embodiment of the present invention, the training device has the form of a football. The football can be designed to signal a visual cue upon impact such as with a receivers hands, or with a kickers foot. Alternatively the football can be designed to signal when it impacts a receiver's hands or a kicker's foot.
  • In an alternate embodiment, the football signals a non-visual display, such as an audible or vibratory signal at a predetermined time interval after impact. This embodiment is useful for training quarterbacks of the appropriate time limits for releasing the ball after receiving it from the center. For example, in the timer mode of the present invention, the ball is snapped and the timer is activated. A count down timer then begins to signal the quarter back to let him or her know when a pre-determined time interval has passed. This allows the coach to train the quarterback to get a feel for the amount of time that he or she has before he must pass the ball.
  • In other preferred embodiments, the device can be configured to mimic the size, shape weight and performance characteristics of one of a variety of sports device members such as a baseball, a softball, a lacrosse ball, a hockey puck, a football, a soccer ball, a kick-ball, a tennis ball, a golf ball, a volleyball, a bossa ball, a badmitten shuttlecock, a biribol ball, a fistball ball, a footbag, a football tennis ball, basketball, jianzi shuttlecock, a Jokgu ball, a peteca shuttlecock, a pickleball ball, a sepaktakraw ball, a sipa ball, a throwball ball, a wallyball ball, a korflafball, a netball ball, a slamball ball, a cork ball ball, a Brannball ball, a cricket ball, a Danish longball ball, a ping pong ball, a Lapta ball, a Matball ball, an Oina ball, over-the-line ball, pesapallo ball, a rounders ball, a broom ball ball, a rugby ball, paddleball ball, paddle tennis ball, a roller hockey ball, and a street hockey ball, and a polo ball.
  • IV. BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • FIG. 1 is a perspective view of the sports training device of the present invention in the form of a baseball;
  • FIG. 2 is a schematic, sectional view of an embodiment of the training device of the present invention;
  • FIG. 2A is a schematic view of an electronics package used with the present invention;
  • FIG. 3 is a sectional view of an alternate embodiment of the training device of the present invention;
  • FIG. 4 is a perspective exterior view of an alternate embodiment of the present invention;
  • FIG. 5 is a sectional view of the training device in the form of a football;
  • FIG. 6 is a sectional view of the training device in the form of a football;
  • FIG. 7 is a perspective view of the training device in the form of a soccer ball;
  • FIG. 8 is a perspective view of the present invention in the form of a hockey puck.
  • FIG. 8A is a reduced scale sectional view taken along lines 8A-8A of FIG. 8; a top, schematic view of the present invention in the form of a hockey puck.
  • FIG. 9 is a schematic view of an exemplary circuit board diagram of the present invention.
  • FIG. 10 is a schematic view of an exemplary alternate embodiment of a circuit board;
  • FIG. 11 is a schematic view of an alternate exemplary embodiment circuit board;
  • FIG. 12 is a flow chart explaining the operation of the device in accordance with a first method of practicing the present invention;
  • FIG. 13 is a flow chart schematically illustrating the operation of the device of the present invention in accordance with a first alternate method of practicing the present invention.
  • FIG. 14 is a flow chart schematically illustrating the operation of the device of the present invention in accordance with a second alternate method of practicing the present invention.
  • FIG. 15 is a flow chart schematically illustrating the operation of the device of the present invention in accordance with a third alternate method of practicing the present invention.
  • V. DETAILED DESCRIPTION
  • The description that follows describes, illustrates and exemplifies one or more embodiments of the present invention in accordance with its principles. This description is not provided to limit the invention to the embodiments described herein, but rather to explain and teach the principles of the invention in order to enable one of ordinary skill in the art to understand these principles and, with that understanding, be able to apply them to the practice not only the embodiments herein, but also other embodiments that may come to mind in accordance with these principles. The scope of the present invention is intended to cover such embodiments that may fall within the scope of the appended claims, either literally or under the doctrine of equivalents.
  • It should be noted that in the description and drawings, like or substantially similar elements may be labeled with the same reference numerals. However, sometimes these elements may be labeled with differing numbers, such as, for example, in cases where such labeling facilitates a more clear description. Additionally, the drawings set forth herein are not necessarily drawn to scale, and in some instances proportions may have been exaggerated to more clearly depict certain features.
  • Certain elements that are similar to the other elements but used on different sides of the training apparatus may be labeled using “a” and “b” in addition to the reference numeral, where such labeling assists in better understanding of the disclosure. Such labeling and drawing practices do not necessarily implicate an underlying substantive purpose.
  • As stated above, the present specification is intended to be taken as a whole and interpreted in accordance with the principles of the present invention as taught herein and understood by one of ordinary skill in the art.
  • A term used with some frequency in the application is the term “ball.” Unless used in context to indicate something more specific, the term ball should be understood to construed broadly to refer to any one of a wide variety of sports equipment members that are either kicked, thrown, or hit during the playing of a sport, including those sports equipment members such as pucks and shuttlecocks that are not normally referred to as balls. Examples of such “balls include baseball, a softball, a lacrosse ball, a hockey puck, a football, a soccer ball, a kick-ball, a tennis ball, a golf ball, a volleyball, a bossa ball, a badmitten shuttlecock, a biribol ball, a fistball ball, a footbag, a football tennis ball, basketball, jianzi shuttlecock, a Jokgu ball, a peteca shuttlecock, a pickleball ball, a sepaktakraw ball, a sipa ball, a throwball ball, a wallyball ball, a korflafball, a netball ball, a slamball ball, a cork ball ball, a Brannball ball, a cricket ball, a Danish longball ball, a ping pong ball, a Lapta ball, a Matball ball, an Oina ball, over-the-line ball, pesapallo ball, a rounders ball, a broom ball ball, a rugby ball, paddleball ball, paddle tennis ball, a roller hockey ball, and a street hockey ball, and a polo ball. Further, the term “bat”, stick or racquet should also be broadly construed to cover any item of sports equipment used to engage, catch, throw or hit a “ball”.
  • The sports training device 10 of the present invention, shown in FIG. 1 is sized, shaped, weighted and configured to mimic the size, shape, weight, configuration and appearance of a baseball. The baseball training device 10 is a hand-eye coordination device and developmental tool. This training device 10 will not only teach better timing, hand and eye coordination but the teacher/coach will be able to quantify current skill level and changes in skill level. The initial intended use is in conjunction with baseball, golf, tennis, hockey, football, soccer and kick ball. However, as discussed herein, the concepts and devices of the present invention are capable of being employed by a wide variety of other sports and/or non-sports products that require hand eye coordination and timing.
