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Title:
Performance-enhancing handle and equipment incorporating same
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A handle for sports equipment. In an illustrative embodiment, the handle includes grip structure for accommodating a hand. The grip structure includes a first mechanism that is coupled to the grip structure for reducing involvement of a thumb of a hand in grasping the grip. A second mechanism is coupled to the grip to reduce involvement of an additional digit of the hand in grasping the grip. In a more specific embodiment, the handle is a golf club handle. The additional digit includes an index finger, a middle finger, and/or a ring finger of the hand. The involvement of a thumb includes involvement of muscles and tendons coupled to the thumb. The involvement of an additional digit includes involvement of muscles and tendons coupled to the additional digit.


Inventors:
Shaw, Harrison R. (Northridge, CA, US)
Application Number:
11/891445
Publication Date:
02/12/2009
Filing Date:
08/10/2007
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
473/206, 473/300
International Classes:
A63B53/14
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
20030176228Multipurpose sports training aid and method of useSeptember, 2003Santa Cruz et al.
20020039928Decorative bowling ball and method thereforApril, 2002Spurgeon et al.
20030220149Golf club with adjustable lie and offsetNovember, 2003Mills
20080153618GOLF SWING TRAINING SYSTEM, METHOD AND DEVICEJune, 2008Arther
20070167251Golf Advertising SystemJuly, 2007Pathross et al.
20030236140Sports target and training aidDecember, 2003Alford
20070167250Golf swing and training apparatusJuly, 2007Dean Jr.
20100016102BALL COLLECTING DEVICEJanuary, 2010Chen
20070010352Modified cricket gameJanuary, 2007Santha
20080261711Manners of Using a Sports Ball Parameter Determining InstrumentOctober, 2008Tuxen
20050059508Multi-component golf club headMarch, 2005Burnett et al.
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Harrison, Shaw R. (19539 NASHVILLE ST., NORTHRIDGE, CA, 91326, US)
Claims:
1. A grip comprising: a grip structure adapted to accommodate a hand; first means for reducing involvement of a thumb of a hand in grasping the grip, wherein the first means is coupled to the grip structure; and second means for reducing involvement of an additional digit of the hand in grasping the grip, wherein the second means is coupled to the grip structure.

2. The grip of claim 1 wherein said second means includes: means for reducing involvement of an index finger of the hand in grasping the grip.

3. The grip of claim 1 wherein said second means includes: means for reducing involvement of a middle finger of the hand in grasping the grip.

4. The grip of claim 1 wherein said second means includes: means for reducing involvement of a ring finger of the hand in grasping the grip.

5. The grip of claim 1 wherein said first means includes: means for reducing involvement of muscles and tendons coupled to the thumb.

6. The grip of claim 1 wherein said second means includes: means for reducing involvement of muscles and tendons coupled to the additional digit.

7. A handle comprising: a shaft; a first protrusion extending from the substantially cylindrical shaft, the first protrusion adapted to hold a first digit of a hand in a substantially strait orientation and a second protrusion extending from the shaft, the second protrusion adapted to hold one or more additional digits of the hand in a substantially strait orientation. a second protrusion extending from the shaft, the second protrusion adapted to hold one or more additional digits of the hand in a substantially strait orientation.

8. The handle of claim 7 wherein the handle includes: a golf club handle.

9. The handle of claim 7 wherein the first protrusion is adapted to hold a thumb of a hand in a substantially strait orientation.

10. The handle of claim 9 wherein the first protrusion and the second protrusion are adapted to hold the thumb and the one or more additional digits at a predetermined orientation for inhibiting opposability of the thumb.

11. The handle of claim 10 wherein the second protrusion is adapted to hold an index finger, a middle finger, or a ring finger of the hand in a substantially strait orientation.

12. The handle of claim 11 wherein the first protrusion and the second protrusion are adapted to hold the thumb and the index finger in an approximately coplanar orientation.

13. The handle of claim 11 wherein the first protrusion and the second protrusion are adapted to hold the thumb at an angle between 20 and 90 degrees relative to the index finger.

14. A golf club handle comprising: a handle shaft and a grip structure coupled to the shaft, wherein the grip structure is adapted to hold a thumb and an index finger of a hand in substantially straight orientations.

