Title:
Heated warm-up device for an athletic instrument
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A heated weight adapted to receive an athletic instrument is disclosed. The heated weight has at least two apertures permitting an athletic instrument to pass through the at least two apertures. The heated weight includes a rechargeable, microwaveable heat source that warms an athletic instrument through conventional heating processes such as convection and conduction. The heated weight can be sized and shaped to accommodate a specific athletic instrument, and is particularly well suited for use with a baseball or softball bat. Furthermore, the heated weight can be coupled with an athletic instrument to aid in the exercise of an athlete's musculature.



Inventors:
Cheeseman, Travis L. (Bloomington, IN, US)
Application Number:
11/253010
Publication Date:
04/20/2006
Filing Date:
10/18/2005
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63B69/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
CHAMBERS, MICHAEL S
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
WOODARD, EMHARDT, HENRY, REEVES & WAGNER, LLP (111 MONUMENT CIRCLE, SUITE 3700, INDIANAPOLIS, IN, 46204-5137, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A heated warm-up device for an athletic instrument, comprising: a weight having a first end and a second end, the first end and the second end having at least one aperture, the weight defining a passageway between the first end aperture and the second end aperture, wherein the weight is adapted to be heated by an energy source.

2. The heated warm-up device of claim 1, wherein the passageway is tubular in shape.

3. The heated warm-up device of claim 2, wherein the tubular passageway tapers from the first end to the second end.

4. The heated warm-up device of claim 2, wherein the tubular passageway tapers from the second end to the first end.

5. The heated warm-up device of claim 1, wherein the weight is microwavable.

6. The heated warm-up device of claim 1, further comprising a fastener that discourages movement of the weight in at least one direction relative to the athletic instrument.

7. A heated warm-up device for an athletic instrument, comprising: a weight having a first end and a second end, the first end and the second end having at least one aperture, the weight defining a passageway between the first end aperture and the second end aperture; and a heating element disposed within at least a portion of the weight.

8. The heated warm-up device of claim 7, wherein the passageway is tubular in shape.

9. The heated warm-up device of claim 8, wherein the tubular passageway tapers from the first end to the second end.

10. The heated warm-up device of claim 8, wherein the tubular passageway tapers from the second end to the first end.

11. The heated warm-up device of claim 7, wherein the heating element is microwavable.

12. The heated warm-up device of claim 7, further comprising a fastener that discourages movement of the weight in at least one direction relative to the athletic instrument.

13. A kit for making a heated warm-up device for an athletic instrument, the kit comprising: a covering adapted to create a shell enclosing an internal volume, the shell having at least two apertures and a passageway between the at least two apertures, the passageway being adapted to receive an athletic instrument; a pad adapted to be received in the internal volume of the shell; and a heating element adapted to be received in the internal volume of the shell.

14. The kit of claim 13, further comprising: a fastener adapted to constrict at least one aperture of the shell.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 60/620,041, filed on Oct. 19, 2004, which is hereby incorporated by reference in its entirety.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention resides generally in the field of athletics, and in a particular aspect relates to protective devices of athletic instruments.

BACKGROUND

Ambient air temperature can have a significant effect on the performance of athletic instruments that impart or receive energy transfer through contact with an object, such as another athletic instrument or other equipment. Cool ambient air can reduce the temperature of a softball or baseball bat which may have a negative impact on both the longevity and the performance of the bats. In particular, aluminum bats may become dented if used at relatively low temperatures, thus ending the useful life of the bat. Likewise, specially designed composite bats may become cracked if used at relatively low temperatures.

While attempts have been made to provide warming devices that raise the temperature of certain pieces of athletic equipment, there is a continuing need for improved athletic equipment warming devices. A warming device that is portable, provides for ease of use and is rechargeable is desirable.

In view of this background, the need remains for improved devices for warming athletic instruments with an easy-to-use, rechargeable heating device. The present invention is addressed to these needs.

SUMMARY

Accordingly, in certain aspects, disclosed embodiments provide a novel device useful in protecting athletic instruments and aiding an athlete's performance. The novel device involves the use of a weight that is heated.

Accordingly, in one aspect, certain embodiments provide a weighted device having a first end and a second end with at least one aperture in each end. The weighted device defines a passageway between at lease one aperture on the first end and at least one aperture on the second end. The weighted device is further adapted to be heated by an energy source.

In a further aspect, certain embodiments provide a weighted device having a first end and a second end with at least one aperture in each end. The weighted device defines a passageway between at lease one aperture on the first end and at least one aperture on the second end. A heating element is disposed within at least a portion of the weight.

In still another aspect, certain embodiments provide a kit for making a weighted device. The kit includes a covering adapted to create a shell enclosing an internal volume wherein the shell has at least two apertures and a passageway between the at least two apertures. The passageway between the at least two apertures is adapted to receive an athletic instrument. The kit further includes a pad and a heating element, both pad and heating element adapted to be received in the internal volume of the shell.

