Title:
Baseball hitting aid
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A hitting aid includes a waist belt that encircles a user's waist; the waist belt is attached using hook and loop fasteners, a buckle, or other. An ankle strap encircles the user's ankle; the ankle strap is attached in a similar manner. A stirrup is attached to the ankle strap and is arranged so that the user may insert his or her foot into the stirrup. An elastic connecting strap extends from the ankle strap to the waist strap, and is adjustable so that the distance between the waist strap and the ankle strap may be lengthened or shortened. When worn by a user, the hitting aid discourages the leg onto which the hitting aid is attached from being fully extended.



Inventors:
Brunst, Steven James (Oceanside, CA, US)
Application Number:
11/435674
Publication Date:
11/22/2007
Filing Date:
05/16/2006
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63B69/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
ARYANPOUR, MITRA
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
George Samuel Levy (67 Canyon Ridge, Irvine, CA, 92603, US)
Claims:
I claim:

1. A hitting aid comprising: a waist belt arranged to encircle a user's waist, a first end of said waist belt being attached to said waist belt so that said waist belt fits snugly on said user's waist; a stirrup into which said user may insert a foot; and a connecting strap that extends from said stirrup to said waist strap, a first end of said connecting strap being attached to said stirrup and a second end of said connecting strap being attached to said waist strap, whereby when worn by said user, said hitting aid discourages the leg onto which said hitting aid is attached from being fully extended.

2. A hitting aid as recited in claim 1 wherein said connecting strap includes a first portion attached to said waist strap and a second portion attached to said stirrup, said first and second portions being attachable to one another and one of said portions being adjustable in length.

3. A hitting aid as recited in claim 1 wherein said stirrup is formed of a strap through which a user may insert said foot.

4. A hitting aid as recited in claim 1 wherein said stirrup is formed of a pocket into which a user may insert said foot.

5. A hitting aid as recited in claim 1 wherein a lower portion of said connecting strap is attached to a portion of said stirrup located on the back of said user's ankle, and wherein an upper portion of said strap is attached to a portion of said waist belt located on the same side of said user's waist as said ankle.

6. A hitting aid as recited in claim 1 wherein said connecting strap is made from an elastic material and wherein the length of said connecting strap is shorter than the vertical distance between said user's waist and said user's ankle, such that when said hitting aid is worn by said user said user is discouraged from fully extending a leg..

7. A hitting aid as recited in claim 1 further comprising: an ankle strap arranged to encircle said user's ankle, a first end of said ankle strap being attached to said ankle strap so that said ankle strap fits snugly on said user's ankle, wherein said stirrup is attached to said ankle strap.

8. A hitting aid comprising: waist means for performing the function of snugly encircling a user's waist; ankle means for performing the function of snugly encircling a user's ankle; holding means for performing the function of encircling a user's foot, said holding means being attached to said ankle means; and attaching means for performing the function of attaching said waist means to said ankle means.

9. A hitting aid as recited in claim 8 wherein said attaching means includes a first portion attached to said waist means and a second portion attached to said ankle means, said first and second portions being attachable to one another and one of said portions being adjustable in length.

10. A hitting aid as recited in claim 8 further comprising: a strap attached to said waist means; an adjustment buckle attached to both said attaching means and said strap such that the distance between said waist means and said ankle means is adjustable by movement of said adjustment buckle.

11. A hitting aid as recited in claim 8 wherein a lower portion of said attaching means is attached to a portion of said ankle means located on the back of said user's ankle, and wherein an upper portion of said attaching means is attached to a portion of said waist means located on the same side of said user's waist as said ankle.

12. A hitting aid as recited in claim 8 wherein said attachment means is made from an elastic material and wherein the length of said attachment means is shorter than the vertical distance between said user's waist and said user's ankle, such that when said hitting aid is worn by said user said user is discouraged from fully extending a leg.