15. The golf club handle of claim 14 further including a golf club coupled to the shaft, wherein the golf club includes: a hitting surface positioned on a side of the club opposite a gripping surface of the grip structure.

16. A handle comprising: a handle shaft and first means coupled to the handle shaft for selectively reducing gripping ability of one or more fingers of a hand on the handle.

17. The handle of claim 16 wherein the first means includes: a grip structure coupled to the shaft, wherein the grip structure is adapted inhibit a thumb and an index finger from wrapping around the shaft.

18. The handle of claim 17 further including: a golf club coupled to the shaft.

19. The handle of claim 16 wherein the first means includes: means for reducing involvement of forearm muscles in gripping the handle.

20. A grip comprising: first means for inhibiting opposability of a thumb relative to one or more additional digits of a hand and second means for coupling the first means to a sports equipment handle.

21. The grip of claim 20 wherein the first means includes: a thumb protrusion and an index finger protrusion for preventing a thumb and index finger from wrapping around a shaft of the sports equipment handle.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of Invention

This invention relates to sports equipment. Specifically, the present invention relates to performance-enhancing handles, grips, and accompanying sports equipment, such as golf clubs, bats, rackets, sticks, and paddles.

2. Description of the Related Art

Performance-enhancing handles are employed in various demanding applications including golf clubs, baseball bats, tennis rackets, ping pong paddles, badminton rackets, and hockey sticks. Such applications often demand handles and accompanying grips that facilitate gripping and maximize performance for a particular stroke or application.

For the purposes of the present discussion, a handle may be any structure that facilitates manual leverage. A grip may be any surface or accompanying shape or set of contours adapted for use with a handle.

High performance handles and accompanying grips are particularly important in golf applications, which demand precise striking of relatively small balls. A conventional golf club handle includes a substantially cylindrical shaft covered with a textured gripping surface, such as leather or vinyl. The handle enables a user to wrap fingers of both hands around the shaft.

Various alternative grips and handles are often employed to enhance golf club gripability. Unfortunately, such grips are often not allowed during tournament play, but instead are used for training. As illustrated, for example, in U.S. Pat. Nos. 412,479 to C. A. Davis, 5,984,795 to Joseph W. Stafford, and 5,299,802 to Jean Bouchet-Lassale, alternative grips may include various contours and handle protrusions to increase hand or finger leverage and/or grip. Such handles and grips often require all fingers to wrap or bend around the grip or handle.

The thumb, which is often called the first finger or the first digit, is the only digit that can readily oppose or turn back against the other fingers. The opposability of the thumb facilitates grasping objects, such as grips and handles, between the thumb and the fingers. To facilitate gripability, grips are often designed to maximize the ability of the thumb to flex and oppose forces imparted to the grips by the other fingers.

Grips that maximize opposability of the thumb often recruit various muscles and nerves of the hand and forearm, which control thumb movement and opposability. Hand muscles that control thumb movement include the abductor pollicis brevis, the flexor pollicis brevis, and the opponens pollicis, which are controlled by the median nerve. Forearm muscles that control thumb movement include the extensor pollicis longus, the abductor pollicis longus, the flexor pollicis longus, and the extensor pollicis brevis, which are controlled by the posterior interosseous nerve or the anterior interosseous nerve.

The index finger is often used to oppose thumb motion. Grips are often designed to recruit the index finger and its accompanying muscles and nerves, including the flexor indicis, the extensor digitorum communis, and the extensor indicis porprius.

Unfortunately, such grips and accompanying handles for maximizing gripability and involvement of various muscles, tendons, and nerves of the hands and forearm, often exhibit heretofore unrecognized shortcomings in certain applications, such as golf, where involvement of certain muscles, tendons, and nerves may be undesirable.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

Certain embodiments of the present invention disclose a handle that includes grip structure for accommodating a hand. The grip structure includes a first mechanism that is coupled to the grip structure for reducing involvement of a thumb of a hand in grasping the grip. A second mechanism is coupled to the grip structure and reduces involvement of an additional digit of the hand in grasping the grip.

