Title:
Baseball training aid
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The present invention relates to training aids for baseball including a truncated and hinged bat-like device comprised of a first handle portion hinged to a barrel portion so that swinging the device grooves and fortifies a motion consistent with a pro batting swing, and variations thereof.



Inventors:
Stevens, Craig Kenton (Escondido, CA, US)
Benassi, Christopher J. (Rancho Santa Fe, CA, US)
Benassi, John M. (Rancho Santa Fe, CA, US)
Application Number:
10/367357
Publication Date:
08/19/2004
Filing Date:
02/14/2003
Assignee:
STEVENS CRAIG KENTON
BENASSI CHRISTOPHER J.
BENASSI JOHN M.
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63B21/008; A63B21/06; A63B59/06; A63B69/00; A63B59/00; (IPC1-7): A63B69/00
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
20040242342Golf putter with error variance reducing insertDecember, 2004Patten
20060135285Connecting structure for striking plate and body of golf club headJune, 2006Hou et al.
20090163308BROADHEAD ARROW ADAPTERJune, 2009Odabachian et al.
20040009821Mini-stick hockey arenaJanuary, 2004Samborski
20100009784VOLLEYBALL APPROACH AND HIT TRAINERJanuary, 2010Wycoff
20040063508Gripper kit for bowling ball lift and return mechanismApril, 2004Leroy Jr. et al.
20050124434Method of improving and teaching golf swingJune, 2005Macdonald
20040029645Lip edge grip tape and method of making a gripping surfaceFebruary, 2004Chen
20040266562Ball tossing apparatus and methodDecember, 2004Gowan et al.
20090253530Golf club gripOctober, 2009Sugimae
20060252570Golf clubs and associated methods for achieving a side-pendulum swing techniqueNovember, 2006Merriman



Primary Examiner:
ARYANPOUR, MITRA
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
John M. Benassi (Rancho Santa Fe, CA, US)
Claims:
1. A batting training aid comprising of a first portion having a proximal and distal end, a hinge mechanism, pivotally attached to the distal end of the first portion; a second portion with a second proximal and second distal end, the proximal end being connected by said hinge to said first portion; said first barrel being of sufficient length so that when the batting training aid is swung and the second portion swings and collapses upon the first, the handle is cleared and the batter's hands are not hit.

2. The training aid of claim 1 whereby the first portion has a first removable weight;

3. The training aid of claim 2 in accordance with claim whereas the second portion has a second removable weight.

4. The training aid of claim 1 whereby the hinge mechanism includes a first pin a second pin and lateral connections connected to said pins and located so as to constrain the movement of the second barrel in relation to the first barrel in substantially one plane.

5. The batting aid of claim 1 where the second portion has a flat hitting surface.

6. The batting aid of claim 1 where the second portion has a foam covering.

7. The batting aid of claim 1 where the second portion has fins mounted thereon to provide air resistance.

8. The batting aid of claim 1 where the first portion has fins mounted thereon to provide air resistance.

9. A baseball batting training aid comprised of a bat with a handle portion a flat surfaced hitting portion and a plurality of fins placed in the area between the handle and the flat striking portion so that air resistance is added during the practice and a proper flat baseball swing is encouraged.

10. A baseball training aid comprising, a bat handle member, a barrel member, a hinge pivotally connecting the bat handle member and barrel member to one another, the barrel member having a flat striking surface to encourage a flat swing.

11. The invention of claim 10 whereby the hinge is comprised of parallel pins connected to lateral members whereby the axis of the pins is substantially in alignment with the flat striking surface to encourage a flat swing.

12. A baseball training aid comprising a bat with a knob at its proximal end and a flat striking surface at its distal end, and an annular grip member positioned over the handle and suitably moveable thereon so that the annular member can be gripped near the hinge area when the practice swing is initiated and towards the knob when the swing progress is finished.

13. A mace-like batting aid comprised of a first and second portion connected by a resilient member, the first portion having fins for air resistance.

14. The invention of claim 13 including an annular ring-like member which can be slid into position to make the batting aid unitary.

15. A baseball training aid comprising a bat with a knob at its proximal end and a flat striking surface at its distal end and a spacer between the two ends to separate the hands.

