Title:
SPORTS TRAINING AID
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A sports training aid for improving the mechanics of a sports player conducting a sports movement is disclosed. The sports training aid may comprise a foot placement surface or area that is simultaneously inclined in two directions. The sports training aid may be inclined from both the front to the back of the sports training aid and from one side of the sports training aid to the other side of the training aid. When positioning a player's foot on the sports training aid, the toes of the player's foot are raised above the heel of the player's foot and the outsole of the player's foot is raised above the insole of the player's foot. A method for training a sports player using the sports training aid is also disclosed.



Inventors:
Bard, Michael (Parker, CO, US)
Application Number:
12/144348
Publication Date:
07/16/2009
Filing Date:
06/23/2008
Assignee:
Soft Puppy, LLC (Parker, CO, US)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63B69/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
ARYANPOUR, MITRA
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
MICHAEL BARD (LEAD DAWG SPORTS, LLC 11999 S BLACK HORN CIRCLE, PARKER, CO, 80134, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A sports training aid comprising: a foot placement area having a toe placement region, a heel placement region opposite the toe placement region, an insole placement region, and an outsole placement region opposite the insole placement region, wherein the foot placement area includes an incline from the heel placement region to the toe placement region and an incline from the insole placement region up to the outsole placement region.

2. The sports training aid of claim 1, wherein the incline from the heel placement region to the toe placement region comprises an incline from the heel placement region up to the toe placement region.

3. The sports training aid of claim 1, further comprising a toe restrainer located in the toe placement region for securing a front portion of a foot to the foot placement area.

4. The sports training aid of claim 3, wherein the toe restrainer comprises one or more straps secured at one end to a first portion of the toe placement region and detachably secured at a second end to a second portion of the tow placement region.

5. The sports training aid of claim 3, wherein the toe restrainer comprises a toe shield extending upwardly away from the toe placement region and rearwardly towards the heel placement region.

6. The sports training aid of claim 1, wherein the incline from the heel placement region up to the toe placement region has an angle of inclination in the range of from greater than 0 degrees to about 80 degrees.

7. The sports training aid of claim 1, wherein the incline from the insole placement region up to the outsole placement region has an angle of inclination in the range of from greater than 0 degrees to about 80 degrees.

8. The sports training aid of claim 1, wherein the incline from the heel placement region up to the toe placement region has an angle of inclination in the range of from greater than 0 degrees to about 30 degrees.

9. The sports training aid of claim 1, wherein the incline from the insole placement region up to the outsole placement region has an angle of inclination in the range of from greater than 0 degrees to about 30 degrees.

10. The sports training aid of claim 1, wherein the incline from the heel placement region up to the toe placement region has an angle of inclination of about 21 degrees.

11. The sports training aid of claim 1, wherein the incline from the insole placement region up to the outsole placement region has an angle of inclination of about 17 degrees.

12. The sports training aid of claim 6, wherein the angle of inclination of the incline from the heel placement region up to the toe placement region is adjustable within the angle of inclination range

13. The sport training aid of claim 7, wherein the angle of inclination of the incline from the insole placement region up to the outsole placement region is adjustable within the angle of inclination range.

14. A sports training aid for attaching to a shoe comprising: a foot-shaped foot support having a foot placement surface and a ground-contacting surface generally opposite the foot placement surface; wherein the foot placement surface includes a first incline and a second incline, the first incline extending from a heel region of the foot-shaped support to a toe region of the foot-shaped support and the second incline extends from an insole region of the foot-shaped support up to an outsole region of the foot-shaped support; and wherein the ground-contacting surface is generally parallel to the ground.

15. The sports training aid of claim 14, wherein the first incline comprises an incline extending from the heel region of the foot-shaped support up to the toe region of the foot-shaped support.

16. The sports training aid of claim 14, wherein the foot shaped support further comprises a toe restraint located at the toe region of the foot placement surface.

17. The sports training aid of claim 14, wherein the first incline has an angle of inclination in the range of from greater than zero degrees to about 80 degrees and the second incline has an angle of inclination in the range of from greater than zero degrees to about 80 degrees.

18. The sports training aid of claim 14, wherein the first incline has an angle of inclination of about 21 degrees and the second incline has an angle of inclination of about 17 degrees.

