Title:
Sport training device with radar
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The present invention provides a sport training device that has a surface and at least one target. The present invention further includes a ball detecting and/or tracking device to provide information about the projected ball to assist in training.



Inventors:
Oister, Michael J. (Superior, CO, US)
Doherty, Thomas M. (Denver, CO, US)
Wisener, Christopher S. (Denver, CO, US)
Boettcher, William C. (Denver, CO, US)
Application Number:
10/261144
Publication Date:
04/01/2004
Filing Date:
09/30/2002
Assignee:
OISTER MICHAEL J.
DOHERTY THOMAS M.
WISENER CHRISTOPHER S.
BOETTCHER WILLIAM C.
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63B63/00; A63B69/00; (IPC1-7): A63B63/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
RADA, ALEX P
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
HOLLAND & HART, LLP (SALT LAKE CITY, UT, US)
Claims:

We claim:



1. A target training device, comprising: at least one frame; at least one surface coupled to the at least one frame; at least one target space; at least one ball detector; and the at least one target space resides in the at least one surface providing a user with a target; wherein the at least one ball detector is arranged to detect a ball projected substantially towards the target by the user, such that the at least one ball detector provides information regarding the ball projected substantially towards the target.

2. The target training device according to claim 1, wherein the at least one surface is a rebounding surface.

3. The target training device according to claim 1, wherein the at least one ball detector comprises at least one of RADAR, SONAR, LASER, microwave, radio frequency wave, or a combination thereof.

4. The target training device according to claim 1, wherein the at least one surface comprises at least one of mesh netting, canvas and fabric.

5. The target training device according to claim 4, wherein the at least one surface includes elastic cord.

6. The target training device according to claim 1, further comprising: at least one target frame; and the at least one target frame coupled to the at least one surface to define the at least one target space.

7. The target training device according to claim 6, further comprising: at least one catch bag arranged substantially adjacent the at least one target space to catch balls going through the at least one target space.

8. The target training device according to claim 1, further comprising at least one stand coupled to the at least one frame.

9. The target training device according to claim 8, wherein the at least one stand comprises at least one upper portion substantially parallel to the at least one frame; and at least one lower portion at a substantially obtuse angle to the at least one upper portion.

10. The target training device according to claim 8, wherein the at least one stand comprises: a second frame; and a second surface attached to the second frame, the second surface being a rebounding surface.

11. The target training device according to claim 10, wherein at least a second target resides on the second surface.

12. The target training device according to claim 1, wherein the at least one target space comprises at least two target spaces.

13. The target training device according to claim 12, further comprising: at least one temporary surface coupled to at least one of the at least two target spaces, such that at least one of the at least two target spaces can be blocked.

14. The target training device according to claim 12, wherein the at least on ball detector detects balls projected towards at least one of the at least two target spaces.

15. The target training device according to claim 1, comprising: at last one display, wherein the at least one ball detector provides information regarding the ball projected substantially towards the target to the at least one display, and the at least one display displays the information.

16. The target training device according to claim 15, wherein the at least one display comprises at least one of at least one monitor, at least one television, at least one light emitting diode, at least one liquid crystal display, at least one printer, or a combination thereof.

17. The target training device according to claim 15, wherein the at least one ball detector comprises: at least one sensor, and at least one processor, wherein at least one sensor generates information signals regarding the ball; the at least one processor receives the information signals regarding the ball and causes the information to be displayed on the at least one display.

18. The target training device according to claim 17, wherein the at least one sensor comprises at least one transceiver.

19. The target training device according to claim 17, wherein the at least one sensor comprises: at least one emitter; and at least one receiver.

20. The target training device according to claim 17, wherein the at least one ball detector further comprises: at least one memory for storing at least the information signals.

21. The target training device according to claim 20, wherein the at least one processor can generate training reports from the information signals stored in the at least one memory

22. A target training device, comprising: means for providing a target for a ball; means for supporting the means for providing the target; means for detecting a ball projected towards the means for providing the target; and means for generating information signals based on the detected ball.

23. The target training device according to claim 22, wherein the means for detecting uses at least one of RADAR, SONAR, LASER, radio frequency wave, microwave, sound wave, or a combination thereof.

24. The target training device according to claim 22, wherein the means for providing the target comprises at least one of netting, cloth, fabric, and canvas.