  • The baseball shaped training device 10 as shown in FIGS. 1 and 2 as comprising a baseball 10 having a cover 12 and stitches 14 that hold the components of the cover 12 together. The cover 12 encases a core 52.
  • The core 52 of a modern baseball training device 10 typically comprises a central, spherical “pill” that is usually made from cork. The pill is encased in a first and second layer of rubber coatings. About 120 yards of four-ply grey wool is wrapped around the rubber-covered pill to encase the pill. About 45 yards of three-ply white wool are wrapped around the four-ply grey wool to encase the four-ply grey wool layer. Continuing to move radially outwardly, the next layer comprises about 53 yards of three-ply grey wool. The three-ply grey wool layer is encased with about 150 yards of cotton yard that is wound around the three-ply wool layer. The above materials put together using a high tension sewing machine, and then sealed with a coat of rubber cement. The cowhide cover is then sewn on using about 200 stitches of red cotton.
  • A baseball constructed according to the above description, along with two examples of alternate methods are shown in Patrick J. Drane, James A. Sherwood et al., “The Effect of Baseball Construction on the Game With Baseball”, proceedings of the 7th ISEA Conference Biarritz, Jun. 2-6, 2008, which is incorporated herein by reference. In the Drane article, he describes baseballs that were used in his study. Although six of the baseballs studied were constructed generally similarly to that described above, two other baseballs were shown that had a one-piece core that, comprised a sponge core in one model, and a polymer core in another model. These two unitary core models did not include any wool windings. As shown in FIG. 2, the baseball 10 is a unitary core type baseball.
  • The unitary core baseball shown in Drane et al., had sizes, weights, and appearances that are generally similar to normally constructed baseballs. However, they also have different performance characteristics. Although the device 10 of the present invention should try to mimic the performance characteristics of standard baseballs as closely as possible, an exact mimicking and reproduction is not necessary. Since the balls of the present invention are used in connection with training rather than competitions, the performance of the ball need not replicate that of regularly prepared baseballs. The use of baseballs having alternate performance characteristics for training purposes is well established in baseball, where balls such as whiffle balls, and weighted baseballs are often employed to help train users on batting and hitting exercises.
  • Turning now to FIGS. 1, 2 and 2A, a lighted baseball shaped training device of the present invention 10 is shown. The baseball shaped training device includes a cover 12 that is sewn onto the ball through a plurality of stitches 14. Underlaying the cover 12 is a core 52. Core 52 is preferably made from a one piece plastic material that can be molded around, or in conjunction with the electronics packet 58 and tube light members 53 and lens 54. The core 52 is preferably selected from a material that will help the device 10 to mimic the size, weight and performance characteristics of a baseball. Additionally, the core 52 should be designed so as to minimize (to the extent possible) the shock felt by the core electronics packet 58, to help reduce damage to the core electronics package 58 and thereby otherwise ruggedize and extend the useful life of the baseball training device 10.
  • Alternately, the core 52 can comprise a rubber spherical core that contains the electronics packet and that is overlain by a fabric wound core similar to that described above.
  • The core electronics package 58 is shown in FIG. 2 as being disposed near the central portion 59 of the core 52. The electronics package 58 includes a circuit board 60 to which a power source 62, a controller 64 and light 68 are electronically coupled. The power source 62 preferably comprises a set of appropriate batteries. Although the power source 62 batteries are shown as being placed on the circuit board 60, it will also be appreciated that the batteries could be disposed away from the circuit board, and possibly closer to the exterior edge 30 of the core 52, (inside the cover 12), so that the batteries can be reached and replaced more easily.
  • Replacement can be accomplished through the placement of a flap or door that can be opened and closed to enable the user to remove and replace the batteries. In such a case, it would likely be helpful to possibly weight the ball so that the extra weight of the batteries in one area was counter-balanced by weights in other areas so that the ball would have more of a symmetrical weight distribution. Alternately rechargeable batteries that are charged through either a plug or inductive charger can be employed.
  • The controller 64 is shown as a single unit that performs a variety of functions. For reasons of space, the controller 64 is shown as a single unit that would include such functionalities/components as a switch member, a timer circuit, a sensor for sensing impact, an accelerometer for sensing movement, a reset functionality, a processor for processing various information and a transmitter/receiver member. As will be discussed in more detail below, not all of these components or functionalities need to be incorporated into the controller. Additionally, rather than being incorporated into a single unit the above functions can be performed by a plurality of independent components, as better described and discussed in connection with FIG. 9-11.
  • The baseball 10 of FIG. 2A has a signaling device that includes four individual LED-type lights. The LED-type lights include a first colored light, red light 70; a second colored white or clear light 72; a third colored blue light 74; and a fourth colored green light 76.
  • Due to the different colored lights, the baseball 10 shown in FIGS. 1 and 2 is a baseball training device 10 that is designed to have the capability of enabling the controller 64 and lights 70-76 to serve as a signaling device that is capable of emitting more than one colors in its display. For example, the colors displayed in the ball can be a red light on one occasion and a blue light on another occasion. By having different lights within a single ball, the single ball can vary the lighted display that is emitted and presented to the user.
  • Alternately and in connection with another embodiment, each of the four lights 70, 72, 74, 76 can be a single color, such as all being red lights, blue lights, white lights or green lights. Further, rather than using the four individual lights, a single light having a single color can be used.
  • A single light device is an embodiment that is used in connection with an embodiment wherein the training devices 10 are sold in sets, with each of the balls being capable of emitting just a single color. In such cases, an embossed indicia 77 is placed on the cover 12 that provides an indication of the particular color that is emitted. For example, a baseball 10 that had a blue light might have a “B” embossed on the cover 12. By having this “B” embossed on the cover, a trainer could determine the color of the baseball training device 10 prior to the baseball being thrown. Since the baseball device 10 has a B embossed in it, and since such an embossed indicia would be difficult for the batter to see, the batter is unable to determine the embossed indicia during a normal pitch.
  • However, as the coach or trainer knows that the ball is supposed to emit a blue light, the coach knows whether the trainee/student actually saw the appropriate color of the ball by the answer given to the trainer as to the color of the light seen by the batter. In this case, the batter should answer that he saw a blue light. However, if the batter states that he saw a green light, the coach would realize that the batter did not see the light, and therefore did not see the ball at its time of impact with the bat.