19. The sports training aid of claim 14, wherein the sports training aid further comprises a plurality of stud receptacles located along a periphery of the sports training aid and wherein the ground-contacting surface comprises a plurality of stud sockets for receiving studs.

20. The sports training aid of claim 14, wherein the foot placement surface comprises a plurality of stud pockets or stud holes for receiving the studs of a cleat disposed on the foot placement surface.

21. A method for training a sports player, the method comprising: providing a foot placement area having a toe placement region, a heel placement region opposite the toe region, an insole placement region, and an outsole placement region opposite the insole placement region, wherein foot placement region includes an incline from the heel placement region up to the toe placement region and an incline from the insole placement region up to the outsole placement region; positioning a sports player's foot on the foot placement area such that the sports player's heel is positioned in the heel region, the sports player's toes are positioned in the toe region, the sports player's insole is positioned in the insole region and the sport's players outsole is positioned in the outsole region; and repeating a sports movement with the sport player's foot positioned on the foot placement area.

Description:

This application claims priority to U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 61/011,206, filed Jan. 15, 2008 and hereby incorporated by reference in its entirety.

BACKGROUND

Many sports training aids designed to help a player improve his or her playing abilities have been developed in the past. For example, in the sport of baseball, many training aids exist which purport to improve the mechanics of a batter's swing. For baseball training aids that are worn on the front or back foot of the batter in his or her batting stance, the main objective of the sports training aid is often to teach the batter the proper movement of his or her feet when swinging a bat. For example, baseball training aids worn on a foot of a batter in his or her batting stance may attempt to teach a batter how to keep his or her back foot on the ground while swinging a bat (U.S. Pat. Nos. 6,638,176, 6,432,001, and 6,988,966); correctly pivot his or her back foot while swinging a bat (U.S. Pat. Nos. 3,372,930, 3,466,040, 5,318,290, and 7,335,117); or take a proper stride with his or her front foot while swinging a bat (U.S. Pat. Nos. 6,926,625 and 6,955,616 and U.S. Published Pat. App. No. 2003/0130072).

Because each of the above described previously known training aids aim to improve the movement of a batter's feet during a swing, the aids allow the batter's feet to remain in generally standard batting positions (e.g., oriented parallel to the ground) while focusing on ensuring proper movement of the normally oriented feet during a swing. Such normal feet positions imposed by the traditional training aids do not generally have any significant impact on the position of other parts of the batter's body that are also important to the mechanics of a batter's swing, such as the batter's hips or shoulders. Thus, traditional training aids worn on the feet of a batter, such as those described above, are limited to only training proper foot movement, and do not help improve swing movement of other portions of the batter's body.

Typical training aids that affect the upper portions of a batter's body (e.g., hips, waist, shoulders, etc.) to improve a batter's swing normally consist of apparatus worn on the torso. For example, U.S. Pat. No. 6,375,581 discloses a vest worn on the torso of a batter during a swing. The vest includes a stretchable strap extending across the torso of the batter from one shoulder to the opposite hip. The stretchable strap includes a buzzer which makes noise when the stretchable strap moves in the proper manner due to a proper swing by the batter.

While such apparatus may be more useful for improving the mechanics of a batter's swing with respect to his or her torso than the training aids for a foot described above, the apparatus are likely to be more distracting and interfering to the batter than the foot training aids.

Accordingly, a need exists for a minimally interfering sports training aid that properly positions upper portions of a batter's body to thereby teach improved swing mechanics.

SUMMARY

The instant disclosure relates generally to a sports training aid and, more specifically, to a sports training aid for a foot of a player. Generally speaking, the sports training aid is simultaneously inclined in two directions. The sports training aid may be inclined from both the front to the back of the sports training aid and from one side of the sports training aid to the other side of the training aid. When positioning a player's foot on the sports training aid, the toes of the player's foot are raised above the heel of the player's foot and the outsole of the player's foot is raised above the insole of the player's foot.

One aspect of the instant disclosure relates to a sports training aid. Particularly, the sports training aid may comprise a foot placement area where a player's foot is positioned when using the sports training aid. The foot placement area may comprise a toe placement region, a heel placement region opposite the toe placement region, an insole placement region, and an outsole placement region opposite the insole placement region. The foot placement area may include two inclines. The first incline may be from the heel placement region up to the toe placement region. The second incline may be from the insole placement region up to the outsole placement region.