Description:

FIELD OF INVENTION

[0001] The present invention relates to training aids for baseball including a truncated and hinged bat-like device comprised of a first handle portion hinged to a barrel portion so that swinging the device grooves and fortifies a motion consistent with a pro batting swing.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0002] The advent of ultra-light aluminum bats are giving youths learning the art or science of hitting a baseball bad habits because these light bats can be easily swung without proper body and arm motion. Especially in fast-pitch hard ball, neophytes who do not have proper training have a tendency to become accustomed to an abbreviated arm and wrist motion to just make contact with the ball. Especially as the velocity of the pitches increases, the rebound effects of modem aluminum bats allows the ball to travel far even without the proper flat swing.

[0003] This is in contrast to the old days of heavier wood bats when participants had to use their bodies and muscles in a coordinated swing fully utilizing their shoulders, hips, thighs, arms and torso. These modem bad habits magnify and create barriers to proper development especially when participants make the jump from grade school (Little League or Pony League) to high school where the rules require the use of a heavier aluminum bat; and even more apparent when participants go from college to professional leagues where players must transition to even heavier wood bats. Accordingly, the participants who have never been properly trained and try to make the transition from light to heavy bats are most likely to be handicapped, washed out or not to succeed.

[0004] Accordingly, the present inventions allows participants to train to use the proper body and arm motion and emphasize the rotation of the arms, torso, hips and thighs as well as facilitate the follow through to prepare an individual for a proper high school, college or pro swing.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0005] In accordance with one embodiment of the present invention, there is provided a baseball training aid having a first portion hinged to a second portion. The first portion includes a handle portion which is connected by means of a hinge or resilient member to the second portion having a weighted barrel.

[0006] The barrel can be either cylindrical in cross-section or can have a flat portion to encourage or facilitate a flat level swing. This can be further encouraged by having a hinge with pivot points designed to restrict the motion in the horizontal direction.

[0007] Accordingly, one object of the present invention is to facilitate proper body, arm and shoulder rotation, weight distribution, and follow through to prepare participants for advanced baseball.

[0008] Accordingly, there is described herein, a batting training aid comprising of a first portion having a proximal and distal end, a hinge mechanism, pivotally attached to the distal end of the first portion; a second portion with a second proximal and second distal end, the proximal end being connected by said hinge to said first portion; said first barrel being of sufficient length so that when the batting training aid is swung and the second portion swings and collapses upon the first, the handle is cleared and the batter's hands are not hit.

[0009] There is also described a baseball training aid comprising, a bat handle member, a barrel member, a hinge pivotally connecting the bat handle member and barrel member to one another, the barrel member having a flat striking surface to encourage a flat swing. Additionally described is a baseball training aid comprising a bat with a knob at its proximal end and a flat striking surface at its distal end, and an annular grip member positioned over the handle and suitably moveable thereon so that the annular member can be gripped near the hinge area when the practice swing is initiated and towards the knob when the swing progress is finished.

[0010] These and further options and advantages of the present invention will be apparent from the following description when taken in connection with the accompanying drawings which show, for the purpose of illustration only, several embodiments in accordance with the principle of the present invention.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0011] FIG. 1 is a side view showing one embodiment of the training aid with the first portion hinged to the second portion in accordance with the present invention.

[0012] FIG. 2 is a top view of the invention shown in FIG. 1 and shows a preferred embodiment utilizing unidirectional hinge which urges the bat portions of the training aid swing in the horizontal plane.

[0013] FIG. 3 is an illustration showing a more correct way to swing a bat using torso rotation and engaging the hips, legs, body and arms.

[0014] FIG. 4 shows another embodiment of FIG. 1 with a flat barrel portion.

[0015] FIG. 4A shows a side view of the flat barrel portion of FIG. 4.

[0016] FIG. 5 illustrates, in succeeding screen shots, the approximate rotation and translation of the first and second portions of the training aid including how it transitions across the body and through the forced follow through.

[0017] FIG. 6 shows another embodiment where weights are added to the inside of the bat. The weights are threaded over a bolt fastened at the end and are added inside.

[0018] FIG. 7 shows how the bolt can be outward so that weights are added to the outside.

[0019] FIG. 8 shows weights added to the handle portion.

[0020] FIG. 9 shows foam or similar padding added to the outside of the second barrel to minimize injury.

[0021] FIG. 10 shows another embodiment wherein the second barrel portion is fitted with fins that force the swing to be close to the body and the knob of the bat to proceed first to the impact point.

[0022] FIG. 11 shows yet another embodiment where the fins are located in the first portion of training aid and an optional sleeve is utilized to fix the positions of the first and second members.

[0023] FIG. 13 shows another embodiment where a unitary bat with a flat hitting surface is fitted with a spacer to separate the hands and urge a flat swing.