  • As alluded to above, a timer is provided that is in communication with the signaling component to ensure that the lighted display 70-76 emits a human detectable light display for a pre-determined length of time. Upon impact, a sensor (such as an accelerometer) senses that the ball has been hit. In the example given above, the sensor then communicates this sensed hit to the timer, that then communicates with the signaling device. The timer communicates to the signaling device to begin emitting the display (by turning on the lights 70-76, or 70, 72, 74 or 76 individually) for the period of time determined by the timing circuit.
  • In most cases, the signaling device should emit light for only a short period of time, such as the amount of time required for the ball to travel between about six and eighteen inches. In baseball, this time period is usually significantly less than one second, and of course, varies depending upon the speed of both the pitch and the speed of the ball after it leaves the bat.
  • One desires a short time display interval to ensure that the trainee/batter can only report the color to the trainer if the trainee/student sees the color displayed at or very close to the time in which the bat impacts the ball. If the timer were to keep the light on for several seconds thereafter, the trainee/student might be able to pick up the color of the baseball by viewing the baseball as it flew away from him, even though the student/trainee had his eyes closed or was not looking at the baseball when it was impacted with the bat.
  • Turning now to FIGS. 3 and 4, a second embodiment baseball-shaped training device 84 is shown. Baseball 84 includes a cover 86 and a core 88, that are generally similar to the cover 12 and cores 52 described above in connection with the first embodiment baseball 10. Additionally, the device 84 includes an electronics package 90 that is disposed near the center of the core 88. The electronics package can be generally similar to the electronics package 58 shown in FIGS. 1-2A, as the electronics package can include a battery member, a controller, a timer, a switch member and a portion of a signaling device for emitting a signal.
  • The electronics package also includes a sensor, such as an accelerometer, or vibration reading device, that is coupled to the controller to inform the controller that the baseball 84 has been impacted, that in turns alerts the timer. The timer then causes the signaling device to emit a human detectable display, such as a lighted light 98-104, at the appropriate time. Additionally, each of the baseballs 10, 84 can include a switch or other device to enable the training device 84 to be moved between a sleep position and a ready position. In a sleep position, the device is essentially turned off, so that it will not drain the battery. In the sleep position, an impact will not cause the sensor to send any signals to the signaling device (lights 98-104) to emit a display.
  • When the switch or other mechanism is used to move the device from the sleep position to the ready position, a subsequent impact of the device will act on the sensor to ultimately cause the signaling device to emit a display, such as by lighting the lights 98-104.
  • Although the switch is a convenient way for moving the device 10 between the sleep and ready position, it will also be appreciated that the sensor can include a switch like functionality. In such a case, the sensor is designed to work on an alternating basis, such that the first (of two impacts) would cause the sensor to cause the controller to move the device between the sleep position and the ready position. The second (of two impacts) would then cause the sensor to signal the signaling device to light the display. After the display is emitted, the device is placed back into the sleep mode by the controller, so that the next impact sensed by the sensor causes the training device 84 to move from its sleep position to its ready position.
  • However, the “light bulb” component of the signaling device is not part of the electronics package 90 of the baseball 84 shown in FIG. 3. Rather, the core 88 of second embodiment baseball 84 includes four or more radially extending passageways 94 that extend between the electronics package 90 and the cover 86 on the baseball 84. The passageways 94 provide a conduit for conductors 96 to pass therethrough.
  • Although second embodiment 94 is shown in the drawings as having passageways into which the conductors 96 are placed, it will also be appreciated that the core 88 can be molded around the various conductors 96 to encase the conductors 96, such that the only real “passageway” 94 that exists is the space in which the room actually occupied by the conductor 96.
  • Each of the conductors terminates at an emitting source, such as a light bulb (e.g. 98). The light bulbs are disposed adjacent to the covers 86 of the baseball 94 and are positioned so that light emitted from the light emitting lights can be seen from outside the ball. Preferably, the lights comprise LED-type lights. The lights include a first color light 98, a second color light 100, a third color light 102, and a fourth color light 104 in one embodiment of the second embodiment 84.
  • Although only four conductors are shown in the sectional view of FIG. 3, the cover of the baseball 84 shown in FIG. 4 demonstrates that a large number of lights 98-104 may be disposed on the outside cover. Preferably, a four-color light containing baseball employs at least four lights of each color, so that the light emitted by the ball light may be easily viewed by the batter, regardless of the rotational position of the ball. In an alternate embodiment, all of the lights 98-104 would have the same color, rather than the multiple colors.
  • The baseballs 84 having multi-colored lights and baseball 84 having single colored lights baseballs are used in manner generally similar to their corresponding multi and single colored baseballs 20, as discussed in connection with the first embodiment.
  • Turning now to FIGS. 5 and 6, a sports training device is shown that has a housing 113 that has a size, shape and configuration that mimics the size, shape and configuration of a sports equipment member, that in this particular instance comprises a football 112. The football 112 includes a generally pointed first end 116 and a generally pointed second end 118. A cover member 120 comprises the exterior of the football, and traditionally is made from a leather or pig skin material. However, other footballs are made of a foam type material, such as “nerf” footballs.
  • A traditional football has a hollow core that is filled with pressurized air so that the football has a desired hardness level achieved through appropriate pressurization. In contrast, a foam football is generally filled with a foam material, and has a solid core. Traditionally, a football has a set of laces 122 that run along a cover along a major axis of the football. The laces 122 improve a quarterback's ability to grip the football when he is handling it, and especially when he is passing it.
  • The football includes a first removable electronics and light module 140, that includes the various electronics, including sensors, controllers, timers, and signaling device including emitting displays; and a second electronics lighting module 144. The first light electronics module 140 is removably coupled to the first end 116 of the football 112 via a threaded engagement 142 between the module 140 and the football 112. Preferably, the football 112 includes a threaded cup, for receiving the first threaded electronic module 140.
  • The football 112 includes a second, similar cup at its second end 116 for receiving the second modular electronics package, but that is disposed at the second end 118 of the football.
  • For the sake of illustration, the second modular electronics package 144 does not threadedly engage to the football, but rather is mounted through a bayonet-type mount system 146, of the type that one might find on a camera lens system or the like. Other various mounting schemes can be provided in addition to the threaded and bayonets discussed above.
  • First, second and third switches 134, 136 and 138 that are disposed near or on the exterior 113 of the football are actuable from the exterior of the football, and are operatively coupled by respective conductors 154, 156 and 158 to the first and second electronic control modules, 142, 144, respectively. The first switch 134 is a “mode” switch that enables the user to switch the training device 112 between a “receiver mode” and a “quarterback mode”. The second switch is a “ready” switch that enables the readiness of the training device 112 to be moved between its sleep position to its ready position. The third switch 138 is a timer switch that enables the user to adjust the time period that the signaling device emits the display (when used with second module 144), or the time interval between impact and the emission of the display signal when used in connection with the first module 140.