Another aspect of the instant disclosure relates to a sports training aid for attaching to a shoe of a user of the sports training aid. Particularly, the sports training aid may comprise a foot-shaped support. The foot-shaped support may include a foot placement surface and a ground-contacting surface generally opposite the foot placement surface. The foot placement surface may include two inclines. The first incline may extend from a heel region of the foot-shaped support up to a toe region of the foot-shaped support. The second incline may extend from an insole region of the foot-shaped support up to the outsole of a foot-shaped support. The ground-contacting surface may be generally parallel to the ground.

Still another aspect of the instant disclosure relates to a method for training a sports player. The method may comprise a first step of providing a foot placement area. The foot placement area may comprise a toe placement region, a heel placement region opposite the toe placement region, an insole placement region, and an outsole placement region opposite the insole placement region. The foot placement area may also comprise an incline from the heel placement region up to the toe placement region and an incline from the insole placement region up to the outsole placement region. The method may comprise a second step of positioning a sports player's foot on the foot placement area. The sports player's foot may be positioned on the foot placement area such that the sports player's foot aligns with the regions on the foot placement area. The sports player's toes may be positioned in the toe placement region, the sports player's heel may be positioned in the heel placement region, the sports player's insole may be positioned in the insole placement region, and the sports player's outsole may be positioned in the outsole placement region. The method may comprise a third step, including repeating a sports movement while the sports player's foot is positioned on the foot placement area.

Features from any of the above mentioned embodiments may be used in combination with one another, without limitation. In addition, other features and advantages of the instant disclosure will become apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art through consideration of the ensuing description, the accompanying drawings, and the appended claims.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The accompanying drawings illustrate a number of exemplary embodiments and are a part of the specification. Together with the following description, these drawings demonstrate and explain various principles of the instant disclosure.

FIG. 1 shows a perspective view of a sports training aid according to one embodiment of the instant disclosure.

FIGS. 1A and 1B show a perspective view of alternate embodiments of the sports training aid shown in FIG. 1.

FIG. 2 shows a perspective view of a sports training aid for attaching to a shoe according to another embodiment of the instant disclosure

FIG. 3 shows a right side view of the sports training aid shown in FIG. 3.

FIG. 4 shows a left side perspective view of the sports training aid shown in FIG. 3.

FIG. 5 shows a front view of the sports training aid shown in FIG. 3.

FIG. 6 shows a back view of the sports training aid shown in FIG. 3.

FIG. 7 shows a top view of the sports training aid shown in FIG. 3.

FIG. 8 shows a top view of an alternate embodiment of the sports training aid shown in FIG. 3.

FIG. 9 shows a bottom view of the sports training aid shown in FIG. 3

Throughout the drawings, identical reference characters and descriptions indicate similar, but not necessarily identical, elements. While the exemplary embodiments described herein are susceptible to various modifications and alternative forms, specific embodiments have been shown by way of example in the drawings and will be described in detail herein. However, the exemplary embodiments described herein are not intended to be limited to the particular forms disclosed. Rather, the instant disclosure covers all modifications, equivalents, and alternatives falling within the scope of the appended claims.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

The instant disclosure relates generally to sports training aids including a foot placement area or surface that is simultaneously inclined in two directions. The first incline may extend from a front of the sports training aid to the rear of the sports training aid. The second incline may extend from one side of the sports training aid to the opposite side of the sports training aid. In one embodiment, the sports player's foot may be positioned on the foot placement area or surface such that the sports player's toes are positioned higher than the sports player's heel and the sports player's outsole is positioned higher than the sports player's insole. Described differently, when the sports player's foot is positioned on the foot placement area or surface, the sports player's pinky toe is higher than any other portion of the sports player's foot and the corner of the sports player's foot where the heel meets the insole is lower than any other portion of the sports player's foot.

In the context of improving a baseball player's batting swing, the sports training aid is used by the batter placing his or her forward foot in a batting stance on the sports training aid as described above (i.e., pinky toe in the highest position, heel/insole corner at the lowest position), while positioning his or her back foot in the normal manner (i.e., back foot is parallel with the ground). The orientation of the front foot caused by the dual inclination of the sports training aid results in several other portions of the batter's body being forced into a more favorable position for taking a swing at a pitch.

