Title:
BATTER TRAINING DEVICE WITH IMPROVED VISUAL INDICATOR
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A device for training in swinging and batting in which a device is provided and attached to a batter's trailing back forearm with an arm attachment section and trailing back calf with a leg attachment section. A stretchable band is connected the two sections covered by a sectional sleeve having a pair of sleeve members. The sleeve members separate to display a visual indicator comprising a section of the stretchable band. The sleeve members have flared opposing ends that are reinforced and attached to each leg and arm attachment section. The attachment sections include straps and cuffs for adjustably attaching each section to the leg and arm.



Inventors:
Reynolds, Paul (Macon, GA, US)
Application Number:
12/604366
Publication Date:
02/18/2010
Filing Date:
10/22/2009
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
473/458
International Classes:
A63B69/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
CHAMBERS, MICHAEL S
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Brian, Bellamy D. (P.O. BOX 1997, THOMASVILLE, GA, 31799-1997, US)
Claims:
I claim:

1. A device for training and improvement of batting skill comprising: a. an arm attachment section for attachment to a batter's arm; b. a leg attachment section for attachment to a batter's leg; c. a stretchable band connected between said arm attachment section and leg attachment section; d. a sleeve comprising a first sleeve member attached to the leg attachment section and a second sleeve member attached to the arm attachment section; and e. said first and second sleeve members covering said stretchable band, and said sleeve members each having an inner edge such that the inner edges are initially adjacent to each other and said first and second sleeve members being separable when the stretchable band is stretched.

2. A device for training and improvement of batting skill as in claim 1 comprising a section of stretchable band as a visual indicator when said first and second sleeve members are separated when the stretchable band is stretched.

3. A device for training and improvement of batting skill as in claim 2 in which the stretchable band is red in color.

4. A device for training and improvement of batting skill as in claim 1 in which said sleeve members include opposing ends, and each opposing end includes a reinforced base comprising an enlarged portion of the sleeve member for attachment of the leg attachment section on one opposing end and the arm attachment section on the other opposing end.

5. A device for training and improvement of batting skill as in claim 4 in which said leg attachment section and arm attachment section includes a connection means and each connections means is attached to the enlarged portion of each sleeve member by inserting an enlarged head of the stretchable band through each enlarged portion and securing each connections means to each enlarged portion by at least two bolts and nuts attached to the connection means.

6. A device for training and improvement of batting skill as in claim 1 in which said leg attachment section includes a connections means for attachment to said first sleeve member and an adjustable cuff strap.

7. A device for training and improvement of batting skill as in claim 1 in which said arm attachment section includes a connections means for attachment to said second sleeve member, a detachable buckle attached to the connection means, an adjustable strap attached to the detachable buckle, and an adjustable cuff attached to the adjustable strap.

Description:

PRIORITY CLAIM

The present application is a continuation in part and claims benefit of priority of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 12/048,210 filed Mar. 13, 2008 and which claimed benefit of U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 61/034,948 filed Mar. 7, 2008. The present application is a continuation in part and claims benefit of priority of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 12/400,348 filed Mar. 9, 2009 and which claimed benefit of U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 61/034,948 filed Mar. 7, 2008.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to a device for training and improvement of swinging or batting skill and technique using a mechanical aid. More particularly, the invention pertains to a device for application to a person's body with a visual indicator to teach the person to use proper rotation and extension of a baseball, softball bat or golf club.

2. Discussion of the Prior Art

Batter's sometimes lack power and need further development of their swing. All young hitters would like to be able to hit home runs. Unfortunately though, many young hitters believe extension is achieved over the plate, rather than in front of the plate, resulting in a loss of power. To make matters worse, these same young hitters probably work with coaches and instructors who also do not understand that power is achieved by contact in front of the plate. Batters need a mechanical training aid to assist in learning and maintaining consistent form and gaining strength and improved mechanics when swinging. In particular, a mechanical aid is needed to teach young hitters in particular to feel the correct swing mechanism and understand and visualize correct swing mechanics.