The disclosed embodiments provide a weighted device useful for protecting athletic instruments and aiding an athlete's performance. Additional embodiments as well as features and advantages of the invention will be apparent from the further descriptions herein.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Although the characteristic features of this invention will be particularly pointed out in the claims, the invention itself, and the manner in which it may be made and used, may be better understood by referring to the following description taken in connection with the accompanying figures forming a part thereof.

FIG. 1 is an isometric view of an embodiment of the heated weight.

FIG. 2 is an isometric view of the heated weight in use on a baseball bat.

FIG. 3 is an isometric exploded cross-sectional view of the embodiment in FIG. 1.

FIG. 4 shows the components used to create the embodiment in FIG. 1.

FIG. 5 is an isometric view of a packaging tube useful in creating the embodiment of FIG. 1.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

For the purposes of promoting an understanding of the principles of the invention, reference will now be made to the embodiments illustrated in the drawings and specific language will be used to describe the same. It will nevertheless be understood that no limitation of the scope of the invention is thereby intended, and alterations and modifications in the illustrated devices, and further applications of the principles of the invention as illustrated therein are herein contemplated as would normally occur to one skilled in the art to which the invention relates.

As described above, certain embodiments of the present invention provide a device useful in protecting athletic instruments and aiding in an athlete's performance. As used herein for convenience of description, the term “bat” is intended to encompass any athletic instrument intended to strike another athletic instrument including, but not limited to, baseball bats, softball bats, golf clubs, cricket bats, tennis rackets, etc.

One embodiment provides for a weighted device having two apertures. A passageway is provided between the two apertures. The passageway can either be tapered from one end to the other end to accommodate a bat or it may be a constant radius passageway from one end of the heated bat weight to the other.

Turning now to the figures, FIG. 1 shows one embodiment of a heated bat weight indicated generally at 50 and having an outer covering 55. Heated bat weight 50 has two apertures, a secured end aperture 60 and a free end aperture 75. Heated bat weight 50 further defines an internal passageway 62 that is generally tubular in shape extending between apertures 60 and 75. Heated bat weight 50 can have a fastener, such as tie strings 65, used to secure the heated bat weight to the athletic instrument, as described in greater detail hereinbelow. It will be understood by those in the art that the term fastener is intended to encompass any feature that serves to secure heated bat weight 50 to an athletic instrument.

Shown in FIG. 2 is the heated bat weight 50 placed on and secured around a bat 80. Bat 80 includes knob 85, handle 90 and barrel end 95. Tie strings 65 secure heated bat weight 50 to bat 80 such that tie strings 65 prevent heated bat weight 50 from departing the barrel end 95 of bat 80 when an athlete grips handle 90 and swings bat 80 in a conventional manner. In a preferred embodiment, tie strings 65 are composed of a single nylon rope wherein the ends of tie strings 65 are simply the ends of the single nylon rope. The nylon rope is preferably contained in a channel created by folding the outer covering 55 of heated bat weight 50 near aperture 60 onto itself and fixing the covering 55 in that position by sewing, as shown by stitching 70.

Tie strings 65 may be knotted once the heated bat weight 50 is placed around the bat 80. Thereafter, the heated bat weight 50 may be easily and repeatedly applied to the bat 80 by sliding the knob 85 end through free end aperture 75. The knotted tie strings 65 will prevent the bat 80 from completely traversing the passageway 62. The bat weight 50 may be easily removed by sliding bat weight 50 back toward knob 85 end. It is important to note that once tie strings 65 have been knotted, other bats of similar dimensions can use heated bat weight 50 without any change to the configuration of the knotted tie strings 65.

Shown in FIG. 3 is a cut-away view of heated bat weight 50. Secured end aperture 60 and free end aperture 75 define the ends of passageway 62. Passageway sheath 115 forms the surface of the passageway 62, which is adapted to accommodate an athletic instrument such as a bat. In one embodiment, passageway 62 is of substantially uniform cross-sectional diameter such that an increasing size in bat 80 from the handle 90 to the barrel end 95 will create an increasingly snug fit of heated bat weight 50 around bat 80. In an alternative embodiment, passageway 62 is tapered from one end of heated bat weight 50 to the other end in approximately the same proportions as the taper from handle 90 to the barrel end 95. Such a taper will serve to prevent the bat 80 from completely traversing the passageway 62, the taper thereby functioning as a fastener.

Contained within the space defined between outer covering 55 and passageway sheath 115 are a heating element 110 and optional padding 105 contained in a wrapper 100. In one embodiment, outer covering 55, wrapper 100 and passageway sheath 115 are formed from nylon. In another embodiment, padding 105 is replaced with a wrapper 100 having a padded surface. In still another embodiment, padding 105 is replaced with outer covering 55 having a padded surface. In yet another embodiment, padding 105 is eliminated with no substitute in either wrapper 100 or outer covering 55.

