Title:
Baseball/Softball Batting Glove Training Aid Utilizing Magnets for Correct Knuckle Alignment
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A pair of interlocking batting gloves which may be worn by a batter during practice and during play to improve the batter's grip on the bat. A first of the two gloves in which each glove has a disc magnet attached to the outer peripheral edge of the index finger and a second of the two gloves has a polar opposite magnet attached to the outer peripheral edge of the little finger. The magnets thus positioned connect and lock together providing the proper grip for the batter, aligning the middle knuckles of the left and right hands. The attractive magnetic force will connect the gloves when the magnets overlap their magnetic fields, thus eliminating the need for the batter to have previous knowledge of how to grip the bat correctly. The magnetic connection draws the left and right hand together aligning the middle knuckles of the left and right hand forming proper grip for swinging a bat. The physical connection of the magnets provides an audible “click” to provide auditory feedback, in addition to physical feedback, to the batter to reinforce correct training.



Inventors:
True, Patrick James Wade (Garden Ridge, TX, US)
Application Number:
12/418541
Publication Date:
10/08/2009
Filing Date:
04/03/2009
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
2/167, 473/451, 2/161.1
International Classes:
A63B69/00; A41D19/00; A63B71/14
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
GRAHAM, MARK S
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Kammer, Browning Pllc (7700 BROADWAY, SUITE 202, SAN ANTONIO, TX, 78209, US)
Claims:
I claim:

1. A sports training aid, the training aid comprising a matched pair of batting gloves, the batting gloves each having a thumb portion and a plurality of finger portions adapted for receiving at least the thumb, index finger, and little finger, of a wearer of the sports training aid, the batting gloves further comprising; (a) a first magnet positioned on a first contact finger portion on a first one of the batting gloves, which first contact finger portion is adapted to receive the index finger, the first contact finger portion having an outer peripheral edge proximal to the thumb portion, the first magnet positioned on and attached to the outer peripheral edge of the first contact finger portion, the first magnet having a contact surface having a first magnetic polarity oriented outward from the first contact finger portion; and (b) a second magnet positioned on a second contact finger portion on a second one of the batting gloves, which second contact finger portion is adapted to receive the little finger, the second contact finger portion having an outer peripheral edge distal to the thumb portion, the second magnet positioned on and attached to the outer peripheral edge of the second contact finger portion, the second magnet having a contact surface having a second magnetic polarity oriented outward from the second contact finger portion, the second magnetic polarity opposite the first magnetic polarity; wherein when a wearer of the gloves grips a bat, the contact surfaces of the first and second magnets are brought into proximity with each other, whereby the opposite magnetic polarities urge connection between the magnets and thereby facilitate the maintenance of a specific orientation of the hands of the wearer on the bat.

2. The sports training aid of claim 1 wherein the first and second magnets are each positioned on an axis generally aligned with the middle knuckles of the wearer's hands.

3. The sports training aid of claim 1 wherein the first and second magnets each comprise rare-earth permanent magnets.

4. The sports training aid of claim 3 wherein the first and second magnets each comprise neodymium magnets.

5. The sports training aid of claim 1 wherein the first and second magnets are each attached to the outer peripheral edges of the first and second contact finger portions respectively, by rivets directed through the magnets and through a layer of material of the batting gloves.

6. The sports training aid of claim 1 wherein the first and second magnets each comprise disc shaped magnets and the contact surfaces of the magnets are circular.

7. A sports training aid, the training aid comprising a matched pair of batting gloves, the batting gloves each having a thumb portion and a plurality of finger portions adapted for receiving at least the thumb, index finger, and little finger of a wearer of the sports training aid, the batting gloves further comprising; (a) a first ferromagnetic member positioned on a first contact finger portion on a first one of the batting gloves, which first contact finger portion is adapted to receive the index finger, the first contact finger portion having an outer peripheral edge proximal to the thumb portion, the first ferromagnetic member positioned on and attached to the outer peripheral edge of the first contact finger portion; and (b) a second ferromagnetic member positioned on a second contact finger portion on a second one of the batting gloves, which second contact finger portion is adapted to receive the little finger, the second contact finger portion having an outer peripheral edge distal to the thumb portion, the second ferromagnetic member positioned on and attached to the outer peripheral edge of the second contact finger portion; wherein one of the first or second ferromagnetic members comprises a permanent magnet and the other comprises a metallic member, wherein when a wearer of the gloves grips a bat, the first and second ferromagnetic members are brought into proximity with each other, whereby the magnetic field of the magnet urges connection between the magnet and the metallic member and thereby facilitate the maintenance of a specific orientation of the hands of the wearer on the bat.