25. The target training device according to claim 22, wherein the means for supporting comprises at least one frame.

26. The target training device according to claim 22, wherein the means for providing the target is coupled to the means for supporting using at least one of hooks, clasps, springs, elastic cord, snaps, sleeves, or a combination thereof.

27. The target training device according to claim 22, wherein the means for providing the target comprises a plurality of targets.

28. The target training device according to claim 27, further comprising: means for blocking at least one target.

29. The target training device according to claim 28, wherein the means for blocking comprises at least one temporary surface.

30. The target training device according to claim 22, further comprising: means for storing the generated information signal.

31. The target training device according to claim 22, further comprising: means for displaying the generated information signal.

32. The target training device according to claim 30, wherein the means for generating uses the stored information signal to generate training reports.

33. The target training device according to claim 22, wherein the means for providing a target comprises at least two surfaces.

34. The target training device according to claim 33, wherein one of the at least two surfaces is a rebounding surface.

35. The target training device according to claim 33, wherein the at least two surfaces are rebounding surfaces.

36. A target training device, comprising. at least one frame; at least one surface coupled to the at least one frame; a plurality of target spaces residing in the at least one surface; and at least one catching bag adapted to catch a ball traveling through at least one of the plurality of target spaces.

37. The target training device according to claim 36, further comprising: at least one temporary surface coupled to the at least one surface to block at least one of the plurality of target spaces, wherein the at least one catching bag is coupled to the at least one surface behind at least one of the plurality of target spaces that is not blocked by the at least one temporary surface.

38. The target training device according to claim 36, wherein the plurality of target spaces are defined by a corresponding plurality of target frames.

39. The target training device according to claim 36, further comprising: at least one ball detector, wherein the at least one ball detector is arranged to detect a ball projected substantially towards the plurality of target spaces, such that the at least one ball detector provides information regarding the ball projected substantially towards the plurality of target spaces.

40. The target training device according to claim 39, wherein the at least one ball detected is arranged to detect a ball projected to one of the plurality of target spaces.

41. The target training device according to claim 39, wherein the at least one ball detector comprises at least one of RADAR, SONAR, LASER, microwave, radio frequency wave, or a combination thereof.

42. The target training device according to claim 39, wherein the at least one ball detector comprises a plurality of ball detectors corresponding to the plurality of target spaces.

43. The target training device according to claim 39, wherein the at least one surface is a non-rebounding surface.

44. The target training device according to claim 36, further comprises at least a second surface arranged back to back with the at least one surface, such that the second surface provides rebounding.

45. A target training device, comprising: a first frame; a second frame; a first surface attached to the first frame; a second surface attach to the second frame; at least one support member coupling the first frame and the second frame such that the first surface and the second surface are in back to back arrangement, at least one of the first surface and the second surface being a rebounding surface.

46. The target training device according to claim 45, further comprising: at least one target

47. The target training device according to claim 46, further comprising: at least one ball detector arranged to detect a ball projected towards the at least one target.

48. The target training device according to claim 47, wherein the at least one target resides in the first surface and the second surface is the rebounding surface.

49. The target training device according to claim 48, wherein the first surface is a non-rebounding surface.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

[0001] The present invention relates to sport training devices and, more particularly, a sport training device comprising a target and radar or the like.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0002] The most basic training for any throwing, hitting, or kicking mechanics, is a coach or a friend. Often, however, the professional or young athlete wishes to practice when the coach or friend is unavailable. Pitchbacks, rebounding devices or other target training apparatuses are useful in situations where coaches or friends are not available because they provide a target and often project balls back to the player.

[0003] Pitchbacks conventionally comprise a frame holding a net. Unlike a frame and net you may see a field goal kicker using on a football sideline, pitchback nets have resiliency. Generally, the net comprises a solid sheet of fabric or mesh netting attached tightly to a frame by springs, elastic cords, or the like, causing a ball striking the sheet to bounce back to the thrower. Alternatively, the surface is elastic cord netting. The sheet or netting is contained in a substantially rigid frame (typically comprised of metal or plastic tubes). While elastic cord netting is common, any net, sheet, cloth, fabric, canvas, or the like that provides some spring back can be used.