There are two basic schools of thought when one discusses proper technique in hitting a baseball. One is known as rotational, the other as linear. There are many baseball training devices which propose to increase power. However, all of these devices relate to the linear school of hitting. Some of these aids are equipped to teach by strengthening the front leading arm that is closest to the pitcher's mound while hitting. Other devices only tend to reduce a batter's stride length, or both, rather than improving the strength and rotation of the backside. Ted Williams taught that the hips start the swing when hitting. After many years of trial and error, it has been shown that in fact the leading foot starts the swing because the foot starts the hip action taught by Ted Williams. Mr. Williams also taught that extension happens in front of the plate, rather than over the plate, with the elbow actually driving towards the pitch and initiating a point of contact in a positive power position.

Batters should extend the bat in front of the home plate, rather than over the plate and have back-side extension on the follow through. Proper extension increases distance and power when hitting. Therefore, a need exists for a mechanical aid to teach proper back-side extension, the use of the correct muscles when batting and to increase strength in the lower and upper backside of the batter.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,704,856, issued to Morse, discloses a device for training batters to properly shift weight to the back leg at the beginning of a swing and to shift weight to the front leg during a swing when striking the ball in baseball and similar games. The device includes a first strap for fastening to the leading leg just above the knee and a second strap for fastening to the leading wrist, “leading” being the side towards a pitcher. An elongated member connects the two straps and comprises an elastic portion and an adjustable length portion, which includes a separable buckle so that the elongated member can be separated without removing either strap. In use, straps are placed on the knee and wrist and the adjustable length portion is adjusted to be taut but not stretched with the batter in the “ready” position. At the start of a swing, the hands move back, stretching the elongated member to encourage weight movement to the back leg. When the forward swing and forward stride begin, the elongated member will be stretched forward to encourage weight shift to the forward leg. According to the theory taught by Morse, proper weight shift will provide maximum batting stroke power.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,938,548, issued to Upshaw, discloses a simplified training device for improving the batting skill of a batter in baseball, has a pair of arm cuffs adapted to encircle the arms of the batter at a location above the elbows thereof, and a pair of elongate flexible tie straps which are coextensive with each other and which extend between and are connected to the arm cuffs. The device is so constituted that the tie straps can be easily adjusted as to their effective lengths. When the tie straps are taut, they positively limit the maximum space between the arm cuffs at the time that the batter's arms are raised, retracted position. The straps are flexible and capable of collapsing movement to enable the arm cuffs to approach each other as the batter's arms are swung from the raised, retracted position toward the extended, ball-striking position.

U.S. Pat. No. 6,984,184 issued to Gray, disclosed an apparatus for building muscle memory to develop a more rapid baseball swing and avoid casting of the hands and bat during the swing. Such apparatus includes a first attachment member connectable to an upper arm and a second attachment member connectable to an opposing forearm interposed by an elongated tether to be aligned along a forearm upon initially entering into a hitter's stance. A method for using such apparatus is also disclosed.

While each of the above devices disclose resistance training aids, these aids do not teach a method to improve the skill of proper extension of a batter in front of the plate before striking a baseball. Previous aids are taught to attach to both arms of the user or to the front arm or front leg of the user. The attachment of mechanical aids to the front arm or front leg does not reinforce and teach proper forward extension and body rotation. Instead, the attachment of a mechanical aid to the front arm causes resistance and extension to be felt and observed during the take-back step of the swing and may assist with weight shift but not with teaching proper extension during rotation. The resistance of the aid when attached to the front arm or leg will collapse during the swing, thereby failing to train for power and reinforce the feeling of proper extension at the correct point of a swing.

Thus, a need exists for a mechanical aid device that a baseball player can use to teach himself or herself to have proper extension in front of a plate while batting and to have proper rotation. A further need exists for that same device to be used during warm-up and core strength training to continue reinforcement and improvement of the swings of baseball players. Yet a further need exists for a device that teaches proper rotation and extension to softball players.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention solves these above problems and provides a device to use as a mechanical aid to train and teach baseball hitters how to achieve true extension at the plate. The invention also teaches softball players the same principle of extension at the plate, and can be used to teach golfers improved rotation and extension when swinging a golf club.

First, use of the device develops correct hitting fundamentals, developing upper and lower body strength and developing quickness to the point of contact with the backside of the hitters. Second, the device includes an indicator of proper extension at the right time during the swing. Thereby, coaches are able to use the device of the invention to teach that arm extension and proper back rotation occurs before contact with the ball, rather than after. The training provided by the device results in improved skill and proper technique, which translates into better performance at the plate by the batter.

