When it comes to professional athletics, perfecting every detail in game performance is a necessity. This functional training football was created with a goal to improve the most fundamental skill - holding a football. As simple as it seems however, fumbling the ball during play could determine the outcome of a game.
Training with the device is straightforward. The ball is compressed under grip. With enough force the athlete compresses an internal spring which allows the LEDs to illuminate, signifying a successful grip. Players can practice holding the ball with such pressure on a regular basis to train their grip technique so they'll be prepared for actual game play.
My contributions to this project were primarily mechanical engineering and graphic design based. The concept was created by a passionate team with hopes to impact the performance of America's favorite pastime. My goal was to revamp their current prototype into a beta unit that could be presented to investors and be tested in the field by actual athletes. With the preliminary mechanics of the device in mind, everything was redesigned for lighter weight, functional durability, a cleaner aesthetic and potential design for manufacturing. This beta prototype will then be produced on a small scale and distributed for testing among athletes.
The beta unit was designed with a printed housing that would be wrapped in a real football. The objective was to represent a regulation football as closely as possible. The 3D printed inner shell was lightweight yet durable enough to house the spring mechanism and keep the form of a real football without the need for air.
LEDs were added and a simple momentary switch was then spliced in to engage the electronics at maximum compression. The spring stiffness was chosen to provide just the right amount of resistance necessary for real game grip performance. A buzzer was also installed to provide auditory feedback when proper compression was applied.
It will be interesting to receive feedback from the athletes from their testing and training with the device. There is a great opportunity to innovate more products that will help improve specific tactics for game play. As seen in second image, future development would include the implementation of wireless connectivity and an accelerometer in order to also track projectile motion, speed and location of the ball. The stats will potentially be viewed on a phone or an external GUI. I can't wait to continue further exploration in this field.