US20170333773A1 - Sports training-device - Google Patents

Sports training-device Download PDF

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Publication number
US20170333773A1
US20170333773A1 US15/533,968 US201515533968A US2017333773A1 US 20170333773 A1 US20170333773 A1 US 20170333773A1 US 201515533968 A US201515533968 A US 201515533968A US 2017333773 A1 US2017333773 A1 US 2017333773A1
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United States
Prior art keywords
ball
retainer
device
sports training
tether
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Legal status (The legal status is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the status listed.)
Abandoned
Application number
US15/533,968
Inventor
Anthony Carl Hamilton
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Anthony Carl Hamilton
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Publication date
Priority to GB1421806.9 priority Critical
Priority to GBGB1421806.9A priority patent/GB201421806D0/en
Priority to GB1508590.5 priority
Priority to GB1508590.5A priority patent/GB2533442A/en
Application filed by Anthony Carl Hamilton filed Critical Anthony Carl Hamilton
Priority to PCT/EP2015/078873 priority patent/WO2016091827A1/en
Publication of US20170333773A1 publication Critical patent/US20170333773A1/en
Application status is Abandoned legal-status Critical

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    • 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
    • A63B69/0073Means for releasably holding a ball in position; Balls constrained to move around a fixed point, e.g. by tethering
    • A63B69/0079Balls tethered to a line or cord
    • 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
    • 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
    • A63B69/0073Means for releasably holding a ball in position; Balls constrained to move around a fixed point, e.g. by tethering
    • A63B69/0075Means for releasably holding a ball in position prior to kicking, striking or the like
    • 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
    • A63B69/0073Means for releasably holding a ball in position; Balls constrained to move around a fixed point, e.g. by tethering
    • A63B69/0091Balls fixed to a movable, tiltable or flexible arm
    • 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
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63BAPPARATUS FOR PHYSICAL TRAINING, GYMNASTICS, SWIMMING, CLIMBING, OR FENCING; BALL GAMES; TRAINING EQUIPMENT
    • A63B24/00Electric or electronic controls for exercising apparatus of preceding groups; Controlling or monitoring of exercises, sportive games, training or athletic performances
    • A63B24/0062Monitoring athletic performances, e.g. for determining the work of a user on an exercise apparatus, the completed jogging or cycling distance
    • A63B2024/0068Comparison to target or threshold, previous performance or not real time comparison to other individuals
    • 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
    • A63B71/02Games or sports accessories not covered in groups A63B1/00 - A63B69/00 for large-room or outdoor sporting games
    • A63B71/023Supports, e.g. poles
    • A63B2071/026Supports, e.g. poles stabilised by weight
    • 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
    • A63B2210/00Space saving
    • A63B2210/50Size reducing arrangements for stowing or transport
    • 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
    • A63B2220/17Counting, e.g. counting periodical movements, revolutions or cycles, or including further data processing to determine distances or speed
    • 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
    • A63B2220/20Distances or displacements
    • A63B2220/24Angular displacement
    • 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
    • A63B2220/62Time or time measurement used for time reference, time stamp, master time or clock signal
    • 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
    • A63B2220/80Special sensors, transducers or devices therefor
    • A63B2220/808Microphones
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63BAPPARATUS FOR PHYSICAL TRAINING, GYMNASTICS, SWIMMING, CLIMBING, OR FENCING; BALL GAMES; TRAINING EQUIPMENT
    • A63B2225/00Other characteristics of sports equipment
    • A63B2225/09Adjustable dimensions
    • 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

Abstract

A sports training-device (100) comprising: a base (102); a retainer (104) for retaining a ball (106); and a flexible tether (108), a first end of the flexible tether attached to said base, and a second end of the flexible tether attached to said retainer; said flexible tether configured to, in use, provide damped movement of a ball retained in said retainer, following application of a force to said ball.

Description

    BACKGROUND
  • The present invention relates to a sports training-device. More particularly, the present invention relates to a device for training users to perform “keep-ups” with a ball, such as a football.
  • “Keep-ups”, or “keepy-uppy”, is a footballing skill whereby a player attempts to keep a ball active or moving in the air without letting the ball touch the ground. Typically the player will do this by juggling the ball between their feet. More advanced players may also use their knees, head and shoulders.
  • Performing keep-ups can be a difficult skill to master, in particular for young children who have not fully developed their motor skills and coordination. An inability to perform keep-ups can cause players, in particular children, to become frustrated. Being able to perform keep-ups is considered one of the building blocks in training a football player, and therefore a lack of proficiency in this skill can result in players prematurely giving up the sport.
  • SUMMARY OF INVENTION
  • Accordingly in a first aspect there is provided a sports training-device comprising: a base; a retainer for retaining a ball; and a flexible tether, a first end of the flexible tether attached to said base, and a second end of the flexible tether attached to said retainer; said flexible tether configured to, in use, provide damped movement of a ball retained in said retainer, following application of a force to said ball.
  • According to some embodiments, the retainer has a rest position when no force is applied to said ball.
  • According to some embodiments, said damped movement comprises movement of said ball under a force of gravity.