Referring back to the baseball example, a front foot oriented in the position created by the sports training aid will hold the batter's front hip bone back and underneath the batter, thereby creating a more balanced batting stance. In a more balanced batting stance, the batter's hands and arms are provided with greater opportunity to adjust during a swing in all three planes that a pitched ball may be moving in, thereby increasing the likelihood of making contact with the ball. For example, the batter may keep his or her hands in the hitting zone longer and may more freely move his or her hands in and out (i.e., towards the body and away from the body) and up and down while in the hitting zone.

Keeping the front hip bone back and underneath the body also prevents the initiation of a series of movements that result in a batter's hands moving in and out of the hitting zone in a manner not allowing for in-swing adjustment of the position of the hands (and the bat being held by the hands). When a batter does not keep his or her front hip back and underneath his or her body, his or her front hip slides forward at the initiation of the swing. Following this movement, the batter's back shoulder may rotate towards the pitcher and, as the hands begin to move in the swing, fly out towards the 3rd base dugout (or the 1st base dugout if the batter is left handed). Additionally, the sliding forward of the hip may cause the back shoulder to drop below the front shoulder. When the back shoulder drops down and rotates towards the pitcher and towards a dugout in this manner, the hands holding the bat face two disadvantages.

Firstly, the hands drop with the back shoulder, forcing the hands to work against the force of gravity through the hitting zone. Secondly, the rotation forward of the back shoulder towards the pitcher and through to the dugout causes the batter to move his or her hands towards his or her body as the hands move forward through the hitting zone. This tends to lock the batter's hands into a single plane of movement inhibiting the ability to adjust the swing to compensate for ball movement and to draw the bat across the hitting zone instead of through the hitting zone. As compared to when the batter is able to keep his or her hands in a line parallel to his or her stance as it moves through the hitting zone, the batter's hands moving towards his or her body enter and exit the hitting zone in such a manner to decrease the opportunity to make contact with a pitch.

Control over direction of the body also is lost when the shoulders move in this manner, further limiting the ability of the batter to control the movement of the hands and bat. Essentially, the hands holding the bat become locked into one plane, further decreasing the chances of adjusting to a pitch moving in multiple planes during a swing of the bat.

The position of the front foot imposed by the training aid also causes the batter to have flexion in the knee of the front leg, which in turn creates flexion in the front arm elbow. Flexion in the front arm elbow provides a batter with better speed and control that increase the likelihood of contacting the ball. A stiff arm and elbow creates a long swing that is all in the shoulders. The swing will therefore likely go around the ball and stay in one plane, making it very unlikely that contact will be made with any pitch moving in three planes. To the contrary, an elbow with flexion allows the batter to get his or her hands to the hitting zone quickly yet stay in the hitting zone longer. Additionally, the hands are not locked in one place and can adjust to the location of a pitch.

By repeatedly practicing his or her swing while using the training aid disclosed herein, a batter's muscle memory is programmed to keep the front hip back during swing initiation. Additionally, because the movements of other parts of the body are tied to keeping the front hip bone back, the body also commits to memory the movement of these parts of the body. Eventually, even without use of the training aid, a batter begins to keep his or her front hip back and swing mechanics are thereby improved.

Before turning to FIGS. 1-9, it is noted that each of the sports training aids illustrated in the instant application are designed for the front foot of a right-handed batter (i.e., for the left foot). The sports training aid disclosed herein may also be used by a left-handed batter (i.e., for the right foot). In order for a sports training aid to be used by a left-footed batter, the direction of incline from side to side shown in FIGS. 1-9 would need to be reversed. However, the front foot of the left handed batter will still be aligned on the sports training aid such that the batter's insole will be placed at the lowest point of the side to side incline and the batter's outsole will be placed at the highest point of the side to side incline. The incline from the front to back of the sports training aid will remain the same (i.e., the same as shown in FIGS. 1-9).

Turning now to a first embodiment of the instant application, and referring to FIG. 1, a sports training aid 10 comprising a foot placement area 12 is disclosed. Foot placement area 12 may be divided into four regions: toe placement region 14, heel placement region 16, insole placement region 18, and outsole placement region 20. Toe placement region 14, heel placement region 16, insole placement region 18, and outsole placement region 20 may be oriented with respect to each other so as to mimic the general layout of a foot of a sports player using sports training aid 10. That is to say, toe placement region 14 may be located at an opposite end of foot placement area 12 from the end of foot placement area 12 where heel placement region 16 is located. Similarly, insole placement region 18 may be located at an opposite side of foot placement area 12 from the side of foot placement area 12 where outsole placement region 20 is located. Ultimately, when a foot of a sports player is disposed in foot placement area 12 of sports training aid 10, the user's toes may be in toe placement region 12, the user's heel may be in heel placement region 14, the user's insole may be in insole placement region 18, and the user's outsole may be in outsole placement region 20.