In a more specific embodiment, the handle is a golf club handle. The additional digit includes an index finger, a middle finger, and/or a ring finger of the hand. The involvement of a thumb includes involvement of muscles and tendons coupled to the thumb. The involvement of an additional digit includes involvement of muscles and tendons coupled to the additional digit.

The novel design of certain embodiments disclosed herein is facilitated by use of a grip structure that selectively decouples certain muscles, tendons, and nerves of the hand and forearm that are ordinarily used to control thumb and finger movement. Such embodiments may enhance relaxation of the hands and forearm involved in griping the grip, thereby improving performance of accompanying sports equipment and facilitating training. Unlike various embodiments discussed herein, conventional grips and handles often teach away from reducing the grip, leverage, or involvement of one or more digits of a hand.

Use of certain embodiments discussed herein may reduce undesirable snapping of the wrist before impact with a ball, such as a golf ball; may facilitate the backswing of a golf club, i.e., the loading phase; may increase user awareness of the orientation of the golf club; and may generally result in a smoother more relaxed stroke by reducing tension in certain hand and forearm muscles.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a diagram showing a user gripping a golf club handle equipped with an example grip structure for selectively affecting involvement of a thumb and index finger in a golf stroke.

FIG. 2 is a top angled perspective view of an example golf club employing the example grip structure of FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 is an opposite view of the golf club handle and example grip structure of FIG. 1.

FIG. 4 is a diagram illustrating an alternative handle and grip structure for selectively affecting involvement of a thumb, index finger, middle finger, and ring finger in gripping the handle and grip structure.

DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

While the present invention is described herein with reference to illustrative embodiments for particular applications, it should be understood that the invention is not limited thereto. Those having ordinary skill in the art and access to the teachings provided herein will recognize additional modifications, applications, and embodiments within the scope thereof and additional fields in which the present invention would be of significant utility.

For the purposes of the present discussion, a handle may be any means for gripping a device. Accordingly, a handle may be a single physical unit or may include different portions positioned at different locations on the surface of a device, such as a tennis racket or other equipment. A club may be any hand-held device preferentially used to contact a projectile. Examples of clubs include tennis rackets, badminton rackets, ping pong paddles, hockey sticks, golf clubs, baseball bats, lacrosse sticks, and so on.

For clarity, various well-known components, such as leather overwraps, screws, detachable fasteners, and so on, have been omitted from the figures. However, those skilled in the art with access to the present teachings will know which components to implement and how to implement them to meet the needs of a given application.

FIG. 1 is a diagram showing a user gripping a golf club handle 10 equipped with an example grip structure 12 for selectively affecting involvement of a thumb 14 and index finger 16 in gripping a golf club during a golf stroke.

The golf club handle 10 includes a substantially cylindrical handle shaft 18, which is coupled to the grip structure 12. In the present specific embodiment, the handle 10 is further coupled to an approximately cylindrical golf club shaft 20, which is aligned with the handle shaft 18 and extends therefrom.

For the purposes of the present discussion, the term cylindrical refers to any shape that has a substantially circular cross-section along a given axis. Hence, an object, such as shaft, that is partially conical is also considered to be substantially cylindrical for the purposes of the present discussion.

The grip structure 12 includes an index finger protrusion 22 that is coupled to a thumb protrusion 24 via a central portion 26. The index finger protrusion 22 and the thumb protrusion 24 are positioned on approximately opposite sides of the central portion 26. The central portion 26 is coupled to the handle shaft 18 at a grip-handle interface 28. The handle shaft 18 extends through the central portion 26 so that the index finger protrusion 22 and the thumb protrusion 24 are on approximately opposite sides of the central portion 26.

For the purposes of the present discussion, a grip structure may be any device, shaped contour, protrusion, or combination thereof intended to accommodate one or more hands or portions thereof. A grip structure may provide the support and structure upon which is disposed a grip or gripping surface.

