Title:
Method and Apparatus for Throwing and Catching
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A method and apparatus is disclosed for throwing and catching a ball. The apparatus includes a shaft (11) which can be held by a user and at least one scoop element (14) arranged at an end of the shaft. The scoop element includes at least one flexing member (16) for absorbing energy from a ball impacting with the scoop element during a catching mode of operation.



Inventors:
Eldridge, Robert George (North Yorkshire, GB)
Application Number:
11/885773
Publication Date:
03/19/2009
Filing Date:
03/13/2006
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63B59/02
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
CHAMBERS, MICHAEL S
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Locke Lord LLP (P.O. BOX 55874, BOSTON, MA, 02205, US)
Claims:
1. Apparatus for throwing and catching a ball, comprising: an elongate shaft member for being held by at least one hand of a user; and at least one scoop element arranged at a respective end of the shaft member; wherein said scoop element includes at least one flexing member for absorbing energy from a ball impacting with said scoop element during a catching mode of operation.

2. The apparatus as claimed in claim 1 wherein said at least one flexing member comprises: a plurality of flexible ribs extending perpendicular to a longitudinal axis associated with said scoop element and disposed along side regions of said scoop element.

3. The apparatus as claimed in claim 2 wherein each flexible rib includes a convex central region arranged to deform when a ball impacts with the rib.

4. The apparatus as claimed in claim 2 wherein each flexing rib has a substantially S-shaped cross-section.

5. The apparatus as claimed in claim 2 wherein each flexing rib has a substantially W-shaped cross-section.

6. The apparatus as claimed in claim 2 wherein a slot is disposed on each side of each rib thereby separating adjacent ribs.

7. The apparatus as claimed in claim 6 wherein the width of each slot is substantially less than the radius of a ball to be caught by the apparatus.

8. The apparatus as claimed in claim 1 wherein said scoop element comprises a dual-purpose throwing and/or catching device.

9. The apparatus as claimed in claim 1 wherein said scoop element comprises a body portion comprising: a central channel region having a substantially U-shaped cross-section and extending longitudinally from an end region of the scoop element proximate to said shaft to a tip region of said scoop element.

10. The apparatus as claimed in claim 9 wherein said channel region is non-straight along its length.

11. The apparatus as claimed in claim 9 wherein said channel region is arcuate along its length.

12. The apparatus as claimed in claim 9 wherein the depth of said channel region decreases towards the tip region of the scoop element.

13. The apparatus as claimed in claim 9 wherein said body portion of said scoop element further comprises: concave wings extending longitudinally on each side of the channel region from an upper edge of the channel region.

14. The apparatus as claimed in claim 13 wherein an edge region of the concave wings defines an open mouth of the scoop element and said mouth is wider than said channel region.

15. The apparatus as claimed in claim 13 wherein a lower region of the concave wings provides a plateau region on either side of the central channel region.

16. The apparatus as claimed in claim 1 wherein said scoop element includes a cut-out tip region for preventing snagging of the scoop element as it is pushed over a surface.

17. The apparatus as claimed in claim 1 further comprising a nest member located at an end region of said scoop element proximate to said shaft member.

18. The apparatus as claimed in claim 17 wherein said nest member comprises a cup-like member having a quarter ball inner surface having an internal diameter matching a diameter of a ball.

19. The apparatus as claimed in claim 1 wherein said shaft member is arranged for two-handed use.

20. The apparatus as claimed in claim 1 wherein said apparatus is double-ended having a scoop element arranged at each end.

21. The apparatus as claimed in claim 9 wherein said channel region provides a curved channel for throwing a ball in a controlled manner.

22. 22-23. (canceled)

Description:

The present invention relates to apparatus and a method for throwing and catching a ball. In particular, but not exclusively, the present invention relates to apparatus and a method for throwing and catching a ball at high velocity with good accuracy over distances exceeding those attainable by throwing a ball by hand.

Many different ball games are known by which people can entertain themselves. Bat and ball games are also well-known to be enjoyed by people. Baseball, lacrosse and pelota are well-known games which utilise some form of device for aiding movement of a ball and which include a ball which is thrown and caught.

Many catching and throwing games have been known for a long time. People in this modern age are continually looking to adopt new games to satisfy their need to be entertained. Also, as people become more focused on health there is a continuing need to provide new activities which people wish to participate in and which will provide exercise.