  • According to some embodiments, said damped movement comprises one or more of: movement of said ball away from said rest position, in response to said applied force; return movement of said ball towards said rest position.
  • According to some embodiments, the device comprises means for detecting a striking of the ball by a user.
  • According to some embodiments, said means comprises a microphone for detecting a sound of the user striking the ball.
  • According to some embodiments, said microphone is comprised in said retainer.
  • According to some embodiments, said tether comprises an electrical connector for electrically connecting said microphone to circuitry in said base.
  • According to some embodiments, the device comprises a display to display information to a user.
  • According to some embodiments, said information comprises one or more of: a count of keep-ups performed by a user; time elapsed; time remaining.
  • According to some embodiments, said retainer is configured to enable said ball to spin within said retainer.
  • According to some embodiments, said retainer comprises a band configured to conform to an outer profile of said ball.
  • According to some embodiments, said band comprises a first end attachable to a first location on said ball, and a second end attachable to a second location on said ball, a straight line between said first and second locations coinciding with a central axis of said ball.
  • According to some embodiments, said flexible tether provides a direct connection between said base and said retainer.
  • According to some embodiments, said flexible tether comprises a core section.
  • According to some embodiments, said flexible tether comprises a sheath portion substantially surrounding said core section.
  • According to some embodiments, the sports training device comprises a mechanism enabling an exit angle of said flexible tether from said base to be varied.
  • According to some embodiments, said base comprises a socket.
  • According to some embodiments, said flexible tether is attachable to said base via a plug connector insertable into said socket.
  • According to some embodiments, said plug connector is insertable in said socket in at least two orientations.
  • According to some embodiments, said base comprises two or more sockets, each socket for receiving said tether.
  • According to some embodiments, said ball comprises a football.
  • In a second aspect there is provided a method comprising: using sound-detecting means to detect a sound caused by a user striking a ball attached to a sports training device; and using the detected sound to determine a number of times the user strikes the ball.
  • According to some embodiments, the ball is a football and the method comprises determining a number of keep-ups performed by the user.
  • According to some embodiments, the sound-detecting means comprises a microphone.
  • In a third aspect there is provided a sports training-device comprising: a base; a retainer for retaining a ball; and a tether, a first end of said tether attached to said base, and a second end of said tether attached to said retainer; wherein said retainer comprises a mechanism for rotatably mounting said ball within said retainer.
  • According to some embodiments, said retainer comprises a first end having a first location attachable to a first region on said ball, and a second end having a second location attachable to a second region on said ball, a straight line between said first and second locations defining an axis, wherein said mechanism is configured to allow said ball to rotate about said axis, when said ball is attached to said retainer.
  • According to some embodiments, said first and second locations of said retainer comprise respective first and second rotatable cups.
  • According to some embodiments, said first and second rotatable cups comprise an adhesive surface for attachment to said ball.
  • According to some embodiments, said first and second rotatable cups are attached to their respective first and second locations with respective first and second bearings.
  • According to some embodiments, said axis is parallel to a plane of said base, when said ball is in a rest position.
  • According to some embodiments, when in a rest position, said tether extends from said base in a first direction away from said base, wherein said axis perpendicular to said first direction.
  • According to some embodiments, said tether is flexible.
  • According to some embodiments, said flexible tether configured to, in use, provide damped movement of a ball retained in said retainer, following application of a force to said ball.
  • According to a fourth aspect there is provided a sports training-device substantially as described herein with respect to the accompanying Figures.
  • According to a fifth aspect there is provided a ball-retainer for a sports training device comprising: a first end having a first location attachable to a first region on a ball, and a second end having a second location attachable to a second region on said ball, a straight line between said first and second locations defining an axis, wherein said mechanism is configured to allow said ball to rotate about said axis, when said ball is attached to said retainer.
  • According to some embodiments, said first and second locations of said retainer comprise respective first and second rotatable cups.
  • According to some embodiments, said first and second rotatable cups comprise an adhesive surface for attachment to said ball.
  • According to some embodiments, said first and second rotatable cups are attached to is their respective first and second locations with respective first and second bearings.
  • According to a sixth aspect there is provided a ball-retainer for a sports training device substantially as described herein with respect to the accompanying Figures.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF DRAWINGS
  • FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a sports training-device according to an embodiment;
  • FIG. 2 is a side-view of a sports training-device according to an embodiment;
  • FIG. 3 is an exploded perspective-view of a sports training-device according to an embodiment;
  • FIG. 4 is an exploded perspective view of a retainer according to an embodiment;
  • FIG. 5 is a sectional view of a ball-retainer according to an embodiment;
  • FIGS. 6 to 8 show how the orientation of a tether of the sports training-device can be changed;
  • FIG. 9 demonstrates two different orientation angles for the tether;
  • FIG. 10 shows the underside of a sports training-device according to an embodiment;
  • FIGS. 11 and 12 are cross-sectional views of a tether according to an embodiment;
  • FIG. 13 is a perspective view of a sports training-device according to an embodiment;
  • FIG. 14 is a perspective view of a sports training-device according to an embodiment;
  • FIG. 15 is a sectional view of a ball-retainer according to an embodiment;
  • FIGS. 16A and 16B are cross-sectional views of a tether according to an embodiment;
  • FIG. 17 is a sectional view of a sports training-device according to an embodiment;
  • FIG. 18 is an exploded perspective view of a sports training-device according to an embodiment;
  • FIG. 19 shows the underside of a sports training-device according to an embodiment;
  • FIG. 20 is a schematic view of some electrical components of a sports training-device according to an embodiment.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION
  • Some embodiments will now be described in more detail to assist the reader in understanding the invention, the scope of which is defined by the appended claims. It should be noted that the Figures are not necessarily drawn to scale.