  • Although the electronic package modules 140, 144 are shown as being different modules for different purposes, the interchangeability of the modules 144, 140 enables the device to be used wherein both of the modules are similar to first module 140, or, alternately, both modules are similar to modules 144, when the device is being used in the receiver mode. When both modules are configured similarly to module 140, both modules would be used in the quarterback mode.
  • In principle, the first module 144 operates generally similarly the manner in which the device operates in connection with the baseballs 10, 84 discussed above. In particular, the electronic module 144 includes a casing, that contains a battery power source 152, and a controller 150. The controller 150 includes a sensor function, timer function, switch function and general control function for controlling the operation of the parts. Additionally, the second module 144 includes a first display 160 for emitting a first color, a second display 162 for emitting a second color display and a third display 164 for emitting a third color display.
  • To use the football in the receiver mode, the trainer first actuates the mode switch 144 to toggle the football shaped training device 112 between the receiver and quarterback mode, to ensure that the football device 112 is operating in the receiver mode. Once this is accomplished, the trainer then presses the ready switch 136 to ensure that the device is placed in the ready operating configuration. When the device is in the ready position, the next impact (of significance strength to meet the threshold impact requirements) will be sensed by the sensor, and result in the signaling devices 160, 162 or 164 emitting an appropriate color display at a time and for a duration governed by the timer.
  • Ready switch 136 can also be functionally coupled to a controller 150 having a randomizer functionality so that the actuating of the ready switch 136 causes the controller 150 to select one of the first, second and third lights 160, 162, 164 to emit a lighted display upon impact. Preferably, the randomizing function within the controller 150 varies the order of the lights chosen for display emission. Additionally, the ready switch 136 can cause the electronic controller to briefly flash one of the first, second and third color lights 160, 162, 164 as a “preview display”, so that the trainer will know the appropriate color that is going to be flashed to the receiver when he receives the football. This way, the trainer will know whether the receiver announces the correct color.
  • Finally, the timer switch 138 may or may not be actuated. The timer switch 136 enables the time of duration of the emission of the display to be varied according to the desire of the trainer and student. As stated in connection with the description of the baseballs 10, 84, the amount of time during which the device 112 emits a display should be rather short and very close in time relation to the timer at which the impact occurs. Nonetheless, when the training device 112 is used with younger and less experienced users, one may wish to adjust the timing switch 138 to lengthen the time period for the display to be emitted.
  • The first electronics module 140 demonstrates an electronics package that is particularly well adapted for use in the quarterback display.
  • The first electronic module 140 also includes a controller 172 that includes the timer functions, sensor function, and controller. Normally, the quarterback training intended second module 140 does not necessarily require the radomizer (random selection generator), as it is believed that the same type of signal will be used each time. In the quarterback mode, the timer functionality works very differently than the timer functionality of the second module 144 as used in connection with the receiver display.
  • When in the quarterback training mode, the timer within the controller 172 in the first module 140 is designed to not cause an emission of the signaling device at the time of impact. Rather, the recognition by the sensor of an impact causes the timer to begin a countdown period for a predetermined period of time, that is usually in the range of between about three and five seconds. During this countdown time interval, no signal is emitted by the audio emitters 178 or vibratory emitter 182. After the countdown period has elapsed, the timer then signals the controller to cause the signaling device to begin emitting a signal from either the horns 178 or vibrator 182.
  • Another difference between the quarterback mode and the receiver mode is that lights and visual cues are normally not used in the quarterback mode. Rather, non-visual signals, such as audible signals and vibratory signals are provided. First and second sound transducers, such as speakers or horns 178 are shown that are capable of emitting an audio signal at the time when the timer has “timed out” and the elapsed period has concluded.
  • In addition to the audio signal (or in lieu of the audio signal), a vibratory signal can be provided by vibrator 182 that is disposed within the core of the football 112. Vibrator 182 induces a vibration in the football that causes the user to know that the time period has elapsed. In cases wherein the vibrator 182 is used as the emitted signal, it is preferred to also employ audible signals through horns 178. The audible signals should be provided so that the coach can be alerted of the elapsed time. Since the coach is not handling the football, he would not know when the time elapsed and the vibration of the football induced by vibrator 182 occurred without this audible signal.
  • When employing the quarterback mode, the user first actuates the first switch 134 to ensure that the device 112 is in the second or quarterback mode. During a practice wherein only quarterback drills are being performed, it is likely that the training device 112 will remain in the quarterback mode, and the first switch 134 need not be employed once the training device 112 is first placed in the quarterback mode. The user will then actuate the ready switch 136 to place the device in the ready position so that the next subsequent impact on the device that meets the threshold required will cause the sensor to actuate the timer to ultimately cause the signaling device to emit a signal.
  • If necessary, the time switch 138 can also be employed, to enable the trainer to adjust the time interval between impact and the time when the signaling device emits the signal, such as when the horns 178 are blown or the vibrator 182 begins vibrating in the football.
  • Turning now to FIG. 7, a training device 200 that mimics the size, shape, weight, configuration and performance characteristic of a soccer ball 200 is shown. Soccerball training device 200 includes a cover 204 that surrounds a hollow interior that is filled with pressurized air. As with many balls of this type, such a volleyballs, basketballs and the like, an air intake valve is provided for permitting the user to inflate the device to its appropriate pressure. With the training device 200 of the present invention, it may also be desirable to use a foam-filled elastic ball that is capable of mimicking the size, weight, shape and performance characteristics of a soccer ball.
  • The cover 204 of the soccer ball includes a plurality of opaque panels 206 and a plurality of translucent panels 208. The use of alternating opaque 206 and translucent panels 208, 208 is primarily a function of the design and appearance of a traditional soccer ball. In similar air filled balls, such as volleyballs and basketballs, the cover 204 could be designed to be entirely translucent, or to have translucent patches or translucent panels as desired. Alternately, if the soccer ball were designed as a foam soccer ball, it could have a lighted construction similar to the baseball training device 10 as shown in FIGS. 1 and 2.