[0024] FIG. 14 shows another embodiment where a unitary bat with a flat hitting surface is filled with a sleeve which can move from two positions causing the hands to initially be apart at the load position but come together at impact.

[0025] FIG. 15 shows a unitary bat with a flat hitting portion and fins for air resistance training.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

[0026] Referring to FIG. 1, the baseball training aid includes a first portion 6 and a second portion 8, where the first portion 6 is joined with the second portion 8 by a pivotal connection such as a hinge 18. The first portion includes a knob 10 at its proximal end followed by a grip 11 on handle 12. A first barrel portion 14 is located adjacent to the handle. A transverse hole 5 is located in said distal portion through which a first pivot pin 20 can be located. Hinge 18 is pivotally connected to first portion 6 using first pivot pin 20 and second pivot pin 22 which is located in a similar transverse hole in the proximal portion of second section 8 which includes second barrel 16. As a preferred embodiment, the first portion is 22½ inches long and the second portion is inches long. In this preferred embodiment which was directed to training a 12-year-old little leaguer, the weight of the first portion is and the weight of the second portion is about 1 lb. The diameter of the second barren portion is 2 inches while the diameter of the first barren varies from 1½ to 2 inches, while the length of the first barren is about 6 inches long. Again in the preferred embodiment, the distance between the first pivot pin and the distal end of the first portion is about 1 inch and the distance between the second pivot pin and the proximal end of the second portion is about 1 inch. The hinge's length is 2½ inches by 2¼ inches.

[0027] In the preferred embodiment and as shown in FIG. 2, the pivotal connection is provided by hinge mechanism 18 which urges unidirectional rotation and therefore the overall swing is attempted to be restricted to substantially one plane to groove the swing in a substantially horizontal direction—although the hinge could be replaced by other similar apparatus. In the preferred embodiment of FIG. 2 the hinge arm (horizontal) portions 19 are about 2½ inches long and the vertical portions 17 are about 2¼ inches long.

[0028] As mentioned previously, a typical flawed swing is often caused by kids being spoiled by the ultra-light nature of the aluminum bat and the trampoline effect of these bats which drive the ball great distances without proper arm and body rotation. Especially as the kids get older, and the velocity of the pitches increase, participants using these ultra-light bats have a tendency to just stick the bat out in the way of the ball to just make contact and not properly use their wrists and not their arms, hips, thighs and torsos. In contrast, the same swing with a wooden bat would not produce nearly the same impact or distance. In many instances, the problems with these hand swings are also compounded by hitting the ball too much in front, which is worsened by, in many instances, the participant stepping frontward, causing the body to be pivoted on the front foot and the swing deprived of the benefits of the push from the back foot followed by rotation of the trunk and arms and fully utilizing the hips, thighs, and torso. During the days when heavier bats were used, participants had to use their bodies, their hips and their arms as if they were swinging an ax to cut down a tree. Indeed, it is reported that the legendary player Ted Williams practiced his baseball swing by chopping down trees with an ax. Accordingly, one of the purposes of the invention is to build up good habits as was done with the wooden bat and as illustrated in FIG. 3.

[0029] FIG. 3 is an illustration of the correct way that the bat should be swung with hips turned, body back, no front step and the ball is hit in front of the body over the front foot. This is the method which the present invention tries to groove.

[0030] FIG. 4 shows the device in FIG. 1 where the second portion of the barrel has a front striking surface which is flat to further groove a flat swing. If a ball is pitched to the batter using this training aid and the swing is not flat, it will be difficult to get a correct hit.

[0031] FIG. 5 is a global top view of the operation of the batting training aid which is the subject of this invention. The drawing shows a top view of the operation of the bat starting with the bat being in Position 1 proceeding counter-clockwise from approximately the 4 p.m. position on a clock. The head of a right-handed person swinging the bat is shown by numeral 100. The person is facing north or 12:00 p.m. The arms are not shown.

[0032] In Position 1, at about 4:00 p.m., the weight is evenly distributed from front to back foot and the batter is in “loaded” position which, in a right-hand batter, means that the bat is generally over the right shoulder. Because the subject batting aid is heavy, especially with a younger participant, full extension might be problematic if someone was using a large adult bat. In most instances a kid would not be able to hold a heavy adult bat upright. The subject invention solves this problem by operation of the hinged embodiment which folds the bat and makes the center of gravity lower and much closer to the shoulders and the head, making it easier for a kid to “load” with a heavy batting aid.