[0004] For pitching, the player pitches baseballs into the pitchback net. The ball bounces off the resilient sheet and is propelled back to the player. Frequently, the resilient sheet is attached to the frame using springs, hooks, spring steel, or elastic cord. As one of skill in the art would recognize, the conventional pitchback net can be used with pitching, kicking a football or soccer ball, hitting a baseball or hockey puck, tossing a lacrosse ball, striking a volley ball, or the like Conventionally, using the pitchback allows the single player to repeatedly use a single sport ball. The player is somewhat trained to target particular areas on the pitchback to obtain desired rebounding.

[0005] To overcome the targeting problem, some pitchbacks are equipped with a target, such as a strike zone in baseball For example, U.S. Pat. No. 4,497,486, titled BASEBALL PITCHING TARGET, incorporated herein by reference, describes a generally rectangular frame and stand. A rectangular mesh netting is attached to the frame using springs, or elastic, to provide ball rebounding for balls that miss a target The target is a hole or space in the mesh netting through which a player attempts to throw a baseball through into a catch bag, attached behind the frame. Balls not “on target” are generally rebounded back to the player for additional training.

[0006] Accuracy, however, is only one portion of training for throwing, hitting, or otherwise causing projectile movement of game balls. The other part of success is often velocity and/or movement of the ball. It would therefore be desirous to provide a sport training aid being capable of providing training feedback including velocity and/or movement to players.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0007] To attain the advantages and in accordance with the purpose of the invention, as embodied and broadly described herein, the present invention provides a sports training device The sports training device includes a frame with a surface containing a target A detector senses balls projected towards the target and provides information.

[0008] The foregoing and other features, utilities and advantages of the invention will be apparent from the following more particular description of a preferred embodiment of the invention as illustrated in the accompanying drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWING

[0009] The accompanying drawings, which are incorporated in and constitute a part of this specification, illustrate embodiments of the present invention, and together with the description, serve to explain the principles thereof. Like items in the drawings are referred to using the same numerical reference

[0010] FIG. 1 shows a front plan view of a pitchback illustrative of an embodiment of the present invention;

[0011] FIG. 2 shows a right side plan view of a pitchback illustrative of an embodiment of the present invention;

[0012] FIG. 3 shows a functional block diagram of a ball detector illustrative of an embodiment of the present invention; and

[0013] FIG. 4 shows a front plan view of a pitchback illustrative of another embodiment of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

[0014] The present invention will be further explained with reference to FIGS. 1-4. FIG. 1 is a front plan view of a training device 100. Training device 100 includes a substantially rectangular frame 102 and a mesh netting 104. A plurality of hooks 106 couple mesh netting 104 to frame 102. Frame 102 could be made of solid or hollow wood, plastic, or metal (such as tubular support members). Further, frame 102 could be modular having a top piece 102t, a bottom piece 102b, a left piece 1021, and a right piece 102r (or a similar combination of elements). The pieces are coupled at joints 108. Joints 108 could be inserting one end of a tubular piece in the end of adjacent tubular piece, a screw connection, a snap lock, a pin and detent, a bolt and pin, etc. Mesh netting 104 could be any type of cord, such as BUNGEE® cord, elestic cord, inelastic cord, nylon cord, cloth rope, or the like. Also, mesh netting 104 could be replace with a solid sheet, such as, for example, canvas, plastic, or the like, or a combination of netting and solid sheet. Frame 102 could also contain a hard surface, such as wood, metal or the like. Finally, the frame and surface netting, or sheet could be one integrated unit or several modular parts fitted together. In the case of one integrated unit, the frame could be considered an outer edge portion of, for example, the surface. Further, different types of netting could be woven together, such as a netting with cloth or nylon rope and BUNGEE® cords, etc. Hooks 106 are “C” shaped hooks to clasp the meshing netting and the frame such that the hooks hold the mesh netting relatively securely in the frame (to provide a rebounding surface). Hooks 106 could be replaced with elastic cord as well. For example, an elastic attachment device such as the elastic cord associated with U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/156,979 for SPORT GOAL, filed May 29, 2002, incorporated herein by reference. Alternatively, the mesh netting could incorporate sleeves to attach the mesh netting to the frame or the hooks could be replaced with clasps. Mesh netting 104, or the equivalent surfaces, could be designed as rebounding or non-rebounding, as further explained below.

