Title:
Modified bat for sports training and method of making the same
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A training and practice bat is formed to include a hollow core region extending through both the handle and the barrel. An aperture is formed in the bat that allows for a fluidic material (water, sand, etc.) to be poured into the bat and thus modify the weight and “feel” of the bat as it is swung. A removable plug is engaged with the aperture to retain the fluidic material within the hollow core region. The movement of the bat during the swing causes the fluidic material to shift from the handle to the barrel, accelerating the movement of the bat during the swing and improving the hitter's performance.



Inventors:
Haney, Rodney Arthur (Hellertown, PA, US)
Application Number:
11/143537
Publication Date:
12/07/2006
Filing Date:
06/02/2005
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63B69/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
ARYANPOUR, MITRA
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Wendy W. Koba (Springtown, PA, US)
Claims:
1. A training bat for practicing a hitter's swing, the training bat comprising: a handle portion including a first termination for gripping by the hitter; a barrel portion, extending from the handle portion and including a second, opposing end termination, for striking a ball, wherein the handle and barrel portions include an interior cavity region along the full extent thereof from the first end termination to the second end termination; an aperture for introducing fluidic material into the interior cavity region such that the fluidic material transfers from the first end termination to the second end termination as the bat is swung; and a removable plug inserted within the aperture for allowing access to said cavity region to introduce/remove fluidic material to/from said cavity region of said training bat as the hitter's proficiency changes.

2. The training bat as defined in claim 1 wherein the aperture and removable plug are disposed in the termination of the handle portion.

3. The training bat as defined in claim 1 wherein the aperture and removable plug are disposed in the temiination of the barrel portior.

4. The training bat as defined in claim 1 wherein the bat is formed of wood.

5. (canceled)

6. The training bat as defined in claim 1 wherein the bat is formed of metal.

7. The training bat as defined in claim 6 wherein the bat is formed of aluminum.

8. The training bat as defined in claim 1 wherein the removable plug comprises a threaded plug and the aperture comprises a threaded aperture.

9. The training bat as defined in claim 1 wherein the removable plug comprises a force-fit plug.

10. A method of making a training bat for improving a hitter's proficiency, the method comprises the steps of: a) providing a bat with a hollowed-out core region extending from the handle through the full extent of the barrel and an aperture; b) adding a predetermined amount of a preselected fluidic material to the hollowed-out core region; and c) plugging the aperture to prevent the preselected fluidic material from escaping from the training bat such that the preselected fluidic material transfers from the handle to the opposing end of the barrel as the bat is swung.

11. The method as defined in claim 10 wherein the method further comprises the step of. d) increasing the amount of the preselected fluidic material as the hitter's proficiency increases.

12. The method as defined in claim 10 wherein in performing step b), water is used as the preselected fluidic material.

13. The method as defined in claim 10 wherein the performing step b), sand is used as the preselected fluidic material.

14. The method as defined in claim 10 wherein in performing step c), a threaded plug is used, in association with a threaded aperture in the bat, to prevent the preselected fluidic material from escaping.

Description:

TECHNICAL FIELD

The present invention relates to a sports bat and, more particularly, to a hollow core bat configured to include a fluidic material for training and practice purposes.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PRIOR ART

In the games of baseball, softball and the like (hereinafter referred to as “baseball” for the sake of brevity), warm-up bats are often swung by the on-deck batter in the belief that his/her swing or accuracy will be improved during his/her turn at bat. The batter generally swings several bats or other heavy objects that simulate a bat (such as, for example, a metal pipe). Although some “heavy” bats have been provided for this purpose (for example, bats with metallic cylinders or similar weighted enclosures), these have proven too complicated and expensive for wide acceptance. Further, the weight localization of these metallic cylinders has given a pendulum effect, rather that a “bat-like” feel to the practice bat. See, for example, U.S. Pat. No. 2,379,006 issued to T. L. Johnson on Jun. 26, 1945. Moreover, the metal contents may knock and chaff against themselves and the bat interior, damaging an already-expensive bat.

