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Title:
Baseball batting practice tee
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
An apparatus for teaching a baseball or softball player batting fundamentals. The apparatus comprises a base plate, a horizontally-disposed support bracket having baseball tee supports for supporting three telescoping baseball tees. The baseball tee supports are vertically mounted on the support bracket to support the baseball tees in fixed, elevated positions above the home plate area. In a preferred, the support bracket is sized and shaped to position three baseball tees in a vertical plane, such that when balls are simultaneously placed on each of the baseball tees, a batter is permitted to selectively hit any one of three balls, without disturbing either of the two non-selected balls.


Inventors:
Falgoust, Paul N. (Thibodaux, LA, US)
Application Number:
11/249563
Publication Date:
04/12/2007
Filing Date:
10/12/2005
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63B69/00
View Patent Images:
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Attorney, Agent or Firm:
PATENT DEPARTMENT;TAYLOR, PORTER, BROOKS & PHILLIPS, L.L.P (P.O. BOX 2471, BATON ROUGE, LA, 70821-2471, US)
Claims:
I claim:

1. An apparatus suitable for teaching a baseball or softball player batting techniques, said apparatus comprising: (a) a base plate capable of resting upon the ground; (b) three baseball tee supports; (c) three telescoping baseball tees, each adapted to hold a ball; wherein the size and shape of said telescoping baseball tees are adapted to complement those of said baseball tee supports, such that said telescoping baseball tees are slidably engagable with said baseball tee supports; and (d) a horizontally-disposed support bracket having a vertical member engagable with said base plate; wherein said horizontally-disposed support bracket is adapted to support said telescoping baseball tees in a vertical position to form a single, vertical plane that extends across said base plate; wherein: when balls are simultaneously placed on each of said telescoping baseball tees, three different pitches are simultaneously simulated; and wherein: said apparatus is adapted to permit a batter to selectively hit any one of three balls that are simultaneously placed on said baseball tees, without disturbing either of the two non-selected balls.

2. An apparatus as recited in claim 1, wherein said horizontally-disposed support bracket is adapted to position the first of said three telescoping baseball tees between about 6 in and about 8 in front said base plate, near the left or right, front inside corner of the defined pitch strike zone, depending on whether the batter is right- or left-handed.

3. An apparatus as recited in claim 1, wherein said horizontally-disposed support bracket is adapted to position the second of said three telescoping baseball tees in the middle of said base plate, near the center of the defined pitch strike zone.

4. An apparatus as recited in claim 1, wherein said horizontally-disposed support bracket is adapted to position the third of said three telescoping baseball tees near the rear, outside corner of said base plate and the pitch strike zone.

5. An apparatus as recited in claim 1, wherein said telescoping baseball tees form a single, vertical plane that extends diagonally across said base plate.

6. An apparatus as recited in claim 5, wherein said horizontally-disposed support bracket may be rotated at an angle of approximately 90°, with respect to said base plate, to accommodate right-handed and left-handed batters.

7. An apparatus as recited in claim 1, wherein when three balls are simultaneously placed in each of said telescoping baseball tees, outside, inside, and over-the-middle pitches, with respect to said base plate, may be simultaneously simulated within a defined strike zone.

8. An apparatus as recited in claim 1, wherein when said apparatus is used by a softball or baseball player, the player learns one or more of the following: how to properly control their batting swing angle by adjusting the spacing between their hands and body; how to properly control the orientation of the bat with respect to the body; or how to identify where an outside, inside, or over-the-middle pitched ball should be located, with respect to a home plate, in order to successfully hit a pitched ball.

Description:

This invention pertains to baseball training equipment, particularly a multiple batting practice tee apparatus for teaching baseball and softball players hitting fundamentals, including proper batting and hand adjustment techniques.

Baseball and softball batting practice devices such as batting tees are known for improving the hitting of baseball players and particularly young players who are learning how to play the game of baseball. Conventional batting tees utilize an adjustable upright member that extends directly upward from the center of a home plate-shaped support member. See, generally, U.S. Pat. No. 5,928,092.

There are several drawbacks to successfully teaching baseball and softball players proper batting and hand adjustment techniques using conventional batting tees. One major drawback involves the variable positioning of a baseball within a strike zone. Conventional batting tees usually support the ball directly over the center of home plate, and thus cannot properly teach a young player to hit a ball when it is in front of the plate. Another drawback involves the limited amount of positional adjustments of the ball-supporting upright member with respect to home plate. That is, conventional batting tees do not allow for the adjustment of hand placement training by properly simulating outside pitches and inside pitches with respect to home plate and with respect to left-handed and right-handed batters. Yet another drawback involves properly simulating outside pitches, inside pitches and pitches at the middle of home plate, based on the position of the ball with respect to the distance from home plate. See, generally, U.S. Pat. No. 5,928,092.

