Title:
Self-contained cross-training aid for use by participants in baseball, softball, golf, and hockey
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A self-contained cross-training aid for use by a sports participant in conjunction with a selected sports implement provides a support assembly, a vertical standard assembly supported by the support assembly, a horizontal arm assembly attached to the vertical standard assembly, and at least one tethered target assembly attached to the other end of the horizontal arm assembly. The sports participant strikes the tethered target with the selected sports implement and the tethered target moves around the horizontal arm assembly. The vertical standard assembly, the horizontal arm assembly, and the tethered target assembly are stored within the support assembly. The self-contained cross-training aid adjustable between a standard height, an elevated height, a lower height, and a minimum height.



Inventors:
Smith, Christopher L. (Norman, OK, US)
Application Number:
11/352093
Publication Date:
08/09/2007
Filing Date:
02/09/2006
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63B69/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
CHAMBERS, MICHAEL S
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
James T. Robinson (Norman, OK, US)
Claims:
I claim:

1. A self-contained cross-training aid for use by a sports participant in conjunction with a selected sports implement, the self-contained cross-training aid adjustable between a standard height, an elevated height, a lower height, and a minimum height, wherein the adjustable self-contained cross-training aid comprises: a support assembly; a vertical standard assembly removably attached to the support assembly; a horizontal arm assembly having two ends, wherein one end of the horizontal arm assembly is removably attached to the vertical standard assembly; at least one tethered target assembly attached to the other end of the horizontal arm assembly, so that the sports participant strikes the tethered target with the selected sports implement and the tethered target moves in a path around the horizontal arm assembly; and wherein the vertical standard assembly, the horizontal arm assembly, and the tethered target assembly are disassembled for storage the support assembly.

2. The device of claim 1 wherein the support assembly further comprises: a bucket having a bottom and a rim; a flanged base attached to the inside bottom of the bucket, wherein the flanged base extends upwardly and terminates in a flange socket; a bucket vertical member having a lower end and an upper end, the lower end being disposed within the flange socket; a support coupling attached to the upper end of the bucket vertical member; and a bucket lid having an aperture centered in the bucket lid, so that, as the bucket lid is lowered to engage the rim of the bucket, the centered aperture fits over the support coupling so that a portion of the support coupling extends upwardly through the centered aperture in the bucket lid.

3. The device of claim 2, wherein the flanged base is adhesively attached to the inside bottom of the bucket.

4. The device of claim 2 wherein the flanged based is attached to the inside bottom of the bucket by fasteners.

5. The device of claim 2 wherein the bucket, the flanged base, and the bucket vertical member are integrally molded as a single piece.

6. The device of claim 1 wherein the vertical standard assembly is configured for a standard height and further comprises: a lower vertical section having a lower end and an upper end, the lower end of the lower vertical section being removably attached to the support assembly; an upper vertical section having an upper vertical section lower end and an upper vertical section upper end; a vertical standard coupling removably connecting the upper end of the lower vertical section to lower end of the upper vertical section; a tee removably attached to the upper end of the upper vertical section; a conversion section having a conversion section lower end and a conversion section upper end; and a conversion coupling removably attached to the upper end of the conversion section, wherein the lower end of the conversion section is removably inserted into the upper connection of the tee so the conversion section and the attached conversion coupling are removably stored atop the tee when the vertical standard assembly is configured in the standard height.

7. The device of claim 1 wherein the vertical standard assembly is configured for an elevated height and further comprises: a lower vertical section having a lower end and an upper end, the lower end being removably attached to the support assembly; an upper vertical section having an upper vertical section lower end and an upper vertical section upper end; a vertical standard coupling removably connecting the upper end of the lower vertical section to lower end of the upper vertical section; a conversion section having a conversion section lower end and a conversion section upper end; a conversion coupling removably attached to the upper end of the upper vertical section and the lower end of the conversion section; and a tee removably attached the upper end of the conversion section, so the vertical standard assembly is configured in the elevated height.

8. The device of claim 1 wherein the horizontal arm assembly further comprises: a horizontal section having a proximate end adjacent the vertical standard assembly and a distal end, wherein the proximate end of the horizontal section is removably attached to the vertical standard assembly; an insert disposed within the distal end of the horizontal section, wherein the insert further comprises a first plastic insulator and a second plastic insulator threaded onto a threaded bolt so the first plastic insulator resides within the horizontal section and the second plastic insulator extends outwardly from the distal end of the horizontal section.