  • An electronics package 210 of soccer ball training device 200 is placed within the interior of the soccer ball 200. The electronics package 210 includes a controller 214 and a power source 216, that can be generally similar in configuration and performance to the electronics packages discussed above in connection with the football 112 and baseball 10. Additionally, the soccer ball includes one, or a plurality of signaling devices, that, similar to the baseball 10 that comprise a plurality of visual display emitting lights 220. Preferably, the soccer ball should be designed to be similar in configuration and function to the schematic representation of translucent panel 222, wherein the lights include a first light 228 of a first color, a second light 230 of a second color, a third light 234 of a third color, and a fourth light 236 of a fourth color. As with the baseball 10, such a device would have the capability of displaying different colors. For example, the first light 228 could be a light that emitted a red light, second light 230 could be a blue light, third light 232 could be a green light and fourth light 234 could be a clear light.
  • In the preferred embodiment, the soccer ball has a mode switch 238, a ready switch 240 and a timer switch 242 similar to the football 112. In the case of the soccer ball, the mode switch 238 can toggle the device 200 between a “goalie” mode and a “player” mode. The ready switch 240 operates similarly to the ready switch in the football, insofar as arming the ready switch moves the soccer ball 200 out of its sleep position, and into a ready position so that subsequent impact detected by the sensor causes the sensor to ultimately tell the signaling device to emit a display. The timer switch 242 operates similarly to the timer switch in the football 112 when the football 112 timer switch is operating in the receiver mode, as the primary function of the timer 242 switch is to enable the trainer to vary the length of time that the display is emitted upon an impact.
  • In the goalie mode, the soccer ball 200 training device operates similarly to the baseball 10, or the football in the receiver mode. In particular, the sensor senses the impact of the goalie catching the ball, and lights upon impact to help train the goalie to watch the ball up to the point where it is either caught by him with his hands, or blocked by him with his hands or another body part.
  • Since the primary vehicle for propelling a soccer ball is through a kick, the operation of the soccer ball 200 in the goalie mode is preferably one wherein the device works on a two-impact cycle. The first impact of the cycle occurs when the coach, trainer or other player kicks the soccer ball 200 toward the player. When the first impact occurs, the display should light up in order to tell the trainer or coach which color is going to be displayed when the goalie catches it.
  • The second impact that occurs is the impact between the soccer ball 200 and the goalie's hands or body part. Upon this impact, the same color is displayed that was displayed on the first impact when the trainer kicked it. The goalie then looks at the color and reports the color to the trainer. Since the trainer has pre-existing knowledge of the color (from the first display) the trainer can then determine whether the goalie has actually seen the color and called it correctly, thereby indicating to the trainer that the goalie had or had not been watching the ball when it impacted his hands.
  • The timing of the impact and display are similar to that of a baseball. In particular, the display is caused to be lit for a fraction of a second, and maybe as short as a typical duration of a flash of an electronic camera flash. To some extent, the duration of the flash will be a function of the brightness of the display, as a brighter display permits a shorter display time, whereas a less bright display likely needs to be displayed for a longer period of time in order to give the goalie sufficient time to find the display and determine its color.
  • The mode described above with respect to the goalie is also be useful for training goalies in other sports and with other sports training devices, such as hockey goalies, roller hockey goalies, lacrosse goalies, field hockey goalies and the like.
  • The second mode of operation is a “player” mode. In games such as soccer and hockey, play is normally initiated by one player kicking or hitting the ball, and another player then receiving the ball, and to also kick or hit it. This sequence continues onward until either the ball goes out of bounds, a penalty or time out is called, a goal is scored or otherwise play is stopped, such as when a hockey game is stopped temporarily due to icing, and then restarted soon after with a new face off.
  • This basic player sequence is not confined just to soccer and hockey, but also extends to a large number of other sports including racquet sports such as tennis, badminton, ping pong, and squash; court sports such as volleyball and basketball, and other field and team sports such as roller hockey, field hockey, lacrosse and the like.
  • Due to the large number of players who are contacting the ball, it is beneficial to have the ball light up with the color every time that a player impacts the ball. For example, it might be useful to have the ball light up a different color every time the ball was kicked by a player; or every time that the puck was hit by a player during the movement of the puck around the rink.
  • Therefore, in the player mode, the device is designed to sense an impact, and then send a signal to the controller. The controller should include a random selection generator or other vehicle for choosing one of the available two, three, four (or more) colors. The controller then causes the signal to emit a display of the color that the random selection generator had chosen.
  • When choosing such colors, it is important that the colors be varied from impact to impact, and that preferably, the choice of colors be randomized so that the users cannot determine a particular fixed pattern, to thereby guess the correct color based upon the user actually seeing the display and determining the color, but rather the user memorizing the pattern of the color and repeating the appropriate color that is to be displayed in the fixed pattern.
  • In a typical sequence, the randomizer may choose to display the lights such that the first kick causes second blue light 230 to emit, the second kick causes the third (green) light to light up, the third kick also causes the third (green) light to light up with the fourth kick causing the first (red) light 228 to be lit.
  • Because of the speed of a game such as soccer or hockey, it is unlikely that the training device will be capable of giving the trainer any warning or knowledge of the particular color to be displayed, unless, for example, the soccer ball also includes a transmitting device that transmits the next color to be displayed to a display of a device, such display containing device may comprise a display containing short range radio transmission or blue tooth transmission device, or alternately, even an app on a cell phone.
  • A simpler way of informing the coach of the color is to have the coach follow the play by running or skating near the ball or puck on the field or rink, so that the coach is close enough to the puck (or other training device) so that he can determine the color emitted by the display.
  • Your attention is now directed to FIG. 8A showing a hockey puck 250. As discussed above, the hockey puck 250 operates generally similarly to the soccer ball, insofar as it can operate in a goalie mode or a player mode according to the same general pattern described above. The hockey puck 250 is preferably made of a hard rubber or plastic material, and may include opaque portions 252 and transparent or translucent portions 254. The translucent portions 254 preferably similar to the tube lighting used in connection with the baseball training device 10 described above.
  • The electronics package is placed in a hollowed out area (or plastic encased area) in the center of the puck, and includes a controller 258 and a power source 260.
  • The hockey puck also includes a plurality of lights 268 that are similar to the different color of lights used in connection with the soccer ball 200 described above. Further, the hockey puck may include a receiver transmitter 264. Because of the frequent and strong impacts that are normally experienced by a hockey puck 250 during play, it may not be advisable to use an exterior mounted mode ready and timer switch. Rather, an internal switch that is protected from impact, and that can be programmed remotely via a radio, infrared signal or magnetic signal might be preferable in operation. By using the electronic signal programmable switches, the switches would be less likely to be tripped during play, and thereby have the mode, time or readiness state of the hockey puck altered accidentally.