  • FIG. 1 shows a sports training-device 100 according to an embodiment. The sports training-device 100 comprises a base 102, and a retainer or holder 104 for retaining or holding a ball 106. The retainer 104 is connected to the base 102 with a tether 108. In this embodiment the tether 108 comprises a flexible material, so as to provide a flexible tether. The flexible tether is described in more detail below (see in particular FIGS. 11 and 12). In this embodiment the flexible tether 108 is attached to the retainer 104 by a coupling 110. In this embodiment the coupling 110 also comprises a flexible material.
  • The base 102 may be formed from a plastic material. The base 102 comprises a top surface 112, a base surface 114, and at least one side 116 extending between the base surface 114 and the top surface 112. The base surface 114, top surface 112, and side 116 together define a hollow interior cavity of the base. The hollow interior cavity can be accessed by removing plug 118, to reveal an opening or inlet into the hollow interior of the base 102. The interior cavity can then be filled, or partially filled, with water or sand or another weighted material to weigh down the base and provide stability to the device in use.
  • The retainer or holder 104, which is described in more detail in FIG. 4, is adapted to attach to the ball 106 at a first location 120 and a second location 122. A straight line between the first location 120 and the second location 122 defines an axis X-X, about which the ball 106 can rotate. In some embodiments the ball is removable from the retainer 104. In the embodiment of FIG. 1 the ball 106 comprises a stripe 124 which enables a user (or user's coach) to clearly see when the ball is spinning, and at what rate. In other embodiments the stripe 124 could be replaced with another indicator means, for example a series of horizontal lines or stripes parallel to the X-X axis. This enables a player to develop more advanced keep-up skills, such as being able to selectively spin the ball in a forward or reverse direction. When the device is at rest, the X-X axis is substantially parallel to a plane of an underside of the base 102, or in other words parallel to a plane of a flat surface upon which the base is placed. The is flexible tether 108 extends outwardly and rearwardly from the base 102, in a direction as shown by arrow Y in FIG. 1. The axis X-X is perpendicular to the direction of arrow Y.
  • The flexible tether 108 is sufficiently flexible to enable the ball to move in three dimensions, in accordance with a force applied to the ball by a player. The ball can move in all three dimensions simultaneously, if a suitable force is so applied. For example the ball can move from left to right (i.e. in the direction of axis X-X), and towards and away from the base (i.e. in the direction of arrow Y), and up and down (i.e. in the direction of arrow Z). Whilst having sufficient flexibility in order to enable these movements, the flexible tether 108 also has a stiffness sufficient to cause damping, or slowing down, of the ball's movements. The flexible tether 108 may in particular have a stiffness which slows down the recovery or return speed of the ball, when returning in a direction towards the ground under the force of gravity. This slows down the return rate of the ball following an applied force and gives a player more time to be able to react when attempting keep-ups. In some embodiments the flexible tether is formed from a plastic material
  • FIG. 2 shows a side view of the sports training-device 100. In this Figure a player's foot 126 is schematically shown. From this Figure it can be more fully appreciated how the flexible tether 108 controls the speed of movement of the ball 106, in particular in the up-and-down Z direction, thus giving a user more time between consecutive kicks in a series of keep-ups. From FIG. 2 it can also be appreciated that the tether can flex in a manner that allows the ball 106 to move towards and away from the base in the direction of arrow Y.
  • FIG. 3 shows an exploded view of components of the sports training-device 100. As shown in FIG. 3, the base 102 comprises an inlet 119 through which water, sand, or another weighted material can be poured into the base. The plug 118 is operable to close off the inlet 119. To this end the plug 118 may be in the form of a cap having a threaded inner wall which can screw on to a corresponding thread on a portion of the inlet 119. The base also comprises non-slip portions 128 to stop the base from slipping relative to the ground, when in use. The non-slip portions 128 may be a separate item from the base 102, or may be attached to the base, for example with an adhesive. Whilst three non-slip portions are shown in FIG. 3, it will of course be understood that any number may be provided (including a single portion). The base 102 also comprises a “skin” or label 130, attachable to the top surface 112 of the base. The skin 130 may provide a protective coating to the base. The skin may also be branded or colour coordinated, for example to represent the colours of a particular football team or to display the crest of a football team. In some embodiments the label 130 may comprise several or any number of labels.
