Title:
Combination practice baseball bat and laser
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A baseball or softball bat is disclosed by which to enable a player to practice his batting swing. The bat includes a hollow interior and handle and barrel portions that are detachably connected together. A low power laser is carried by the bat at the hollow interior thereof. The laser is positioned so as to emit a laser beam downwardly through the handle of the bat so that a spot of light is cast upon a playing surface upon which the player is standing while holding the bat. As the player strides forwardly while moving the bat during a practice swing, the light spot will correspondingly move along the playing surface. By monitoring the path of the light spot as it moves along the practice surface, a coach will gain a visual indication as to the mechanics of the player's swing so that the swing can be evaluated. The laser can also be coupled to a golf club (e.g., a putter) to generate a laser beam towards a playing surface so as to enable a golfer to practice his swing.



Inventors:
Cox, John R. (Encinitas, CA, US)
Application Number:
10/942054
Publication Date:
03/16/2006
Filing Date:
09/16/2004
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63B69/00
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
20060068929Ergonomic golf club putter gripMarch, 2006Goldfader
20100048329Golf Ball Marker and HolderFebruary, 2010Shwartz et al.
20090042658Light Up Billiard BallFebruary, 2009Suit
20020072438Tennis score keeping deviceJune, 2002Boxer
20050246884Friction welding structure for striking plate of golf club head and method thereforNovember, 2005Chen
20090079625GOLF GPS DEVICE WITH VOICE RECOGNITIONMarch, 2009Denton et al.
20070087857Push putterApril, 2007Nguyen
20080242455High voltage broadheadOctober, 2008Urbain
20070293358Method of Using Modified Ball and BatDecember, 2007Hart
20090286625Dual Cured Castable Polyurethane System for Use in Golf BallsNovember, 2009Petrichko et al.
20060189418Deviation measuring apparatusAugust, 2006Kawai



Primary Examiner:
ARYANPOUR, MITRA
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Law Offices of Morland C.Fischer (Irvine, CA, US)
Claims:
I claim:

1. In combination: a bat to be held by a player to practice his swing; and a laser coupled to said bat so as to emit a laser beam downwardly towards and cast a light spot on a practice surface upon which the player is standing while holding the bat so that the light spot will move along the playing surface as the bat moves during the player's practice swing, the path of the light spot along the practice surface providing a visual indication of the player's swing.

2. The combination recited in claim 1, wherein said bat has a hollow interior, said laser being carried by said bat at the hollow interior thereof.

3. The combination recited in claim 2, wherein said bat has a handle to be held by the player and a barrel at which to strike a ball, said laser being carried at the hollow interior of said bat so as to emit a laser beam through said handle and towards the practice surface upon which the player is standing.

4. The combination recited in claim 3, wherein each of the handle and the barrel of said bat are detachably connected together to permit access to said laser carried at the hollow interior of said bat.

5. The combination recited in claim 4, wherein each of said handle and said barrel has a screw threaded end, said screw threaded ends adapted to be rotated into mating engagement with one another whereby said handle and said barrel are detachably connected together.

6. The combination recited in claim 5, wherein said laser is carried at the hollow interior of said bat by one of the screw threaded ends of said handle and said barrel so that the optical axis of said laser is coincident with the longitudinal axis of said bat.

7. The combination recited in claim 6, wherein the one of said screw threaded ends of said handle and said barrel at which said laser is carried has a channel formed therein, said laser being removably received in and retained by said channel.

8. The combination recited in claim 1, wherein said bat is manufactured from plastic.

9. In combination: a golf club to be held by a golfer to practice his swing; and a laser coupled to said golf club so as to emit a laser beam downwardly towards and cast a light spot on a practice surface upon which the golfer is standing while holding the club so that the light spot will move along the practice surface as the club moves during the golfer's practice swing, the path of the light spot along the practice surface providing an indication of the golfer's swing.

10. The combination recited in claim 9, also including a sleeve attached to the shaft of the golf club to be held by the golfer to practice his swing, said laser being received in and retained by said sleeve.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

This invention relates primarily to a baseball (or softball) bat that carries at the hollow interior thereof a low power laser which is capable of emitting a beam of light downwardly through the knob and towards a playing surface whereby a light spot will be cast on the surface. By watching the movement of the light spot along the playing surface as the player takes a practice swing, a coach can visually evaluate the mechanics of the player's swing to determine if correction is warranted.