13. A hitting aid comprising: a waist belt arranged to encircle a user's waist, a first end of said waist belt being attachable to a second end of said waist belt so that said waist belt fits snugly on said user's waist; an ankle strap arranged to encircle said user's ankle, a first end of said ankle strap being attachable to a second end of said ankle strap so that said ankle strap fits snugly on said user's ankle; a stirrup attached to said ankle strap into which said user may insert the foot corresponding to said ankle; and a connecting strap that extends from said ankle strap to said waist strap, a first end of said strap being attached to said ankle strap and a second end of said strap being attached to said waist strap, whereby when worn by said user, said hitting aid discourages the leg onto which said hitting aid is attached from being fully extended.

14. A hitting aid as recited in claim 13 wherein said connecting strap includes a first portion attached to said waist strap and a second portion attached to said ankle strap, said first and second portions being attachable to one another and one of said portions being adjustable in length.

15. A hitting aid as recited in claim 13 further comprising: a second strap attached to said waist strap; an adjustment buckle attached to both said connecting strap and said second strap such that the distance between said waist strap and said ankle strap is adjustable by movement of said adjustment buckle.

16. A hitting aid as recited in claim 13 wherein said stirrup is formed of a strap through which a user may insert said foot.

17. A hitting aid as recited in claim 13 wherein said stirrup is formed of a pocket into which a user may insert said foot.

18. A hitting aid as recited in claim 13 wherein a lower portion of said connecting strap is attached to a portion of said ankle strap located on the back of said user's ankle, and wherein an upper portion of said connecting strap is attached to a portion of said waist belt located on the same side of said user's waist as said ankle.

19. A hitting aid as recited in claim 13 wherein said connecting strap is made from an elastic material and wherein the length of said connecting strap is shorter than the vertical distance between said user's waist and said user's ankle, such that when said hitting aid is worn by said user said user is discouraged from fully extending a leg.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application is a continuation-in-part of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/371,542, filed Feb. 19, 2003 entitled “Power Hitter's Helper,” which is hereby incorporated by reference.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates generally to a mechanical aid to improve a sporting technique. More specifically, the present invention relates to a device a baseball player wears to improve a baseball hitting technique.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Learning to hit a baseball can be difficult, especially for younger players. Improper stance, a poor swing, improper weight distribution, and lack of good hand-eye coordination all contribute to the difficulty in learning how to hit a baseball well.

Therefore, a mechanical device is desirable that would provide an easy, quick and safe way to produce a better hitter while lessening the chances for injury due to improper swinging.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

To achieve the foregoing, and in accordance with the purpose of the present invention, a mechanical aid is disclosed that fosters good technique when swinging at a baseball, softball or similar ball.

The hitting aid includes an upper assembly that in circles a user's waist, a lower assembly around the user's ankle or foot, and a connecting strap connecting the two assemblies. When in use, the length of the connecting strap is preferably shorter than the vertical distance between the user's waist and ankle (when the user is standing with legs straight), thus encouraging the user to keep a leg bent.

The baseball hitting aid has many advantages. The aid helps batters swing at a ball using their hips and legs while keeping the weight over the inside of the back knee. The aid fosters a safer and more consistent level swing, improves stance, and increases both power and accuracy. In particular, the aid restricts extension of the batter's rear leg thus allowing a smooth transfer of body weight.

Further, the hitting aid can be used by amateurs or professionals. The hitting aid is portable, lightweight, and can be strapped on in a matter of minutes to help with training. It can be used by youngsters but is strong enough to withstand the weight of a heavy adult. The aid is adjustable so it can be used by an individual of any height.

The hitting aid is not limited for use with baseball batting practice, but may also be used by tennis players, golf players, other racquet sports etc., or any sport in which a user uses a swinging motion and wishes to keep a rear leg bent.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The invention, together with further advantages thereof, may best be understood by reference to the following description taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings in which:

FIG. 1 illustrates one embodiment of the hitting aid.

FIG. 2 illustrates another embodiment of hitting aid.

FIG. 3 is an exploded view of the hitting aid of FIG. 2.