U.S. Pat. No. 6,579,195 describes a baseball swing training device for teaching proper batting swing techniques comprising a frame having forward and rearward frame members interconnected by a side frame member defining a batters box and a pair of upstanding guideposts slidably-mounted on the rearward frame member with a forwardly extending centerline that passes through the center of the strike zone to provide a target for pitchers delivering balls to a batter. Alternatively, a ball may be placed on a batting tee positioned on the centerline.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,928,092 describes a baseball support device for holding a baseball in certain positions for batting training and practice comprising a support base shaped like a baseball home-plate, a first support strut engagable with a series of engagement lips on the support base, a swing arm assembly having a second support strut, a third support strut, and a horizontal arm rotatably-engaged with the first support strut.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,388,823 describes an adjustable batting tee device for teaching hitting techniques to right-handed and left-handed batters comprising a plate member, a first elongated member extending from the plate member, a second elongated member slidably and rotatably positioned on the first elongated member and extending cross-wise with respect to the first elongated member, the second elongated member being slidable along a length of the first elongated member and being rotatable with respect to the first elongated member between at least a first and a second position, a locking means for selectively locking the second elongated member in the first and second positions, and an upright member for supporting a ball.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,320,343 describes a baseball/softball practice and teaching device for teaching proper swing techniques and angles, and for providing a pitching target comprising a home plate having a centrally-mounted and vertically-adjustable post which can be rotated about its axis and a vertically adjustable ball support post is attached to the centrally-mounted post by an adjustable horizontal crossbar member.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,106,085 describes a baseball practice apparatus for improving a user's batting form and hitting average comprising a simulated home plate area together with guide markers to assist a user in achieving the correct batting stance, a lower ball support structure to permit balls at any possible area to be hit, and an overhead ball suspension structure to provide additional practice for improving a user's bat speed.

U.S. Pat. No. 4,456,250 describes a ball tee for teaching proper batting swing techniques to a baseball or softball player comprising a base suitable for ground contact having at least two, preferably three, adjustable poles mounted thereon.

U.S. Pat. No. 3,139,282 describes a batting practice tee for teaching baseball hitting fundamentals comprising a base plate having a home plate, and at least a pair of adjustable baseball tees adjustably mounted on the base plate. Each of the adjustable baseball tees further comprises an elongated horizontally-disposed support bracket and a vertically-disposed ball support member mounted on the support bracket for supporting a baseball in a selective, elevated position above the home plate area of the base plate.

An unfilled need exists for an apparatus for teaching baseball and softball players proper batting and hand adjustment techniques.

I have discovered an inexpensive apparatus for teaching baseball and softball players batting fundamentals. The apparatus is a “baseball batting practice tee” comprising a base plate, a horizontally-disposed support bracket having baseball tee supports for supporting three telescoping baseball tees. The baseball tee supports are vertically mounted on the support bracket to support the baseball tees in fixed, elevated positions above the home plate area. Unlike other baseball and softball batting practice apparatuses, the novel apparatus teaches users how to properly control their batting swing angle by adjusting the spacing between their hands and body, how to properly control the orientation of the bat with respect to the body, and how to identify where an outside, inside, or over-the-middle pitched ball should be located, with respect to home plate, in order to successfully hit the ball.

In a preferred embodiment, the support bracket is sized and shaped to position three baseball tees, each adapted to hold a ball, in a single, vertical plane diagonally across the home plate to simulate outside, inside, and over-the-middle pitches with respect to home plate and with respect to left-handed and right-handed batters. Balls are placed on the baseball tees to teach users how to adjust their hands by selectively hitting one of the three balls, without disturbing the remaining two non-selected balls.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is perspective view of one embodiment of the baseball batting practice tee.

FIG. 2 is a schematic diagram of one embodiment of the baseball batting practice tee.

FIG. 3A is a top plan view of one embodiment of the baseball batting practice tee with the support bracket positioned to train a right-handed hitter how to hit outside, inside, and over-the-middle pitches.

FIG. 3B is a top plan view of one embodiment of the baseball batting practice tee with the support bracket positioned to train a right-handed hitter how to hit an outside pitch.

FIG. 3C is a top plan view of one embodiment of the baseball batting practice tee with the support bracket positioned to train a right-handed hitter how to hit an over-the-middle pitch.

FIG. 3D is a top plan view of one embodiment of the baseball batting practice tee with the support bracket positioned to train a right-handed hitter how to hit an inside pitch.

FIG. 4 is a top plan view of one embodiment of the baseball batting practice tee with the support bracket positioned to train a left-handed hitter how to hit outside, inside, and over-the-middle pitches.

FIG. 5 is a top plan view of one embodiment of the baseball batting practice tee.

FIG. 6 is a side plan view of one embodiment of the baseball batting practice tee.

A general purpose of this invention is to provide an apparatus for teaching proper batting fundamentals to baseball and softball players. More specifically, a purpose of this invention is to provide an inexpensive apparatus for teaching left- or right-handed softball and baseball players how to properly hit outside, inside, or over-the-middle pitches from the same batting stance and foot placement by adjusting the positions of their hands, with respect to the player's body, while executing a batting swing to compensate for the location of the ball with respect to the home plate and pitch strike zone (i.e., an imaginary area defined by the width of home plate and the approximate distance between an adolescent batter's knees and hands or an adult batter's knees and waistline). The apparatus is a “baseball batting practice tee” comprising a base plate, a horizontally-disposed support bracket having baseball tee supports for supporting three or more telescoping baseball tees.

In a preferred embodiment, the support bracket is sized and shaped to position three baseball tees in a single plane, diagonally across the home plate, to simultaneously simulate outside, inside, and over-the-middle pitches. Balls are simultaneously placed on the baseball practice tees to teach users how to adjust their hands by selectively hitting one of the three balls, without disturbing the remaining two non-selected balls. The support bracket positions one of the outer baseball tees to the right or left side (depending on the whether the batter is right- or left-handed) of home plate at a recommended distance of between about 6 in and about 8 in front of home plate near the front inside corner of the pitch strike zone. A second baseball tee is positioned in the middle of home plate and near the center of the pitch strike zone. A third baseball tee is positioned near the rear, outside corner of the home plate and the pitch strike zone.

To achieve a proper batting swing, the batter selects a pitch and strikes a ball seated in the baseball tee with the “sweet spot” of a bat (i.e., the barrel of a bat, which is between about 2 to about 8 in from the end of the bat), without disturbing the other balls. For inside pitches, the batter compensates for the positioning of the inside ball by bringing his/her hands near to and in front of the body to adjust the batting swing angle as the batting swing is executed. For outside pitches, the batter compensates for the positioning of the outside ball by extending his/her hands away from the body to strike the ball near the rear outside corner of the home plate and strike zone. For over-the-center pitches, the batter compensates for the positioning of the ball by extending his/her hands slightly farther away from the body than he/she would when swinging at inside pitches to strike the ball near the front edge of the home plate. By using the novel apparatus to practice the adjustment of hand position based on various pitches, the batter learns how to identify where an outside, inside, or over-the-middle pitched ball should be located, with respect to home plate, in order to successfully hit the ball.

There are several advantages of using the novel baseball batting practice tee to teach baseball and softball players how to adjust the position of their hands when hitting outside, inside, or over-the-middle pitches. First, the number of components may be minimal. Fabrication may be simple and inexpensive. Second, the apparatus trains young players (e.g., kids between the ages of 10 and 15) how to swing properly, compared to other batting tees which are simply practice tools for players who already know hot to swing properly.

EXAMPLE 1

FIG. 1 illustrates a perspective view of one embodiment of the baseball batting practice tee 2 in accordance with this invention. In this embodiment, the baseball batting practice tee 2 comprises a home-shaped base plate 4 capable of resting upon the ground, three telescoping baseball tees (6, 8, and 10), three baseball tee supports (12, 14, and 16), and a horizontally-disposed support bracket 18 having a first vertical member 20. Support bracket 18 was sized and shaped to position baseball tees (6, 8, and 10) in a single plane diagonally across base plate 4, so that outside, inside, and over-the-middle pitches could be simultaneously simulated. Telescoping tees (6, 8, and 10) were sized and shaped to complement those of baseball tee supports (12, 14, and 16), such that the telescoping tees (6, 8, and 10) fitted snugly in baseball tee supports (12, 14, and 16) and were able to be vertically adjusted to accommodate the height of the user, while providing a stable docking station for balls 11. In a preferred embodiment, telescoping tees (6, 8, and 10) and baseball tee supports (12, 14, and 16) were made of tubular rubber and vinyl plastic, respectively. Other materials capable of withstanding inadvertent impacts by a bat while supporting the weight of a softball or hardball during the execution of a batting swing may be used such as aluminum, polyethylene or polypropylene.

FIG. 2 illustrates a schematic diagram of one embodiment of the baseball batting practice tee 2. In this embodiment, first vertical member 20 was sized and shaped to maintain the structural integrity and stability of telescoping tees (6, 8, and 10) by complementing those of second vertical member 22. Support bracket 18 was snugly mounted in a quick fashion near the front end of base plate 4 by sliding vertical member 20 onto second vertical member 22 extending from base plate 4. Support bracket 18 was able to be rotated 90°, with respect to base plate 4, to accommodate right-handed and left-handed batters. See FIGS. 3A and 4. In a preferred embodiment, support bracket 18, first vertical member 20 and second vertical member 22 were made of square steel to resist rotational movement during the execution of a batting swing. Other sturdy materials capable of resisting rotational movement, while maintaining the structural integrity and stability of baseball batting practice tee may be used such as aluminum, polyethylene or polypropylene.

EXAMPLE 2

Construction of the Prototype Baseball Batting Practice Tee

Three, single batting practice tees, each having a home-shaped base plate, a telescoping baseball tee, and a baseball tee support were purchased from Walmart, Houma, La. The base plate of each batting practice tee was removed and discarded, and the batting practice tees were modified, as illustrated in FIGS. 1, 5, and 6. As shown in FIG. 5, base plate 4 was constructed from 0.375 in thick steel (Waguespack Welding and Manufacturing, St. James, La.), and had an overall width (F) of 18 in and an overall length (G) of 22 in, including a base plate extension 5 having a length (M) of 4 in to help stabilize the baseball batting practice tee 2. Base plate extension 5 had a tapered-shape that decreased from a width (L) of 10 in to a width (K) of 5 in.

As shown in FIG. 6, support bracket 18 was fabricated from 175 in tubular steel (Waguespack Welding and Manufacturing, St. James, La.), and had a length (H) of 24.75 in. First vertical member 20 had a length (E) of 4 in. Baseball tee support 14 made of vinyl plastic, and having a 1.25 in outside diameter and a length (D) of 9 in was attached to the center of support bracket 18, while the remaining two baseball tee supports (12 and 16) were attached at both ends of the support bracket 18 at a distance (J) of 11.5 in from the center to allow for the simultaneous simulation of outside, inside, and over-the-middle pitches. Telescoping baseball tees made of rubber, and having a length (C) of 12 in and a diameter of 0.875 in were then inserted into baseball tee supports (12, 14, and 16) to achieve a maximum adjustable height (B) of about 20 in with about 1 in of baseball tees (6, 8, and 10) remaining in baseball tee supports (12, 14, and 16).

In initial tests, the prototype was placed in a baseball field and the telescoping baseball tees (6, 8, and 10) were adjusted to position balls at the waist level of a 4.5 ft tall baseball player. See FIG. 6. The baseball player was allowed to hit outside, inside, and over-the-middle pitches for several minutes as shown in FIGS. 3B, 3C and 3D, respectively. Initially, the baseball player inadvertently struck balls that were not meant to be hit during practice batting. After instructing the baseball player how to adjust his hands with respect to the position of his body, it was determined that the balls could be hit in any sequence desired, without hitting the remaining balls placed on the other two tees. For example, after receiving batting lessons and instructed to hit an outside pitch, the right-handed baseball player compensated for the positioning of the outside ball 11A by extending his hands 5 away from his body to position bat 7 during the swing, causing ball 11A to fly in the direction of 13A as bat 7 struck ball 11A near the rear outside corner of home plate 4 and the strike zone, as shown in FIG. 3B. The right handed baseball player compensated for the positioning of the over-the-center ball 11C by extending his hands slightly farther away from his body than he would when swinging at an inside ball 11B by extending his hands 5 near to and in front of his body to adjust the batting swing angle as the batting swing was executed, causing ball 11C to fly in the direction of 13C as bat 7 struck ball 11C near the front edge of the home plate 4, as shown in FIG. 3C. The right-handed baseball player compensated for the positioning of the inside ball 11B by extending his hands 5 near to and in front of his body to adjust the batting swing angle as the batting swing was executed, causing ball 11B to fly in the direction of 13B as bat 7 struck ball 11B, as shown in FIG. 3D.

Preliminary observations suggest that the baseball batting practice tee effectively teaches users how to hit outside, inside, and over-the-middle pitches from the same batting stance and foot placement by adjusting the positions of their hands while executing a batting swing to compensate for the location of the ball with respect to the home plate. In addition, the baseball batting practice tee teaches user how to identify where an outside, inside, or over-the-middle pitched ball should be located, with respect to home plate, in order to successfully hit the ball.

The complete disclosures of all references cited in this specification are hereby incorporated by reference. In the event of an otherwise irreconcilable conflict, however, the present specification shall control.





 
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