Foot placement area 12 may be inclined in two directions. A first incline 22 may be in the direction from heel placement region 16 to toe placement region 14. A second incline 24 may exist between insole placement region 18 and outsole placement region 20. First incline 22 may be up from heel placement region 16 to toe placement region 14 and second incline may be up from insole placement region 18 to outsole placement region 20, such as has been found to be useful for the front foot placement of a baseball swing. Other incline directions may be desirable depending on whether the sport training aid is associated with the front or back foot, and the sport of concern.

Inclines 22, 24 may be consistent along the length and width of sports training aid 10. In other words, inclines 22, 24 may maintain a constant angle and do not increase or decrease as toe placement region 14 and/or outsole placement region 20 are approached. Additionally, incline 22 between heel placement region 16 and toe placement region 14 may apply across the width of sports training aid 10 and incline 24 between insole placement region 18 and outsole placement region 20 may apply across the depth of sports training aid 10.

Inclines 22, 24 may have an angle of inclination ranging from greater than 0 degrees to about 80 degrees. In one aspect disclosed herein, inclines 22 and 24 may have an angle of inclination ranging from greater than 0 degrees to about 30 degrees. Inclines 22, 24 may have the same or different angles of inclination. In one aspect disclosed herein, incline 22 may have an angle of inclination of about 21 degrees, while incline 24 may have an angle of inclination of about 17 degrees. In still another aspect, the angle of inclination for inclines 22, 24 may be adjusted within a range of angles of inclination.

As shown in FIGS. 1A and 1B, sports training aid 10 may further comprise a toe restrainer 30 in order to maintain a sports player's foot on foot placement area 12. Toe restrainer 30 may be located in toe placement area 14 so as to secure a sports player's foot to foot placement area 12 by means of securing a sports player's toes to toe placement region 14 of foot placement area 12. Toe restrainer 30 is not limited and may be any type of device that may secure a foot to foot placement area 12 of sports training aid 10. As shown in FIG. 1A, toe restrainer 30 may be a quarter sphere that extends upwardly from foot placement area 12 and rearwardly towards heel placement region 16. A sports player's toes may thereby be inserted into and under toe restrainer 30 to maintain a sports player's foot on foot placement area 12. The toe restrainer 30 in this embodiment may be called a toe shield or the like, as it may provide some protection depending on the material used. As shown in FIG. 1B, toe restrainer 30 may comprise one or more straps secured at one end to foot placement area 12 and having an opposite end that may be detachably secured to foot placement area 12. Any manner for detachably securing one end of toe restrainer 30 to foot placement area 12 may be used. A sports player's foot may be secured to foot placement area 12 by passing the toe restrainer 30 over the toes of a sports player's foot in position on foot placement area 12 and securing the detachable end to foot placement area 12.

In an alternate embodiment, the sports training aid may be configured for attaching to a shoe of a sports player. As shown in FIGS. 2-9, a sports training aid 100 adapted for the left foot of a right handed batter for attaching to a shoe may comprise a foot-shaped support 110. The foot-shaped support 110 may be larger than a foot of a sports player disposed thereon, such that the entire foot of a sports player is supported by foot-shaped support 110. Due to sports players having different sized feet, the overall size of foot-shaped support 110 is not limited and may come in many different sizes. Foot-shaped support 110 may comprise a foot placement surface 120 and a ground-contacting surface 130 located generally opposite foot placement surface 120. Both foot placement surface 120 and ground-contacting surface 130 may have a generally foot shape. Ground-contacting surface 130 may be oriented generally parallel with the ground, while foot placement surface 120 is inclined, as discussed in greater detail below.

Foot placement surface 120 may be divided up into four regions: heel region 140, toe region 150, insole region 160 and outsole region 170. When foot placement surface 120 has a foot shape, each of regions 140, 150, 160, 170 may correspond to the appropriate location on foot-shaped foot placement surface 120. That is to say, heel region 140 may be located at the heel portion of foot-shaped foot placement surface 120, toe region 150 may be located opposite heel region 140 and at the toe portion of foot-shaped foot placement surface 120, insole region 160 may be located at the insole portion of foot-shaped foot placement surface 120, and outsole region 170 may be located opposite insole region 160 and at the outsole portion of foot-shaped foot placement surface 120.