  • The flexible tether 108 is attachable to a tether plug 132. The tether plug 132 comprises an aperture 134 into which a first end 107 of the tether 108 can be inserted. The tether can then be attached to the tether plug 132, for example by screwing it in place, or any other attachment means such as a friction fit, snap fit, adhesives etc. In this embodiment the tether plug 132 comprises clips 135 and 136. The clips 135 and 136 enable the tether plug 132 to snap-fit into an aperture or socket 138 in the base. The aperture 138 comprises recessed regions 140 and 142 which enable a user to squeeze the clips 135 and 136 to disengage the snap-fit connection when they want to remove the tether plug 132 from the base (this is explained in more detail with respect to FIGS. 6 to 8). In some embodiments the aperture 138 is a through hole extending through to a corresponding opening on the underside 114 of the base 102. In other embodiments the aperture 138 comprises a blind-hole. In this embodiment the aperture 138 is entirely separate from the inlet 119 i.e. the hollow interior cavity of the base 102 cannot be accessed via the aperture 138.
  • The flexible tether 108 also comprises a second end 109 attachable to the retainer 104. In this embodiment the second end 109 of the flexible tether 108 is attachable to the retainer 104 via the coupling 110. Fixings 144 and 146 may be provided for attaching the coupling 110 to the retainer 104 and the flexible tether 108. In another embodiment (not shown), the flexible tether 108 can be attached directly to the retainer 104, without the need for the intermediate coupling 110. The retainer 104 is described in more detail with respect to FIG. 4.
  • FIG. 4 shows the retainer 104 in more detail. In this embodiment the retainer 104 is generally in the shape of a head-band. The retainer 104 comprises a main body portion 148. The main body portion 148 is curved between a first end 150 and a second end 152, such that the retainer 104 is profiled to conform to the outer profile of a ball. The retainer 104 comprises a connecting portion 154, which enables the retainer 104 to be connected to the flexible tether 108 via the coupling 110. The retainer 104 also comprises strengthening ribs 156 to increase the strength of the retainer whilst minimising weight. The ribs 156 also act to minimise finger traps.
  • The first and second ends 150 and 152 of the retainer are enlarged compared to the rest of the main body portion 148. The first end 150 comprises a saucer or cup 158 comprising an upstanding bush 160 on an interior surface thereof. A bearing 164 is configured for rotatably attaching the cup 158 to the first end 150 of the retainer 104. The cup 158 is also held in place with a bolt and washer arrangement 166. An end-cap 168 covers this assembly. In this embodiment ribs 170 of the end-cap 168 snap fit into corresponding apertures 172 in the retainer 104. The same arrangement is also provided on the second end 152 of the retainer 104.
  • FIG. 5 is a sectional view through the retainer 104. The cup 158, bearing 164, end cap 168 and bolt and washer arrangement 166 can all be viewed from this Figure. The connector 154 and coupling 110 are also visible in this Figure. The bearing arrangement and selected plastic material enable the cups to dynamically flex and/or pivot for compliance with the ball. This may help with assembly/disassembly of the ball to the retainer 104. According to some embodiments, the retainer 104 is dimensioned such that when in a rest configuration (with no ball attached), a distance A between the first and second ends 150 and 152 is slightly less than a maximum diameter of a standard football (for example a FIFA inspected size #4 football). In embodiments the retainer 104 is formed from a resilient plastic, so that the first and second ends 150 and 152 can be pulled apart slightly in order to enable a football to be attached thereto. Once inserted, the first and second ends 150 and 152 then slightly squeeze the football in order to hold it in place. When the football is removed, the first and second ends can then return to their normal rest position. In some embodiments, the cups 158 can be coated in a permanent or semi-permanent adhesive to stick the ball 106 to the retainer, or any other adhesive arrangement can be used (e.g. Velcro). In another embodiment (not shown), a specially designed ball with a centrally located axle can be provided that locates into corresponding bearings in the retainer, so that the ball can be rotatably attached thereto.
  • FIGS. 6 to 8 show a process of rotating the orientation of the tether plug 132 within the base 102. FIG. 6 shows that the tether plug 132 has been lifted out of the aperture 138.
  • As shown in FIG. 7 the tether plug 132 can then be rotated through 180°, as shown by the arrow B.
  • FIG. 8 shows the tether plug 132 after it has been rotated through 180° with respect to the orientation shown in FIGS. 6 and 7. The tether plug 132 can then be reinserted into the aperture 138.
  • An effect of altering the orientation of the tether plug 132 is demonstrated by viewing FIG. 9. The solid lines show the position of the tether 108, retainer 104, and ball 106, when the first end 107 of the tether exits the base 102 proximate to a front end 101 of the base (e.g. the orientation shown in FIG. 1).
  • The dashed lines show the positions of the tether 108, retainer 104, and ball 106 when the tether plug is in the opposite orientation and the first end 107 of the tether exits the base 102 further back from the front end 101 of the base i.e. closer to a rear end 103 of the base (e.g. after insertion in the orientation of FIG. 8).
  • The aperture 138 for receiving the tether plug 132 is angled (in this embodiment it is angled towards a user) so that altering the orientation of the tether plug alters the angle at which the flexible tether 108 exits the base 102. The exit angle of the tether affects the flight of the ball, at least in part due to the affect this angle has on the bending stresses in the flexible tether. The exit angle also affects the difficulty of performing keep-ups and therefore enables a user to progress from an easier orientation to a harder orientation. According to this embodiment two different tether exit angles, and therefore two different difficulty settings, are shown. It will of course be appreciated that any number of tether exit angles can be provided, and also the means for altering the exit angle are not limited to a reversible tether plug.