It is an aim of embodiments of the present invention to at least partly mitigate the above-mentioned problems.

It is an aim of embodiments of the present invention to provide a device which can be carried and used to both catch and throw a ball.

It is an aim of embodiments of the present invention to provide a method for throwing and catching a ball.

According to a first aspect of the present invention there is provided an apparatus for throwing and catching a ball, comprising:

an elongate shaft member for being held by at least one hand of a user; and

at least one scoop element arranged at a respective end of the shaft member; wherein

said scoop element includes at least one flexing member for absorbing energy from a ball impacting with said scoop element during a catching mode of operation.

Embodiments of the present invention provide a double-headed shaft having a dual-purpose catching and/or throwing element at either end. The scoop-like element located at either end of the shaft has flexing ribs which flex on impact to absorb energy from a ball which is caught. In this way balls can be conveniently caught without bouncing out of the catcher.

Embodiments of the present invention provide a method in which balls rolling or stationary on a playing surface can be picked up very conveniently by a user without having to stoop to pick up the ball by hand. This can be carried out whilst a user is running without the risk of the throwing/catching device catching and tripping the user.

Embodiments of the present invention provide an apparatus and method by which a user can throw balls very rapidly using a flicking motion of an elongate handle. The centrifugal force generated by the flicking motion is transferred into a throwing force which urges a ball into a direction determined by a central channel in the scoop element at an end of the shaft. A user can thus throw a ball accurately in a desired direction.

Embodiments of the present invention will now be described hereinafter, by way of example only, with reference to the accompanying drawings in which:

FIG. 1 illustrates a double-headed catching/throwing device;

FIG. 2 illustrates a scoop element;

FIG. 3 illustrates a scoop element; and

FIG. 4 illustrates two cross-sections through a scoop element.

In the drawings like reference numerals refer to like parts.

FIG. 1 illustrates three views (1A to 1C) of a throwing and catching apparatus 10 in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. An elongate shaft 11 extends longitudinally along a main axis and has a first end region 12 and a remaining end region 13. At each end a dual-purpose throwing and/or catching tool 14 is provided. The tool is a scoop-like or claw-like device. It will be understood that the tool 14 is for manipulating a ball either by catching a ball landing in an open mouth of the scoop or for throwing a ball already located in a central channel of the tool 14. It will be understood that the shaft and scoops may be integrally formed or may be connected to one another via some connecting means such as a screw and thread. Also, whilst a double-ended throwing and catching apparatus is described a single-ended device, having a scoop at only one end of the shaft could be provided according to other embodiments of the present invention.

View 1B illustrates a side view of the throwing and catching baton 10 and from this it can be seen that the scoop has a curved back. Having a non-straight back helps launch a ball when it is thrown. Four ribs 16 extend away from a central spine 17 having an inner surface which defines a channel and which extends longitudinally along the length of the scoop. Slots 18 are formed adjacent to each side of the flexible ribs 16 thereby separating adjacent ribs.

View 1C illustrates another view of the double-ended pole in more detail. The tip of the scoop furthest away from the shaft 11 is cut away. The cut away 19 ensures that a tip region 20 (shown more clearly in view 1B) is substantially plainer. This enables a scoop to be run along the ground or other flat playing surface enabling the scoop to skid rather than dig in. This permits a user to pick up a ball located on such a surface without having to stoop to pick up the ball by hand.

FIG. 2 illustrates two views of a scoop 14 in more detail. As illustrated in view 2A, an open mouth 21 is defined by an upper edge 22 of the body of the scoop. The open mouth 21 defines a catchment area which a user locates in front of a ball which is to be caught. The body of the scoop includes a central substantially U-shaped channel which is a central region of the scoop.

When a ball is held in one of the scoops it may be held in this U-shaped channel. In this instance the ball will rest on an upper surface 23 of the central channel. This surface is curved so that when a user throws a ball in a throwing mode of operation by flicking the shaft the centrifugal energy of the user is transferred to the ball which is ejected down the channel through the cut away tip region 19.