In the present specific embodiment, a user is shown gripping the golf club handle 10 with both hands (right hand 40 and left hand 42) so that a left hand index finger 30, a left middle finger 32, a left ring finger 34, and a left little finger 36 are curled around the cylindrical shaft 18 near a bottom end of the shaft 18. A left thumb 38 rests against the shaft 18 and is positioned adjacent thereto. The right hand 42 is positioned above the left hand 40 so that a right middle finger 44 and a right ring finger 46 are bent around the handle shaft 18 so that the tips of the of the right middle finger 44 and ring finger 46 are adjacent to the left thumb. A right little finger 48 is partially bent and overlaps the left index finger 30. The right thumb 14 is cradled by the thumb protrusion 24, which holds the right thumb 14 in an approximately strait orientation. Similarly, the index finger protrusion 22 cradles the right index finger 16, holding it in an approximately strait orientation.

For the purposes of the present discussion, a digit of a hand is said to be in a substantially strait orientation if the distal, intermediate, and proximal phalanges or bones associated with the digit are approximately aligned. In such an orientation, knuckles associated with the digit are said to be mostly unbent. A digit of a hand may be any finger or thumb of a hand. The thumb is often called the first digit; the index finger the second digit; the middle finger the third digit; the ring finger the fourth digit; and the little finger the fifth digit.

While in the present embodiment, the right little finger 48 is shown overlapping the left index finger 30, the handle 10 may be gripped differently without departing from the scope of the present teachings. For example, in certain applications, the handle shaft 18 is longer and enables the left hand 40 and the right hand 42 to be separated so that the right little finger 48 does not overlap the left index finger 30. As another example, the left hand may be removed from the handle 10 in certain applications.

The index finger protrusion 22 and the thumb protrusion 24 of the grip structure 12 are oriented to hold the right index finger 16 at approximately thirty-five degrees relative to the right thumb 14, which is held approximately parallel to the shaft 18 by the thumb protrusion 24. Furthermore, the right index finger 16 and the right thumb 14 are approximately coplanar, as discussed more fully below.

The grip structure 12 may hold the right index finger 16 and the right thumb 14 in different orientations without departing from the scope of the present teachings. For example, the grip structure 12 may hold the right thumb 14 and the right index finger 16 at different angles, such as at angles between 20 and 90 degrees.

By holding the right thumb 14 and the right index finger 16 substantially strait in the coplanar orientation shown in FIG. 1, the right thumb 14 may have reduced ability or tendency to oppose forces of the remaining digits 16, 44, 46, 48 of the right hand, and may have a particularly reduced ability or tendency to oppose forces created by the right index finger 16. Similarly, by holding the right index finger 16 approximately strait, the right index finger 16 has further reduced ability or tendency to oppose forces created by the right thumb 14.

For the purposes of the present discussion, opposability of the thumb may mean the ability or tendency of the thumb to oppose or otherwise supply a force in an opposite direction to a force applied by one or more remaining digits of the hand. Unlike the grip structure 24 disclosed herein, conventional grips are often designed to maximize the ability or tendency of the thumb to flex and oppose force provided by the index finger, the middle finger, the ring finger, and/or the little finger on a grip or handle.

In operation, reducing the opposability of the right thumb 14 and index finger 16 reduces involvement of muscles, tendons, and nerves coupled thereto during a golf stroke. For example, a thumb, such as the right thumb 14, is controlled by various muscles and nerves of an accompanying forearm, such as a right forearm 50. The hand muscles include the abductor pollicis brevis, the flexor pollicis brevis, and the opponens pollicis, which are controlled by the median nerve. Forearm muscles include the extensor pollicis longus, the abductor pollicis longus, the flexor pollicis longus, and the extensor pollicis brevis, which are controlled by the posterior interosseous nerve or the anterior interosseous nerve. Similarly, muscles used to control an index finger, such as the right index finger 16, include the flexor indicis, the extensor digitorum communis, and the extensor indicis porprius.

Flexors are often considered to be the strongest muscles of the hand and forearm. Use of the grip structure 12 may promote relaxation of the flexors during use of a club employing the handle 10. Relaxation of such muscles may reduce tension in the forearm 50. Tension in the forearm 50 may interfere with a proper golf stroke. Hence, golf clubs or other sports equipment equipped with the grip structure 12 may act as excellent training devices for those wishing to improve relaxation during use of the equipment.