FIG. 4 illustrates the batter completing his swing while using the hitting aid.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

A baseball batter uses two parts of his body to hit a baseball: the upper half—hands, arms, head and torso; and the lower half—hips, legs, knees, and feet. The baseball hitting aid is concerned with the lower half. The baseball batting aid is a training tool used to help create a balanced use of the batter's legs and waist and can be adapted for either right- or left-handed hitters, both short and tall.

FIG. 1 illustrates one embodiment of the batting aid 10. Included is an upper assembly 20 and a lower assembly 30. The upper assembly includes a waist belt 24 and a waist extension 28. Waist belt 24 is any suitable material for forming a secure belt around a batter's waist. In one embodiment, waist belt 24 is composed of sections of VELCRO hook and loop fasteners, canvas and neoprene rubber. Waist belt 24 includes hook and loop fastener sections 40 and 42 that operate to secure the waist belt securely around the waist of a user. In one embodiment, belt 24 is 4-inch nylon belt. Waist extension 28 is a 2-inch nylon rubberized strap that is stitched securely to the waist belt and extends downward in the direction of lower assembly 30.

Lower assembly 30 includes ankle strap 50 having VELCRO hook and loop faster sections 52 and 54 that operate to securely fasten the strap around a user's ankle. Attached to the ankle strap is a stirrup or heel strap 60 into which a user's foot may be inserted. As shown, the lower assembly may also take the form of lower assembly 30′ (partially shown) in which a pocket 61′ is attached to ankle strap 50′. Instead of the user inserting their foot through the stirrup 60, the user inserts his or her foot partially into the pocket 61′.

Connecting the upper assembly to the lower assembly is a 2-inch nylon rubberized leg strap 70 that is triple stitched with nylon thread at the waist belt and at the ankle strap. A buckle (metal, plastic or rubber) 80 securely attached to strap 28 slides along strap 70 and allows the distance between the lower assembly and the upper assembly to be shortened or lengthened depending upon the height of the user.

FIG. 2 illustrates another embodiment of batting aid 100. The aid includes an upper assembly 120 and a lower assembly 130. Included within the upper assembly is a waist belt 140 and a waist extension 142. The waist extension is preferably rubberized nylon strapping of approximately 20 inches long by 2 inches wide and includes a 2¼ inch hard rubber keeper 146 and a 2¼ inch hard rubber male buckle 144. The waist belt is preferably approximately 40 inches long by 4¼ inches wide and includes a 2-inch rubberized strapping tab 152 for removing the belt.

Viewed from the inside of the user's waist, waist belt 140 includes an approximately 14″×4″ female hook and loop faster section 164, an approximately 20-inch by 4-inch 18 weight canvas section 160, and an approximately 8″×4″ male hook and loop faster section 166. On the exterior side of the waist belt is an approximately 20-inch by 4-inch by 3 mm NEOPRENE rubber section 162 (shown in dashed lines). Sections 164 and 166 are sewn together with section 162 with an approximate 1-inch overlay. Canvas section 160 is sewn to the inside of section 162 in order to cover sections 162, 164 and 166. Preferably, waist extension 142 is sewn to rubber section 162 and is covered by canvas section 160.

Lower assembly 130 includes an ankle strap 170, a stirrup 172, and an ankle extension 174 having a 2¼ inch hard rubber keeper 176 and a 2¼ inch hard rubber female buckle 178. Extension 174 is preferably approximately 22 inches long and 2 inches wide and is of rubberized strapping. Preferably, extension 174 is arranged on the ankle strap such that it sits towards the back of the foot when the lower assembly is worn. Ankle strap 170 includes an approximate 6-inch by 4-inch female hook and loop fastener section 180, an approximate 10 inch by 4-inch by 3 mm NEOPRENE rubber section 182 (shown in dashed lines), an approximate 4-inch by 4-inch male hook and loop faster section 184, an approximate 14-inch by 4-inch NEOPRENE rubber section 186, and a 2-inch rubberized strapping section 188 used to help separate the male and female hook and loop faster sections. Sections 180 and 184 are sewn onto section 182 with an approximately 2-inch overlay.