  • Exemplary circuitry for controlling the electronics package(s) of the present invention, along with exemplary electronics package(s) are schematically represented in FIGS. 9, 10 and 11. FIGS. 9, 10 and 11 represent three exemplary variants of the circuitry. When reviewing the circuitry and electronics packages of FIGS. 9, 10 and 11, it should be understood that the components are shown and chosen to help illustrate the various functionalities served by the components of the electronics package. It will be appreciated by those skilled in the art that the actual choice of electronic components are widely variable and well within the skill of the art.
  • When choosing components for the electronics circuitry, important issues to be addressed relate to the cost of the components, the power draw of the components, the efficiency of the components, the power output of the components and the ruggedness of the components. It is also believed that several of the functionalities can be combined into a single chip or circuit or device, and need not be represented as a separate functionalities as shown in the figures.
  • FIG. 9 schematically represents a very simple electronic package 276 of the type that might be used with baseball 10 embodiment wherein a plurality of single color baseballs are used. As discussed above, in this embodiment, the user typically purchases baseballs in sets of three or four, with the first baseball displaying a first color, the second baseball being limited to displaying a single second color, etc. In this embodiment, the circuit is designed to shut itself off, and only come awake upon a single impact, such that the sensor upon sensing an impact would come awake and automatically place the device in the ready position. Additionally, the baseball as described above, should have an embossed letter on the ball, such as “G” for a ball that had a signaling device that emitted a green light display, so that the trainer may read the embossed indicia to determine the correct color of the particular ball. In such a case, no advance color display would need to be delivered prior to throwing the ball to inform the coach of the appropriate color.
  • Circuit 276 includes a power source 260 that preferably comprises a battery such as a lithium ion battery that can be designed to either be rechargeable or replaceable. In a most preferred embodiment, the battery would be a rechargeable battery that can be inductively recharged. An inductive charge relates to a charge that can occur across a barrier (a cover 12 of a baseball 12) that actuates an inductive coil that may be placed inside the actual baseball. An example of such an inductive charging system is the Duracell Power Mat inductive charging system that is capable of charging an iPhone. Other inductive charging devices are used on such things as electric toothbrushes, cochlear implants and the like.
  • The power supply 280 provides power for driving the timer circuit 284, sensor circuit 288 and controller 292. Among the functionalities served by the controller is to function as a signaling device for working together with the lights 294 to light the lights upon a proper signal and to extinguish the lights as determined by the timer.
  • A second exemplary electronic package 300 is shown in FIG. 10. The electronic package shown in FIG. 10 is particularly well designed for use in connection with a training device that contains more than one light emitting display, such as is shown in FIG. 2A, wherein the electronic package 60 controls a first, second, third and fourth light 70, 72, 74, 76. Additionally, the controller of FIG. 10 also has the capability of operating the receiver functionality within the football 112 of FIG. 6, and operating the soccer ball 200 and hockey puck 250 of FIGS. 8 and 8A.
  • An electronics package 300 includes a circuit board 302, along with a sensor 308, a timer 310, and a controller 312. The controller can control several operations of the electronic package 300. Among the functionalities controlled are controlling the signaling device functionalities wherein the controller 312 controls the operation of the first, second, third and fourth lights 316, 318, 320, 322, to cause the lights 316-322 to either be turned on and to emit a display of light, or otherwise, be turned off and not emit a display of light.
  • Additionally, the electronic package 300 includes a power source 304. For exemplary purposes, the power source 304 is shown as being a power source 304 that is mounted remotely from the circuit board 302.
  • Power source 304 can include an inductive coil 305 that is placeable near the surface of the supporting device, e.g. 112, to enable the device to be charged inductively, with the magnetic coil 305 including a conductor that conducts the electricity induced into the coil into the power source 304, to thereby charge the battery power source. In such a case, the power source 304 should be designed to comprise a rechargeable power source, such as rechargeable lithium ion batteries.
  • Additionally, the electronics package 300 shown in FIG. 10 includes a mode switch 326, a ready switch 328, a sensor adjuster 330 and a timer adjuster 332. The functionality of these switches is described above in connection with the description of the football 112, and soccer ball 200 and the hockey puck 250 training devices.
  • The sensor adjuster 330 preferably comprises an accelerometer.
  • Adjusting the sensitivity of the accelerometer 326 is often desirable to help to avoid “false positives”. For example, as a training exercise, one may wish to cause the accelerometer/sensor 326 to signal the controller 312 to light one the lights upon a hockey puck 250 being hit with a stick. Nonetheless, a shot hockey puck will often encounter other events that cause its speed to change, such as the hockey puck bouncing, or changing its orientation on the ice. Preferably, the sensor 326 is adjustable so that it is not be overly sensitive, so that these other changes in speed and/or direction of the hockey puck 250 do not cause the lights 316-322 to begin emitting a display. Rather, the sensor is set so that a specific threshold exists, and that a change in direction or speed greater than the threshold value is required to actuate the sensor to a point wherein it was able to actuate the controller to cause the displays 316-322 to light up.
  • The third alternate embodiment electronic package 400 is shown in FIG. 11. The electronic package 400 is especially designed for and useful with the football 112 and more particularly, the electronic package 140 used in connection with the non-visual display emitting quarterback, or electronic package 140 that is used primarily with the training device football 112, when in the “quarterback” mode. As suggested by FIG. 6, the electronic package 400 may be used at the same time and the same football 112 as electronics circuit package 300. Alternately, electronic package 300 and electronic package 400 may be combined into a single electronic package that is employed in the football 112.
  • The electronic package 400 includes a circuit board 402 having a power source such as a battery 404. Although the battery 404 is shown as being remotely positioned from the circuit board 400, the battery 404 can be mounted on the circuit board 402. Additionally, an inductive coil 405 is shown as being electronically coupled to the power source battery 404 that, of course, would not be used when an inductive charging system is not employed.
  • Additionally, the circuit can include a plug jack 407 for use in connecting a plug to a power cable to the battery 404 via a direct wire connection.
  • A sensor 408, timer 410 and controller 412 (or equivalent functionalities) are contained within on the circuit board 402. The circuit 402 of electronic package 400 also includes a first and second non-visual display 414, 416 that may comprise a speaker, horn or other audio transducer that is capable of emitting an audio signal. Additionally, third and fourth non-visual displays, that may comprise remotely disposed vibrators 420, 422 may also be coupled to the controller 412 so that the controller can cause the non-visual display emitting remote vibrators 420, 422 to be actuated upon command from the controller.