In one embodiment, heating element 110 is a rechargeable, microwaveable heating element comprised of a substance that accepts energy from a source (such as a microwave oven) and in turn converts the energy into heat. Heating element 110 dissipates this heat energy over time through conventional heat transfer mechanisms with its surrounding environment. Suitable microwaveable heating elements, or heat packs as they are sometimes called, are commercially available from Vesture Corporation of Asheboro, N.C. and marketed under the MICROCORE® trade name. Such heat packs are preferred because temperatures suitable for use in heating athletic devices can be achieved with only a few minutes of warming in a conventional microwave oven set at high power. When warmed in this manner and placed within outer covering 55 and padding 105, heating element 110 will retain sufficient heat to warm bats for extended periods of time. For example, placing the heating element 110 into a conventional microwave over on high power for 4-7 minutes will achieve a temperature of 175-200 degrees F. and will stay warm for approximately four hours. Once placed within the heated bat weight 50, the bat 80 will be sufficiently warmed within five minutes. It will be evident to those skilled in the art that other types of heat generating heat packs can also be used, such as those filled with rice, buckwheat, etc.

In one embodiment, padding 105 is made from cotton batting. In another embodiment, padding 105 is made from polyester batting. In yet another embodiment, padding 105 is made from foam. Padding 105 functions as an insulator, slowing heat loss from the heated bat weight 50 so that more heat is directed toward the bat. Padding 105 also functions as a protective device useful in reducing the external temperature of the heated bat weight 50 so as to permit safe handling by an athlete or other user. Those skilled in the art will appreciate that padding 105 can be made from any material having insulating properties.

Turning now to FIG. 4, shown are the wrapper 100, the padding 105, and the heating element 110. These elements are shown in their conditions prior to preparation for use within heated bat weight 50. The edges of padding 105 are folded around the edges of heating element 110 creating a subassembly of heating element 110 and padding 105. The edges of wrapper 100, in turn, are folded around the subassembly of the heating element 110 and padding 105 to create a package adapted for delivery within heated bat weight 50, which is rolled prior to placement in the substantially cylindrical heated bat weight 50 shown in FIG. 3.

FIG. 5 shows packaging tube 130 that is used in one embodiment to function simultaneously as a passageway 62 for an athletic instrument and as an outer covering 55 for the heated bat weight 50. Packaging tube 130 is preferably a tubular piece of nylon 135 at least twice the length of the assembled heated bat weight 50 to accomplish both functions. When manufacturing the heated bat weight 50, packaging tube 130 is initially compressed and placed along the length of and inside the rolled package of heating element 110, padding 105 and wrapper 100. The compressed packaging tube 130 is placed such that its ends extend beyond the ends of the rolled package, but the compressed packaging tube 130 is biased towards one end of the rolled package creating a short end and a long end. The short end of the compressed packaging tube 130 is decompressed and folded over the exterior of the rolled package. The long end of the compressed packaging tube 130 (the end having stitching 70 and tie strings 65) is also decompressed and folded over the exterior of the rolled package such that it extends substantially down the length of the rolled package, until it is in the configuration shown in FIG. 1.

Heated bat weight 50 not only serves to warm athletic instruments, it also serves to exercise an athlete's musculature. Prior to entering the competitive playing field, an athlete may place the heated bat weight 50 upon bat 80 and conduct practice swings. The act of swinging the bat 80 with installed heated bat weight 50 serves to loosen and condition an athlete's musculature so as to quicken the athlete's response to playing conditions.

While certain embodiments of the invention have been illustrated and described in detail in the drawings and foregoing description, the same is to be considered as illustrative and not restrictive in character. Only certain embodiments have been shown and described, and all changes, equivalents, and modifications that come within the spirit of the invention described herein are desired to be protected. Any experiments, experimental examples, or experimental results provided herein are intended to be illustrative of the present invention and should not be considered limiting or restrictive with regard to the invention scope. Further, any theory, mechanism of operation, proof, or finding stated herein is meant to further enhance understanding of the present invention and is not intended to limit the present invention in any way to such theory, mechanism of operation, proof, or finding. Thus, the specifics of this description and the attached drawings should not be interpreted to limit the scope of this invention to the specifics thereof. Rather, the scope of this invention should be evaluated with reference to the claims appended hereto. In reading the claims it is intended that when words such as “a”, “an”, “at least one”, and “at least a portion” are used there is no intention to limit the claims to only one item unless specifically stated to the contrary in the claims. Further, when the language “at least a portion” and/or “a portion” is used, the claims may include a portion and/or the entire item unless specifically stated to the contrary.