[0015] Mesh netting 104 is designed with a target space 110. As shown, target space is substantially a square that corresponds to a generic strike zone. Target space 110 could be many sizes and geometric shapes. Also, while target space 10 is shown generally in the geometric center of frame 102, the target space 110 could be located in different areas, such as upper right or lower right to target pitches over the right side of home plate. Alternatively, if frame 102 was shaped more in the form of a hockey goal, the target space 110 could be glove or stick side upper corner, “5 hole”, etc. Target space 110 is defined by a target frame 112. Target frame 112 can be a metal, elastic cord, plastic or wooden structure that is woven, hooked or otherwise attached to mesh netting 104. A catch bag 116 (which is best seen in reference to FIG. 2) is attached behind the target space 110 to catch game balls thrown on target. Catch bag 116 can be larger than target space 110 to provide for a ball detector, described below.

[0016] FIG. 1 shows a display 114 attached to top frame 102t. Display 114 is shown attached to top frame 102t, but could be attached any part of frame 102. In fact, display 114 does not need to be attached to frame 102, but could be a stand alone unit. Display 114, will be explained further below.

[0017] FIG. 2 shows a right side plan view of training device 100 As shown in FIG. 2, training device 100 has frame 102 and catch bag 116 extending behind target space 10 (not shown in FIG. 2) and frame 102. As shown, a stand 202 exists behind frame 102 and is coupled to frame 102 using at least one attachment support member 204 In this example, two support members 204 exist to provide increased stability. Moreover, support member 204 may have a plurality of attachment mechanisms (shown but not labeled in FIG. 2) to attach stand 202 and support member 204 such that different angles for training device 100 can be obtained. Different angles provide different rebound trajectories.

[0018] Catch bag 116 could comprise mesh netting, canvas, plastic, metal, wood, a combination thereof, or the like. Catch bag 116 is attached to training device 100 by weaving catch bag 116 to netting 104. Alterantively, hooks on the mesh netting or traget frame, elastic cords, snaps, or the like could be used to attach the catch bag to training device 100 behind target space 110. Alternatively, catch bag 116 could be attached to a bag support member (not shown). If the bag support member is used, catch bag 116 is attached to the bag support member using snaps, loops attached to catch bag 116 that the bag support member is threaded through, adhesive, hooks, or the like. The bag support member is further attached to frame 102. Attachment to frame 102 could be accomplished using snaps, pins, screws, nuts and bolts, inserting a male portion of the bag support member into a female portion of frame 102 or the converse, or the like. Alternatively, the bag support member could be attached to target frame 112.

[0019] FIG. 2 shows two support members 204 attaching stand 202 to frame 102 Stand 202 is shown having an upper portion 202u and a lower portion 2021. Similar to frame 102, stand 202 can be modular To provide additional stability, lower portion 2021 angles up from the ground and upper portion 202u rises generally parallel to frame 102 such that an obtuse angle 208 is formed between upper portion 202u and lower portion 2021. It has been found that stand 202 provides good support for the training device 100, but other style stands could of course be used. Examples of other stands are shown in U.S. Pat. Nos. 3,963,240, AIMING AND SCORING ATTACHMENT FOR PITCHBACK NETS; U.S. Pat. No. 4,497,485, BASEBALL PITCHING TARGET; U.S. Pat. No. 5,007,638, PITCHBACK DEVICE FOR ATHLETIC PRACTICE, and U.S. Pat. No. 5,906,552, BALL PITCHBACK AND REBOUND ASSEMBLY, all incorporated by reference.

[0020] FIG. 2 also shows a ball detector 206. Ball detector 206 includes a detector support 210 and at least one sensor 212. In this case, ball detector is shown with three sensors 212; one sensor on the left edge, one sensor on the right edge, and one sensor generally centered on the back of the target space 110. Of course the number and placement of any sensors 212 would largely be a function of design, function, and goals. Do we want to measure velocity of fastballs “down the pipe,” do we want to measure rotation of a football pass, etc. In other words, many sensor configurations are possible

[0021] As shown, ball detector 206 is arranged outside of catch bag 116. Arranging the ball detector 206 outside catch bag 116 provides some protection to the sensors. The ball detector 206 could, of course, be designed internal to catch bag 116. When ball detector 206 is external to the catch bag, sensor(s) 212 must be capable of detecting the ball without undue interference from mesh netting 104 and/or catch bag 116. When designed inside the catch bag, the sensors may be designed to withstand higher impacts. If sensors 212 are placed inside catch bag 116, it would be helpful to design a catch bag somewhat larger than target space 110. Designing catch bag 116 larger than target space 110 allows placement of sensors 212 in catch bag 116 out of the normal ball trajectory.