While in the present embodiment, various digits 30-36 of the left hand are shown wrapped around the handle shaft 18, another grip structure may be added to the handle 10 to selectively decouple muscles associated with the digits left-hand digits 30-38, without departing from the scope of the present teachings. For the purposes of the present discussion, a digit of a hand is said to wrap around a shaft if the digit is sufficiently bent so that a line drawn from a tip of the digit to a base knuckle of the digit intersects the shaft. The right index finger 16 and the right thumb 14 are prevented from wrapping around the shaft 18 via the index finger protrusion 22 and the thumb protrusion 24, respectively.

Various muscles and tendons of the left hand 40 and accompanying forearm 52 that control the left hand 40 and accompanying digits 30-38 in FIG. 1 tend to be more tense than they would be if a grip structure similar to the grip structure 12 were used for the left hand 40. Whether or not an additional gripping structure is employed for the left hand 40 is application specific and depends on the desired effect. During a golf stroke with a conventional handle, players often have increased tendency to tense the right hand 42 and forearm 50 more so than the left hand 40 and forearm 52.

Reduced involvement of various hand and forearm muscles in a golf stroke, as afforded via the present embodiment, may further simplify calculations performed by the mind to implement the stroke, thereby further enhancing the accuracy of the stroke. In addition, enhanced relaxation of the right hand 42 and forearm 50 may particularly improve the first portion of a golf stroke, called the loading phase, and may enhance overall coordination. Furthermore, relaxation of the right forearm 50 muscles may propagate to other muscles of the body and may further enhance mental relaxation and focus.

Without use of the grip structure 12, various additional large muscles of the forearm 50, which are coupled to the right thumb 14 and index finger 16, are readily employed to squeeze the handle 10, causing tensioning and flexing of the forearm muscles. This tensioning may propagate throughout the body and may inhibit coordination.

While in the present embodiment, the grip structure 12 is shown accommodating a right-handed grip, the grip structure 12 may be readily altered to accommodate a left-handed grip without departing from the scope of the present teachings.

The grip structure 12 may be considered to be a grip that includes a first mechanism 24 coupled thereto for reducing involvement of a thumb 14 in grasping the grip structure 12 and a second mechanism 22 coupled thereto for reducing involvement of an additional digit 16 of the hand 42 in grasping the grip structure 12.

Alternatively, the grip structure 12 may be considered to be a grip that includes a thumb-disengaging mechanism 22, 24 for inhibiting opposability of a thumb 14 relative to one or more digits 16, 44-48 of a hand 42 and a coupling mechanism 26, 28 for coupling the thumb-disengaging mechanism 22, 24 to a sports equipment handle 10.

Exact mechanisms for coupling the grip structure 12 to the handle 10 are application specific and may be readily determined by those skilled in the art to meet the needs of a given application without undue experimentation. For example, the grip structure 12 may be made readily detachable from the handle shaft 18 via various well-known mechanisms, such as clasps and hinges, to meet the needs of a given application.

The grip structure 12 may also be considered to implement a mechanism 22, 24 for selectively reducing gripping ability of one or more fingers of the hand on a grip, such as the grip structure 12. In addition, the protrusions 22, 24 may be considered to implement a mechanism 22, 24 for disengaging the thumb 14 and the index finger 22 and the muscles coupled thereto from a swing or stroke. Furthermore, the protrusions 22, 24 and grip structure 12 may be considered to implement a mechanism 22, 24 for increasing (or maximizing) the radius of curvature between thumb and index finger or for otherwise increasing the radius of curvature so that it is larger than that of the handle shaft 18. In addition, the grip structure 12 may be considered to implement a mechanism 22, 24 for preventing curling of a digit of a hand around the handle of a golf club or other sports equipment during use.

FIG. 2 is a top angled perspective view of an example golf club 60 employing the example grip structure 12 of FIG. 1. The golf club 60 includes the handle 10 and accompanying golf club shaft 20, which includes a golf club head 62 coupled thereto at an end of the shaft 20 opposite the golf club handle 10. The golf club head 62 includes a hitting surface 64 that is positioned on a side of the golf club 60 that is opposite gripping surfaces of the grip structure 12. With reference to FIG. 1, the gripping surfaces of the grip structure 12 correspond to the surfaces of the grip structure 12 that cradle and contact the right index finger 16 and the right thumb 14.

