Title:
Hand protector for use with sports equipment
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A hand protector is for use with sports equipment having an elongated shaft and an operative end. The hand protector has an outer protective sleeve and a inner sleeve. The outer protective sleeve has a first end and a second end. The tubular inner sleeve is generally flexible and tubular for slidably receiving the shaft. The inner sleeve is positioned within the outer protective sleeve and is engaged with the first end of the outer protective sleeve. The inner sleeve has an inner surface and an outer surface. The outer protective sleeve surrounds at least a portion of the inner sleeve, whereby a user places a hand around the outer surface of the inner sleeve and compresses the outer surface to cause the inner surface to deflect inward and grip the shaft, thereby increasing a frictional engagement of the hand protector with the shaft.



Inventors:
Tyler, Eric (Hockessin, DE, US)
Application Number:
10/752748
Publication Date:
07/15/2004
Filing Date:
01/07/2004
Assignee:
COSOM Sporting Goods
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
473/458, 473/464
International Classes:
A63B71/14; A63B59/14; (IPC1-7): A63B69/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
ARYANPOUR, MITRA
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
John C. McMahon (Kansas City, MO, US)
Claims:
I/We claim:

1. A hand protector for use with sports equipment having an elongated shaft and an operative end, the hand protector comprising: an outer protective sleeve having a first end and a second end; and a generally flexible tubular inner sleeve for slidably receiving the shaft, the inner sleeve being positioned within the outer protective sleeve and being engaged with the first end of the outer protective sleeve, the inner sleeve having an inner surface and an outer surface, the outer protective sleeve surrounding at least a portion of the inner sleeve, whereby a user places a hand around the outer surface of the inner sleeve and compresses the outer surface to cause the inner surface to deflect inward and grip the shaft, thereby increasing a frictional engagement of the hand protector with the shaft.

2. The hand protector of claim 1, wherein the inner sleeve is positioned within the outer protective sleeve such that the hand of the user is at least partially surrounded by the outer protective sleeve when the hand is gripping the outer surface of the inner sleeve.

3. The hand protector of claim 2, wherein the outer protective sleeve is generally cup-shaped.

4. The hand protector of claim 1, wherein the cross-section of the inner sleeve is generally rectangular.

5. Combination sports stick and protector therefor, the combination comprising: a stick having an elongated shaft and an operative end; and a hand protector having an outer protective sleeve having a first end and a second end and a generally flexible tubular inner sleeve having an inner surface and an outer surface, the inner sleeve being positioned within the outer protective sleeve and being engaged with the first end of the outer protective sleeve such that the outer protective sleeve surrounds at least a portion of the inner sleeve, the inner sleeve slidably receiving the shaft, the shaft being positioned within the inner sleeve, such that at least a portion of the shaft is surrounded by the inner sleeve, whereby a user places a hand around the outer surface of the inner sleeve and compresses the outer surface to cause the inner surface to deflect inward and grip the shaft, thereby increasing a frictional engagement of the hand protector with the shaft.

6. The combination of claim 5, wherein the inner sleeve is positioned within the outer protective sleeve such that the hand of the user is at least partially surrounded by the outer protective sleeve when the hand is gripping the outer surface of the inner sleeve.

7. The combination of claim 6, wherein the outer protective sleeve is generally cup-shaped.

8. The combination of claim 5, wherein the cross-section of the inner sleeve is generally rectangular.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

[0001] This application claims benefit of U.S. Provisional Patent Application 60/438,745, entitled “Hand Protector for Use with Sports Equipment”, filed Jan. 8, 2003.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0002] The present invention relates generally to a hand protector and, more particularly, to a hand protector which is used with sports equipment for protecting the hand of a user.

[0003] Sports, particularly sports played by young children and/or teenagers can result in injuries. This is particularly true with hockey related sports such as ice hockey, floor hockey, field hockey, etc. where each participant carries a stick or other such implement for hitting a puck, ball or the like. Typically, users hold hockey sticks with two hands with one hand, particularly the non-dominant hand, on the upper end of the stick and the other hand, typically the dominant hand, grasping the stick at different points between the two ends. It is the second hand, which is nearest the end of the stick used for hitting the puck or ball which is most exposed to the potential for injury by being struck by the stick of another player. A common occurrence in hockey and other stick sports is that a first player will forcibly swing his stick in the vicinity of a second player. The stick will impact a distal end of the second player's stick and slide or ride up the shaft of the stick to impact the second player's fingers gripping the stick. This can result in jammed, bruised, or broken fingers, hands, wrists, or arms of the second player.

[0004] Padded protective gloves are often used by players of such sports to protect their hands against injury. However, these gloves are relatively expensive due to the materials involved and the craftsmanship required to make a pair of protective gloves. For this reason, these gloves are typically used by frequent players of the sport, such as members of organized teams, who deem it cost effective and necessary to purchase and use such gloves. Less frequent players, such as participants in a school gym class or after-school activity, for instance, generally will participate in the sport without any protection for their hands due to protective gloves not being furnished to them (either because the school or activity center has not purchased any or because the participants (or guardians thereof) do not deem it necessary to buy expensive gloves for such an infrequent activity). Additionally, even if gloves are originally furnished, because they are not attached to the sticks, they often become separated from the sticks, lost, stolen, or otherwise forgotten about, leaving the participants to play the sport without hand protection.