The device comprises a mechanical aid that attaches to the user's body in accordance with the use of the invention to improve hitting skills. The mechanical aid includes two flexible and adjustable size and length body attaching members comprising flexible straps that attach to a person's limbs. These body attaching members, referred to as a leg attachment section and arm attachment section attach to the leg and arm respectively. The mechanical aid further includes a stretchable tether section comprising a stretchable band or rubber tubing that is attached to the flexible straps of the body limb attaching sections. The tether section further comprises a sleeve having a pair of rigid first and second sleeve members that attach to the flexible straps and a stretchable portion comprising a section of tubing or stretchable band that is attached between the leg and arm attachment section and at least partly covered by the pair of rigid sleeve members. The sleeve members each include a reinforced end for attachment to the arm and leg attachment sections for secure attachment and durability. In this form the sleeve members with opposing reinforced ends provide separable handles between the arm and leg attachment sections.

The stretchable portion allows for extension of the mechanical aid during body rotation and extension. Furthermore, the stretchable portion of the mechanical aid provides a visual indicator of proper extension and rotation during a swing. The indicator may be enhanced to provide a signal by tactile sensation or sound in addition to vision. The stretchable portion provides a visual device intermediately positioned between the body attachment members. The rigid sleeve members covering the stretchable portion provide a separable cover about the resistance tubing of the stretchable portion in which adjacent rigid sleeve members separate to expose a greater portion of the resistance tubing as a visual indicator of proper extension during a swing.

In the method for swinging or batting training, the mechanical aid is attached to specific locations on a person's body. In the steps provided to train in hitting and swinging, the mechanical aid is attached to the trailing back forearm of the batter, just below the person's elbow. The mechanical aid attaches to the trailing back calf of the person, just below the knee. The method provides for attachment of the mechanical aid to the back arm and back leg so that the aid will provide resistance training to the hitter to teach proper rotation and extension. The additional step of indicating proper extension can provide immediate feedback during practice of the method to a person training or a coach observing. In particular, the indicator provides confirmation that a batter has achieved true extension in front of the plate. As a result of the proper extension in front of the plate, the batter will experience increased power.

The method of training also provides for proper use of a training aid to provide useful resistance training during hitting and swinging that is beneficial for warm-up and strength improvement. Thus, the method is useful in teaching proper technique and extension, as well as warming up muscles and improving strength. Using a method that reinforces proper form and technique provides the best method for warming up in an on-deck type situation or in a strength training situation.

The method works well for fast-pitch and slow-pitch softball as well as baseball, and also golf. In golf, the method may be used with a training tee and as a warm-up method that improves confidence before approaching the first tee. In golf training, the method keeps the golfer's back elbow from lifting too far upward, which is undesirable in a proper golf swing. Further, the method can be used in resistance training to improve core strength in the golfer and improve balance. The method is particular useful for improving the swing of older golfers. Thus, the method may be adapted to several sports where extension and rotational core strength are important aspects of swing mechanics.

The method teaches proper swing mechanics and power by teaching and reinforcing proper extension through the improved use of a mechanical aid. In the method of this invention, a mechanical aid is attached to a person's body by attaching the aid to a person's back arm and back leg that are farthest away from a pitcher or target. The method provides resistance during forward extension and rotation of the body during a swing.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIGS. 1a-d are perspective views illustrating a prior art method for training a person to swing a baseball bat.

FIG. 2 is perspective view of a batter assuming an initial batter's stance while wearing a device in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of the batter shown in FIG. 2 prior to striking a ball.

FIG. 4 is a perspective view of the batter shown in FIG. 3 showing a visual indicator of extension and rotation of the batter.

FIG. 5 is a perspective view of the batter shown in FIG. 3 showing an audible indicator of extension and rotation of the batter.

FIG. 6 is a perspective view of a batter assuming an initial batter's stance while wearing a device in accordance with the invention.

FIG. 7 is a perspective view of the batter shown in FIG. 6 prior to striking a ball wearing the device.

FIG. 8 is a perspective view of device shown in FIG. 6.

FIG. 9 is an enlarged perspective view of a reinforced end section of a handle portion of the device shown in FIG. 8.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

Referring now to the drawings, FIGS. 1a-d show a batter 2 preparing to hit a ball with a bat 4 up in a ready position. The batter 2 in FIGS. 1a-d is wearing a prior art device used in the training of baseball players learning to hit a baseball or trying to increase their power. As seen in FIGS. 1a-d, the prior art device is attached to the batters front leg 8. For the purpose of the illustration herein, the batter is oriented facing a plate distally separated from a pitcher's mound. The front side of the batter 2 is considered the side of the batter that is closest to where a pitcher's mound would be located from which a pitcher throws a ball toward the batter. The back side of the batter 2 is considered the side of the batter farthest from the pitcher's mound. The prior art device shown in FIGS. 1a-d is also attached to the batters front arm 10. An elastic portion 6 connects between the front arm 10 and front leg 8. As the batter 2 prepares to swing the bat 4 by lifting the bat behind his head, the elastic portion 6 stretches and provides resistance to the batter 2 as shown in FIG. 1a. As the batter 2 steps forward with his front leg 8, the elastic portion 6 appears to stretch still further as shown in FIG. 1b. Then, as shown in FIG. 1c, the tension in the stretched elastic portion 6 begins to release and collapse as the batter 2 rotates and swings the bat forward toward an oncoming ball. The tension in the elastic portion 6 is completely released by the time the batter 2 makes contact with a ball. The batter is able to follow through on the swing without any further tension in the elastic portion as shown in FIG. 1d, and the elastic portion 6 does not stretch during rotation of the batter's body and extension of the bat 4 in front of the batter 2.

FIGS. 2 and 6 show an improved method for using a mechanical aid 20 to improve a batter's swing. FIGS. 2 and 6 shows a batter 22 preparing to hit a ball with the bat 24 up over the batter's back shoulder 25 in an initial ready position (A) with the batter's body facing inward toward a plate for receiving a baseball or softball pitch. A front side of the batter 22 with front leg 26 and front arm 28 is directed outward toward a pitcher and is the side of the batter 22 that is turned closest to the pitcher's mound. A back side of the batter with back leg 30 and back arm 32 is situated pointing away from the pitcher toward the rear of a batter's box and turned farthest from the pitcher's mound. In the ready position, the training aid 20 is attached to the batter 22 using the present methodology in at least two locations on the back side of the batter.

In a first location, the training aid 20 is attached to the batter's trailing back leg calf at a first position 34, just below the batter's back knee. In a second location, the mechanical aid 20 is attached to the batter's trailing back forearm at a second position 36, just below the batter's back elbow where the forearm and elbow adjoin. The mechanical aid 20 is attached at each position using a leg attachment section 40 that secures the aid about a leg and an arm attachment section 42 that secures the aid an arm. In the embodiment shown, the leg attachment section secures about the back trailing calf of the legs and the arm attachment section secures about the back trailing forearm of the arms. The attachment sections may include adjustable cuffs in each section with ends having cooperating hook and loop material on opposite surfaces so that overlapping the ends to a predetermined degree and bringing the cooperating hook and loop material together will form a closed ring of predetermined circumference about the body limb. Each cuff or strap is closed about each respective position on the batter's body to connect and secure the mechanical aid 20. The batter 22 can quickly remove the attachment sections 40, 42 formed by detaching the cooperating hoop and loop surfaces, such that the aid 20 can be removed quickly enough to use while a batter is on deck preparing to bat.

The training aid 20 is provided a stretchable band 44 that is attached between the arm attachment section 42 and the leg attachment section 40 by connecting the stretchable band to each section. The stretchable band 44 may be connected to the leg attachment section 40 on the back leg 30 so that the stretchable band is situated on the back outside portion of the back calf to address a problem in which the band 44 can encroach and twist into the inside of the batter's leg improperly. The stretchable band 44 is connected to the arm attachment section 42 on the back arm 32 so that the stretchable band is situated on the back forearm with the stretchable band extending downwards toward the batter's outside back calf.

While the stretchable band 44 may comprise any suitable elastic material, resistance tubing selected of predetermined desired resistance has been found to provide excellent performance. The band 44 stretches during a batter's swing by rotating the batter's body and extending the bat's handle 46 outward in front of the batter's body in accordance with the invention to provide muscle memory training and strength training. Referring to FIGS. 3 and 7, a batter 22 is shown half-way through her swing into a position (B) while extending the bat 24 out in front of the body through proper hip rotation initiated by the front foot. As the batter 22 extends the bat 24 out in front of his or her body, the distances between the batter's elbow, calf and foot lengthen. As a result, the stretchable band 44 extends, and as the band extends, the resistance of the band signals to the batter that she is making proper extension in front of the body and properly rotating the hips. With practice and growing strength, the batter 22 will be able to maximize extension and body rotation to improve hitting power and technique.