9. The device of claim 8 wherein the first plastic insulator is adhesively affixed within the distal end of the horizontal section.

10. The device of claim 8 wherein the first plastic insulator is secured within the distal end of the horizontal section by friction.

11. The device of claim 1 wherein the appropriate sports implement is a softball bat and the at least one tethered target assembly further comprises: a flexible line having a loop at one end and a knot supporting a restricted-flight softball at the other end, wherein the loop is rotatably attached to the horizontal arm assembly, so that, when the batter strikes the restricted-flight softball with the bat, the restricted-flight softball travels in a path around the horizontal arm assembly.

12. The device of claim 1 wherein the sports implement is a baseball bat and the at least one tethered target assembly further comprises: a flexible line having a loop at one end and a knot supporting a restricted-flight baseball at the other end, wherein the loop is rotatably attached to the horizontal arm assembly, so that, when the batter strikes the restricted-flight baseball with the baseball bat, the restricted-flight baseball travels in a path around the horizontal arm assembly.

13. The device of claim 1 wherein the sports implement is a golf club and the at least one tethered target assembly further comprises: a flexible line having a loop at one end and a knot supporting a restricted-flight golf ball at the other end, wherein the loop is rotatably attached to the horizontal arm assembly, so that, when the golfer strikes the restricted-flight golf ball with the golf club, the restricted-flight golf ball travels in a path around the horizontal arm assembly.

14. The device of claim 1 wherein the appropriate sports implement is a hockey stick and the at least one tethered target assembly further comprises: a flexible line having a loop at one end and a knot supporting a plastic hockey puck at the other end, wherein the loop is rotatably attached to the horizontal arm assembly, so that, when the hockey player strikes the plastic hockey puck with the hockey stick, the plastic hockey puck travels in a path around the horizontal arm assembly.

15. The device of claim 1 wherein the at least one tethered target assembly further comprises: a flexible line having a loop at one end; a target attached to the other end of the flexible line; attachment means for attaching the target to the other end of the flexible line; and wherein the loop is rotatably attached to the horizontal arm assembly, so that, when the sports participant strikes the tethered target, the tethered target travels in a path around the horizontal arm assembly.

16. The device of claim 1, wherein the attachment means for attaching the target to the flexible line further comprises a cross-member supported by a knot in the end of the flexible line, and wherein the cross-member is threaded through a hole in the tethered target so the tethered target is supported by the cross-member.

17. The device of claim 1, wherein the attachment means for attaching the target to the flexible line further comprises a toggle-wing member supported by a knot in the end of the flexible line, and wherein the toggle-wing member is threaded through a hole in the tethered target so the tethered target is supported by the toggle-wing member.

18. A self-contained cross-training aid for use by a sports participant in conjunction with a selected sports implement, the self-contained cross-training aid adjustable between a standard height, an elevated height, a lower height, and a minimum height, wherein the adjustable self-contained cross-training aid comprises: a support assembly; a vertical standard assembly removably supported by the support assembly; a horizontal arm assembly having two ends, wherein one end of the horizontal arm assembly is removably attached to the vertical standard assembly; a tethered target assembly selected from among the following four tethered target assemblies: a first tethered target assembly for use by a softball player with a softball bat, the first tethered target assembly further comprising: a flexible line having a loop at one end and a knot supporting a restricted-flight softball at the other end, wherein the loop is rotatably attached to the horizontal arm assembly, so that, when the batter strikes the restricted-flight softball with the softball bat, the restricted-flight softball travels in a path around the horizontal arm assembly; a second tethered target assembly for use by a baseball player with a baseball bat, the second tethered target assembly further comprising: a flexible line having a loop at one end and a knot supporting a restricted-flight baseball at the other end, wherein the loop is rotatably attached to the horizontal arm assembly, so that, when the batter strikes the restricted-flight baseball with the baseball bat, the restricted-flight baseball travels in a path around the horizontal arm assembly; a third tethered target assembly for use by a golfer with a golf club, the third tethered target assembly further comprising: a flexible line having a loop at one end and a knot supporting a restricted-flight golf ball at the other end, wherein the loop is rotatably attached to the horizontal arm assembly, so that, when the golfer strikes the restricted-flight golf ball with the golf club, the restricted-flight golf ball travels in a path around the horizontal arm assembly; and a fourth tethered target assembly for use by a hockey player with a hockey stick, the fourth tethered target assembly further comprising: a flexible line having a loop at one end and a knot supporting a plastic hockey puck at the other end, wherein the loop is rotatably attached to the horizontal arm assembly, so that, when the hockey player strikes the plastic hockey puck with the hockey stick, the plastic hockey puck travels in a path around the horizontal arm assembly; and wherein the vertical standard assembly, the horizontal arm assembly, the first tethered target assembly, the second tethered target assembly, the third tethered target assembly, and the fourth tethered target assembly are stored within the support assembly.