[0005] It would be desirable to have inexpensive and effective hand protectors for use with sports, specifically sports in which sticks are used such as hockey and lacrosse, for instance. It would be further desirable to have hand protectors that can be attached to the sticks such that the separation of the hand protector from the stick is less likely to happen. The hand protector of the present invention seeks to provide inexpensive hand protection for players of stick sports and remedy the problems associated with protective gloves.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0006] Briefly stated, the present invention is a hand protector for use with sports equipment having an elongated shaft and an operative end. The hand protector comprises an outer sleeve and an inner sleeve. The outer protective sleeve has a first end and a second end. The inner sleeve is generally flexible and tubular for slidably receiving the shaft. The inner sleeve is positioned within the outer protective sleeve and is engaged with the first end of the outer protective sleeve. The inner sleeve has an inner surface and an outer surface. The outer protective sleeve surrounds at least a portion of the inner sleeve, whereby a user places a hand around the outer surface of the inner sleeve and compresses the outer surface to cause the inner surface to deflect inward and grip the shaft, thereby increasing a frictional engagement of the hand protector with the shaft.

[0007] In another aspect, the present invention is a combination sports stick and protector therefor. The combination comprises a stick and a hand protector. The stick has an elongated shaft and an operative end. The hand protector has an outer protective sleeve having a first end and a second end and a generally flexible tubular inner sleeve having an inner surface and an outer surface. The inner sleeve is positioned within the outer protective sleeve and is engaged with the first end of the outer protective sleeve such that the outer protective sleeve surrounds at least a portion of the inner sleeve. The inner sleeve slidably receives the shaft. The shaft is positioned within the inner sleeve, such that at least a portion of the shaft is surrounded by the inner sleeve. A user places a hand around the outer surface of the inner sleeve and compresses the outer surface to cause the inner surface to deflect inward and grip the shaft, thereby increasing a frictional engagement of the hand protector with the shaft.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE SEVERAL VIEWS OF THE DRAWINGS

[0008] The following detailed description of the preferred embodiment of the invention will be better understood when read in conjunction with the appended drawings. For the purpose of illustrating the invention, there is shown in the drawings the embodiment which is presently preferred. It should be understood, however, that the invention is not limited to the precise arrangements and instrumentalities shown.

[0009] In the drawings:

[0010] FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a hand protector in accordance with the present invention;

[0011] FIG. 2 is a cross-sectional view of the hand protector enlarged of FIG. 1 with a sports stick positioned therein, taken along line 2-2 of FIG. 3; and

[0012] FIG. 3 is an bottom plan view of a hand protector of FIG. 1.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

[0013] Certain terminology is used in the following description for convenience only and is not limiting. The words “right”, “left”, “upper”, and “lower” designate directions in the drawings to which reference is made. The terminology includes the words above specifically mentioned, derivatives thereof, and words of similar import.

[0014] Referring to the drawings in detail, wherein like numerals indicate like elements throughout, there is shown in FIGS. 1-3 a preferred embodiment of a hand protector 10 in accordance with the present invention. The hand protector 10 is adapted for use with sports equipment, for example, a stick 12, which may be used for playing hockey, including ice hockey, field hockey, and floor hockey. While the hand protector 10 is shown and described as being used with a hockey stick 12, it will be apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art that the hand protector 10 may be used with any other type of sports equipment, such as a lacrosse stick or a hurling stick, or non-sports equipment such as with a shovel or rake, where a user wishes to protect his or her hand. Accordingly, the present invention should not be viewed as merely a hand protector for hockey sticks. The stick 12 has an elongate shaft 12a with an operative end 12b extending from one end of the elongate shaft 12b. The operative end 12b (i.e. a blade of a hockey stick, netting of a lacrosse stick, etc.) is used to contact a playing object (i.e. a puck or ball) during playing of the sport, allowing the player to pass, receive passes, shoot, etc.

[0015] The hand protector 10 comprises a tubular inner sleeve 20 having a generally rectangular cross-section and further having an interior or inner surface 20a and an exterior or outer surface 20b. Although the cross-section of the inner sleeve 20 shown is rectangular, it is within the spirit and scope of the present invention that the cross-section have other shapes in order to accommodate differently shaped sticks or handles, such as circular, oval, elliptical, or polygonal having more or less than four sides.

[0016] The cross-sectional dimensions of the inner surface 20a of the inner sleeve 20 are preferably at least slightly greater than the cross-sectional dimensions of the shaft 12a of the stick 12 with which the hand protector 10 is to be used. In this manner, the inner surface 20a of the inner sleeve 20 surrounds the shaft 12a, as shown in FIG. 2. Because the inner dimensions of the inner sleeve 20 are slightly greater than the dimensions of the shaft 12a, the hand protector 10 may freely move or slide axially along the length of the shaft 12a of the stick 12. In this manner, the hand protector 10 may be easily moved upwardly and downwardly along the length of the shaft 12a of the stick 12 to accommodate movement of the lower hand of the user along the length of the shaft 12a of the stick 12 during play.