8. The sports training aid of claim 7 wherein the first and second ferromagnetic members are each positioned on an axis generally aligned with the middle knuckles of the wearer's hands.

9. The sports training aid of claim 7 wherein the magnet comprises a rare-earth permanent magnet.

10. The sports training aid of claim 9 wherein the magnet comprises a neodymium magnet.

11. The sports training aid of claim 7 wherein the first and second ferromagnetic members are each attached to the outer peripheral edges of the first and second contact finger portions respectively, by rivets directed through the ferromagnetic member and through a layer of material of the batting gloves.

12. A method for training a proper alignment of the hands of a batter when gripping a bat, the bat having a neck, the batter having a dominant hand and a non-dominant hand, and the proper alignment of the hands comprising a generally co-axial alignment of the middle knuckles of the hands when positioned one above the other on the bat, the training method comprising the steps of: (a) providing the batter with a left hand glove and a right hand glove, each glove including a contact connector for releasably connecting the gloves together, a first contact connector on the glove for the non-dominant hand of the batter positioned on an index finger portion of the glove of the non-dominant hand, and a second contact connector on the glove of the dominant hand of the batter positioned on a little finger portion of the glove of the dominant hand, the first and second contact connectors each positioned in a location on the respective gloves generally aligned with the position of the middle knuckles of the wearer's gloved hands; (b) having the batter grasp the neck of the bat with the gloved non-dominant hand; (c) having the batter grasp the neck of the bat with the gloved dominant hand such that the middle knuckles of the batter's hands are generally aligned, with the gloved dominant hand of the batter positioned generally above the gloved non-dominant hand of the batter on the neck of the bat, whereby when the gloved hands of the batter are brought together on the neck of the bat, the first and second contact connectors connect and facilitate the maintenance of the middle knuckle aligned orientation of the gloved hands of the batter on the bat; and (d) the batter swinging the bat with rotation of the wrists of the batter during the swing, the connected contact connectors serving to urge the maintenance of the middle knuckle aligned orientation of the gloved hands of the batter on the bat throughout the swing.

13. The method of claim 12 wherein the second in time step of having the batter grasp the neck of the bat with a gloved hand comprises having the batter visually align the first and second contact connectors so as to urge the connection of the contact connectors together.

14. The method of claim 12 wherein the first and second contact connectors comprise magnets and the second in time step of having the batter grasp the neck of the bat with a gloved hand comprises having the batter audibly detect the connection between the first and second contact connectors as the magnetic fields of the magnets urge the connection of the contact connectors together.

15. The method of claim 12 further comprising the step of the batter releasing the bat with the gloved dominant hand after completing the step of swinging the bat, thereby disconnecting the contact connectors, one from the other, to allow for a follow-through swing of the bat with only the gloved non-dominant hand.

16. The method of claim 15 further comprising repeating the steps of having the batter grasp the neck of the bat with the gloved dominant hand and the batter swinging the bat.

17. The method of claim 16 wherein the first and second contact connectors comprise magnets and the second in time step of having the batter grasp the neck of the bat with a gloved hand comprises having the batter audibly detect the connection between the first and second contact connectors as the magnetic fields of the magnets urge the connection of the contact connectors together.

Description:

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims the benefit under Title 35 United States Code §119(e) of U.S. Provisional Application 61/041,982 filed Apr. 3, 2008 the full disclosure of which is incorporated herein by reference.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates generally to gloves worn during athletic sports. The present invention also relates generally to training aids for use in teaching athletic sports skills. The present invention relates more specifically to interlocking gloves that help improve the performance and skill of an athlete participating in an athletic sport which requires the athlete to grip, hold, and swing a piece of sporting equipment.