19. A method of crossing-training by a sports player to develop skills in striking a target using a sports implement, wherein the sports implement is a baseball bat, a softball bat, a golf club, or a hockey stick, to hit a restricted-flight baseball, a restricted-flight softball, a restricted-flight golf ball, or a plastic hockey puck, respectively, the method comprising the steps of: providing a self-contained cross-training apparatus comprising: a support assembly, further comprising: a bucket having a bottom and a rim; a flanged base attached to the inside bottom of the bucket, wherein the flanged base extends upwardly and terminates in a flange socket; a bucket vertical member; a support coupling; and a bucket lid having an aperture centered in the bucket lid; a vertical standard assembly, further comprising: a lower vertical section having a lower end and an upper end; an upper vertical section having an uppervertical section lower end and an upper vertical section upper end; a vertical standard coupling; a conversion section having a conversion section lower end and a conversion section upper end; a conversion coupling; and a tee; a horizontal arm assembly having two ends, the horizontal arm assembly further comprising: a horizontal section having a proximate end adjacent the vertical standard assembly and a distal end; and an insert disposed within the distal end of the horizontal section, wherein the insert further comprises a first plastic insulator and a second plastic insulator threaded onto a threaded bolt so the first plastic insulator resides within the horizontal section and the second plastic insulator extends outwardly from the distal end of the horizontal section; a first tethered target assembly for use by a softball player with a softball bat, the first tethered target assembly further comprising: a flexible line having a loop at one end and a knot supporting a restricted-flight softball at the other end, wherein the loop is rotatably attached to the horizontal arm assembly, so that, when the batter strikes the restricted-flight softball with the softball bat, the restricted-flight softball travels in a path around the horizontal arm assembly; a second tethered target assembly for use by a baseball player with a baseball bat, the second tethered target assembly further comprising: a flexible line having a loop at one end and a knot supporting a restricted-flight baseball at the other end, wherein the loop is rotatably attached to the horizontal arm assembly, so that, when the batter strikes the restricted-flight baseball with the baseball bat, the restricted-flight baseball travels in a path around the horizontal arm assembly; a third tethered target assembly for use by a golfer with a golf club, the third tethered target assembly further comprising: a flexible line having a loop at one end and a knot supporting a restricted-flight golf ball at the other end, wherein the loop is rotatably attached to the horizontal arm assembly, so that, when the golfer strikes the restricted-flight golf ball with the golf club, the restricted-flight golf ball travels in a path around the horizontal arm assembly; and a fourth tethered target assembly for use by a hockey player with a hockey stick, the fourth tethered target assembly further comprising: a flexible line having a loop at one end and a knot supporting a plastic hockey puck at the other end, wherein the loop is rotatably attached to the horizontal arm assembly, so that, when the hockey player strikes the plastic hockey puck with the hockey stick, the plastic hockey puck travels in a path around the horizontal arm assembly; and wherein the vertical standard assembly, the horizontal arm assembly, and the tethered target assemblies are stored within the support assembly; assembling the support assembly; selecting a configuration for the vertical standard assembly from among a standard height configuration, an elevated height configuration, a lower height configuration, and a minimum height configuration; assembly the vertical standard assembly in accordance with the selected height configuration; attaching the vertical standard assembly to the support assembly; attaching the horizontal arm assembly to the tee of the vertical standard assembly; selecting a tethered target assembly from among the first, second, third, and fourth tethered target assemblies; attaching the tethered target assembly to the second plastic insulator extending outwardly from the distal end of the horizontal section; striking the tethered target using the appropriate sports implement so the tethered target moves in a path around the horizontal section; and repeating the striking step.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

Applicant's invention relates generally to a self-contained cross-training aid for use by participants in baseball, softball, golf, and hockey. The invention permits players to practice hitting a restricted-flight baseball, a restricted-flight softball, a restricted-flight golf ball, or a plastic hockey puck. The support assembly for the invention also serves as a storage and/or shipping container.