Besides swinging a bat in the on-deck circle, training bats are used by hitters during practice sessions to improve their performance at game time. While many training devices have been proposed for increasing proficiency in power hitting, these devices are not well-suited for learning and perfecting the controlled swing necessary in contact hitting—a particularly significant skill in softball play. U.S. Pat. No. 5,360,209 issued to R. D. Mollica et al. on Nov. 1, 1994 addresses this concern using a training bat with a handle and a weighted member that moves relative to the handle along a longitudinally-extending rod in response to acceleration of the training bat along a portion of the swing. The weighted member thus provides a visual indication to the batter, as well as the trainer, regarding the specific point in time during the swing in which acceleration occurs, an important factor in contact hitting. However, as with the Johnson training device, the Mollica et al. training bat results in a pendulum effect, which is not a natural feel during a hitter's swing. Indeed, it is impossible to actually hit a ball with many of these prior art training devices.

The pendulum effect problem associated with these prior art training bats is addressed in U.S. Pat. No. 3,955,816 issued to L. R. Bratt on May 11, 1976. In this arrangement, a warm-up bat is formed to include a closeable hollow chamber. The chamber may be formed of plastic, wood or metal (or any other suitable material) and is attached to a traditional bat handle using fixtures such as dowels. The chamber section is larger in diameter than the handle and is filled with a flowable material, such as sand. It is suggested by Bratt that the chamber be completely filled to prevent surgings or shifting of the weight while the bat is in use. This ability to completely fill the chamber is considered to thus provide a more “bat”-like feel, as opposed to the pendulum effect of the prior art.

While the Bratt training device does provide such a “feel”, there remains a need during training to be able to dynamically modify the weight of a practice bat to improve the hitter's performance. Moreover, to improve proficiency for contact hitting, a training bat that can be used to actually hit a baseball/softball is preferred.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The need remaining in the prior art is addressed by the present invention, which relates to a sports bat and, more particularly, to a hollow core bat configured to include a fluidic material for training and practice purposes.

In accordance with the present invention, a training bat is formed to include a hollow core region extending completely therethrough. The training bat includes a removable plug at one end, so that a fluidic material (such as, for example, water or other liquid, sand, or the like) may be poured into a portion of the hollow core. By only filling a portion of the core with the fluidic material, the handle will be heavier as the hitter begins his/her batting stance. As the batter swings, the fluid transfers into the distal end of the bat. Since the material is fluid in nature, the “pendulum”-like feel of prior art training devices is significantly reduced.

Advantageously, in performing a training session, the amount of fluidic material introduced into the bat can be adjusted, as desired. For example, as a batter becomes more proficient in swing, the amount (weight) of the fluidic material can be increased. Alternatively, when working with younger children or beginning players the amount of fluidic material can be kept very low. It is a significant aspect of the present invention that the utilization of a fluidic material within a hollow core patent can be implemented with virtually any size of bat, produced out of any desired material.

Other and further advantages and aspects of the present invention will become apparent during the course of the present invention and by reference to the accompanying drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Referring now to the drawings,

FIG. 1 illustrates, in a cross-sectional side view, an exemplary training and practice bat formed in accordance with the present invention;

FIG. 2 illustrates the operation of the training bat of the present invention, showing the movement of the fluidic material within the core of the bat during the swinging motion; and

FIGS. 3-5 illustrate an exemplary method for adding fluidic material to a training bat in accordance with the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

FIG. 1 illustrates, in a cut away side view, an exemplary training and practice bat 10 formed in accordance with the present invention. As shown, bat 10 includes a handle portion 12 and a barrel portion 14, configured to include a hollow core 16 through the full extent of bat 10 from tip 18 of barrel portion 14 to an end 20 of handle 12. A removable plug 22 is illustrated as disposed within end 20, where in accordance with the present and described hereinbelow in accordance with FIGS. 3-5, fluidic material 24 is introduced to hollow core 16 through an aperture 26 (seen clearly in FIGS. 3-5) formed when plug 22 is removed. Bat 10 may be formed of wood, plastic, metal (e.g., aluminum), or any other material suitable for the purposes of forming a training bat in accordance with the present invention. “Fluidic material” 24 may comprise any suitable material that is capable of moving from handle 12 into barrel 14 as the bat is swung. For example, water (or any other liquid) may be used, or sand, lead weight particles, etc. Indeed, for the purposes of the present invention, the particular fluidic material selected and amount used is at the discretion of the user, coach, trainer, etc.