[0022] Sensor 212 can be a number of devices that are capable of detecting a ball and generating a signal based on the detected ball. For example, sensor 212 could be conventional RADAR gun technology. Alternatively, sensor 212 could operate using LASAR technology, SONAR technology, Microwave, other radio frequency waves, or the like. Generall sensor 212 emits a signal, such as a audio singal, in the case of SONAR, and receives a reflection of that signal back. Ball detectors are generally known in the art and will not be further explained herein.

[0023] For illustrative purposes, sensor(s) 212 will be decribed below in relation to RADAR as the use of RADAR guns in baseball is widely known and accepted. FIG. 3 shows a possible sensor architecture 300 Architecture 300 includes one or more sensor array 302, at least one processor 304, and a display 306. Sensor array 302 could be a combination of RADAR, LASAR, SONAR, etc., transmitters, receivers, transceivers, or a combination thereof. Processor 304 could be one or more conventional personal computers, microchips, programmable logic, servers, mainframes, or the like. Display 306 could be a conventional monitor or television screen, LED, printer, or the like. Processor 304 could be separate or integrated into the one or more sensor array 302. Alternatively, processor 304 could be integrated into the display 306. Sensor array 302, processor 304, and display 306 are connected using conventional bus protocols, coaxial cable, twisted pair cable, fiber optics, wireless protocols (such as Bluetooth), a combination thereof, or the like. In operation, sensor array 302 detects the ball (not shown) and generates an information signal. The information signal is transmitted over connection 308 to processor 304. Processor 304 uses the information signal and transmits, in this case, a display signal to display 306 over connection 310. Display 306 then displays the data, which could be, for example, 91 mph Information that could be displayed may include velocity, rotation, trajectory, drop, movement (left and right as well as vertical), or the like. Common baseball pitch information could also be displayed, such as, for example, fastest pitch, slowest pitch, average pitch speed, and the number of pitches thrown Of course, multiple types of information coud be detected and displayed, such as velocity and drop.

[0024] Processor 304 could be connected to a storage facility 312. Storage facility 312 could maintain a history of information in, for example, a database. In other words, processor 304 could send velocity measurements to storage 312 By storing historical information, trends could be analyzed. For example, by storing velocity information, the processor could track velocity vs. pitch count, for example. Trajactory of a football pass at the 15th pass in a practice round.

[0025] Finally, while shown as generally fixed, ball detector 206 and target space 110 could be movable on any given training device 100. For example, sensor(s) 212 could be angled in particular directions, connected to different locations on the device.

[0026] FIG. 4 shows a training device 400 with movable target space 402 In this case, training device 400 includes many identical features to training device 100, which will not be further explained. Training device 400 includes a plurality of target frames 4041-n, with each target frame having a removable rebounding surface 4061-m. The target, or moveable target space 402, is created by removing one of the removable rebounding surfaces, such as 4061, which is shown removed and not actually represented in FIG. 4, and attaching the catch bag (not shown), to associated target frame 4043.

[0027] Refering back to FIGS. 1 and 2, training device 100 was described with mesh netting 104 having target 110 in frame 102. Ball detector 206 operates to provide information regarding, for example, balls pitched toward target 110. Because the ball detector 206 may encourage recklessness to throw for example, the baseball as hard as possible at target 110 from an unsafe distance, mesh netting 104 may be made out of a canvas type material with limited bounce, in effect making netting 104 a non-rebounding surface. This will inhibit injury do to baseballs (or other balls) from mesh netting 104 and injuring the pitcher. Of course, mesh netting 104 could be replaced with many materials, such as, a solid fabric, canvas, or the like.

[0028] Also, while training device 100 could have any conventional stand, stand 202 as shown has a frame that can support a second mesh netting of soli d fabric surface (not specifically shown). The second surface could have a target, with or without a catch bag. The second surface could function as a conventional pitchback

[0029] While the invention has been particularly shown and described with reference to particular embodiment(s) thereof, it will be understood by those skilled in the art that various other changes in the form and details may be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention.