Title:
Athletic Training Device
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An apparatus for improving athletic technique is disclosed. The apparatus comprises at least one stationary attachment means, a strap attached to the stationary attachment means, a waist belt attached to the strap and at least one knee restraint attached to the strap. The strap and each of the at least one knee restraints acts in combination to maintain the body of a baseball batter in such a position that the swing of a batter is at an optimum technique.



Inventors:
Molloy, Thomas J. (Downers Grove, IL, US)
Hubbell, Kevin P. (Niles, IL, US)
Application Number:
11/853774
Publication Date:
04/10/2008
Filing Date:
09/11/2007
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
473/422
International Classes:
A63B69/00
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
20070042829Expandable putting greenFebruary, 2007Dennesen
20040166948Golf-related game with video recording systemAugust, 2004Nelson
20060089214Baseball device with soundApril, 2006Cracolici
20090325736Training Bat to Develop Proper Hand PositioningDecember, 2009Carsello
20070117662Dimpled soccer ballMay, 2007Ma
20080227560Putting TrainerSeptember, 2008Whitehouse
20020107080Training device for pushing a golf ballAugust, 2002Hsu
20090163287SHAFT CAP ASSOCIATED WITH GOLF CLUBS AND METHODS TO MANUFACTURE GOLF CLUBSJune, 2009Vald'via et al.
20090312126Reinforced baseball batDecember, 2009Totino
20060030424Golf club head striking faceFebruary, 2006Su
20070207871Multi-grip bowling ballSeptember, 2007Traub



Primary Examiner:
KLAYMAN, AMIR ARIE
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
DYKEMA GOSSETT PLLC (10 S. WACKER DR., STE. 2300, CHICAGO, IL, 60606, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. An apparatus for improving athletic technique comprising: at least one stationary attachment means, each of the at least one stationary attachment means being configured to secure the apparatus to a stationary object; a strap attached to the stationary attachment means, the strap being configured to provide a length of separation between the stationary attachment means and a location; a waist belt attached to the strap, the waist belt being configured to be worn across the waist of a batter; and at least one knee restraint attached to the strap, each of the at least one knee restraints being configured to be worn on the knee of the batter; wherein the strap and each of the at least one knee restraints acts in combination to maintain the body of a baseball batter in such a position that the swing of a batter is at an optimum technique.

2. A method for improving athletic technique comprising: providing a device which includes at least one stationary attachment means, a strap, a waist belt and at least one knee restraint; attaching one of the at least one the stationary attachment means to a support structure; attaching the waist belt and one of the at least one knee restraints to a batter; and swinging a bat while the batter is wearing the waist belt and one of the at least one knee restraints; wherein proper batting technique is developed through the combination of the strap and one of the at least one knee restraints.

Description:

PRIORITY CLAIM

The Present Invention claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 60/843,758, filed on 11 Sep. 2006.

FIELD OF THE PRESENT INVENTION

The Present Invention relates to athletic training devices, and more particularly, to an apparatus for improving baseball hitting technique and success for a batter.

BACKGROUND OF THE PRESENT INVENTION

To maintain a proper baseball batting stroke, a batter must maintain a rigid forward knee while he swings the bat and rotates his hips. Doing so promotes a level swing, a proper head position and good ball contact. Athletic training devices designed to improve this aspect of batting have become popular in recent times as a means of assisting a batter in obtaining a proper baseball batting stroke.

One existing athletic training device, described in U.S. Pat. No. 3,870,317 to Wilson, the contents of which are incorporated herein by reference in its entirety, utilizes a belt to be worn over the hips of a golfer in order to develop proper hip turn and body rotation during a swinging motion. Particularly adapted for the golfer, the device disclosed in Wilson includes an elastomeric web section attached to the belt over the hip which is secured to a tree or stake with a length of rope. The golfer leans toward the point of attachment prior to the back swing, with the web section tending to rotate the body during the forward swing. However, the device disclosed in Wilson does not operate to encourage a rigid forward knee while batting.

Further, U.S. Pat. No. 1,703,375 to Volk, the contents of which are incorporated herein by reference in its entirety, describes another athletic training device designed to improve the golf swing that employs a belt worn around the waist and secured with cords to a wall. U.S. Pat. No. 4,134,589 to Arena describes yet another athletic training device that utilizes a cord hooked onto the golfer's belt loops and secured to a stake in the ground ahead of the golfer. But like the Wilson athletic training device, neither Volk nor Arena athletic training devices operate to encourage a somewhat rigid forward knee while batting.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,009,420 to Martelli, the contents of which are incorporated herein by reference in its entirety, attempted to solve the rigid forward knee problem of the above-cited devices. The device disclosed in Martelli attempts to restrain the forward knee movement of the batter by restraining the waist of the batter. However, the device disclosed in Martelli, by not restraining movement of the knees themselves, fails to maintaining a rigid forward knee.

Consequently, it is desirable to have an apparatus for this purpose—an athletic training device to assist a batter in developing an optimum batting stroke in which the forward knee is maintained somewhat rigid.