  • In the first orientation (i.e. solid lines) the tether exit angle α is approximately 75°. In this orientation, a rest position of the ball 106 is a distance X1 above the ground. The ball is therefore close enough to the ground in its rest position such that a player can also learn the skills required to chip the ball off the ground to begin a set of keep-ups. In some embodiments the ball may be in contact with the ground when in its rest position.
  • In the second orientation (shown with dotted lines), the exit angle of the tether is approximately 90° i.e. vertical or approximately vertical with respect to the ground. The rest position of the ball 106 is a distance X2 above the ground. As can be seen in FIG. 9, the distance X2 is greater than X1. This enables a player to begin a keep up session without having to learn the skill of chipping the ball off the ground. In some embodiments the ball may be in contact with the ground when in its rest position.
  • The exit angle may also affect the damping rate of the flexible tether 108. In the second orientation (dotted lines), the damping rate (i.e. the rate at which the tether damps or slows down the movement of the ball) is greater than the damping rate of when the tether 108 is in the first orientation. This may be particularly so with respect to the force of gravity. Therefore when the tether is in the second orientation the ball 106 moves at a slower rate following input of an applied force, which makes it easier for a player to perform multiple keep-ups. Therefore the first orientation (solid lines) may be considered a “difficult” setting, and the second orientation (dotted lines) may be considered an “easy” setting.
  • The “easy” or “beginner” difficulty position may be suitable for lower age range players, such as those in the 4 to 7 year old age bracket. The beginner difficulty position gives the player more time to react prior to each keep up, and affords more time to adjust the player's body position for the next keep up, allowing for wayward kicks at a lower skill level. There is also a lower frequency between kicks, which enables a user to focus on learning the correct technique. In the beginner difficulty position there may also be less of a focus on the aerobic workout and fitness level.
  • In the “difficult” or “advanced” setting, there is reduced aid from the tether. This may be suitable for upper age range players, such as those aged 8 years and over, as it requires a higher skill level. In the difficult setting faster reactions are required between each keep-up, and there is less time for the player to adjust their body position between each keep-up, therefore requiring greater accuracy for each kick. The higher frequency between kicks requires the user to focus on using the correct technique whilst performing a more demanding exercise. Thus there is a higher focus on aerobic workout and fitness level, and a greater challenge and reward for higher skill users.
  • As discussed previously, in the difficult setting the rest position of the football may be on the ground or only just above the ground, which focuses the user on learning the correct technique to get the ball off the ground for an initial keep-up. There is also increased difficulty if the user miss-hits the ball, and needs to re-start from the resting position.
  • The resting position of the ball in the easy setting is higher off the ground, as shown in FIG. 9. Therefore a user may not have to chip the ball off the ground to start the keep up session, and in some embodiments the device is configured such that the ball will not touch the ground during a set of keep-ups (if a typical force is applied), therefore inspiring confidence in the player.
  • In some embodiments the length of exposed tether 108 outside the base 102 may be adjusted. This may increase/decrease the mechanical aid of the tether, therefore increasing or reducing the difficulty level. This may also enable a user can vary the resting position of the ball 106 above the ground. Adjusting the amount of exposed tether may be achieved, for example, by varying an amount inserted in to the tether plug 132.
  • FIG. 10 shows an underside of the sports training-device 100. From this Figure it can be seen how the aperture 138 extends through the base to an opening on the underside of the base. The distal end of the first end 107 of the tether 108 is visible through this aperture 138. Also shown in FIG. 10 is a handle portion 174. The handle portion 174 is ergonomically designed and makes it easy for a user to carry the device 100.
  • The flexible tether is shown in more detail with respect to FIG. 11. FIG. 11 shows a portion of the flexible tether 108. According to this embodiment, the flexible tether 108 include a core-section 176. The core section 176 is configured to be relatively stiff, and provides resilience to the tether 108. The core section 176 may be formed from a metal. Alternatively the core section 176 may be formed from nylon of a suitably stiff grade. The core section can of course be made from any material having the required stiffness and mechanical properties. In this embodiment the core section 176 is of a rectangular cross-section, although of course other shapes and/or forms are available. Surrounding the core section 176 is a cover or outer sheath 178, covering the core section 176. The cover material 178 may be a flexible, UV stable elastomer or rubber. In some embodiments the core section 176 is over-moulded with the flexible covering material 178. The materials of the core section 176 and cover 178 are selected such that the tether 108 has sufficient flexibility and strength in compression, tension, bending and twist to enable the tether to move in any direction according to the direction in which the ball 106 has been kicked, without breaking. In some embodiments the materials of the core section 176 and cover 178 are selected to provide sufficient resilience to cause a tethered ball to return to its rest position, after the ball has been kicked. Hysteresis, creep resistance and non-temperature sensitivity may also be characteristics of the tether.
  • FIG. 12 shows a sectional view of the flexible tether 108. As shown in this Figure the stiff core 176 has a width of approximately 15 mm, and a height of approximately 4 mm. The flexible outer sheath 178 has a width of approximately 35 mm, and a height of approximately 15 mm.