An indicator means may be provided to detect proper extension of the stretchable band 44. In particular the indicator means may include a visual signal such as a visible section of resistance tubing, an audible signal such as a sound produced by a device activated by extension of the stretchable band, or a tactilely perceived signal of proper extension. The indicator means may be provided by incorporating the indicator means onto the stretchable band 44 of the mechanical aid 20 between the foot and forearm attachment positions 34 and 36. In the case of a visual signal the indicator means will generally include the stretchable band 44 comprised of resistance tubing for indicating when the batter 22 is properly swinging with respect to extension in front of the batter's body.

Where the indicator means is a visual signal, an indicator section 48 of resistance tubing, which may comprise of the stretchable band 44, is provided that is comprised of a highly visible color such as red. As shown in FIG. 4 and 6-8, the indicator section is covered by a lightweight two-part sleeve 50. An embodiment of the sleeve is shown in further detail in the enlarged view of FIG. 9. The sleeve 50 provides separable sleeve members 50A-50B that split into two-parts at about the center of the sleeve and completely cover the indicator section 48 when the stretchable band 44 is not extended to the extent that the inner edges 56 of the sleeves are adjacent to each other and abutting or nearly abutting. The sleeve members 50A-50B are attached at first and second opposing ends 52, 54 of the sleeve members. The opposing first and second ends of the sleeve members may correspond with the opposing ends of the indicator section 48 of the stretchable band 44. The first and second opposing ends 52, 54 may be flared outward from the generally cylindrical sleeve such that each opposing end includes an enlarged portion 58, 60 for reinforcement of the attachment area of the sleeves 50 and to provide a flat surface base at each of the opposing ends for attachment of the first and second opposing ends 52, 54 of the sleeve members 50A, 50B to the leg and arm attachment sections 40, 42. The first and second opposing ends of the sleeves may be attached to the leg and arm attachment sections with a secondary means such as a bolt and nut 62 as shown in FIG. 9, as well as providing an enlarged head 64 on each opposing end of the stretchable band 44 for attachment through a hole in each of the enlarged portions 52, 54.

The leg attachment section 40 comprises flexible materials and may include a connection means 66 attaching the leg attachment section to the first sleeve member 50A. Further, attached to the connection means, the leg attachment section may include an adjustable leg cuff 68 or strap to wrap around the leg 30. The leg cuff is adjustable according to size to attach the leg attachment section to the calf area of the leg and may include a hook and loop fastener or turn buckle.

The arm attachment section 42 comprises flexible materials and may include a connection means 70 attaching the arm attachment section to the second sleeve member 50B. Further, attached to the connection means, the arm attachment section may include a detachable buckle 72, an adjustable strap 74 attached to the buckle, and an adjustable arm cuff 76 or strap to wrap around the forearm to attach the arm attachment section to the forearm 32. The arm cuff is adjustable according to the size of the arm and may include a hook and loop fastener or turn buckle.

When the stretchable band 44 is not properly extended as it should be during a correct swing, the sleeve 50 covers the indicator section 48. While the batter 22 is in the ready position shown in FIG. 2 and FIG. 6, the stretchable band 44 is not extended, and the indicator section 48 is not visible, thereby accurately showing that no extension is taking place. When the batter 22 swings and extends the bat 24 out in front of the batter's body as shown in FIG. 4 and FIG. 7, the stretchable band 44 is extended, and the indicator section 48 shows a portion of it's resistance tubing previously covered by the separable sleeve members 50A-50B. The visible resistance tubing provides a visual signal that the batter 22 has properly rotated his or her hips and extended the bat 24 in front of the body during the swing. In another variation as shown in FIG. 5, a sound producing device 52 provides an audible signal that the batter 22 has swung properly when the stretchable band 44 is extended in front of the batter's body.

While the invention has been illustrated and described as embodied in a method of training in swinging and hitting, it is not intended to be limited to the details shown and discussed, since it will be understood that various omissions, modifications, substitutions and changes in the forms and details of the method illustrated and in its practice can be made by those skilled in the art without departing in any way from the spirit of the present invention.