Staying physically fit is important for people of all ages but it is especially good for young people to work out since developing healthy habits early in life will likely ensure a healthier adulthood. There are several products on the market that help make exercise fun and the “Kick-It Trainer” is one of them. According to the official website:
Kick-it Trainer is a patent-pending piece of sporting equipment which enables athletes of all levels to hone and improve their ball-kicking skills in rapid fire succession – without having to chase after the ball each time, or worry about it landing in the neighbor’s yard. Further, Kick-it Trainer’s ball sling accepts any size sporting ball, and the unit is lightweight, portable, sturdy, and a breeze to set up and breakdown….plus it can be used both indoors and outdoors.
Developed by siblings Erik and Kirsten Nergaard, the idea for the “Kick-It Trainer” was formed when Kirsten and Erik were playing tetherball one day at a nearby school. They both agreed that it would be great if their soccer ball was tethered as well. The idea was too good to let go of and when they returned home, they designed and then built the very first Kick-it out of plumbing pipe from Home Depot. With more than 13 million youth soccer players in the U.S., and more official soccer players than any other nation at 18 million, the time is ripe for the teen duo to now bring their invention to market.
The Kick-It Trainer costs $149.99 and is recommended to ages nine and up. Recently Erik Nergaard, the co-founder of the Kick-it Trainer, spoke to the Examiner about the product and his hopes for its future:
Meagan Meehan (M.M.): How and when was Kick-It started and why was that name chosen?
Erik Nergaard (E.N.): When Kirsten and I were young and could practice soccer together it was fun and efficient. We could pass to each other or if we were shooting on goal, one of us would play goalie and one would shoot. As our school and sports scheduled diverged, practicing soccer became difficult. We spent a lot of time chasing balls around. About ten years ago while struggling to find an efficient way to practice, we were introduced to the game of tether ball which I understand was a game that was played when my parents were young. Inspired by the fact that the ball was tethered to a string, Kirsten and I wondered whether we could replicate the idea with a soccer ball. We rigged up a makeshift Kick-it from pipes and old metal tubes from our garage. My parents got involved and helped make Kick-it functional. We could now kick a soccer ball repeatedly practicing with both feet inside the house or outside without having to chase the ball around. We saw immediate improvement in our ability to kick the soccer ball and knew that we had a great idea. In brainstorming about a name, we knew we wanted a name that was easy and that represented an understandable function of the device. It also had to be a name that was available so that we could have a website and patent the product. Well, what do you do with the device? You Kick-it! Instantly, we agreed on this name! While we wanted to develop Kick-it commercially right away, realistically we had little time to devote to developing Kick-it. Just a bit over a year ago with more experience and time to focus on Kick-it, we had the prototype built by a design engineer! Our first shipment will be available for sale the last week in November!
M/M.: To date, how many products do you sell? Do you have any ideas in the pipeline?
E.N.: Currently, we just sell Kick-it. We have plans for a second generation Kick-it as well as plans to modify Kick-it so that a football place kicker could use it as well. If all goes well, we also hope to introduce products for lacrosse and ice hockey!
M.M.: So far, what has been the most rewarding experience involving working with Kick-It?
E.N.: The most satisfying part of Kick-it was actually watching the process unfold and the prototype being built. It was also satisfying to have soccer players and coaches give us enthusiastic reviews of Kick-it!
M.M.: Where do you hope Kick-It will be ten years from now?
E.N.: Soccer is the world’s most played sport and we see incredible possibilities for the use of Kick-it. We introduced it to athletes in Norway and Minnesota. There, the winters are long and prohibit outdoor practice so the athletes were really excited about the ability to practice indoors during the winter months. We have also spoken to physicians who think Kick-it will be a great tool for injured players as they recover from various sports injuries.
M.M.: What advice would you give to someone who is aspiring to become a product designer?
E.N.: Our advice would be to be ready to put in a lot of time working and to be very flexible. You can’t fit a square peg into a round hole but there are many creative solutions to difficult problems that arise during the design and production of a new product.
M.M.: Are there any upcoming projects and/or events that you would like to mention?
E.N.: Our next project involves building an “app” for Kick-it and making the kicks measurable in a number of different ways!
* * * * *
To learn more visit the official website and Facebook. They can also be followed on Twitter via @KickItTrainer