  • It will of course be appreciated that this is by way of example only and that the flexible tether 108 can be of a different construction. For example the flexible tether 108 may be formed from a unitary piece of material having the requisite qualities, without separate core and sheath sections.
  • According to some embodiments the flexible tether is interchangeable with one or more other flexible tethers, of the same or varying stiffnesses. For example a user might want to change the tether after a period of time as part of maintenance of the device. A user may also want to exchange a tether for a more flexible or stiffer one in order to decrease or increase the difficulty.
  • Embodiments of the present invention may facilitate the learning of correct keep-up technique. As shown in some of the Figures, the flexible tether may comprise a direct connection between the base 102 and the retainer 104. The tether plug 132 may in some embodiments be part of the tether 108, or the tether plug 132 may alternatively be part of the base 102. The coupling 110 may in some embodiments be part of the flexible tether 108, or the coupling 110 may be part of the retainer 104. In some embodiments one or more of these items could be integrally formed with each other. Therefore even where the coupling 110 and tether plug 132 are present, the flexible tether 108 may still be considered to provide a direct flexible connection between the base 102 and the retainer 104 and/or ball 106. That is in some embodiments it may be considered that there is no rigid connection between the base 102 and the ball 106. The flexible connection provides a more realistic keep-up “feel” to the user since the ball can move in any direction as a result of the direction in which the ball has been kicked. That is some embodiments give the feel of practicing keep-ups with an untethered ball, whilst still compensating to some degree for mistakes. Therefore although the effects of miss-kicks and incorrect technique may be mitigated by the device 100, the user may still be made aware when they are not using correct technique and therefore can learn to make the necessary corrections. The stripe 124 shown on the ball 106 in FIG. 1 also helps to ensure correct keep up technique. As the user strikes the ball, the ball will spin in the retainer 104, and the flexible tether 108 may move and rotate. The player may aim to keep the stripe straight and perpendicular to themselves, therefore encouraging correct technique.
  • It will of course be understood that various modifications may be made. For example the flexible tether 108 and flexible coupling 110 may be integrally formed. Likewise the coupling 110 may be integrally formed with the retainer 104. That is in one embodiment the tether 108 is directly attached to the retainer 104 as one piece. In an embodiment the tether 108 is attachable to the base 102 in one orientation only. In such an embodiment the flexible tether 108 may be permanently attached to the base. In some embodiments the base, tether, retainer, and ball are easily detachable from each other. This facilitates packaging and storage of the device.
  • The described embodiments with the changeable orientation of the tether plug allow a user to quickly and easily change the difficulty setting, without having to add any further weights or parts to the device. In other embodiments the means for changing the orientation and/or exit angle of the tether may differ. For example, a ratchet mechanism may enable the angle of the tether to be altered between a number of angles, without having to remove the tether from the base.
  • The tether angle could also, in some embodiments, be configured to enable a two-player game of keep-ups, for example where the two players stand on directly opposing sides of the base.
  • In one embodiment, the ball-retainer or ball-holder 104 could be attached to said base via at least one rigid connection (for example to allow the user to concentrate on spinning the ball). In another embodiment the ball may be prevented from spinning in the retainer 104 (for example to allow the user to concentrate on the keep-up aspect). The retainer 104 may be configurable to selectively enable and prevent spinning of the ball (for example by enabling a user to selectively unlock and lock the cups 158).
  • In some embodiments a counter and/or timing user interface (UI) system can be included. This could for example include a sensor which counts the number of keep-ups, and/or the amount of time for which the user has been playing. In some embodiments such user interface could be accessed through an application on a user's computing device, such as a mobile phone. Also, intelligent electronic sensors and software may be provided to measure ball movement in space e.g. number and direction of rotations. The base unit 102 may also comprise a display (such as an LCD or OLED display) to feedback relevant information to the user, such as the number of keep-ups achieved, time spent playing, number of rotations of the ball etc. Such a display is shown at 117 in FIG. 1.
  • In some embodiments, detection means are provided for detecting a number of times that a user strikes the ball. Striking could be by way of kicking, heading, kneeing etc. The detection means can therefore be used to detect a number of keep ups performed by a user. In embodiments, sound-detecting means is provided so that sound signals caused by a user striking the ball can be detected. In some embodiments the sound-detecting means comprises a microphone. These sound signals can then be converted into electrical signals which are detected by circuitry in the sports training device, so as to count a number of keep ups. Furthermore a display means can be provided to output information to be viewed by a user, such as (by way of non-limiting example) a count of the number of keep ups; time elapsed; time remaining.
  • This is explained in more detail with respect to FIGS. 13 to 20.
  • FIG. 13 shows a sports training device 1300. Features of the sports training device 1300 can be combined with features of the sports training device 100 shown in the earlier Figures in any appropriate manner, and vice versa. For conciseness some of the features in common with the previously described embodiments are not repeated in detail with respect to the subsequent Figures, but it will be understood that they can be incorporated therein.