The particular orientation of the grip structure 12 relative to the hitting surface 64 is application specific. Other orientations of the grip structure 12 relative to the hitting surface 64 may be employed without departing from the scope of the present teachings. Note that the protrusions 22, 24 may enhance user awareness of the orientation of the hitting surface 64 relative to a ball.

FIG. 3 is an opposite view of the golf club handle 10 and example grip structure 12 of FIG. 1. With reference to FIGS. 1 and 3, the index finger protrusion 22 is shown including a concave index finger saddle 70 for cradling the index finger 16 of FIG. 1. Similarly, the thumb protrusion 24 is showing including a concave thumb saddle 72 for cradling the thumb 14. The saddles 70, 72 represent gripping surfaces of the grip structure 12.

While in the present specific embodiment, the index finger protrusion 22 and the thumb protrusion 24 are relatively short, the protrusions 22, 24 may be made longer or shorter without departing from the scope of the present invention. The exact dimensions of the protrusions 22, 24 are application specific. Those skilled in the art with access to the present teachings may readily adjust the shape and overall dimensions of the grip structure 12 to meet the needs of a given application, such as to strike a balance between materials costs and performance of the grip structure 12. Note that users with particularly large hands or small hands may prefer grip structures with larger or smaller protrusions, respectively.

Furthermore, while the digit saddles 70, 72 are shown as concave, other shapes may be employed. For example, substantially flat saddles instead of the concave saddles 70, 72 may be employed. In such applications, the flat saddles may be textured to reduced sliding of the index finger and thumb along the grip structure 12.

In the present embodiment, the index finger protrusion 22 and the thumb protrusion 24 are characterized by a first longitudinal axis 74 and a second longitudinal axis 76, respectively. The index finger protrusion 22 is angled approximately thirty-five degrees relative to the thumb protrusion 24, as illustrated by an angle (θ) 78 between the first longitudinal axis 74 and the second longitudinal axis 76. The thumb protrusion 24 is approximately parallel to the handle shaft 18 so that the second longitudinal axis 76 is approximately parallel to a shaft longitudinal axis 80.

The first longitudinal axis 74 and the second longitudinal axis 76 lie in a similar plane and are said to be approximately coplanar. Note that different orientations between the axis 74, 76, 80 other than those shown in FIG. 3 may be employed without departing from the scope of the present teachings. For example, the second longitudinal axis 76 may be angled relative to the shaft longitudinal axis 80, and the angle (θ) 78 between the first longitudinal axis 74 and the second longitudinal axis 76 may be made larger or smaller, i.e., less acute or more acute. In addition, the gripping surfaces 70, 72, i.e., saddles, may be offset in different planes so that the axes 74, 76 are not coplanar. For the purposes of the present discussion, protrusions are said to be coplanar if corresponding axes associated therewith are coplanar.

FIG. 4 is a diagram illustrating an alternative handle 90 and grip structure 92 for selectively affecting involvement of a thumb, index finger, middle finger, and ring finger in gripping the handle 90 and grip structure 92. The construction of the alternative grip structure 92 is similar to the grip structure 12 of FIG. 1-3 with the exception that the alternative grip structure 92 includes an additional middle finger protrusion 94 and a ring finger protrusion 96 for reducing involvement of the middle finger and ring finger and muscles, tendons, and nerves coupled thereto during stroking or swinging of the club associated with the handle 90.

In the present illustrative embodiment, the middle finger protrusion 94, which includes a middle finger saddle 98, is adjacent and approximately parallel to the index finger protrusion 22. Similarly, the ring finger protrusion 96 includes a ring finger saddle 100 and is adjacent to and approximately parallel to the middle finger protrusion 94.

Hence, the alternative grip structure 92 further decouples additional fingers, i.e., a middle finger and ring finger, and associated muscles, nerves and tendons of the hand and forearm. A grip is said to decoupled certain fingers if the grip causes a tendency of the muscles, tendons, and/or nerves associated with the fingers to relax during use of the grip.

