Title:
Leg protector with adjustable foot and toe guard
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A catcher's leg protector having an adjustable foot and toe guard includes a shin guard for covering a wearer's shin, a foot and toe guard for covering a portion of a wearer's foot, and an adjustment mechanism for moving the foot and toe guard relative to the shin guard and locking the foot and toe guard in a fixed position. Various embodiments of the leg protector and associated method are provided.



Inventors:
Brown, Robin J. (Labadie, MO, US)
Lee, Jason (Guangzhou, CN)
Johnson, Steven L. (O'Fallon, IL, US)
Application Number:
11/413827
Publication Date:
11/01/2007
Filing Date:
04/28/2006
Assignee:
Rawlings Sporting Goods Company, Inc.
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A41D13/06
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
PATEL, TAJASH D
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
STINSON LLP (KANSAS CITY, MO, US)
Claims:
What is claimed and desired to be secured by Letters Patent is as follows:

1. A catcher's leg protector, comprising: a shin guard configured to cover at least a portion of a wearer's shin; a semi-rigid adjustment strap attached to said shin guard and extending from a lower edge of said shin guard; and a foot guard configured to cover at least a portion of a wearer's foot attached to said adjustment strap.

2. The leg protector of claim 1, wherein said adjustment strap is linearly movable with respect to said shin guard such that said foot guard may be moved relative to said shin guard.

3. The leg protector of claim 2, wherein said shin guard comprises an adjustment mechanism configured to receive and secure said adjustment strap.

4. The leg protector of claim 3, wherein said adjustment mechanism comprises a lever mechanism.

5. The leg protector of claim 4, wherein said adjustment strap comprises protrusions configured to engage with said lever mechanism.

6. The leg protector of claim 2, wherein said adjustment strap is affixed to said foot guard.

7. The leg protector of claim 1, further comprising a knee guard flexibly coupled to said shin guard.

8. The leg protector of claim 1, wherein said shin guard comprises a rigid shell.

9. The leg protector of claim 8, wherein said shin guard further comprises a resilient pad affixed to said rigid shell.

10. A catcher's leg protector, comprising: a shin guard configured to cover at least a portion of a wearer's shin; an adjustment strap attached to said shin guard and extending from a lower edge of said shin guard; a foot guard configured to cover at least a portion of a wearer's foot attached to said adjustment strap; and means for adjusting a position of said foot guard relative to said shin guard.

11. The leg protector of claim 10, further comprising a thigh protector attached to an upper portion of said shin guard.

12. The leg protector of claim 10, wherein said shin guard comprises a rigid shell attached to a resilient pad.

13. The leg protector of claim 10, wherein said means for adjusting comprises a locking mechanism operable to secure said adjustment strap in a fixed position.

14. A catcher's leg protector, comprising: a shin guard configured to cover at least a portion of a wearer's shin; a foot guard configured to cover at least a portion of a wearer's foot; and an adjustment strap coupled between said shin guard and said foot guard such that said foot guard is movable with respect to said shin guard.

15. The leg protector of claim 14, wherein said strap is a semi-rigid adjustment strap coupled between said shin guard and said foot guard.

16. A catcher's leg protector, comprising: a shin guard configured to cover at least a portion of a wearer's shin; an adjustment mechanism affixed to said shin guard, said mechanism comprising a lever; a semi-rigid adjustment strap coupled to said adjustment mechanism, said strap having protrusions configured to engage with said lever; and a foot guard configured to cover at least a portion of a wearer's foot attached to said adjustment strap wherein said adjustment strap is movable within said adjustment mechanism such that said foot guard is movable relative to said shin guard.

17. The leg protector of claim 16, wherein sad adjustment mechanism is operable to lock said engagement strap such that said foot guard is fixed in position relative to said shin guard.

18. The leg protector of claim 17, wherein said adjustment mechanism comprises a biasing element operable to retain said adjustment mechanism in a locked position.

19. The leg protector of claim 18, wherein said adjustment strap comprises protruding serrations configured to engage with said adjustment mechanism.

20. A method of sizing a leg protector having a shin guard and a foot guard, the method comprising: providing a leg protector having a shin guard and a foot guard attached via an adjustment strap, said shin guard comprising an adjustment mechanism adapted to receive said adjustment strap; releasing said adjustment mechanism to allow movement of said adjustment strap along said adjustment mechanism; and moving said adjustment strap linearly along said shin guard such that a linear distance between said foot guard and said shin guard varies.

21. The method of claim 21, further comprising: securing said adjustment mechanism to affix said adjustment strap within said adjustment mechanism.

22. The method of claim 21, wherein said securing step comprises providing a spring bias within said adjustment mechanism.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

None.

STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH OR DEVELOPMENT

Not applicable.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to protective sports equipment, and more particularly to catcher's leg protectors used in baseball and softball. Specifically, the present invention relates to catcher's leg protectors having attached foot and toe guards.

2. Description of Related Art

In the games of baseball and softball, the catcher typically wears articles of protective equipment, including a chest protector and leg protectors. Leg protectors usually include padded guard units for protecting the catcher's thighs, knees, shins, calves, and feet and toes. Each individual guard unit typically comprises a rigid shell portion to provide protection against strikes from stray balls, with the rigid shell portion attached to a resilient padding backing to absorb the impact from any such strikes.

The individual guard pieces may be combined into a single unit, for instance a shin protector, knee protector, and calf protectors may be combined into a single protective unit, or they may be separate pieces, as is typical with foot or toe protectors. The individual pieces are integrated into a single leg protector by adjoining the various individual pieces together using padding, straps, or other means. The leg protector is secured to the catcher's leg using straps or bands attached around various portions of the leg. The integrated leg protector thus provides protection to the areas of the catcher's legs that would otherwise be exposed to stray balls.

In such conventional leg protectors, the foot or toe guard portion is often just an extension off of the lower portion of the shin guard portion. A length of padding simply extends from the lower edge of the shin guard and to the foot of the wearer, where a rigid shell forms the foot and toe guard of the leg protector. Other configurations of leg protectors have the foot and toe guard attached to the shin guard portion via a flexible strap, which allows the foot and toe guard to lie loosely on top of the catcher's foot. In either of these configurations, the spacing or distance between the foot and toe guard and the shin guard is fixed, and cannot be adjusted by the user.

Hence, a particular leg protector will be configured to conform to a hypothetical average-sized catcher, with the foot and toe guard located at a distance from the shin guard such that the foot and toe guard covers a pre-defined area of that average-sized catcher's foot. Catchers of different sizes, or average-sized catchers who want the distance between the foot and toe guard and the shin guard changed, are unable to vary the spacing in this fixed configuration. This fixed configuration is particularly undesirable in cases where a player needs to protect a specific area of his or her foot that has been injured, or otherwise needs extra protection.

Thus, it can be seen that there remains a need in the art for a leg protector having a shin guard and toe guard configuration that is adaptable to a particular wearer.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention is directed to a leg protector having an adjustable foot and toe guard. The foot and toe guard portion of the leg protector is movable with respect to the shin guard portion so that a linear distance between the foot and toe guard and the shin guard may be varied by the wearer. The adjustability of the spacing between the foot and toe guard and the shin guard allows a wearer to locate the foot and toe guard over any desired portion of their foot.

For example, a shorter-than-average catcher may adjust the foot and toe guard to be closer to the shin guard so that the foot and toe guard is located over the mid-portion of their foot rather than being located over their toes, as occurs when using conventional, fixed configuration leg protectors. Or, a taller-than-average catcher may adjust the foot and toe guard to be farther away from the shin guard so that the foot and toe guard is located over the mid-portion of their foot rather than being located high up on their foot, near their ankle, as would occur with a conventional, fixed-configuration leg protector. Similarly, a catcher who has injured a toe may choose to adjust the foot and toe guard so that it is farther away from the shin guard such that it covers and protects his or her toes.

In an exemplary embodiment of the present invention, the leg protector comprises a resilient pad backing configured to cover and conform to the shin and lower knee of the wearer's leg. Attached to the resilient pad are rigid shell shin guard, rigid shell left and right side shin guards, and rigid shell left and right ankle joint guards to protect those areas of a wearer's leg. A knee guard and thigh guard, each comprising a rigid shell with a resilient pad backing, are attached to the upper portion of the lower leg protector, with a shield piece covering the gap between the knee guard and the thigh guard. Four attachment straps secure the knee guard, thigh guard, and shin guard portions to the leg of the wearer.

A semi-rigid adjustment strap extends from a lower edge of the shin guard portion to a foot and toe guard, the foot and toe guard also comprising a rigid shell with a resilient pad backing. The adjustment strap extends upwardly on the back side of the shin guard and into an adjustment mechanism mounted along the back side of the shin guard. Raised protrusions on a surface of the adjustment strap engage with a spring-biased lever on the adjustment mechanism. When engaged with the adjustment strap, the lever secures the adjustment strap in place, thus holding the foot and toe guard in a fixed position. Using the lever, the wearer can disengage the lever from the adjustment strap and move the adjustment strap linearly along the shin guard. Moving the adjustment strap in turn moves the attached foot and toe guard towards or away from the shin guard, allowing the wearer to position the foot and toe guard anywhere along his or her foot.