Slots 18 extend into the central channel region upwardly away from the centre axis. Each side region of the scoop is shaped so that the upward portion of the U-channel blends into a plateau region towards the open mouth of the scoop via a convex formation. This convex formation ensures that the ribs 16, which connect the central channel region to a lip region 24 extending around the open mouth of the scoop, can flex when a ball impacts on a side region. In this way, when a ball is to be caught a user moves the open mouth of a scoop into a position which the user judges will be where a ball will be caught. Ideally the ball is caught in the central U-shaped channel. However, should the ball be caught to one side of this central region, the ball will impact upon one or more of the ribs. The ribs are sufficiently resilient so that initially under impact the outwardly extending convex region of the rib is forced inwardly into a concave shape. This process absorbs energy from the impact of the ball so that this energy is not transferred to the ball which could then bounce out of the scoop. As a result the ball is more likely to be caught and held in the scoop during a catching mode of operation.

FIG. 2B illustrates an underside of the scoop 14 in more detail and illustrates how the flexible ribs have a central region having a shape which is concave when viewed from the outside. The concave region of the rib corresponds to the area of the rib which is convex with respect to the inside of the scoop.

FIG. 2 also illustrates how a ball nest 25 may be located in a region of the scoop proximate to an end 12 of the shaft. This nest is substantially hemispherical and has a dimension which is selected to match the outer surface of a ball to be caught and thrown by the apparatus 10. The nest 25 can be a quarter ball or half ball or three-quarter ball size. Having a three-quarter ball shape and size means that an overhang 26 will cradle a ball duly located in the nest. This aids in the carrying process as a user, having caught a ball, may wish to run with the apparatus 10.

FIG. 3 illustrates three views of an end-scoop according to an embodiment of the present invention. View 3A shows in more detail how the planer tip region 20 is substantially flat so that snagging of the end does not occur if a user runs with the end 20 slipping over the surface of a playing area.

View 3B illustrates the central channel 17 in more detail. The channel extends along the main axis of the scoop from which ribs 16 extend substantially perpendicular away from the axis. The ribs extend initially substantially horizontally and then substantially vertically and then bend in a central region forming the convex portion of the rib which flexes during a catching mode of operation. View 3B also illustrates how a wing region is formed on either side of the central channel 17. The wing region extends the cross-section of the U-shaped channel 17 for catching purposes and provides a substantially flat plateau region on either side of the channel.

View 3C illustrates a cross-section through the centre of the throwing and catching apparatus along its longitudinal axis. The apparatus 10 may be formed from nylon having a thickness of 2 mm and may be integrally formed with the handle 11. It will be understood that other materials, such as polypropylene or others, and other thicknesses of material may be used according to further embodiments of the present invention.

FIG. 4 illustrates at view 4A the cross-section taken through line B-B in FIG. 3C. View 4B illustrates the cross-section taken through the line A-A shown in FIG. 3C.

As may be seen in FIG. 4A, which is the cross-section of the dual-purpose scoop through a slot, a lip region 24 extends around the circumference of the open mouth of the scoop. The U-shaped channel is formed by a central arcuate portion 30 on which a ball will rest when held in the scoop. As may be seen in FIG. 4B which is a cross-section through the scoop through a rib, the U-shaped channel is formed by this arcuate section 30 and then extends upwardly and then curves away from the central channel finally ending in a substantially upright section. The rib thus has an S-shape. Alternatively, a W-shaped rib could be provided. The rib has at least one section which is curved inwardly with respect to the centre of the scoop so that when a ball hits the curved section it can deform outwardly away from the centre of the scoop. This absorbs energy.

Throughout the description and claims of this specification, the words “comprise” and “contain” and variations of the words, for example “comprising” and “comprises”, means “including but not limited to”, and is not intended to (and does not) exclude other moieties, additives, components, integers or steps.

Throughout the description and claims of this specification, the singular encompasses the plural unless the context otherwise requires. In particular, where the indefinite article is used, the specification is to be understood as contemplating plurality as well as singularity, unless the context requires otherwise.

Features, integers, characteristics, compounds, chemical moieties or groups described in conjunction with a particular aspect, embodiment or example of the invention are to be understood to be applicable to any other aspect, embodiment or example described herein unless incompatible therewith.

Embodiments of the present invention have been described hereinabove by way of example only. It will be understood that modifications may be made to the specifically described example without departing from the scope of the present invention.