SUMMARY OF THE PRESENT INVENTION

An apparatus for improving athletic technique is disclosed. The apparatus comprises at least one stationary attachment means, a strap, a waist belt and at least one knee restraint. Each of the at least one stationary attachment means is configured to secure the apparatus to a stationary object. The strap is configured to provide a length of separation between the stationary attachment means and a location. The waist belt is configured to be worn across the waist of a batter. Each of the at least one knee restraints is configured to be worn on the knee of the batter. The strap and each of the at least one knee restraints acts in combination to maintain the body of a baseball batter in such a position that the swing of a batter is at an optimum technique.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE FIGURES

FIG. 1 illustrates one embodiment of an athletic training device, made in accordance with the teachings and tenets of the Present Invention;

FIG. 2 illustrates another view of the embodiment of the athletic training device, made in accordance with the teachings and tenets of the Present Invention;

FIG. 3 illustrates one embodiment of the waist unit of the athletic training device of FIG. 1; and

FIG. 4 illustrates another view of the embodiment of the athletic training device, made in accordance with the teachings and tenets of the Present Invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

The illustrated embodiments of the Present Invention, and the description below, are directed to an apparatus for improving—and maintaining the optimum form of—the hitting technique and form of a baseball batter.

The Present Invention, illustrated generally in FIG. 1 as reference numeral 10, is an apparatus for improving the technique of a baseball batter by positioning the batter in a position such that the batter's swing and any contact with a baseball are at optimum positioning and efficiency. Referring to FIG. 1, athletic training device 10 is illustrated as generally comprising stationary attachments 12, 14; strap 16; length adjustment mechanism 18; waist belt 20; and, as illustrated in FIGS. 2-4, knee restraints 22, 32. It is preferable that athletic training device 10 be formed of any non-corrosive, flexible and generally non-degradable material, such as woven nylon strapping, elastic or any other similar material, able to withstand the pressure and exertion forced upon it. The choice of material of athletic training device 10 gives an added advantage over currently-used devices by providing both restraint—which encourages the batter to practice and obtain proper and optimum technique—and “give”—so that the batter is not injured or harmed during practice of obtaining a proper and optimum technique.

Stationary attachments 12, 14 are intended to provide a base support from which athletic training device 10 may extend. Typically, in many situations, stationary attachments 12, 14 would be attached to a backstop, or other similar device, disposed directly behind home plate on a recreational baseball diamond. In the absence of a backstop, stationary attachments 12, 14 are configured to be attached to any structure that would provide a stationary position of support, such as a tree or a light pole. Further, stationary attachments 12, 14 may utilize any currently-known means of attachment to secure athletic training device 10 to the stationary structure, whether it be a backstop, a chain link fence, a tree or other structure. Such means include a hook and loop fastening system, a nut and bolt assembly, a plastic-type clip attachment means, a means by which stationary attachments 12, 14 can be tied or knotted to the stationary structure, etc. Although it is not critical that stationary attachment means 12, 14 be formed of any specific material, it is preferable that the material be non-corrosive, flexible and generally non-degradable, such as woven nylon strapping or any other similar material, able to withstand the pressure and exertion forced upon it. Further, although stationary attachment means 12, 14 is illustrated in FIG. 1 as comprising first stationary attachment means 12 and second stationary attachment means 14, more or less stationary attachment means may nevertheless be utilized with athletic training device 10, provided the tenets and teachings of the Present Invention are satisfied.

As discussed above, stationary attachment means 12, 14 are intended to attach athletic training device 10 to a stationary structure. At the opposite end of stationary attachment means 12, 14 is attached strap 16. Preferably (although not necessarily) made of the same material as stationary attachment means 12, 14, strap 16 bridges the distance between stationary attachment means 12, 14, as they are attached to the stationary structure, and home plate (or any location where the batter is intending to practice his technique). Typically, strap 16 comprises an 8-16 foot adjustable length material. Additionally, strap 16 is intended to provide a guide for the batter. The position of strap 16 provides the batter with a “floor” below which his swing cannot go. Through this prevention, the use of athletic training device 10 serves to improve the batting technique of the batter.

Further, athletic training device 10 may be adjustable in nature, through the use of strap adjustment mechanism 18. Strap adjustment mechanism 18 may be any currently known means of adjusting such non-corrosive, flexible, generally non-degradable material, that strap 16 is intended to comprise, including a plastic-type clip mechanism, a hook and loop system, a belt and hook system, elastic, etc. In this regard, the length of athletic training device 10 is adjustable so that a batter can practice his technique, regardless of how far the structure is located from the position of practice. Further, the material used to manufacture athletic training device 10 will be such that it will allow proper give when practicing a batter's swing, while, at the same time, restraining the batter so that improper technique is proscribed.