[0033] Going now to Position 2, at about 3 p.m., in order to make the transition from folded bat position to a straighter position where the second portion of the bat is generally aligned in relation to the front portion, the participant is forced to bring the knob of the bat generally forward and rotate the body around an imaginary axis of rotation through the head. As the rotation of the batter continues, the first and second portion of the batting aid becomes more generally aligned as shown in Position 3. Once again, because of the weight of the bat and the momentum caused, balance and stability must be maintained through almost equal weight distribution to both feet while a turning through the aforementioned axis of rotation using the hips, arms, and torso. When the bat reaches Position 4, at about 12 p.m., the momentum caused by the second portion of the training aid translating and rotating by means of the hinge encourages the bat to be over the front foot—basically the ideal place a ball can be properly hit using the subject invention. If the leading end of the second portion is flat, as shown in FIG. 4, and if the hinge is constructed so as to encourage horizontal motion, such as shown in FIG. 2, the additional goal of grooving a flat swing is also encouraged. The benefits of this training can be emphasized by throwing a wiffle ball and forcing the hitter to try to make contact with the outer barrel—which can best be achieved with weight forward and the hips rotated. The bat position from Position 4 to Position 5 in FIG. 5, shows how the momentum of the hinged second portion causes a pendulum motion and ultimately the roll of the wrist and the follow through ending up in Position 6.

[0034] In operation, when the participant practices using this training aid, the participant builds up his/her muscles and grooves a horizontal swing using the correct muscle groups with the knob of the bat pulled through the swing first and the flip of the wrist occurring only after the knob is generally over the front foot, followed by a progressive follow through which automatically occurs because of the momentum of the second portion of the bat and the pendulum action caused by the hinging movement.

[0035] Other embodiments encompassed by this invention is shown in FIG. 6 where weights 30 are added within a hollow outer barrel portion 32. The weights are threaded over a bolt 34 fastened at the end and are added inside. The bolt can be inward or outward 36 as shown in FIG. 7 where weights are added to the outside, a much easier feat, and fastened with a nut 37. FIG. 8 shows weights 39 added to the first portion either through an opening in the handle 41 or distal thereto. FIG. 9 shows that the building up of foam 38 or similar padding to the outside of the bat to minimize injury.

[0036] FIG. 10 shows another embodiment where the second barrel portion is fitted with fins 40 that create air resistance and force the swing to be close to the body and the knob of the bat 42 to proceed first preventing what is called “early casting” where the wrists break too early and before the impact point. If the swing is not proper, it will simply be too difficult to get the second portion smoothly through the hitting zone. FIG. 11 shows yet another embodiment with fins 44 added to the first portion of bat 46 near the handle. FIG. 11 shows yet another embodiment where a slideable sleeve 46 is utilized to fix the positions of the first and second members, so that they can be adapted to either swing freely as in FIG. 10 or be unitary as in FIG. 13.

[0037] In the embodiment of FIG. 13, instead of a hinged embodiment there is shown a unitary bat structure having a handle 48 and a flat striking surface 50. The handle has a spacer 52 which holds the hands apart from one another. This encourages or grooves a flat swing and the proper arm and body motion as described earlier, analogous to a hockey swing. In the preferred embodiment, the flat portion is 14 inches long while the overall bat length was 34 inches long. The spacer is 6 inches long.

[0038] Yet another embodiment is shown in FIG. 14 which illustrates an embodiment similar to FIG. 13 but where an annular member 54 is positioned to slide over the handle portion of the bat from Position 1 (56) to Position 2 (58). With a right-handed batter, the left hand is placed adjacent to the knob while the right hand is placed over the annular member a distance away. The batter starts the swing with hands a distance apart at the load position but as the swing is initiated and the bat rotates into the hitting zone, the hands come together again urging a flat swing.

[0039] In the embodiment in FIG. 15 the flat striking surface training bat as illustrated in FIG. 13 is shown with the addition of fins 58. In the preferred embodiment, four fins are placed in the area between the handle and striking area. The fins add air resistance to the swing not only building up strength but preventing early casting. The flat striking surface allows the training aid to be used to hit practice balls further grooving a flat swing because of the flat striking area. If the swing is not flat, it will be difficult to hit the ball.

[0040] While we have shown and described various embodiments in accordance with the present invention, it should be clear to those skilled in the art that further embodiments may be made without the parting of the scope and spirit of this concept.