2. Discussion

Hundreds of thousands—perhaps millions—of children participate in baseball, softball, golf, and hockey each year. Skills involving hitting, catching, throwing, skating, and running are developed through training and practice. The skill of hitting a stationary target (e.g., a golf ball) is challenging, and the skill of hitting a moving target such as a pitched ball is especially challenging. Participants as young as 4 or 5 years old participate in baseball and softball by hitting a ball from a support (sometimes called a batting tee). Participants of 6 or 7 years of age may hit balls thrown by a coach. Later, the participants attempt to hit pitches thrown by pitching machines. As batters progress, the batters begin to hit balls thrown by opposing participant pitchers. The skills required to hit a golf ball or a moving hockey puck likewise must be developed through practice and training.

Any skill improves with practice, and the participant's skill in striking a target is no exception. Younger children can practice hitting the ball from the batting tee, but someone must retrieve the ball on those occasions the child succeeds in causing the bat to make contact with the ball. Moreover, a child hitting a ball from a batting tee does not develop the skill of hitting a moving ball. Older participants obtain batting practice hitting machine-pitched balls at batting cages. Although golf and hockey require a different stroke, both golf and hockey involve hitting skills developed with practice over time.

What is needed is a simple, self-contained cross-training aid for developing skills in hitting stationary and moving targets while avoiding the necessity of retrieving the targets. As used herein, the term “targets” includes stationary restricted-flight softballs, stationary restricted-flight baseballs, stationary restricted-flight golf balls, and stationary plastic hockey pucks. The term “targets” also means moving restricted-flight softballs, moving restricted-flight baseballs, and moving plastic hockey pucks.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The self-contained cross-training aid of the present invention provides a support assembly, a vertical standard assembly removably attached to and supported by the support assembly, a horizontal arm assembly removably attached to the vertical standard assembly, and at least one tethered target assembly attached to the other end of the horizontal arm assembly. The sports participant strikes the tethered target with the selected sports implement and the tethered target moves around the horizontal arm assembly. The vertical standard assembly, the horizontal arm assembly, and the tethered target assembly are stored within the support assembly (a bucket). The self-contained cross-training aid adjustable between a standard height, an elevated height, a lower height, and a minimum height. When disassembled, all the components of the vertical standard assembly, the horizontal arm assembly, and the tethered target assembly fit conveniently into the bucket for shipment or storage.

The advantages and features of the present invention will be apparent from the following description when read in conjunction with the accompanying drawings and appended claims.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a pictorial view of a the self-contained cross-training aid according to applicant's invention.

FIG. 2 is an exploded view of the self-contained cross-training aid shown in FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 is another view of the self-contained cross-training aid shown in FIGS. 1-2.

FIG. 4 is another view of the self-contained cross-training aid shown in FIGS. 1-3.

FIG. 5 is another view of the self-contained cross-training aid shown in FIG. 1-4.

FIG. 6 is another view of the self-contained cross-training aid shown in FIGS. 1-5.

FIG. 7 is a view of the self-contained cross-training aid according to applicant's invention configured to permit the participant to practice hitting a golf ball.

FIG. 8 is a view of the self-contained cross-training aid according to applicant's invention configured to permit the participant to practice hitting a hockey puck.

FIG. 9 is a view of a portion of the self-contained cross-training aid shown in FIGS. 1-5.

FIG. 10 is a view of another portion of the self-contained cross-training aid according to applicant's invention.

FIG. 11 is a view of another portion of the self-contained cross-training aid according to applicant's invention.

FIG. 12 is a view of another self-contained cross-training aid according to applicant's invention.

FIG. 13 is a view of a restricted-flight ball, partially cut away, supported by a flexible line according to applicant's invention.

FIG. 14 is a view of another restricted-flight ball, partially cut away, supported by a flexible line according to applicant's invention.