  • The sports training device 1300 comprises a base 1302, a retainer or holder 1304 for holding a ball 1306. The retainer 1304 is connectable to the base 1302 with a tether 1308. As per the earlier embodiments the tether 1308 is a flexible tether. The flexible tether 1308 comprises a plug 1332 which is insertable into socket or aperture 1338 or 1339. The angle at which the tether exits the base is dependent upon which socket the tether has been inserted into, thus allowing for varying degrees of difficulty. In this embodiment the socket 1338 allows for an easier level of difficulty, and the socket 1339 allows for a harder level of difficulty. Therefore it will be understood that two or more sockets may be provided for receiving the tether. Each socket is configured to provide a differing degree of difficulty when the tether is plugged therein.
  • In this embodiment, a microphone (not visible in FIG. 13) is provided in the retainer 1304. A conductive cable or wire is connected to the microphone, and passes through the tether 1308 to terminate at a male phono jack 1333. The male phono jack 1333 can attach to a complementary female phono socket in the base 1302 (explained in more detail with respect to FIG. 17).
  • The sockets 1338 and 1339 each comprise hinged and sprung loaded doors which open when a force is applied thereto, such as the force of the plug 1332 being pressed against the door. These doors prevent dust and other contaminants from entering the base 1302 when the tether is not attached.
  • The base 1302 further comprises a display region 1317. The display region 1317 comprises display portion 1321 and input region 1323. Via the input region 1323 a user can select or change settings or navigate a menu displayed on the display 1321. The input region 1323 may comprise a hardware keyboard. In other embodiments the input region 1323 may be part of a touch screen. The display 1321 may be an LED or LCD display, or any other type of display.
  • FIG. 14 shows the sports training device 1300 when the plug 1332 (and consequently flexible tether 1308) has been inserted into socket 1338.
  • FIG. 15 is a cross-sectional diagram through the ball retainer 1304. The retainer 1304 comprises a region 1305 in which is located a microphone 1311. In some embodiments the region 1305 comprises an aperture which enables the microphone 1311 to pick up noise external to the retainer more easily. The microphone 1311 is attached to a cable or wire 1313 which passes through the tether 1308. This is shown in more detail in FIG. 16A which shows the tether 1308. The microphone is shown at 1311 and the cable is shown at 1313. The end of the cable 1313 which protrudes from the tether 1308 at the end opposite from the microphone 1311 is attachable to male phono jack 1333. FIG. 16B is a drawing in cross-section through the tether 1308. This shows the cable 1313, as well as core section 1376.
  • FIG. 17 is a sectional drawing through the sports training device 1300. In this Figure the plug 1332 and consequently tether 1308 are connected into socket 1338. It can be appreciated from this Figure that the socket 1338 further comprises a female phono socket 1335 at a bottom of the socket 1338. The socket 1339 comprises a female phono socket 1337. The female phono socket 1335 comprises an electrical terminal 1341 for electrically connecting to male phono jack 1333. Likewise female phono socket 1337 comprising an electrical terminal 1343 for electrically connecting to male phono jack 1333. In this way audio signals can be sent from the female phono socket(s) to appropriate circuitry for processing the sound signals and outputting information on the display 1317. Appropriate connection means are provided (not shown in FIG. 17) for connecting the phono sockets to the circuitry.
  • FIG. 18 is an exploded view of the sports training device 1300. As shown in this. Figure the base 1302 comprises an aperture 1380 for receiving components of the sports training device 1300. Also shown is a battery pack 1382 and a battery cover 1384, for enabling batteries to be inserted into the base 1302, for example to power the electrical components such as the display 1317 and necessary circuitry. In other embodiments any kind of power source can be used, and/or a connector for connecting to mains power may be provided.
  • FIG. 19 shows an underside of the sports training device 1300. This Figure shows battery cover 1384 and non-slip portions 1328.
  • FIG. 20 is a schematic overview according to an embodiment. FIG. 20 shows a microphone 2011 attached to circuitry 2015 via means for conducting electrical signals 2013. The circuitry 2015 in this embodiment comprises a memory 2023 and a processor 2025. Together the memory 2023 and processor 2025 can store and process signals received from the microphone 2011 i.e. a sound of the user kicking the ball. By processing the signals the circuitry 2015 can determine how many times a user has kicked the ball. Information can then be read out to the user on display 2017. For example the display 2017 can display to the user how many keep ups they have managed. The memory 2023 can also store and recall such information for future use. For example the memory 2023 can store information such as high scores which one or more users can then aim to beat.
  • In some embodiments a dock is provided to enable a user to connect their smart phone or any other user equipment to the sports training device. This may be in addition to or may replace the display 2017. In some embodiments the sports training device can communicate wirelessly with a user's electronic device such as mobile phone, tablet, PC etc.
  • It will of course be understood that the embodiments have been described by way of example only, and that variations are envisaged which are within the scope of the appended claims. For example in some embodiments the microphone can be placed elsewhere on the sports training device, rather than in the retainer 1304. Nevertheless the retainer 1304 may be a suitable position for the microphone, as this is in the vicinity is of the ball 1306 and may therefore reduce the chances of incorrect counting due to detecting noises other than the ball being struck. In some embodiments the circuitry may be configured to detect between different types of sound. For example the microphone and circuitry may be able to distinguish between the sound of the ball being struck by a user, and the sound of the ball hitting the ground. For example, if it is detected that the ball has hit the ground then the counter can be restarted.