2. Background Art

Softball and baseball players are regularly interested in an improved swing so as to maximize their ability to effectively hit and drive a ball. In most cases, a batting coach simply watches the player take a practice swing while gripping a bat in his/her hands. From this, the batting coach must be able to determine if the batter's hands and posterior elbow are properly positioned as he/she strides forward while moving the bat into contact with a ball during the practice swing. Since the practice swing usually occurs at a rapid pace, it may not be easy for the coach to accurately monitor the alignment of the batter's hands, elbow and bat in order to give proper advice. Moreover, once corrections are made, it may be difficult for the coach to fine tune the swing, because of his inability to visually determine slight deviations from what would be considered a proper swing.

Although the use of videotape to record the player's swing would be ideal to accomplish the foregoing, the necessary video recording and playback equipment is expensive and not typically available to most players. In this same regard, such equipment is inconvenient to transport and, therefore, may not always be on-hand whenever and wherever a player is inclined to pick up a bat to practice his/her swing.

Therefore, what is desirable is an inexpensive, readily available, and easy to use means by which to enable a coach or other qualified onlooker to be able to visually monitor and evaluate the mechanics of a player's practice swing.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

Briefly, and in accordance with the preferred embodiment, a bat is disclosed of the type having particular application for use by a softball or baseball player wishing to improve his/her swing. The bat has a hollow interior at which to carry a low power laser that is aligned therewithin to emit a beam of laser light downwardly and outwardly through an opening in the knob of the bat. The beam of light causes a light spot to be cast upon a playing surface on which the player is standing while holding the bat. The light spot will move along the playing surface with the bat as the player strides forwardly while taking a practice swing. Ideally, the light spot should move in a straight line path that runs parallel to the body of the player during the practice swing. By monitoring the actual path of the light spot, a coach can visually determine whether the alignment of the player's hands, elbow and bat are correct during the practice swing.

The bat is preferably manufactured from lightweight plastic and includes handle and barrel portions that are detachably connected together at opposing screw threaded ends. The low power (e.g., pen light) laser is received by a channel that is formed in the screw threaded end of the handle portion so that the optical axis of the laser extends downwardly along the longitudinal axis of the bat toward the opening in the knob. The laser beam is directed through the opening in the knob to illuminate the light spot upon the playing surface to provide a reference point from which to evaluate the mechanics of the player's swing. By virtue of making the bat plastic, the player can practice his/her swing while hitting a soft (e.g., plastic or sponge) ball on a playing surface that is located indoors.

According to an alternate embodiment, the laser can be carried within a cylindrical sleeve that is attached to the shaft of a golf club (e.g., a putter). As with the baseball bat, the laser is aimed downwardly to cast a light spot on a playing surface. The light spot moves to track the corresponding movement of the golfer's club during a practice swing so that the mechanics of the swing can be evaluated and corrected.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 shows a softball or baseball player holding a bat within which is carried a laser that is adapted to provide a spot of light that moves along a playing surface during a practice swing;

FIG. 2 shows a golfer holding a golf club to which a laser is coupled so as to provide a spot of light that moves along a playing surface during a practice swing;

FIG. 3 shows an enlargement of the bat of FIG. 1;

FIG. 4 is a cross section of the bat taken along lines 4-4 of the FIG. 3; and

FIG. 5 shows the detachable connection of handle and barrel portions of the bat with the laser carried by the handle portion.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

Turning to the drawings, FIG. 1 shows a baseball player holding a baseball (or softball) bat 1 that is formed according to the preferred embodiment of this invention so that the player can practice his (or her) swing. As will be explained in greater detail when referring to FIGS. 3-5, the bat 1 carries at the hollow interior thereof a low power laser that is adapted to emit a vertical beam of laser light 3 outwardly from the handle 12 so that a spot of light 5 will be cast upon a playing surface. Thus, as the player strides forwardly while gripping the bat 1 in his hands during a practice swing, the light spot 5 will correspondingly move along the playing surface. In this way, coaches will be able to visually monitor the path over which the bat 1 travels during the player's swing.

That is to say, it is preferable that the bat 1 travel in a substantially straight line that runs parallel to the player's body to achieve maximum contact with a pitched ball. Should the player turn his hands and/or drop his posterior elbow and thereby achieve a less than ideal swing, the spot of light 5 will trace a path which deviates from the preferred straight line path. By watching the initial position and subsequent movement of the light spot 5 along the playing surface before and during the practice swing, coaches can easily evaluate both the load and mechanics associated with the swing to determine whether the player's stance and/or body movement requires correction. To this end, an optional practice line (designated 7 in FIG. 1) can be laid or printed upon the playing surface to mark the preferred straight line path of the bat 1 during an ideal swing. Coaches can simply watch the movement of the light spot 5 relative to the practice line 7 to obtain an indication of the efficacy of the player's swing.