FIG. 15 is another view of the restricted-flight ball, partially cut away, supported by the flexible line shown in FIG. 13.

FIG. 16 is another view of the restricted-flight ball, partially cut away, supported by the flexible line as shown in FIG. 15.

FIG. 17 is a view of applicant's self-contained cross-training aid according to applicant's invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

In the following description of the invention, like numerals and characters designate like elements throughout the figures of the drawings.

Referring to FIGS. 1 and 2, a self-contained cross-training aid 20 is shown. In FIG. 2, the self-contained cross-training aid 20 rests on a surface S. A support assembly 22 supports a removably attached vertical standard assembly 24 which, in turn, supports a removably attached horizontal arm assembly 26. A tethered ball assembly 28 is attached to the horizontal arm assembly 26. Applicant's invention is described, alternatively, as a self-contained cross-training aid, a batting practice aid, a golfing practice aid, or a hockey practice aid. It will be understood by one skilled in the art that the invention applies to the sports of softball, baseball, golf, and hockey and that different configurations permit use of the invention in all four sports.

Referring now to FIG. 10, the support assembly 22 of FIGS. 1 and 2 is shown in detail resting on the surface S. A flanged base 32 mounted in the inside bottom 34 of a bucket 36 extends upwardly and terminates in a flange socket 38. A bucket vertical member 40 has a lower end 42 and an upper end 44. The lower end 42 is received by the flange socket 38. A coupling 46 is removably attached to the upper end 44 of the bucket vertical member 40. The bucket 36 includes a rim 48. A bucket lid 50 has an aperture 52 centered in the bucket lid 50. When the bucket lid 50 is lowered to engage the rim 48 of the bucket 36, the centered aperture 52 fits over the coupling 46 so that a portion of the coupling 46 extends upwardly through the aperture 52 as seen in FIGS. 1-8. It will be understood by one skilled in the art that the flanged base 32 can be secured to the inside bottom 34 of the bucket 36 by any appropriate means, including adhesives or fasteners such as rivets or nut-and-bolt fasteners. The flanged base 32 can also be integrally molded as part of the bucket 36.

Still referring to FIGS. 1 and 2, the vertical standard assembly 24 consists of, from bottom to top, a lower vertical section 60, a vertical standard coupling 62 removably attached to the lower vertical section 60, an upper vertical section 64 removably attached at one end to the vertical standard coupling 62 and removably attached, at the other end, to a tee 66. A conversion section 68 and a conversion coupling 70 are removably stored, in this configuration, in the tee 66.

The horizontal arm assembly 26 of FIGS. 1 and 2 is shown in detail in FIG. 9. A horizontal section 80 has a proximate end 82 and a distal end 84. The proximate end 82 is received by and removably attached to the tee 66, while the distal end 84 contains an insert 86. As shown in FIG. 9, the insert 86 is formed by threading two plastic insulators 88, 90 onto a threaded bolt 92. The insert 86 is positioned within the distal end 84 of the horizontal section 80 so the internal plastic insulator 88 resides within the horizontal section 80 while the external plastic insulator 90 extends outwardly from the distal end 84 of the horizontal section 80. The plastic internal insulator 88 is secured within the horizontal section 80 by PVC glue or other adhesive (not shown). In the alternative, the internal plastic insulator 88 may be secured within the horizontal section 80 by frictional bias.

Still referring to FIGS. 1 and 2, the tethered ball assembly 28 includes a flexible line 94. A loop 96 at one end of the flexible line 94 secures the flexible line 94 to the external plastic insulator 90. A restricted-flight ball 98 is attached secured to the other end of the flexible line 94 and held in place by a knot 100. The restricted-flight ball 98 shown in FIGS. 1-6 can be any of a number of restricted-flight balls known in the art and used for self-contained cross-training. Both restricted-flight baseballs and restricted-flight softballs are characterized generally as plastic balls perforated with holes.

Referring now to FIGS. 3 and 4, FIG. 3, like FIG. 1, shows the self-contained cross-training aid 20 configured for a standard height participant. FIG. 4, on the other hand, is configured for a taller participant. As shown in FIG. 4, the conversion coupling 70 and the conversion section 68 have been removably inserted between the upper section 64 and the tee 66 to elevate the horizontal arm assembly 26, and, consequently, the restricted-flight ball 98.