  • In some embodiments wired connections may be replaced by wireless connections. In such embodiments appropriate transmitters and receivers are provided. Where male ends and female sockets have been described, these can of course be reversed. For example the male phono jack 1333 can be replaced with a female socket, which would receive a corresponding male phono jack in the base of the sports training device.
  • In some embodiments the microphone and circuitry can be calibrated so as to be able to distinguish between the sound of the ball being struck and other external sounds. This calibration can take place at a time of manufacture and/or assembly of the device, and/or at any time by a user.
  • Whilst the term “football” has been used, the term “soccer” or “soccer ball” may equally be used. Also the sports device may be configured to attach a different type of ball other than a soccer or football, such as a rugby ball. The base 102 of the device can also be placed on a raised platform to enable a user to practice keep-ups with the knee, head, shoulder etc.
  • It is noted that while the above describes exemplifying embodiments, there are several variations and modifications which may be made without departing from the scope of the present invention. For example features from different embodiments can be combined in any appropriate fashion.

Claims (27)

1. A sports training-device comprising:
a base;
a retainer for retaining a ball;
and a flexible tether, a first end of the flexible tether attached to said base, and a second end of the flexible tether attached to said retainer;
said flexible tether configured to, in use, provide damped movement of a ball retained in said retainer, following application of a force to said ball;
wherein said retainer is configured to enable said ball to spin within said retainer;
wherein said retainer comprises a band configured to conform to an outer profile of said ball; and
wherein said band comprises a first end attachable to a first location on said ball, and a second end attachable to a second location on said ball, a straight line between said first and second ends configured to coincide with a central axis of said ball.
2. The sports training-device of claim 1, said retainer having a rest position when no force is applied to said ball.
3. The sports training-device of claim 2, wherein said damped movement comprises movement of said ball under a force of gravity.
4. The sports training-device of claim 2, wherein said damped movement comprises one or more of: movement of said ball away from said rest position, in response to said applied force; return movement of said ball towards said rest position.
5. The sports training-device of claim 1, comprising means for detecting a striking of the ball by a user, wherein said means comprises a microphone for detecting a sound of the user striking the ball.
6. (canceled)
7. The sports training-device of claim 5, wherein said microphone is comprised in said retainer, wherein said tether comprises an electrical connector for electrically connecting said microphone to circuitry in said base.
8. (canceled)
9. The sports training-device of claim 1, comprising a display to display information to a user, wherein said information comprises one or more of: a count of keep-ups performed by a user; time elapsed; time remaining.
10-13. (canceled)
14. The sports training-device of claim 1, wherein said flexible tether provides a direct connection between said base and said retainer.
15. The sports training-device of claim 1, wherein said flexible tether comprises a core section, wherein said flexible tether comprises a sheath portion substantially surrounding said core section.
16. (canceled)
17. The sports training-device of claim 1, comprising a mechanism enabling an exit angle of said flexible tether from said base to be varied.
18. The sports training-device of claim 1, wherein said base comprises a socket, wherein said flexible tether is attachable to said base via a plug connector insertable into said socket, wherein said plug connector is insertable in said socket in at least two orientations.
19. (canceled)
20. (canceled)
21. The sports training-device of claim 1, wherein said base comprises two or more sockets, each socket for receiving said tether.
22. The sports training-device of claim 1, wherein said ball comprises a football.
23-33. (canceled)
34. A ball-retainer for a sports training device comprising:
a band configured to conform to an outer profile of a ball;
wherein the ball-retainer is configured to retain said ball;
wherein said ball-retainer is configured to enable said ball to spin within said ball-retainer;
wherein said band comprises a first end having a first location attachable to a first region of said ball, and a second end having a second location attachable to a second region of said ball, wherein a straight line between said first and second locations is configured to coincide with a central axis of said ball.
35. The ball-retainer of claim 34, wherein said first and second locations of said retainer comprise respective first and second rotatable cups.
36. The ball-retainer of claim 35, wherein said first and second rotatable cups comprise an adhesive surface for attachment to said ball.
37. The ball-retainer of claim 35, wherein said first and second rotatable cups are attached to their respective first and second locations with respective first and second bearings.
38. The sports training-device of claim 1, wherein said first and second ends comprise respective first and second rotatable cups.
39. The sports training-device of claim 38, wherein said first and second rotatable cups comprise an adhesive surface for attachment to said ball.
40. The sports training-device of claim 38, wherein said first and second rotatable cups are attached to their respective first and second ends with respective first and second bearings.
US15/533,968 2014-12-08 2015-12-07 Sports training-device Abandoned US20170333773A1 (en)

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GBGB1421806.9A GB201421806D0 (en) 2014-12-08 2014-12-08 Sports training-device
GB1508590.5 2015-05-19
GB1508590.5A GB2533442A (en) 2014-12-08 2015-05-19 Sports training-device
PCT/EP2015/078873 WO2016091827A1 (en) 2014-12-08 2015-12-07 Sports training-device

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GB2533442A (en) 2016-06-22
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EP3226985A1 (en) 2017-10-11
WO2016091827A1 (en) 2016-06-16

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