As shown most clearly in FIG. 3, foot placement surface 120 may have a first incline 180. First incline 180 extends from heel region 140 to toe region 150. The angle of inclination of first incline 180 may be constant along the length of foot placement surface 120 and first incline 180 may apply across the width of foot placement area 120. The angle of inclination for first incline 180 may be within the range of from greater than 0 degrees to about 80 degrees. In one aspect, the angle of inclination for first incline 180 may be within the range of from greater than 0 degrees to about 30 degrees. In still another aspect, the angle of inclination for first incline 180 may be about 21 degrees.

As shown most clearly in FIG. 6, foot placement surface 120 may also have a second incline 190. Second incline 190 extends from insole region 160 to outsole region 170. The angle of inclination of second incline 190 may be constant along the width of foot placement surface 120 and second incline 190 may apply across the length of foot placement area 120. The angle of inclination for second incline 190 may be within the range of from greater than 0 degrees to about 80 degrees. In one aspect, the angle of inclination for second incline 190 may be within the range of from greater than 0 degrees to about 30 degrees. In still another aspect, the angle of inclination for second incline 190 may be about 17 degrees. The angle of inclination for second incline 190 may be the same as or different from the angle of inclination for first incline 180.

Foot-shaped support 110 may further comprise a toe restraint 200. Any toe restraint which secures a sports player's foot to foot placement surface 120 of foot-shaped support 100 may be used. As shown in FIGS. 2-8, a quarter sphere toe restraint 200 may be used to secure the sports player's toes to foot placement surface 120. Toe restraint 200 may extend upwardly away from foot placement surface 120 and rearwardly towards heel region 140.

Alternative to or in combination with toe restraint 200, foot-shaped support 110 may also comprise a side wall that extends around a portion of or the entire periphery of foot-shaped support 110. The side wall may rise above foot placement surface 120 such that when a foot is placed on foot placement surface 120, the side wall extending around the periphery of foot-shaped support 110 (or portions thereof) is capable of keeping the foot from sliding off foot placement surface 120 in any direction. The height of the side wall above foot placement surface 120 may be constant about the periphery of foot-shaped support 110, or the height of the side wall may vary about the periphery of foot-shaped surface 110.

As shown most clearly in FIGS. 4 and 7, foot-shaped support 110 may further comprise a plurality of stud receptacles 210. Stud receptacles may be located about the periphery of foot-shaped support 110. Stud receptacles 210 are capable of receiving and holding studs of, for example, a baseball cleat having screw-on and screw-off studs. Alternatively, stud receptacles may be configured to receive and hold studs used on ground-contacting surface 130 of foot-shaped support 110. For example, as shown in FIG. 9, ground-contacting surface 130 may further comprise stud sockets 230 for receiving studs stored in stud receptacles 210. Stud sockets 230 may receive studs such that when sports training aid 100 is in use, sports training aid 100 is more likely to stay in place by virtue of the studs inserted in stud sockets 230 engaging the ground. When not in use, studs may be removed from stud sockets 230 of sports training aid 100 and stored in stud receptacles 210 such that sports training aid 100 is easier to transport. Alternatively, ground-contacting surface 130 may comprise studs molded to ground contacting surface 130 at about the same location where stud pockets are located as shown in FIG. 9. In this alternate embodiment to having removable studs and stud sockets, the studs molded to ground contacting surface 130 are not removable.

As shown most clearly in FIG. 8, foot placement surface 120 may further comprise stud pockets 220 (or stud holes 220) for receiving studs of a cleat worn while using sports training aid 110. To most closely mimic actual batting conditions, a user of sports training aid 100 should wear the same shoes as would be worn during an actual attempt at bat. However, sports players normally wear cleats when batting, which include studs that will not mate cleanly with a flat foot placement surface 120 having no pockets or holes for receiving studs of a cleat. Therefore, in order to accommodate the cleat with studs, foot placement surface 120 may includes stud pockets 220 (or stud holes 220) which receive the studs of a cleat when a sports player uses sports training aid 100 while wearing cleats. Stud pockets 220 (or stud holes 220) thereby create a better fit between the cleat and sports training aid 100. Stud pockets 220 (or stud holes 220) may have any number of configurations and/or shapes in order to accommodate the many different stud shapes and configurations found on different cleats.