Details of the bat 1 and the laser 10 carried therewithin are now described while referring concurrently to FIGS. 3-5 of the drawings. Although it can be manufactured from any suitable material, it is preferable that the bat 1 be manufactured (e.g., molded) from lightweight plastic so as to have a hollow interior. In this manner, the bat 1 can be safely used indoors to strike a soft (e.g., plastic or sponge) ball so as to enable the player to practice his swing under more realistic conditions.

As is best shown in FIGS. 4 and 5, the bat 1 includes a hollow handle portion 12 and a hollow barrel portion 14 that are detachably connected to one another. A knob 15 located at the end of the handle portion 12 has an opening 16 which communicates with the hollow interior of handle portion 12 for an important purpose that will soon be described. However, it is to be understood that the bat 1 can also be manufactured without a knob at the end of handle portion 12. As with a conventional baseball bat, the player grasps the bat 1 at the handle portion 12 above the knob 15 in order to initiate his swing so as to strike a ball with the barrel portion 14. The opposing ends of the handle portion 12 and barrel portion 14 are provided with sets of screw threads 17 and 18 that are molded therein. The sets of screw threads 17 and 18 are adapted to be rotated into mating engagement by which to connect the handle portion 12 to the barrel portion 14 so that the bat 1 can be used by a player to practice his swing in the manner shown in FIG. 1.

The screw threaded end 20 of the handle portion 12 in which screw threads 17 are formed includes a channel 22. The channel 22 of the screw threaded end 20 is coaxially aligned with the hollow handle and barrel portions 12 and 14 of bat 1. Channel 22 is sized to accommodate and retain therewithin a commercially available low power laser 10. By way of example only, one such low power (e.g., 5 mw) laser which is suitable for use in this application is an LED pen laser manufactured by Opcom O.E., Inc. of Xiamen, China.

When the laser 10 is installed within the channel 22, the output end thereof is aimed downwardly towards the opening 16 in the knob 15 of handle portion 12. In this regard, the optical axis 25 of the laser 10 will preferably coincide with the longitudinal axis of the bat 1. The opposite end of laser 10 extends upwardly for receipt within the hollow interior of the barrel portion 14. Accordingly, the optical axis 25 of the laser 10 extends outwardly through the opening 16 in the knob 15. Therefore, when the bat 1 is grasped at the handle portion 12 above the knob 15 prior to a practice swing, a beam of laser light (designated 3 in FIG. 1) generated by the laser 10 will be emitted downwardly toward the playing surface to cast a spot (designated 5 in FIG. 1) thereon. As described above, the position of the spot 5 along the playing surface is indicative of the movement of the bat 1, the position of the player's hands around the handle portion 12, and the alignment of the player's posterior elbow during the practice swing.

When it is desirable to install, remove, activate or deactivate the laser 10 within the hollow interior of bat 1, the barrel portion 14 is rotated (i.e., unscrewed) relative to the handle portion 12, or vice versa. Access is now provided to the laser 10 retained within the channel 22 of the screw threaded end 20 of handle portion 12. The laser 10 can now be withdrawn from the channel 22 for repair or replacement. However, it is to be understood that the handle portion 12 and the barrel portion 14 of the bat 1 can be connected together at the opposing screw threaded ends thereof with or without the laser 10 received and retained by channel 22.

By way of an additional embodiment of this invention, the laser 10 previously described when referring to FIG. 1 for use at the hollow interior of baseball bat 1 to enable a baseball player to practice his batting swing can also be used by a golfer to practice his golf swing. To this end, and as is shown in FIG. 2 of the drawings, the laser 10 is now coupled to the shaft 30 of a golfer's putter 32. More particularly, a hollow sleeve 34 is attached to the shaft 30 above the putting head 36. The laser 10 is received within and retained by the sleeve 34 along the shaft 30 of putter 32. As in the case of the bat 1, the laser is positioned within the sleeve 34 so as to emit a beam of laser light downwardly towards a playing surface. Thus, a spot of light 38 will be cast upon the playing surface to indicate the initial position of the putting head 36 of the golfer's putter 32.

As with the baseball bat 1 of FIG. 1, it is preferable that the golfer move his putting head 36 along a straight line path towards a golf ball. Accordingly, a coach or another onlooker can simply monitor the path of the light spot 38 across the playing surface as the golfer moves his putter 32 during a practice putting stroke. In the event that the golfer's putting stroke is less than ideal, the light spot 38 will trace a path along the playing surface which deviates from the preferred straight line path. Thus, the coach will be able to visually monitor the mechanics of the practice putting stroke of the golfer so as to make changes, when warranted.

Although the laser 10 has been shown and described as being coupled to a putter 32 by which to enable a golfer to practice his putting stroke, it is to be understood that the laser 10 can also be coupled to different golf clubs by which to enable the golfer to practice his golf swing indoors as well as out of doors and with or without a golf ball.