2. Description of the Related Art

In baseball, softball, and similar sports, it is essential for a proper swing of the bat that the batter's hands begin with the proper grip placement as well as the proper knuckle alignment when gripping the bat. There is a tendency, however, especially for young children and beginning adults, to rotate their hands to align the knuckles closest to the wrist of one hand, with the middle knuckles of the fingers on the opposite hand. When this happens, the batter loses proper knuckle alignment, causing the wrists to be less flexible than when gripping the bat and aligning the middle knuckles of the right hand with the middle knuckles of the left hand. For purposes of the present disclosure the human hand is considered to have three sets of knuckles associated with the fingers on the hand; a first proximal set comprising the joints between the palm section of the hand and the fingers, a second or middle set of knuckles comprising the middle joints of the fingers, and a third distal set being closest to the fingertips. The present invention will focus on maintaining an alignment of the middle set of knuckles.

In order to create a better “grip” on the bat, many batters wear a batting glove or a pair of batting gloves. Although the batting gloves heretofore known may enhance the batter's grip on the bat, most untrained batters simply grip the bat in a manner that feels most comfortable to them, which is typically to hold the bat in the palms of their hands and then rotate the left and right hands in a manner that aligns the first proximal set of knuckles of one hand with the second middle set of knuckles of the opposite hand. While generally addressing the security aspect of the grip, batting gloves heretofore known do not train the batter to position their hands with regard to left and right hand rotational relation aligning the middle knuckles of both hands.

As a result of the above described deficiency in batting gloves generally, some efforts have been made in the past to modify batting gloves and the like to assist with a more proper alignment of the right and left hands. While the batting gloves thus developed in the past provide some degree of feedback for the positioning of the left hand in relation to the right, the batter must intentionally align the modified gloves to the proper orientation. To intentionally align the middle knuckles of the right and left hand, the batter must have a priori knowledge of this preferential alignment to perform the task and then succeed in maintaining this orientation throughout the swing of the bat while focusing on all of the other preferred mechanics of properly swinging the bat at a pitched ball.

While other efforts in the past disclose a number of interlocking glove designs intended for use by athletes, none of the previously known athletic gloves provides a design that directs an external force, such as the magnetic field in the present invention, to draw the gloves together in the correct alignment, nor do they provide an auditory feedback, which is provided by the present invention through the audible sound of the magnets clicking together.

By way of example, efforts in the past include designs such as: U.S. Pat. No. 6,279,164, entitled Interlocking Batting Gloves Employing Hook and Loop Fasteners, which issued on Aug. 28, 2001 to Martin. The gloves described by Martin utilize hook and loop fasteners attached to the outer peripheral edge of the index finger and a cooperating portion of hook and loop material attached to the outer peripheral edge of the little finger. The device does not provide an external force to align the batter's grip in a specific singular position to adjoin the left and right hand upon gripping a bat or similar sporting device.

U.S. Pat. No. 6,212,687, entitled Golf Gloves, which issued on Dec. 16, 1999 to Kwon. The gloves described by Kwon must be designed for use by either a right-handed, or a left-handed golfer. In one embodiment, the gloves include fastening means attached to the palm sides of the gloves. A second set of fasteners are fixed on the side edges of the fingers of the gloves and the two areas become attached to each other when pressed into contact. The auxiliary fastening means may be fixed on the contacted side edges of the interlaced fingers of each glove.

U.S. Pat. No. 6,006,358, entitled Football Receiver Training Gloves, which issued on Dec. 28, 1999 to Keating, describes a pair of gloves for training a person catching a thrown or kicked American football. The connector members are straps which do not provide the ability for the user to connect and disconnect the gloves from each other during the natural course of performing the athletic task. This design would not enable a batter to separate their hands by just using force to separate them. To separate their hands, they would be required to disconnect the straps.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,715,539, entitled Gloves and Implements Containing a Flexible Magnetic Strip to Improve Grip, which issued on Feb. 10, 1998 to Beneki et al., describes a flexible strip used with the glove to improve the grip due to magnetic attraction with the implement. There is, however, no suggestion in this design as to how each implement is to be held, rather specifically the device is to improve the contact pressure of the hand gripping the implement.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,184,827, entitled Audible Golf Gloves, which issued on Feb. 9, 1993 to Suttle et al., includes cooperating thumb and palm strips. An audible sound signals to the golfer the point in the golf swing where the grip about the golf club handle was released.