Stirrup 172 is preferably an approximately 22-inch rubberized strapping that is sewn to sections 182 and 184 as shown. Section 186 is sewn onto the back (i.e., the outside of ankle strap 170) of sections 180, 182 and 184 and covers the ends of stirrup 172 as well as the end of strap 174. Preferably, extension 174 is sewn onto rubber section 182 and is covered by canvas section 186. Extensions 142 and 174 may be referred to collectively as a connecting strap.

FIG. 3 is an exploded view of the batting aid of FIG. 2. Shown is upper assembly 120. Once sections 164 and 166 have been sewn to section 162, and strap 142 has been sewn to section 162 then canvas section 160 may be sewn on top of the attached sections in order to provide an inside cover. Preferably, the rubber section 162 forms the outside of the waist belt, while section 160 forms the inside of the belt. Alternatively, these two sections may be switched.

Shown also is lower assembly 130. Once sections 180 and 184 have been sewn to section 182, and stirrup 172 has been sewn onto section 182, then section 186 may be sewn on top of the attached sections in order to provide an outer cover. Preferably, section 182 forms the inside of the ankle strap 170, while section 186 forms the outside of the ankle strap. Alternatively, these two sections may be switched. (Section 186 is shown at the far end of lower assembly 130 in this exploded view for ease of viewing.)

It will be appreciated by one of skill in the art that although the materials of nylon, hook and loop fasteners, canvas, rubberized straps, etc. have been described, the present invention may be constructed using any similar, sturdy materials. Also, the dimensions given are only one embodiment and the dimensions may be varied as necessary for ease of construction or to accommodate a certain size of person. Further, although the embodiments show a fixed strap 70 with an adjusting strap 28 in FIG. 1, and a buckling connecting strap 142 and 174 in FIG. 2, the strap portion that connects the upper assembly to the lower assembly may be formed in any suitable manner so as to form a rigid, semi-rigid or elastic connection between the two assemblies. An elastic connection is preferable as it is easier on the batter's leg.

In one particular embodiment, strap 70 or strap 28 is made from an elastic material such that when a batter attempts to extend the rear leg to which the aid is attached it will be possible to extend the leg but the batter will feel a distinct pull and will be discouraged from extending the leg. Further, strap 142 or strap 174 (or both) are also made from an elastic material such that the strap can stretch when attached to the batter, but the batter is discouraged from extending his or her leg because of the pull he or she feels. In another embodiment, any of straps 28, 70, 142 or 174 may be of a nonelastic material (such as nylon or canvas) such that the batting aid does physically prevent the batter's rear leg from extending during a swing. A suitable elastic material for use with the connecting strap is rubberized nylon, stretchable fabric, rubber, or other.

Also, stirrup 172 is not strictly required as long as ankle strap 170 is sufficiently tight about the users ankle. Or, a pocket of heavy fabric or other material may be used in place of stirrup 172 into which the user places his or her foot. Stirrup 172 may be of a nonelastic material or may be of the same elastic strapping used on the other straps.

Or, ankle strap 170 is not strictly required as long as stirrup 172 (or similar means) is firmly attached to strap 174 and functions to be held down by the user's foot. In one embodiment, strap 174 may be firmly attached to the user's ankle, shoe or foot using hook and loop fasteners, ties, buckles or other means.

Further, buckles 144, 178 and keepers 146 and 176 may take alternate forms so as to allow the length of the strap to be adjusted more easily. As known in the art, strap 142 slides through buckle 144 and is held by keeper 146 so as to adjust the length of the strap. Keepers 146 and 176 are not strictly necessary but are convenient to use. For example, buckles 144 and 178 may be replaced by a sliding plastic buckle that can securely hold down the strap.