FIG. 2 shows, through a series of illustrations, the movement of fluidic material 24 within hollow core 16 of bat 10 as the bat is swung. In moving from right to left, as indicated by the arrows, bat 10 is swung from an essentially vertical position to an essentially horizontal position. When bat 10 is at rest in the beginning of the swing, all of fluidic material 24 is fully within handle 12, so as to provide a better anchoring of the bat in the hands of the batter. This is clearly in contrast to prior art training bats that traditionally use weighted barrel. The location of this additional weight within the handle also functions to provide wrist and forearm strength training to the batter. Once the batter begins to swing training bat 10, the upper arms will initiate movement of the forearms away from the body and downward so that fluidic material 24 will start to shift, as a function of the viscosity of the particular material being used. As shown in the illustrations of FIG. 2, by the time the batter has fully extended bat 10, all of fluidic material 24 has shifted to end 18 of barrel 14.

When repeated, the movement of fluidic material 24 within bat 10 will develop strength and quickness in the batter's upper arms and forearms. Since fluidic material 24 is within handle 12 when the batter's hands are pulling barrel 14 forward, there is no additional resistance/pendulum effect in the barrel area. Once the forward movement of the hands progresses further, the movement of fluidic material 24 accelerates the ease of dragging barrel 14.

As the forearms travel downward and the wrists engage and turn downward, barrel 14 moves in a descending forward direction. As barrel 14 travels lower, it becomes level with the position of handle 12, and further transfers fluidic material 24 into barrel 14. This transfer of weight accelerates the travel of barrel 14 itself, increasing the effectiveness and quickness of the downward turning of the wrists, while also increasing the speed of the forearms' travel to full extension. As the forearms are completing their full extension, barrel 14 of bat 10 is becoming lower than handle 12, as shown in FIG. 2. As this occurs, the rush of fluidic material 24 is accelerated into end 18 of barrel 14, allowing for an accelerated whipping action of barrel 14. At the same time, this movement of fluidic material 24 assists in the effective snapping of the wrists in the forward direction, provoking more whipping action of barrel 14 into a ball upon contact. Throughout the swing, therefore, there is no “drop off” of bat motion encountered by the hitter.

FIGS. 3-5 illustrate an exemplary method in accordance with the present invention for adding fluidic material 24 to hollow core 16 of training bat 10. As mentioned above, the particular material selected to fill a portion of bat 10 is at the discretion of the user (e.g., athlete, trainer, coach). Various commonplace materials may be used, such as water, sand, pellets, or any other material capable of providing the desired fluidic motion. Advantageously, the weight of training bat 10 may be easily adjusted by adding or removing material 24 from hollow core 16, as need be. Referring to FIG. 3, fluidic material 24 is first poured into hollow core 16 of training bat 10 through an opening in the bat. In this particular arrangement, an aperture 26 is formed in end 20 of handle 12 and used to introduce material 24 into hollow core 16. FIG. 4 illustrates the flow of material 24 toward end 18 of barrel section 14, showing its initial collection in end region 18. FIG. 5 illustrates training bat 10 with removable plug 22 back in place.

It is to be understood that various arrangements may be used as removable plug 22. For example, a threaded plug 22 may be used with a threaded aperture 26 to securely enclose fluidic material 24 within bat 10. Alternatively, an aperture may be formed at end 18 of barrel 14, or at any other suitable position along the extent of training bat 10. Additionally, other types of plugs may be used, such as friction force fit parts, nut and bolt tightening arrangements, etc. may all be used. At times, the type of removable plug 22 may depend upon the material of the bat itself (e.g., wood vs. aluminum) and/or the type of fluidic material used.

While the present invention has been described and disclosed with reference to a preferred embodiment and method for use, those skilled in the art will understand and appreciate that variations in the basic design or substitution of materials may be made, yet still fall within the intended scope of the invention, which is to be limited only by the claims appended hereto.