Thus, the adjustment mechanism allows a wearer to position the foot and toe guard anywhere along the foot as desired, and allows as single leg protector to be quickly and easily adjusted to different wearers, or to the preference of a single wearer.

Additional aspects of the invention, together with the advantages and novel features appurtenant thereto, will be set forth in part in the description which follows, and in part will become apparent to those skilled in the art upon examination of the following, or may be learned from the practice of the invention. The objects and advantages of the invention may be realized and attained by means of the instrumentalities and combinations particularly pointed out in the appended claims.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The present invention will be described in greater detail in the following detailed description of the invention with reference to the accompanying drawings that form a part hereof, in which:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a leg protector with adjustable foot and toe guard in accordance with an exemplary embodiment of the present invention, showing the foot and toe guard positioned away from the shin guard portion of the leg protector.

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the leg protector of FIG. 1, showing the foot and toe guard positioned near the shin guard portion of the leg protector.

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of the foot and toe guard and semi rigid adjustment strap of the leg protector of FIG. 1.

FIG. 4 is a partial rear elevational view of the leg protector of FIG. 2.

FIG. 5 is a side elevational view of the foot and toe guard of FIG. 3, and the adjustment mechanism on the shin guard.

FIG. 6 is a perspective view of the adjustment mechanism of FIG. 5.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF EXEMPLARY EMBODIMENTS

A leg protector with an adjustable foot and toe guard in accordance with an exemplary embodiment of the present invention is depicted in FIGS. 1 through 6. While the invention will be described in detail herein below with reference to this exemplary embodiment, it should be understood that the invention is not limited to the specific configuration shown in these embodiments. Rather, one skilled in the art will appreciate that a variety of configurations may be implemented in accordance with the present invention.

Looking to FIG. 1, a leg protector with an adjustable foot and toe guard in accordance with an exemplary embodiment of the present invention is depicted generally by the numeral 10. Leg protector 10 includes an upper leg portion 12, a lower leg portion 14, and a foot portion 16. As described herein below, foot portion 16 is movable with respect to lower leg portion 14 to allow the foot portion to be moved closer to, or further from, the lower leg portion to position the foot portion as desired along a wearer's foot.

Lower Leg Portion

Looking still to FIG. 1, lower leg portion 14 comprises a resilient pad backing 18 configured to cover and conform to the shin and lower knee of a wearer's leg. Resilient pad 18 extends and wraps rearwardly, from a front shin portion 22, to side shin portions 24a, 24b on opposite sides of the wearers leg to the wearer's calf. Resilient pad 18 further extends downwardly and slightly rearwardly, from a lower shin portion 28, to side ankle portions 30a, 30b on opposite sides of the wearer's leg, covering the wearer's ankle joint on each side.

Resilient pad 18 is preferably a lightweight, durable, shock-absorbing material, such as polyethylene or polyurethane foam. Most preferably, resilient pad 18 is enclosed within a cover material such as cloth, nylon, polyester, leather, or the like, with the cover material being stitched to resilient pad 18. Other materials and variations on the configuration and materials of resilient pad 18 will be apparent to those skilled in the art, and are within the scope of the present invention. For example, other padding materials, such as layered felt or rubber may be used without deviating from the present invention. Likewise, a cover material need not be stitched to the resilient pad, but may be glued, stapled, riveted, or attached using any means known in the art.

Looking still to FIG. 1, lower leg portion 14 further comprises a rigid shell shin guard 32, rigid shell left and right side shin guards 34a, 34b, and rigid shell left and right ankle guards 36a, 36b, all affixed to the outer (away from the wearer's leg) surface of resilient pad 18. Rigid shell shin guard 32 is affixed to the front shin portion 22 of resilient pad 18, to cover and protect the front shin of the wearer. Rigid shell left and right side shin guards 34a, 34b are affixed to the left and right side shin portions 24a, 24b, respectively, of resilient pad 18, to cover and protect the left and right sides of the shin of the wearer, forward of the wearer's calf. Rigid shell left and right ankle guards 36a, 36b, are affixed to the left and right side ankle portions 30a, 30b, respectively, of resilient pad 18, to cover and protect the left and right ankle joints of the wearer.

Rigid shell shin guard 32, left and right side shin guards 34a, 34b, and left and right ankle guards 36a, 36b are preferably manufactured from a rigid, impact-resistant material, such as polyethylene, polypropylene, polystyrene, polyvinylchloride (PVC), acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS) and co-polymers, composites or blends thereof. Most preferably, the rigid shells are made from a high-density polyethylene plastic material. The rigid shells may be made using any manufacturing technique known in the art, such as injection molding, extrusion, blow molding, thermoforming, rotational molding, compression molding, or casting. Preferably, the rigid shells are manufactured using an injection molding process. The rigid shells may include molded or formed apertures to make the pieces lighter weight and allow air to flow under the shells. Molded or formed patterns, apertures, or logos may also be included to identify the pieces or to improve their aesthetic appearance.