Note that embodiments wherein additional, fewer, or different digits are decoupled may be employed without departing from the scope of the present teachings. For example, one or more of the protrusions 22, 94, 96, such as the middle finger protrusion 94, may be omitted. In addition, an additional little finger protrusion (not shown) may be included.

While the embodiments discussed herein refer primarily to golf clubs and golf strokes, embodiments of the present invention are not limited thereto. Other types of clubs, such as baseball bats, tennis rackets, and so on, may readily be adapted in accordance with the present teachings without departing from the scope thereof. For example, a baseball bat may readily be fitted with a grip structure, such as the grip structure 12, to reduce involvement of various muscles, tendons, and nerves of the hand and forearm, thereby resulting in a more relaxed baseball swing.

Although the invention has been discussed with respect to specific embodiments thereof, these embodiments are merely illustrative, and not restrictive, of the invention. In the description herein, numerous specific details are provided, such as examples of components and/or methods, to provide a thorough understanding of embodiments of the present invention. One skilled in the relevant art will recognize, however, that an embodiment of the invention can be practiced without one or more of the specific details, or with other apparatus, systems, assemblies, methods, components, materials, parts, and/or the like. In other instances, well-known structures, materials, or operations are not specifically shown or described in detail to avoid obscuring aspects of embodiments of the present invention.

Reference throughout this specification to “illustrative embodiment”, “an embodiment”, or “a specific embodiment” means that a particular feature, structure, or characteristic described in connection with the embodiment is included in at least one embodiment of the present invention and not necessarily in all embodiments. Thus, respective appearances of the phrases “in one embodiment”, “in an embodiment”, or “in a specific embodiment” in various places in this specification are not necessarily referring to the same embodiment. Furthermore, the particular features, structures, or characteristics of any specific embodiment of the present invention may be combined in any suitable manner with one or more other embodiments. It is to be understood that other variations and modifications of the embodiments of the present invention described and illustrated herein are possible in light of the teachings herein and are to be considered as part of the spirit and scope of the present invention.

It will also be appreciated that one or more of the elements depicted in the drawings/figures can also be implemented in a more separated or integrated manner, or even removed or rendered as inoperable in certain cases, as is useful in accordance with a particular application.

Furthermore, the term “or” as used herein is generally intended to mean “and/or” unless otherwise indicated. Combinations of components or steps will also be considered as being noted, where terminology is foreseen as rendering the ability to separate or combine is unclear.

As used in the description herein and throughout the claims that follow “a”, an and “the” include plural references unless the context clearly dictates otherwise. Furthermore, as used in the description herein and throughout the claims that follow, the meaning of “in” includes “in” and “on” unless the context clearly dictates otherwise.

The foregoing description of illustrated embodiments of the present invention, including what is described in the Abstract, is not intended to be exhaustive or to limit the invention to the precise forms disclosed herein. While specific embodiments of, and examples for, the invention are described herein for illustrative purposes only, various equivalent modifications are possible within the spirit and scope of the present invention, as those skilled in the relevant art will recognize and appreciate. As indicated, these modifications may be made to the present invention in light of the foregoing description of illustrated embodiments of the present invention and are to be included within the spirit and scope of the present invention.

Thus, while the present invention has been described herein with reference to particular embodiments thereof, a latitude of modification, various changes and substitutions are intended in the foregoing disclosures, and it will be appreciated that in some instances, some features of embodiments of the invention will be employed without a corresponding use of other features without departing from the scope and spirit of the invention as set forth. Therefore, many modifications may be made to adapt a particular situation or material to the essential scope and spirit of the present invention. It is intended that the invention not be limited to the particular terms used in following claims and/or to the particular embodiment disclosed as the best mode contemplated for carrying out his invention, but that the invention will include any and all embodiments and equivalents falling within the scope of the appended claims.

Thus, the present invention has been described herein with reference to a particular embodiment for a particular application. Those having ordinary skill in the art and access to the present teachings will recognize additional modifications, applications, and embodiments within the scope thereof.

It is therefore intended by the appended claims to cover any and all such applications, modifications and embodiments within the scope of the present invention.

Accordingly,