Thus, none of the foregoing patents, either singly or in combination, discloses or suggests a way to design batting gloves which are intended to interact to teach a batter without prior knowledge the proper manner for gripping and holding a baseball or softball bat.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention provides a pair of interlocking batting gloves utilizing an attractive magnetic force, which provides physical and auditory feedback, for aligning the middle knuckles of the left and right hands when gripping a bat. The strong attractive magnetic force provides instant correct alignment, overcoming the most common grip error of untrained batters, which is to align the first proximal set of knuckles of one hand with the second middle set of knuckles of the opposite hand. The present invention overcomes all of the described disadvantages of the previously known devices.

In brief, each glove of the present invention comprises a thumb portion, a plurality of finger portions, a main hand portion, and a wrist portion. The gloves are a set configured and intended specifically for either a right or left handed batter. The glove sets are mirror opposites for right and left handed batters.

Each glove of the preferred embodiment of the present invention has a disc magnet attached to it utilizing a rivet through the center of the magnet. A first disc magnet is attached to the outer peripheral edge of the index finger of one hand and a polar opposite disc magnet to the peripheral edge of the little finger on the other hand. Thus, when the magnets enter the magnet field of each other, they will connect to align the middle knuckles of the left and right hand upon gripping the bat.

The configuration of the magnets can be altered in a variety of manners to perform the same function. One magnet can be replaced with a ferromagnetic metal disc to provide the same alignment upon entering the magnetic field of the magnet. The shape of the magnets can be altered, as the shape of the magnet is not functionally key, but the magnetic field and attraction to connect the two magnets is functionally important. Incorporating a magnetic field peripherally to both index and small fingers of both gloves would make the gloves universal for both right and left handed batters, but does not functionally change the mechanics or performance of the present invention.

Thus, the present invention provides a cooperating pair of gloves which eliminates the typical over-rotation of a batters grip, which over-rotation tends to align the first and second sets of knuckles of the opposite hands when gripping a bat. The present invention provides a device which delivers physical and auditory feedback to teach the correct grip of aligning the middle knuckles of the left and right hand when gripping a bat. These advantages are achieved by the present invention in a manner that increases flexibility of the batter's wrists while using the device in the process of practicing or actually swining the bat during the play of the game.

Untrained batters need to be taught the correct grip since it is not necessarily the most comfortable grip. The present invention enables the untrained batter to verifiably experience the correct batting grip, without the presence of a knowledgeable instructor. The product thus delivers an affordable training aid that is easy to use and provides physical and auditory feedback for more sensory input and therefore more rapid training.

Children and adults alike can improve the form of their batting swing, thereby attaining a quicker swing, which enables more time to determine pitch location and enables more energy to transfer from the bat to the ball. Still further advantages of the invention will become readily apparent to those skilled in the art to which the invention pertains upon reference to the following detailed description.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of the invention 10 of the present invention showing the right and left batting gloves 12R and 12L of a right handed batter in the proper alignment for magnets 14R and 14L to connect together.

FIG. 2 is a detailed exploded perspective view showing the components of the magnet attachments and the manner in which they may be secured to each glove.

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of the invention 10 of the present invention showing the right and left batting gloves 12R and 12L of the right hand batter (as shown in FIG. 1) showing the proper alignment of magnets 14R and 14L connected together.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

The present invention provides a baseball/softball batting glove training aid that utilizes magnets for correct knuckle alignment. Reference is made initially to FIG. 1 and FIG. 3 for a description of the structure and function of the device and method of the present invention. The objective of the invention 10 is to position strong disc shaped magnets on the right and left bating gloves 12R and 12L in locations to connect and align the middle knuckles of the right and left hands while gripping a bat 20. The use of magnets 14R and 14L connect the gloves together in a position which ensures the appropriate alignment for a correct batting grip. The glove magnets 14R and 14L can only connect to each other in one position, which aligns the middle knuckles of the left and right hands when holding a bat 20. The invention 10 is equipped with polar oppositely oriented magnets 14R and 14L which are positioned one on the index finger of one glove and one on the little finger of the opposite glove. The positions of the magnets on the gloves are opposite for left handed batters, from that appropriate for right handed batters. This is due to the generally preferred placement of the dominant hand above the non-dominant hand when a batter grips the neck of the bat.

The components of the invention are a pair of batting gloves 12R and 12L, a pair of polar oppositely oriented disc magnets 14R and 14L, and (as shown in FIG. 2) a post 18a and cap 18b used to secure the disc magnets 14R and 14L in the proper position on the batting gloves. Many other configurations can be used such as multiple magnets for multiple locking points, a magnet on one glove and a piece of metallic material on the other glove, and magnets placed on the outside of both the right and left hand gloves making a set universal for right and left handed batters.