At the end of strap 18 that is opposite to stationary attachment means 12, 14 is waist belt 20. Again, like stationary attachment means 12, 14 and strap 16, waist belt 20 is preferably made of the same non-corrosive, flexible, generally non-biodegradable material. Waist belt 20 is intended to be disposed around the waist or lower abdomen of the batter. As a result, waist belt 20 should be of a length sufficient to extend around the waist of a typical batter. The purpose of waist belt 20 is to assist the batter in keeping the bat level, or even slightly downward, in direction when swinging towards a pitch. As discussed above with regard to strap 18, waist belt 20, by its placement on the waist or lower abdomen of the batter, serves to maintain a “floor” below which the batter cannot swing the bat. That is, by wearing waist belt 20 around the mid-section, the batter is also aided in keeping his bat level, or even slightly downward in direction, when swinging at a pitched ball. In doing so, a fundamentally correct technique—of a level or slightly downward swing—is stressed. If the batter's swing deviates from this form, his bat will touch strap 16, thus reminding the batter of the correct method. Thus, waist belt 20 serves to maintain the batter in a position that ensures proper technique when swinging a bat. Further, waist belt 20 aids in ensuring the correct weight distribution of the batter as he prepares to swing towards a pitched ball.

As illustrated in FIG. 3, waist belt 20 further includes fastener portions 24, 26 and adjustment mechanism 28. Fastener portions 24, 26 are intended to facilitate a snug fit of waist belt 20 against the waist or lower abdomen of the batter. Although illustrated as a hook and loop fastening system, fastener portions 24, 26 may comprise any other known means of fastening, such as a belt hook system, plastic-type adjustable clip systems commonly used with woven nylon strapping, etc.

Adjustment mechanism 28 preferably uses any currently-known means to adjust the length of waist belt 20, in an effort to provide a snug fit against the waist or lower abdomen of the batter (typically in a range of 20-40 inches), such as a plastic-type adjustable clip system. Additionally, it is preferred that adjustment mechanism 28—as with all adjustment mechanisms of the Present Invention—be configured to facilitate easy removal from one batter and affixation on a second batter, making athletic training device useful for team practice as well as one-on-one coaching.

A further element of athletic training device 10 is knee restraint 22. Similar to the purpose of waist belt 20, knee restraint 22 is intended to position the batter such that the batter maintains a proper stance when preparing to swing towards a pitch. This provides a distinct advantage over currently-used devices, such as that disclosed in Martelli. Knee restraint 22 is intended to be affixed snugly to the knee or thigh area of the batter. Although in FIG. 2, there is shown only one knee restraint 22, the Present Invention anticipates that two knee restraints may be used, one for each knee—or thigh area—of the batter. This is illustrated in FIG. 4, where second knee restraint is referenced as numeral 32. Further, although FIGS. 2 and 4 illustrate knee restraints 22, 32 as emanating from strap 16, knee restraints 22, 32 nevertheless may emanate from waist belt 20 or from stationary attachment 12 and/or 14, or, alternatively, from the structure to which stationary attachments 12, 14 are attached. Finally, it is contemplated that knee restraints 22, 32 may be made of the same material as waist belt 20, and may further include an adjusting mechanism similar to that used in waist belt 20.

Knee restraints 22, 32 serve to restrain the knees—or thigh areas—of the batter, in an effort to maintain the batter in a proper position for swinging the bat. That is, knee restraints 22, 32 serve to control the stride of the batter as he positions himself ready to swing.

Further, athletic training device 10 may include disposed elastic portion 30. Elastic portion 30 is preferably disposed at the end of strap 18 closest to waist belt 20. The purpose of elastic portion 30 is to provide an adequate “give” while the batter uses athletic training device 30. That is, the batter will still be able to pivot his hips while wearing waist belt 20. Additionally, to allow this “give,” it is contemplated that the entire athletic training device 10 maybe made of elastic.

Athletic training device 10 is preferably tailored effectively to the size and skill level of all batters, while improving fundamental batting technique, leading, hopefully, to success in the batter's box. The combination of the various elements of athletic training device 10 serves to ensure that the batter maintains a fundamentally sound position when swinging a bat. If the batter's swing deviates from this form, the bat will come into contact with strap 18, serving as a reminder to the batter to correct his swing. That is, athletic training device 10 works to improve fundamental batting technique. By tethering the batter to a stationary structure, athletic training device serves to remind the batter of the proper technique of keeping his hands and weird toward his rear foot until the correct moment when the batter “clears his hips,” and swings powerfully. Knee portion 22 serves to limit the stride of the batter when addressing each pitch. Further, athletic training device 10 teaches batters proven methods of solid batting technique. In doing so, the batter's weight moves through the swing of the bat and, when contact with the ball is made, the results are satisfactory, especially when compared with other techniques.

The disclosed Present Invention provides an athletic training device for use in developing proper technique for a batter. It should be noted that the above-described and illustrated embodiments and preferred embodiments of the Present Invention are not an exhaustive listing of the forms the Present Invention might take; rather, they serve as exemplary and illustrative of embodiments of the Present Invention as presently understood. Many other forms of the Present Invention exist and are readily apparent to one having ordinary skill in the art.