Alternative to or in combination with stud pockets 220, foot placement surface 120 may have one or more indentations cut out from the sides of foot placement surface 120 to receive studs of a cleat worn by a user of sports training aid 100. In other words, in order to receive studs of a cleat worn by a user of sports training aid 100 that are, for example, located along the periphery of the cleat, the edges of foot placement surface 100 may cut in at certain intervals such that studs of a cleat fit into the cut out sections. In this manner, sports training aid 100 allows the sole of the cleat to directly contact foot placement surface 120, rather than being propped above foot placement surface 120 by virtue of the downwardly facing studs of the cleat contacting foot placement surface 120.

Sports training aid 100 may also comprise an upper. The upper may extend upwardly from foot placement surface 120 along the periphery of foot-shaped support 110 and encapsulate foot placement surface 120. When the upper encapsulates foot placement surface 120, the area under the upper is preferably large enough to accommodate a foot of a user of sports training aid 100. Additionally, the upper may include an opening to allow a user of sports training aid 100 to insert his or her foot under the upper. In essence, when sports training aid 100 comprises an upper, foot-shaped support 110 becomes the sole of sports training aid 100.

Also disclosed herein is a method for training a sports player. The method may generally comprise three steps. In the first step, a sports training aid such as either of the embodiments of the sports training aid described above is provided. Generally, the sports training aid may include a foot placement area or surface, the foot placement area or surface comprising a heel region, a toe region opposite the heel region, an insole region and an outsole region opposite the insole region. The foot placement area or surface may also comprise two inclines. The first incline may extend from the heel region up to the toe region. The second incline may extend from the insole region up to the outsole region.

In a second step, the sports player's foot is positioned on the foot placement area or surface of the sports training aid. The sports player's foot may be positioned on the foot placement area or surface such that the appropriate portions of a sports player's foot correspond to the regions of the foot placement area or surface. In other words, the sports player's toes are positioned in the toe region, the sports player's heel is positioned in the heel region, the sports player's insole is positioned in the insole region, and the sports player's outsole is positioned in the outsole region. When positioned in this manner, the pinky toe of the sports player's foot may be in the highest position and the corner of the sports player's foot where the heel meets the insole may be in the lowest position.

In a third step, the sports player repeats a sports movement with his or her foot positioned on the foot placement surface or area. The sports movement may be, for example, a swing of a bat. As described in greater detail above, the foot placement area positions the foot in such a way that portions of the sports player's upper body are better positioned for a sports movement. By repeatedly making a sports movement in this position, the sports player's muscle memory will commit the overall positioning to memory. Thus, even when not using the sports training aid (e.g., when taking an actual at-bat during a game), the body will still position itself in the improved stance and increase the likelihood of hitting the ball.

While the above described embodiments are discussed primarily in the context of use by a baseball player practicing his or her batting swing, the sports training aid described herein may be adapted for use in practicing sports movements of other sports, for example, golf. The sports training aid may be inclined from the heel up to the toe or from the toe up to the heel, depending on how the body needs to be positioned to improve the sports movement. Similarly, the sports training aid may be worn on either foot or on both feet in a particular sports stance, depending on which foot impacts the positioning of the rest of the sport's players body.

The general concept of the sports training aid disclosed herein may be applied to any sport which involves a swinging sports movement. Exemplary sports which the sports training aid disclosed herein may be applied, with or without minor modifications, include golf, tennis, hockey, lacrosse, and badminton.

The preceding description has been provided to enable others skilled in the art to best utilize various aspects of the exemplary embodiments disclosed herein. This exemplary description is not intended to be exhaustive or to be limited to any precise form disclosed. Many modifications and variations are possible without departing from the spirit and scope of the instant disclosure. The embodiments disclosed herein should be considered in all respects illustrative and not restrictive. Reference should be made to the appended claims and their equivalents in determining the scope of the instant disclosure.

Unless otherwise noted, the terms “a” or “an,” as used in the specification and claims, are to be construed as meaning “at least one of.” In addition, for ease of use, the words “including” and “having,” as used in the specification and claims, are interchangeable with and have the same meaning as the word “comprising.”