[0017] Preferably, the inner sleeve 20 is made of a flexible, lightweight polymeric material such as polyvinylchloride or the like. In this manner, as a user grasps and compresses the outer surface 20b of the inner sleeve 20, the inner surface 20a of the inner sleeve 20 in turn deflects inwardly to grip the stick 12, increasing the frictional engagement of the hand protector 10 with the shaft 12a and allowing the user to tighten or loosen his grip of the shaft 12a at any point along the shaft 12a. The inner surface 20a of the inner sleeve 20 may include knurling, grooves or the like (not shown) to allow for greater frictional engagement of the hand protector 10 with the shaft 12a, further enhancing the ability of the user to tightly grip the stick 12 through the inner sleeve 20.

[0018] The hand protector 10 further includes an outer protective sleeve 30 having a first end 30a and a second end 30b. The outer protective sleeve 30 is preferably generally cup-shaped such that the first end 30a is generally closed and the second end 30b is open. Specifically, it is preferred that the outer protective sleeve have a generally cylindrical portion 32 having a diameter which is substantially greater than the outer dimensions of the inner sleeve 20 in order to receive and accommodate a hand (shown in phantom in FIG. 2) of the user. A forward end 32a of the cylindrical portion 32 tapers downwardly along a generally conical portion 34 which is connected at a distal end 34a to a forward end 20c of the inner sleeve 20 to form a unitary structure. In this way, the inner sleeve 20 is preferably positioned within the outer protective sleeve 30, such that, when the user places his hand around the outer surface 20b, the user's hand is at least partially and preferably completely surrounded by the outer protective sleeve 30.

[0019] Preferably, the second end 30b of the outer protective sleeve 30 is flared generally outwardly. This configuration better accommodates the wrist and/or arm of the user by providing a more comfortable surface against which the user's arm and/or wrist rests. Although this configuration is preferred, it is within the spirit and scope of the present invention that the hand protector 10 have an straight, un-flared second end 30b. Additionally, it is further within the spirit and scope of the present invention that padding (not shown) could be placed in or on the hand protector 10, including around the second end 30b, so as to help prevent any chafing the hand protector 10 may cause the user during use.

[0020] The outer protective sleeve 30 is preferably made of the same polymeric material as the inner sleeve 20. However, one skilled in the art would understand and appreciate that the outer protective sleeve 30 may be made of some other material, if desired.

[0021] In use, the user places the hand protector 10 on the shaft 12a such that the conical portion 34 faces downwardly toward the operative end 12b of the stick 12. The user then places one hand on the shaft 12a, preferably upward from the hand protector 10, and the other hand into the second end 30b of the outer protective sleeve 30 to grasp the outer surface 20b of the inner sleeve 20. The user can then engage in playing the sport by sliding the hand protector 10 along the shaft 12a or gripping the shaft 12a by respectively loosening and tightening the grip on the outer surface 20b of the inner sleeve 20.

[0022] In this way, the user's lower-most hand on the stick 12 is protected by the hand protector 10 such that the hand protector 10 surrounds at least a portion of the hand to at least partially absorb an impact from another user's stick 12. For instance, the hand protector 10 helps to guard against the impact from another user's stick riding up the user's stick when forcibly swung. When such an event occurs, the other user's stick 12 impacts the distal end 34a of the conical portion 34 and then deflects along the tapered conical portion 34 away from the user's hand situated within the hand protector 10. Preferably, the hand protector 10, or at least the outer protective portion 30, is made of a material that is sufficiently rigid so as to absorb and deflect a sufficient amount of the force of impact to lessen the chance of injury to the user's hand.

[0023] The hand protector 10 of the present invention is capable of being produced inexpensively due to its preferably unitary construction which can be easily and quickly molded using techniques well known in the industry. This translates to a less expensive alternative means for hand protection than protective gloves for use during stick sports, such as hockey. Another benefit of the present invention is that the hand protector 10 can be maintained on the stick 12, even when not in use. This is accomplished by sliding the hand protector 10 onto the shaft 12a of a stick 12 and then placing a butt on the end of the stick 12 opposite the operative end 12b. The butt, whether formed by wrapping tape around the end of the stick or using a preformed rubber end, has larger cross-sectional dimensions than the inner sleeve 20. Because the inner sleeve 20 cannot accommodate the larger butt end, the hand protector 10 cannot be slid over the butt end, and the hand protector 10 remains on the shaft 12a (bounded on the other end by the larger operative end 12b). In this way, because the stick 12 and the hand protector 10 are kept together, it is less likely the hand protector 10 could be misplaced or lost.

[0024] From the foregoing description, it will be understood that the present invention comprises a hand protector which is particularly well suited for protecting the forward hand of a user of a hockey stick. It will be appreciated by those skilled in the art that changes could be made to the embodiments described above without departing from the broad inventive concepts thereof. For instance, a user may prefer to use two hand protectors 10, one each on the left and right hand, when manipulating the stick 12. It is understood, therefore, that this invention is not limited to the particular embodiments disclosed, but is intended to cover all modifications within the sphere and scope of the present invention.