Title:
Baseball pitching aid
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A portable, easy to use (e.g., baseball) pitching aid is disclosed to provide an audible indication of the arm motion, position and speed of a pitcher during a practice pitch. The pitching aid includes a real or replica ball having seams extending therearound. A flexible flap attachment is coupled to the ball by a connecting strap. Without releasing his grip on the ball during the practice pitch, the flap attachment is subjected to an increased velocity during the pitcher's delivery in response to an accelerated arm motion so as to emit a cracking sound and thereby provide confirmation that the pitcher has achieved proper biomechanics. The ball has first and second pairs of holes extending therethrough. First and opposite ends of the connecting strap extend from the flap attachment through respective ones of the first pair of holes to be detachably connected together when the pitcher wishes to grip a first set of the seams of the ball to practice a first pitch. The first and opposite ends of the connecting strap extend from the flap attachment through respective ones of the second pair of holes to be detachably connected together when the pitches wishes to grip a second set of the seams to practice a different pitch.



Inventors:
Schoonover, Richard L. (Munroe Falls, OH, US)
Application Number:
11/301611
Publication Date:
06/14/2007
Filing Date:
12/14/2005
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63B69/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
CHAMBERS, MICHAEL S
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
LAW OFFICES OF MORLAND C FISCHER (2030 MAIN ST, SUITE 1300, IRVINE, CA, 92614, US)
Claims:
I claim:

1. A pitching aid to provide an audible indication of the arm mechanics of a pitcher during a practice pitch, said pitching aid comprising a ball to be gripped and held by the pitcher's fingers and a flap attachment to be coupled to said ball so as to be subjected to an increased velocity during the pitcher's delivery, said flap attachment adapted to emit an audible cracking sound in response to an accelerated arm motion to confirm that the pitcher has achieved predetermined arm mechanics during the practice pitch.

2. The pitching aid recited in claim 1, further comprising a connecting strap to couple said flap attachment to said ball.

3. The pitching aid recited in claim 2, wherein said connecting strap extends between said flap attachment and said ball.

4. The pitching aid recited in claim 3, wherein said connecting strap has first and opposite ends extending through said ball and detachably connected together to form a closed loop so as to surround the pitcher's fingers which grip the ball.

5. The pitching aid recited in claim 4, further comprising first and opposing fasteners located on said first and opposite ends of said connecting strap, said first and opposing fasteners being mated to one another by which to detachably connect the first and opposite ends of said connecting strap together to form said closed loop.

6. The pitching aid recited in claim 5, wherein each of said first and opposing fasteners is a piece of hook and loop fastener material.

7. The pitching aid recited in claim 2, wherein said ball has a first pair of holes extending therethrough and said connecting strap has first and opposite ends, the first end of said connecting strap extending from said flap attachment through one of said first pair of holes, and the opposite end of said flap attachment extending from said flap attachment through the other one of said first pair of holes.

8. The pitching aid recited in claim 7, wherein said ball also has a second pair of holes extending therethrough, the first and opposite ends of said connecting strap extending through respective ones of said first pair of holes or said second pair of holes depending upon the pitch to be practiced by the pitcher.

9. The pitching aid recited in claim 8, wherein said ball has a plurality of seams extending therearound, a first set of said plurality of seams located adjacent said first pair of holes to be gripped by the pitcher's fingers when the first and opposite ends of said connecting strap extend through respective ones of said first pair of holes so that the pitcher can practice a first pitch, and a second set of said plurality of seams located adjacent said second pair of holes to be gripped by the pitcher's fingers when the first and opposite ends of said connecting strap extend through respective ones of said second pair of holes so that the pitcher can practice a different pitch.

10. The pitching aid recited in claim 1, wherein said flap attachment is manufactured from a flexible material that is adapted to emit said audible cracking sound in response to an acceleration of said flap attachment at the conclusion of the pitcher's practice pitch.

11. A pitching aid to provide an audible indication of the arm mechanics of a pitcher during a practice pitch, said pitching aid comprising: a ball to be gripped and held by the pitcher's fingers; a flexible flap attachment coupled to said ball so as to be subjected to an increased velocity during the pitcher's delivery, said flap attachment adapted to emit an audible cracking sound in response to an accelerated arm motion so as to provide confirmation that the pitcher has achieved predetermined arm mechanics during the practice pitch; and a connecting piece having first and opposite ends by which to couple said flexible flap attachment to said ball, said ball having a pair of holes extending therethrough, the first end of the said connecting piece extending from said flap attachment through one of said pair of holes, and the opposite end of said connecting piece extending from said flap attachment through the other one of said pair of holes.

12. The pitching aid recited in claim 11, wherein the first and opposite ends of said connecting piece are connected together to form a closed loop.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

This invention relates to a portable, easy to use baseball (or softball) pitching aid which emits an audible feedback signal to provide confirmation to a pitcher when his arm motion, speed and elbow position during a practice pitch conform with desired pitching biometrics.

2. Background Art

In order for a pitcher to practice his (or her) arm motion, position and speed, he (or she) typically throws a baseball or softball towards a target, such as a catcher or a backstop. In this case, sufficient distance is required from the pitcher to the target between which the ball will travel. Because of this space requirement, it is not always practical for the pitcher to throw practice pitches indoors. Moreover, the presence of a pitching coach is often required to watch the pitcher and provide advice as to the adequacy of the pitcher's arm motion, position and speed during the practice pitches. In other cases, a camera and videotape equipment have been used to examine and record the fundamentals of the pitcher's arm movement during practice.

All of these cases are characterized by the inconvenience and/or cost of having to find out of doors space available for the pitcher to throw practice pitches, requiring the presence of a catcher or a pitching coach, and incurring the expense associated with the typical camera and video playback equipment. Consequently, the pitcher has been unable to practice his pitching motion on his own and receive an immediate indication thereof without the intervention of additional people and equipment. This makes it difficult for the pitcher to evaluate his pitching motion during his spare time at home, while traveling away from home, or just before the start of a ballgame.

Accordingly, what would be desirable is a portable, easy to use baseball (or softball) pitching aid to provide an immediate indication of a pitcher's biomechanics during a practice pitch both indoors and out of doors, without the intervention or assistance of others, and without the necessity of expensive video equipment. One example of a pitching aid to provide an audible signal that is indicative of a pitcher's arm motion and position is available by referring to U.S. Pat. No. 5,354,050 issued to McCarthy on Oct. 11, 1994.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In general terms, a portable, easy to use baseball (or softball) pitching aid is disclosed to provide an immediate audible indication of the arm motion, position and speed of a pitcher during a practice pitch. The pitching aid of this invention can be used both indoors and out of doors, without requiring the assistance of others (such as a catcher or a pitching coach), and without the use of expensive video and playback equipment. Thus, the pitcher can use the pitching aid of this invention entirely on his own as a practice tool whether at home or away.

The pitching aid includes a real or replica baseball (or softball) having the usual stitched or simulated seams extending therearound. A flexible flap attachment is tied to the ball by means of a connecting strap. The flap attachment is preferably manufactured from leather, vinyl, cloth, or the like, and is adapted to emit an audible cracking sound in response to arm acceleration that is generated by the pitcher during the final stage of a practice pitch just prior to his follow-through. The baseball has first and second pairs of slotted holes extending therethrough which lie adjacent corresponding first and second sets of the seams around the baseball. The connecting strap runs through one end of the flap attachment to be tied to the baseball via one of the first or second pairs of slotted holes thereof.

In particular, the first and opposite ends of the connecting strap extend from the flap attachment through respective ones of the first pair of holes in the baseball when the pitcher wishes to grip the first set of seams in order to practice a first pitch. Alternatively, the first and opposite ends of the connecting strap extend from the flap attachment through respective ones of the second pair of holes when the pitcher wishes to grip the second set of seams to practice a different pitch. The first and opposite ends of the connecting strap carry first and opposing pieces of hook and loop (i.e., Velcro) fastener material to be detachably mated together to establish a closed loop configuration for surrounding those fingers of the pitcher which grip the first or second sets of seams of the ball during the practice pitch.

Without releasing his grip on the baseball or removing his fingers from the seams thereof during the practice pitch, the flap attachment, which trails the ball, is accelerated by the pitcher's arm motion during the final stage of the pitcher's delivery. The flap attachment will emit the audible cracking sound as a result of experiencing an increased velocity just prior to the follow through at the conclusion of the pitcher's throwing motion. The cracking sound provides a feedback signal to advise the pitcher when his pitching biometrics during the practice pitch conform to desired standards. If no cracking sound is emitted or a muted cracking sound is otherwise emitted by the flap attachment, then the pitcher is alerted to the fact that his arm motion and/or position and/or speed has not been completed as desired during the practice pitch.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 shows a front view of the baseball pitching aid according to a preferred embodiment of this invention with a flap attachment tied to a baseball by means of a connecting strap;

FIG. 2 shows a side view of the baseball pitching aid of FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 shows a top view of the baseball of the pitching aid of FIG. 1 with the connecting strap removed therefrom;

FIG. 4 shows the pitcher's fingers gripping a first set of seams of the baseball and being surrounded by the connecting strap during a practice pitch; and

FIG. 5 shows the flap attachment trailing the baseball and being accelerated for emitting an audible cracking sound when the pitching biometrics of the pitcher have been correctly achieved during the practice pitch.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

Referring initially to FIGS. 1 and 2 of the drawings, a preferred embodiment for a portable, easy to use baseball pitching aid 1 which forms the present invention is now described. Although the pitching aid 1 herein described has particular application as a teaching tool for the game of baseball, the pitching aid 1 may also be used for instructing players how to throw a softball. To this end, either an authentic or a replica baseball 3 (or softball) can be used for pitching aid 1. That is, for purposes of providing a realistic feel and grip, an actual baseball 3 can be employed. However, it is also within the scope of this invention for the baseball 3 to be manufactured from plastic, rubber, wood or any other suitable material. To further enhance the realistic feel and grip, the baseball 3 of pitching aid 1 is provided with the usual stitched or simulated seams 5 extending therearound.

In order to provide the baseball pitching aid 1 with the ability to provide an audible feedback signal to the pitcher during a practice pitch, a flap attachment 7 is coupled to the baseball 3. The flap attachment 7 can be manufactured from any relatively flexible material that is adapted to emit a cracking sound in response to arm acceleration that is generated by the pitcher as he completes his throwing motion during a practice pitch in a manner that will soon be disclosed. By way of example, the flap attachment 7 coupled to baseball 3 can be made from either leather, vinyl, cloth, or the like.

The dimensions, weight and color of the flap attachment 7 depend upon the pitcher's age, size and strength. By way of particular example only, ideal dimensions for the flap attachment 7 include a length of 30 to 40 mm and a width of 10 to 15 mm. Different colors can be selected to designate flap attachments having correspondingly different dimensions and weights. While the precise dimensions of the flap attachment 7 are not to be regarded as a limitation of this invention, the flap attachment 7 must be long and wide enough to emit the aforementioned audible cracking sound to be heard by the pitcher during his practice pitches.

The flap attachment 7 is tied to the baseball 3 by means of a connecting strap 9 so as to lie opposite the seams 5 to be gripped during practice. To enable the connecting strap 9 to be attached to the baseball 3, the baseball is provided with first and second pairs of slotted holes 10 and 12 extending therethrough. As is best shown in FIG. 3 of the drawings, each of the slotted holes from the first and second pairs 10 and 12 thereof are arranged in spaced parallel alignment with one another through the baseball 3. The first pair of slotted holes 10 are arranged in perpendicular alignment with the second pair of slotted holes 12 so that each pair of holes is located in proximity to a respective set of the seams 5 around the baseball 3.

The connecting strap 9 is first fed through an opening 14 in a first end of the flap attachment 7. The first end of the flap attachment 7 may be folded over itself and sealed to provide a structural reinforcement 16 in order to prevent the connecting strap 9 from tearing away from the flap attachment during use. One end of the connecting strap 9 is then threaded through one of the holes of the first or second pairs of slotted holes 10 and 12 through baseball 3. Next, the opposite end of the connecting strap 9 is threaded through the other hole of the first or second pairs of slotted holes 10 and 12 to establish the open loop configuration shown in FIG. 2.

The first and opposite ends of the connecting strap 9 may be attached to the baseball 3 by way of either one of the first or second pairs of slotted holes 10 or 12. The particular pair of holes 10 or 12 is selected by the pitcher depending upon which of the seams 5 of the baseball 3 he intends to grip to practice different pitches often referred to as 2-seam and 4-seam pitches. For example, if the pitcher will grip a first set of the seams 5 of the baseball 3 to practice a fastball, the opposite ends of the connecting strap 9 are threaded through the pair of holes 12, as shown. However, if the pitcher intends to grip another set of the seams 5 of baseball 3 to practice a different pitch (e.g., a curve ball), then the first and opposite ends of connecting strap 9 may be threaded through the other pair of holes 10.

Each of the first and opposite ends of the connecting strap 9 is provided with a fastener. According to the preferred embodiment, each fastener is a piece 18 and 20 of hook and loop fastener material known commercially as Velcro. The fastener pieces 18 and 20 are disposed in opposing face-to-face alignment with one another so as to be detachably mated together when it is desirable to provide the connecting strap 9 with a closed loop configuration. In the closed loop configuration (best shown in FIG. 4), sufficient space must be available between the baseball 3 and the connecting strap 9 to leave room for the pitcher's fingers to grip the appropriate seams 5. One of the fastener pieces (e.g., 20) may have a longer length along the connecting strap 9 than the other fastener piece 18 to enable the pitcher to selectively adjust the size of the closed loop configuration of strap 9 to fit snugly around his fingers.

In order for the pitcher's hand to be close to the reinforced end 16 of the flap attachment 7 after the connecting strap 9 has tied the flap attachment 9 to the baseball 3, as described above, the bottom of the baseball 3 may be cut off or otherwise removed to form a flat face 22 thereacross. In this manner, the arm motion of the pitcher can be imparted directly to the flap attachment 7 via the baseball 3 so that the pitcher will receive an audible feedback signal that is indicative of his pitching form.

More particularly, and turning now to FIGS. 4 and 5 of the drawings, use of the baseball pitching aid 1 of this invention is described by which to enable a pitcher to quickly obtain an indication of his pitching biomechanics. The connecting strap 9 is first tied to the baseball 3 through one of the pairs of slotted holes 10 or 12 depending upon which pitch the pitcher intends to practice and which set of the seams 5 will be gripped. Next, with the pitcher's fingers gripping the seams 5, the opposing fastener pieces 18 and 20 at opposite ends of the connecting strap 9 are mated to one another to complete the closed loop configuration around the pitcher's fingers in the manner shown in FIG. 4.

While continuing to hold onto the baseball 3, and without releasing his grip on the seams 5, the pitcher can now practice his normal pitching motion. The flap attachment 7 will trail the baseball 3 throughout the practice pitch. At the final state of the pitcher's delivery, the flap attachment 7 that is tied to the baseball 3 by means of the closed loop connecting strap 9 will be fully extended and accelerated by the pitcher's arm motion. That is, just prior to the pitcher's follow through, and as is best shown in FIG. 5, the flap attachment 7 will be subjected to an increased velocity by which to cause the aforementioned cracking sound to be emitted in order to provide an immediate audible feedback signal from which the pitcher will recognize that he has employed an arm motion, position and speed that conforms with predetermined desired biometrics. At the same time, the extended flap attachment 7 will be in the peripheral vision of the pitcher to also provide a visual indication of his pitching form.

By way of example only, a practice pitch will be correctly made when the pitcher's forearm and extended wrist are held so that the elbow is aligned with or slightly higher than the shoulder and the forearm is extended approximately 100 degrees relative to the upper arm. However, should the audible feedback signal be absent or muted, the pitcher will then recognize that he has not achieved the desired biomechanics. In this case, the pitcher can make one or more additional practice pitches to perfect his pitching biomechanics until the audible cracking sound is detected. What is even more, as the pitcher focuses on a target during the practice pitch, his peripheral vision will enable him to visually inspect the plane or slot through which the flap attachment 7 travels.

The pitcher can change his grip of the seams 5 of the baseball 3 by which to practice different pitches by simply opening the closed loop configuration of the flap attachment 7 by separating the opposing fastener pieces 18 and 20 (of FIG. 2) from one another. The connecting strap 9 is then pulled off the baseball 3 via the first pair of slotted holes (e.g., 12) of FIG. 2 and then reattached to the baseball at the other pair of slotted holes (e.g., 10). By virtue of the pitching aid 1 of this invention, the pitcher does not need to release the baseball to practice his pitching technique. Therefore, the pitching aid 1 can be used indoors or at any practice area where space is limited. What is more, the pitcher does not need the presence of others or expensive video recording and playback equipment to confirm when he has achieved the desired pitching biomechanics.

Although the baseball pitching aid herein disclosed has been described with reference to a pitcher, it is to be expressly understood this invention is applicable to other positional softball and baseball players who wish to practice the mechanics of their throwing motion. In this regard, the term “pitching” is meant to include “throwing” by any individual or member of a team.