  • The use of and reasons for using the non-visual displays 414, 416, 420 and 422 are described above in connection with the discussion of the football 112. The use of a pair of speakers 414, 416 and remote vibrators 420, 422 are primarily to provide additional volume and additional vibration ability to the device, to help make the non-visual display signal more discernable and understandable to the user to ensure that he hears it or feels it, as appropriate. Alternately, two speakers 414, 146 and two vibrators 420, 422 can be employed to enable the device to provide a plurality of different 414, 416 audio signals or vibratory signals 420, 422 to send different messages to the user. For example, the vibrators may be used such that a single vibrator 420 induces a vibration in the user's finger when he gets within a certain time interval (e.g. one half second) of the elapse of the countdown period programmed by the timer 410. Upon the time period elapsing, the second vibrator 422 can be turned on. Through this mechanism, the user is able to distinguish between for example, the vibration caused by a single vibrator 420 and one caused by two vibrators 420, 422 so that you could train the user as to two different time periods in a single play.
  • The method of the present invention will now be explained with regard to FIGS. 12-15.
  • Turning first to FIG. 12, a first method for employing the invention involves a display-containing ball that is capable of selectively displaying and not displaying a first color that is selected from a plurality of display-containing balls that are capable of selectively displaying one of at least a first, second and third color. The ball is actuated to place the ball in a ready mode to provide the display upon request. As discussed above, this can be accomplished by the use of a switch, an impact or one of a variety of other methods for “turning on the ball”.
  • Additionally, this can be accomplished by setting a certain sensor threshold, so that normal movement of a ball that is not being impacted by a bat, (such as when the ball is being placed in a basket, being picked up by the pitcher and the like), will not cause the ball to turn on, but will only be placed in a ready position when the ball receives an impact or change in velocity that is over a predetermined threshold level, such as a level slightly less than a low-end impact caused by the ball being struck by a bat.
  • Prior to pitching the ball, the trainer determines the nature of the display. In particular, with the embossed baseball described above, the trainer would read the embossment to determine that the particular ball, upon impact, will cause a blue light to be displayed. The ball is then delivered to the student/trainee by pitching the ball to the student/trainer who then swings the bat to strike the ball. The impact of the bat striking the ball impacts the accelerometer, that causes the display to be turned on, thus lighting up the light.
  • The timer interacts with the controller to ensure that the display is shut off after a predetermined time interval, which in most cases, is less than a second. The student then observes the color displayed and reports the color displayed to the trainer. Since the coach or trainer has a pre-existing knowledge of the color of the display that is achieved through viewing the indicia, the coach or trainer will know whether the color called out by the trainee/student is the appropriate color.
  • Turning now to FIG. 13, a second method is described that is illustrated, that include at least three sub-methods within the primary method.
  • The method begins by the user selecting a display-containing ball (training device) that is capable of selectively displaying and not displaying a first color from a plurality of display-containing balls that are capable of displaying one of at least a first, second and third color. One then times the program timer to set the appropriate time.
  • A variation of this is to select a display-containing ball that is capable of selectively displaying and not displaying at least a first, second and third color, such as a ball will display that contains the electronics package 60 of FIG. 2A. The ball is then programmed to display only a selected one of a first, second or third color upon impact. The timer is then programmed to emit a display for a predetermined interval.
  • The programming that occurs with this and the other method discussed in FIG. 13 can be accomplished through a variety of methods. One method is to employ the switch, such as the mode and ready switch or other switches discussed above. Another way is to program the display through an interactive communication between an external device and the transmitter receiver, such as transmitter receiver 440 of FIG. 11, that is operatively coupled to the controller 412 for controlling the operation of the electronics package 400.
  • A third variation of this method is to first select a ball that is capable of displaying and not displaying at least a first, second and third color, and including a ready switch for placing the ball in the ready position by selecting the color display. The ready switch is then actuated to place the ball in a ready position, and causes the ball to display information about the selected color to the trainer. The timer is then programmed to emit a display for a predetermined interval.
  • Each of the three alternate methods then subsequently follow the same pathway. In particular, the ball is delivered to the student who impacts the ball such as by catching the ball with this hand. The impact with the hands of the student causes the ball to display a selected color. The timer shuts off the display after a predetermined (and usually very short) time interval and the student observes the color displayed and reports the color displayed to the trainer. This method works especially well in connection with the receiver mode of the football 112.
  • Another set of methodologies for employing the present invention are illustrated in connection with FIG. 14. In the first alternative of FIG. 14, a display containing ball is selected that is capable of providing and not providing a non-visual display. The ball includes a timer for selecting an interval after a triggering point at which to provide the non-visual display. A ready switch is provided for placing a ball in a ready position. A remote programmer is used to perform at least one of setting the time interval, and placing the ball in the ready position. This methodology would well be used with the football 112 in the quarterback position, in connection with the receiver transmitter containing electronic package 400 shown in FIG. 11.
  • A variation of this methodology is to select one display containing ball that is capable of selectively providing and not providing a non-visual display. The ball includes a timer for selecting an interval after a triggering point at which to provide the non-visual display. A ready switch is provided for placing the ball in a ready position. The ball mounted switch member is then employed to at least perform one of (a) setting the time interval; and (b) placing the ball in the ready position. It will be appreciated that this alternate methodology is very similar to the one discussed above, except that a switch rather than a remote programmer is employed to actuate the timing and/or ready position switches.
  • As a third sub-alternative, a display containing ball that is capable of selectively providing and not providing a non-visual display is selected. The ball includes a timer for selecting an interval after a triggering point at which to provide the non-visual display and a ready switch is provided for placing the ball in the ready position. This alternate methodology is very similar to the prior methodology, except that no timing adjustment means is provided within the training device.
  • With each of the three methodologies, the next step is to deliver the ball to the student, such as by the center hiking the ball to the quarterback. The student impacts the ball such as by catching it with his hands, and the impact with the quarterback's hands triggers the timer to begin a countdown. After a predetermined time interval, the non-visual display is provided to tell the quarterback that the time has elapsed. Optionally, a second indicia can be provided to alert the trainer of the elapse of the selected time period.
  • In another embodiment methodology of the present invention, one selects a display containing ball that is capable of selectively displaying and not displaying at least a first, second and third color. The ball includes a timer and a color selector, and optionally a program timer. The ball is then actuated to place the ball in the ready mode to provide a display upon impact. The ball is then delivered to a first student. The first student impacts the ball such as by kicking or striking the ball with a stick, racquet or club, or catching the ball with a basket and stick. The impact thereby caused induces a first color to be displayed, and resets the ball to display a different color. The first student observes the first color displayed and reports the color displayed to the trainer.