Illustration of the Batting Aid in Use

FIG. 4 illustrates the batter completing his swing. Note that the connecting strap 202 of the batting aid (connecting the upper assembly with the lower assembly) is somewhat slack. The batting aid somewhat prevents the rear leg from extending fully as the connecting strap is shorter than the vertical distance between the batter's waist and his or her ankle. Because the strap is elastic, the batter is able to extend the leg fully, but he or she feels a strong tug when doing so. Thus, the batter is constantly reminded not to fully extend the leg, and to keep a bend in the rear leg. After a few trials, the batter learns to keep the rear leg bent, the strap stays slack and does not tug on the batter's waist or ankle. The batting aid thus assists in preventing the rear leg from extending fully and teaches the batter not to lunge forward.

A suggested technique for installation and use of the batting aid now follows (reference is made to a male batter for ease of explanation but the batting aid is also suitable for a female batter). The batter first unbuckles (or detaches) the waist belt and the ankle strap in order to put them on. The batter then attaches the waist belt around his waist and fashions it snugly with the hook and loop fastener. The waist belt is aligned such that the waist extension strap hangs downward approximately over the back pocket of the rear leg of the batter. The batter then puts on the lower assembly by stepping into the stirrup and securing the hook and loop fasteners of the ankle strap snugly around his ankle. The lower assembly is aligned such that the ankle extension extends upward approximately in line with the hanging waist extension strap; the ankle extension is preferably aligned towards the rear of the user's foot

The batter then places his feet a little wider than shoulder width apart and bends his knees slightly. At the same time, the batter pinches his knees together (it may be useful to hold a baseball between the batter's knees by pinching them together). Once in this position, the legs are slightly bent into an appropriate position and the batter buckles the waist extension to the ankle extension. The connected waist extension and ankle extension (collectively, the “connecting strap”) are now adjusted such that there is no slack. Now the upper assembly is connected to the lower assembly and the batter's rear leg is slightly bent. The batter will feel a tug and will be discouraged from extending his leg when swinging. In the embodiment where the extensions are of an elastic material, it is possible for the batter to fully extend the leg, but is slightly difficult. The batter's rear leg is now in what is called a power “L” position. (The power “L” position refers to the fact that the batter's rear leg appears to be in the shape of an “L” when viewed from the side as the batter swings.) Initially, it can be advantageous to have the strap connecting the waist belt and the ankle strap be somewhat shorter than the vertical distance between the batter's waist and ankle (when in a standing position with the leg not bent).

The batting aid will help batters swing at a baseball using their hips and legs while keeping their weight over the inside of the back knee. If the batter now attempts to transfer his weight forward, i.e., lunging (a common batting mistake), the connecting strap between the waist belt and ankle strap will pull on both the waist belt and the ankle strap. The batter will feel a distinct tug and will be discouraged from lunging. Two things happen when a batter mistakenly transfers his weight forward. The batter loses power in the swing and the head moves up as the ball is going down, making the ball harder to see and to hit.

One technique is to start the batter hitting from a tee, working on keeping their weight over the inside of the back knee and pretending to “squash a bug” with the back foot. By pretending to “squash a bug” the batter's hips can fully rotate and unleash power from his legs and hips. After using the tee, switch to soft tossing. This method is accomplished by the coach kneeling in the opposite batter's box, and soft tossing the ball over the plate. Both of these methods allow the coach to observe the batter's footwork and balance. As the batter learns to use the hitting aid properly, the connecting strap between the waist belt and the ankle strap will loosen as the batter swings and the result will be a balanced, powerful swing. The batter learns to rotate their hips on a single vertical axis. Rotation of the hips on a single vertical axis allows the batter to swing with power and balance. The hitting aid of the present invention trains batters to keep their weight back, keep the rear leg bent into a power “L”, and to have a balanced, powerful, controlled swing.

Although the foregoing invention has been described in some detail for purposes of clarity of understanding, it will be apparent that certain changes and modifications may be practiced within the scope of the appended claims. Therefore, the described embodiments should be taken as illustrative and not restrictive, and the invention should not be limited to the details given herein but should be defined by the following claims and their full scope of equivalents.





 
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