It is advantageous for the magnets used in the present invention to be strong relative to their size. A number of rare-earth permanent magnets are capable of providing the necessary magnetic strength in a relatively small geometry. Neodymium magnets provide one type of rare-earth magnets that are magnetically strong for their size and which are relatively inexpensive to manufacture. It is preferable that the wearer sense the attractive force between the oriented magnets once they are brought within a few inches of each other. This facilitates the use of the present invention by audible feedback rather than visual recognition.

The present invention defines and describes a method for training a proper alignment of the hands of a batter when gripping a bat. The typical batter will have a dominant hand and a non-dominant hand, and the proper alignment of the hands will generally comprise a co-axial alignment of the middle knuckles of the hands when positioned one above the other on the bat.

The training method of the present invention generally comprises the steps of: (a) providing the batter with a left hand glove and a right hand glove, each glove including a contact connector (magnets in the preferred embodiment) for releasably connecting the gloves together, a first contact connector (magnet) on the glove for the non-dominant hand of the batter positioned on an index finger portion of the glove of the non-dominant hand, and a second contact connector (magnet) on the glove of the dominant hand of the batter positioned on a little finger portion of the glove of the dominant hand, the first and second contact connectors each positioned in a location on the respective gloves generally aligned with the position of the middle knuckles of the wearer's gloved hands; (b) having the batter grasp the neck of the bat with the gloved non-dominant hand; (c) having the batter grasp the neck of the bat with the gloved dominant hand such that the middle knuckles of the batter's hands are generally aligned, with the gloved dominant hand of the batter positioned generally above the gloved non-dominant hand of the batter on the neck of the bat, whereby when the gloved hands of the batter are brought together on the neck of the bat, the first and second contact connectors connect and facilitate the maintenance of the middle knuckle aligned orientation of the gloved hands of the batter on the bat; and (d) having the batter swing the bat with rotation of the wrists of the batter during the swing, the connected contact connectors serving to urge the maintenance of the middle knuckle aligned orientation of the gloved hands of the batter on the bat throughout the swing.

The method described may include the practice wherein the second in time step of having the batter grasp the neck of the bat with a gloved hand comprises having the batter visually align the first and second contact connectors so as to urge the connection of the contact connectors together. Either hand may be placed on the bat first but then the batter may visually align the second placed hand with the first by aligning the contact connectors (magnets).

Alternately, and preferably, the method described would include the practice wherein the first and second contact connectors comprise magnets and the second in time step of having the batter grasp the neck of the bat with a gloved hand comprises having the batter audibly detect the connection between the first and second contact connectors as the magnetic fields of the magnets urge the connection of the contact connectors together. The strong magnets described above offer a distinctive “click” when they are brought together.

The method of the present invention may further include the typical “follow-through” actions associated with the swinging of a bat. Typically a follow-through may comprise the step of the batter releasing the bat from the gloved dominant hand after completing the step of swinging the bat, thereby disconnecting the contact connectors (magnets), one from the other, to allow for a full follow-through swing of the bat with only the gloved non-dominant hand. This step thereafter allows for repeating the steps of having the batter grasp the neck of the bat with the gloved dominant hand and the batter swinging the bat.

The methods thus described may be utilized in a practice environment where the batter is simply swinging the bat (as if at an imaginary pitched ball being thrown) or in an actual game environment where training is ongoing. It is anticipated that extensive training with the device and methods of the present invention might eventually lead to the batter maintaining a proper orientation of their hands on the bat with less need for the independent attractive force between the magnets to urge adherence to the preferred orientation of the grip.

While a number of variations of the preferred embodiments of the present invention have been described, others will appear to those skilled in the art, and all such variations are intended to be included within the scope of the present invention. While the present invention has been described in terms of specific embodiments, it is to be understood that the invention is not limited to these disclosed embodiments. This invention may be embodied in many different forms and should not be construed as limited to the embodiments set forth herein; rather, these embodiments are provided by way of illustration only and so that this disclosure will be thorough, complete, and will fully convey the full scope of the invention to those skilled in the art. Indeed, many modifications and other embodiments of the invention will come to the mind of those skilled in the art to which this invention pertains, and which are intended to be and are covered by this disclosure, the appended drawings, and the following claims.





 
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