  • When the student impacts the ball, the ball is ultimately either transferred to another student such as by the ball being passed to him with a lacrosse stick, or kicked to him by the soccer ball, or in some cases, is kicked or struck again by the same student. When the second student impacts the ball such as by kicking the ball or striking the ball with the stick, racquet or club, or catching the ball with a basketed stick, the second impact causes a second color to be displayed and to reset the ball to display another color.
  • Preferably, the step of selecting the color comprises the step of selecting the color with a random selection generator, so that the colors selected are done so in a random order. Because of this randomness of selection, it is possible that the term “another color” can comprise selecting the same color two or more times in a row, just due to random happenstance.
  • The second student observes the second color display and reports the color display to the trainer. The prior steps are repeated as subsequent students impact the ball and subsequent colors are chosen and displayed upon impact.
  • Having described the invention in detail with reference to certain preferred embodiments, it will be appreciated that modifications and variations exist within the scope and spirit of the attendant claims.

Claims (20)

What is claimed is:
1. A sports training device comprising
a housing having a size, shape and configuration that mimics the size, shape and configuration of a sport equipment member, the sports training device comprising
a sensor for sensing an impact on the sports device
a signaling device in communication with the sensor for selectively emitting and not emitting a human detectable display in response to an impact sensed by the sensor, and
a timer in communication with the sensor and the signaling device for controlling the timing of the display of the signaling device.
2. The sports training device wherein the housing has a size, shape and configuration that mimics the size, shape and configuration of at least one of a baseball, a softball, a lacrosse ball, a hockey puck, a football, a soccer ball, a kick-ball, a tennis ball, a golf ball, a volleyball, a bossa ball, a badmitten shuttlecock, a biribol ball, a fistball ball, a footbag, a football tennis ball, basketball, jianzi shuttlecock, a Jokgu ball, a peteca shuttlecock, a pickleball ball, a sepaktakraw ball, a sipa ball, a throwball ball, a wallyball ball, a korflatball, a netball ball, a slamball ball, a cork ball ball, a Brannball ball, a cricket ball, a Danish longball ball, a ping pong ball, a Lapta ball, a Matball ball, an Oina ball, over-the-line ball, pesapollo ball, a rounders ball, a broom ball ball, a rugby ball, paddleball ball, paddle tennis ball, a roller hockey ball, and a street hockey ball, and a polo ball.
3. The sports training device of claim 1 wherein the device is placeable in sleep mode wherein an impact will not cause the signaling device to emit a human detectable display and a ready mode whenever an impact will cause the display to emit a human detectable display, further comprising a user actuable switch for permitting a user to place the device in the ready mode.
4. The sports training device of claim 3 wherein the switch is capable of placing the device in a first ready position wherein an impact sensed by the sensor activates the timer to actuate the signaling device to emit a human detectable display for a predetermined time interval after impact.
5. The sports training device of claim 4 wherein the switch is further capable of placing the device in a second ready position wherein an impact sensed by the sensor actuates the timer to emit a actuate the signaling device to emit the human detectable display after a predetermined time interval has elapsed.
6. The sport training device of claim 3 wherein the switch is capable of placing the device in a second ready position wherein an impact sensed by the sensor actuates the timer to actuate the signaling device to emit the human detectable display after a predetermined time interval has elapsed.
7. The signaling device of claim 1 wherein the sensor is configured for sensing the impact of a club or stick like object on the sports training device.
8. The signaling device of claim 1 wherein the sensor is configured for sensing the impact of a human body part on the sports training device.
9. The signaling device of claim 1 wherein the timer controls the time period during which the signaling device emits the human detectable display.
10. The signaling device of claim 9 where the timer is a variable timer for permitting the user to vary the time period during which the signaling device emits the human detectable display.
11. The signaling device of claim 1 wherein the timer controls a time interval that is allowed to elapse between the impact and a point in time when the signaling device emits the human detectable display.
12. The signaling device of claim 1 wherein the timer comprises a variable timer for permitting the user to vary the time interval that is allowed to elapse between the impact and the point in time wherein the signaling device emits the human detectable display.
13. The sports training device of claim 1 further comprising a reset switch for causing the device to move from a sleep mode where an impact will not cause the signaling device to emit a human detectable display to a ready mode wherein an impact will cause the signaling device to emit a human detectable display wherein the reset switch changes the nature of the display.
14. The sports training device wherein the reset switch is actuated upon the sensor sensing an impact on the sports training device, and wherein the human detectable display comprises a lighted human detectable display capable of displaying at least a first, second and third color, wherein the actuation of the reset switch causes the signaling device to select one of the at least first, second and third colors for display upon a subsequent impact on the sports training device.
15. The sports training device of claim 1 wherein the sports training device comprises at least
a first sports training device member having a signaling device comprising a light source capable of emitting a first color of light,
a second sports training device having a signaling device comprising light source capable of emitting a second color of light, and
a third sports training device having a signaling device comprising a light source capable of emitting a third color of light.
16. The sports training device of claim 1 where the signaling device includes a light source capable of selectively emitting a first color, a second color and a third color and a controller member for switching between an emission of the first color, second color and third color.
17. The sports training device of claim 16 where the controller includes a human actuable switch member for permitting a user to switch the signaling device among the first, second and third members, and to switch the device between the sleep mode and the ready mode.
18. The sports training device of claim 1 where the signaling device includes at least one of a sound emitter for emitting an audible display, and a vibratory emitter for emitting a vibrational display.
19. The sports training device of claim 1 wherein the training device includes an interior core portion and an exterior surface, and where the signaling device includes a light emitter disposed in the core of the training device and a tube lighting member extending generally between the core and the exterior surface for conducting light emitted from the light source from the core to the exterior surface of the training device.
20. A method of training a student to concentrate on a particular sports training device when interacting with the sports training device comprising
providing a sports training device comprising a housing having a size, shape and configuration that mimics the size, shape and configuration of a sports equipment member, the sports training device including a sensor for sensing an impact on the sports training device, a signaling device in communication with the sensor for selective emitting and not emitting a human detectable display in response to an impact sensed by the sensor, and a timer in communication with the sensor and the signaling device for controlling the timing of the display of the signaling device;
delivering the training device to a student, for permitting the student to impact the training device,
emitting a human detectable display in response to the impact of the device cause by the student striking the device,
actuating a timer to control the timing of the display, and
causing the student to observe the display to report upon the nature of the display.
US14/254,861 2013-04-16 2014-04-16 Sports training device and a method for training athletes Abandoned US20140309059A1 (en)

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