Referring now to FIGS. 5 and 6, two additional configurations are shown for the self-contained cross-training aid 20. In FIG. 5, the upper section 64 has been removed and, together with the conversion coupling 70, stored on top of the tee 66. Because the length of the conversion section 68 is less than the length of the upper section 64, the position of the restricted-flight ball 98 is lower than the position of the restricted-flight ball 98 in FIGS. 1-3. In FIG. 6, the conversion section 68 and the coupling 62 have been removed so the tee 66 is supported by the lower section 60 only, thereby further lowering the position of the restricted-flight ball 98.

It will be understood by one skilled in the art that, as configured in FIGS. 1, 3, 4, 5, and 6, the self-contained cross-training aid 20 of the present invention permits selective positioning of the height of the restricted-flight ball 98 between a standard position (FIGS. 1 and 3), an elevated position (FIG. 4), a lower position (FIG. 5), and a still lower position (FIG. 6) to match the height of the participant (whether batter, golfer, or hockey player).

Referring now to FIGS. 1-6, in operation the batter uses the bat to strike the restricted-flight ball 98. The restricted-flight ball 98, which is attached to the external plastic insulator 90 by the flexible line 94, moves in the direction of arrow 102 in a path around the end 84 of the horizontal section 80. A beginning batter may permit the restricted-flight ball 98 to come to rest, as shown in FIG. 2, before striking the ball once again. As the batter's skill improves, however, the batter can strike the restricted-flight ball 98 with the bat while the restricted-flight ball 98 is still moving, thereby gaining practice in hitting a moving target. Thus the batter is able to obtain crucial experience batting without the aid of a pitcher, a pitching machine, or a ball retriever.

Referring now to FIG. 7, a golfing practice aid 120 according to applicant's invention uses the support assembly 22, the removably attached conversion section 68, the removably attached tee 66, and the removably attached horizontal arm assembly 26 shown in the self-contained cross-training aid 20. The tee 66 is elevated above the support assembly 22 by the conversion section 68. A flexible line 194 is secured at one end by a loop 196 to the external plastic insulator 90. At the other end, the flexible line 194 supports a restricted-flight golf ball 198 held in place by a knot 200. It will be understood by one skilled in the art that the length of the flexible line 194 is sufficient to allow the restricted-flight golf ball 198 to hover over, but not touch, the surface S.

Referring now to FIG. 8, a hockey practice aid according to applicant's invention uses the support assembly 22, the conversion section 68, the tee 66, and the horizontal arm assembly 26 of the self-contained cross-training aid 20. The tee 66 is elevated above the support assembly 22 by the conversion section 68. A tethered puck assembly 228 includes a flexible line 294 secured at one end by a loop 296 attached to the external plastic insulator 90. The other end of the flexible line 294 supports a plastic floor hockey puck 298 held in place by a recessed knot 300 (not shown). The length of the flexible line 294 is selected to allow the floor hockey puck 298 to barely clear the surface S.

It will be understood by one skilled in the art that the self-contained cross-training aid 20, the golfing practice aid 120, and the hockey practice aid 220 are conveniently constructed from standard PVC pipe fittings and a plastic bucket. The pipe fittings are removably connected for use and disconnected for storage within the plastic bucket 36. The height 56 of the plastic bucket 36 (from the surface S to the top of the rim 48) is about 12 inches, while the maximum dimension 58 of the lower section 60, the upper section 64, and the horizontal arm section 80 is less than the height 56. For shipment and for storage, the vertical standard assembly 24 and the horizontal arm assembly 26 are disconnected. The lower section 60, the coupling 62, the upper section 64, the tee 66, the conversion section 68, the conversion coupling 70, and the horizontal arm section 80, with the tethered ball assembly 28 attached, are stored within the bucket 36.

If will be further understood by one skilled in the art that the sports participant uses the present invention by striking the tethered target with an appropriate sports implement. For golfing practice, the golfing participant uses a selected golf club to strike the restricted-flight golf ball. For softball batting practice, the softball participant uses a selected bat to strike the restricted-flight softball. For baseball batting practice, the baseball participant uses a selected baseball bat to strike the restricted-flight baseball. For hockey practice, the hockey participant uses a selected hockey stick to strike the plastic hockey puck.

Referring now to FIG. 11, another horizontal arm assembly 326 includes a horizontal arm section 380 with ends 382 and 384. A molded insert 390 consists of a cylindrical portion 392 and a hub portion 394. In use, the end 382 of the horizontal arm section 380 is inserted into the tee 66. The cylindrical portion 392 of the molded insert 390 is secured within the end 384 of the horizontal arm section 380, and the external hub portion 394 receives the loop 96, 196, 296, of the flexible line 94, 194, 294, respectively.

Referring now to FIG. 12, a molded support assembly 322 includes a bucket 336 having an integrally molded flanged base 332 and a rim 348. The flanged base 332 includes an upwardly standing socket 338. A bucket vertical member 340 has a lower end 342 and an upper end 344. The lower end 342 of the bucket vertical member 340 is placed in the socket 338. A bucket lid 350 has an integrally molded coupling 346. When the bucket lid 350 is lowered to engage the rim 348 of the bucket 336, the integrally molded coupling 346 sits downwardly over the upper end 344 of the bucket vertical member 340. The top portion of the integrally molded coupling receives the vertical standard assembly 24 shown in FIGS. 1-6 or the conversion section 68 shown in FIGS. 7-8.

Referring now to FIG. 13, the lower end of the flexible line 94 is attached to the restricted-flight ball 98 by a cross-member 81 supported by the knot 100. The cross-member 81 has two ends 83, 85, and a hole 87 through which the flexible line 94 is threaded. The restricted-flight ball 98 has numerous perforations 91, an exterior surface 93, and an interior surface 95. With the flexible line 94 and the cross-member 81 aligned, the knot 100 and the line-containing cross-member 81 are inserted through one of the perforations 91 in the direction of arrow 96. After the cross-member 81 and the knot 100 are within the restricted-flight ball 98, the cross-member 81 is re-oriented so the ends 83, 85 of the cross-member 81 are deployed against the interior surface 95 of the restricted-flight ball 98.

Referring now to FIG. 14, the lower end of the flexible line 94 is attached to the restricted-flight ball 98 by a toggle-wing member 181 supported by the knot 100. The toggle-wing member 181 has two wings 183,185 and a hole 187 through which the flexible line is threaded. The wings 183, 185 are spring biased in a spread position but can be momentarily closed, in alignment with the flexible line 94, for insertion along the arrow 97 through one of the perforations 91 in the restricted-flight ball 98. After the toggle-wing member 181 and the knot are within the restricted-flight ball 98, the wings 183,185 spread to make contact with the interior surface 95 of the restricted-flight ball 98.

Referring now to FIG. 15, the cross-member 81 shown in FIG. 13 is shown threaded through a second perforation 91 so the ends 83, 85 of the cross-member 81 are deployed against the exterior surface 93 of the restricted-flight ball 98.

Referring now to FIG. 16, the toggle-wing member 181 is shown threaded through a second perforation 91 so the wings 183, 185 are deployed against the exterior surface 93 of the restricted-flight ball 98.

Referring now to FIG. 17, the self-contained cross-training aid 20 is being stored within the bucket 36 for shipment or storage. The lower vertical section 60, the bucket vertical section 40, the bucket coupling 46, the horizontal arm section 80, and the restricted-flight ball 98 are stored adjacent the flanged base 32. The lid 50 is then attached to the rim 48 of the bucket 36.

If will be understood by one skilled in the art that the self-contained cross-training aid 20 includes the tethered ball assembly 28 (including the restricted-flight baseball/softball 98), the tethered ball assembly 128 (including a restricted-flight golf ball 198), and the tethered puck assembly 228 (including the plastic hockey puck 298), thus permitting participants to configure the self-contained cross-training aid 20 selectively for practice hitting a baseball, softball, golf ball, or hockey puck.

The foregoing descriptions of specific embodiments of the present invention have been presented for purposes of illustration and description. They are not intended to be exhaustive or to limit the invention to the precise forms disclosed, and obviously many modifications and variations are possible in light of the above teaching. The embodiments were chosen and described in order to best explain the principles of the invention and its practical application, to thereby enable others skilled in the art to best utilize the invention and various embodiments with various modifications as are suited to the particular use contemplated. It is intended that the scope of the invention be defined by the claims appended hereto and their equivalents.