The rigid shell shin guard 32, left and right side shin guards 34a, 34b, and left and right ankle guards 36a, 36b are affixed to resilient pad 18 with stitching material secured through small apertures formed in the outer perimeters of the rigid shells. Of course, the rigid shells may also be affixed to resilient pad 18 using other attachment means and methods known in the art, such as gluing or riveting. Other variations of the rigid shells and their attachment to resilient pad 18 will be apparent to those skilled in the art, and fall within the scope of the present invention. For example, the rigid shells may be made of a lightweight metal or alloy, and may be affixed to resilient pad 18 with rivets, without deviating from the scope of the present invention.

Attachment straps 38a, 38b extend from resilient pad 18, near the top and bottom, respectively, of left side shin guard 34a, across the back of resilient pad 18, to the corresponding top and bottom of right side shin guard 34b. The attachment straps 38a, 38b are affixed to resilient pad 18 with stitching extending through the straps and pad. Attachment clips 40a, 40b are a receptacle and pin type snap connector, allowing the attachment straps to be opened for placement on a wearer's leg and then closed to secure the leg protector to the leg. A buckle mechanism on the attachment strap allows the straps to be tightened to snugly fit the leg protector to the wearer's leg, with the elasticity of the attachment straps further ensuring a snug fit. Other types and configurations of attachment straps and clips will be apparent to those skilled in the art, and are within the scope of the present invention.

Upper Leg Portion

Looking still to FIG. 1, upper leg portion 12 comprises a knee guard 42, a thigh guard 44, and a shield 46. Knee guard 42 comprises a rigid shell 48 affixed to a resilient backing pad 50, positioned to protect the knee area of the wearer. The knee guard 42 is slightly arced, and configured to wrap partially around the sides of a wearer's knee to protect the wearer's knee cap. Thigh guard 44 comprises a rigid shell 52 affixed to a resilient backing pad 54, and is positioned above knee guard 42, in the area of the wearer's front, lower thigh. Thigh guard 44 is slightly arced to conform to the shape of the wearer's thigh. Shield 46 comprises a rigid shell 56 affixed to a resilient backing pad 58, and is positioned to cover the gap 59 between knee guard 42 and thigh guard 44. Shield 46 is positioned so that it overlays the upper portion of knee guard 42 and the lower portion of thigh guard 44. Shield 48 thus does not directly contact the wearer's leg in normal use.

Knee guard 42 is attached to the upper portion of resilient pad 18 of lower leg portion 14 via two woven, non-elastic straps (not shown) extending from the lower edge of the knee guard. The woven straps are affixed to resilient pad 18 and resilient backing pad 50 with rivets, thus securing the lower leg portion 14 of the leg protector 10 to the upper leg portion 12. The woven straps form a flexible and secure joint between the two portions of the leg guard.

In a similar manner, thigh guard 44 is attached to knee guard 42 via two woven, non-elastic straps (not shown) extending from the upper edge of the knee guard 42 to the lower edge of the thigh guard 44. The woven straps are affixed to resilient backing pad 50 of knee guard 42 and resilient backing pad 54 of thigh guard 44 with rivets extending through the straps and backing pads. Shield 46 is secured with rivets to the two woven straps extending between knee guard 42 and thigh guard 44. Shield 46 slightly overlays the upper portion of knee guard 42 and the lower portion of thigh guard 44, covering the gap 59 between the two.

Similar to the attachment straps previously described, attachment straps 38c, 38d attach knee guard 42 and thigh guard 44, respectively, to the leg of the wearer. Attachment clips 40c, 40d allow the attachment straps to be opened for placement on a wearer's knee and thigh, then closed to secure the leg protector the leg. A buckle mechanism on the attachment strap allows the straps to be tightened to snugly fit the leg protector to the wearer's leg, with the elasticity of the attachment straps further ensuring a snug fit. Other types and configurations of attachment straps and clips will be apparent to those skilled in the art, and are within the scope of the present invention.

The materials, manufacturing methods, and attachment means previously described with respect to the rigid shells and resilient backing of lower leg portion 14 are equally applicable to the knee guard 42, thigh guard 44, and shield 46 just described. Other variations and configurations will, of course, be apparent to those skilled in the art. For example, while the woven straps are described as being riveted to the resilient pads, other methods of securing the straps, such as stitching, gluing, or stapling may be employed. Likewise, variations on the woven straps used to attach adjoining guards are contemplated by the present invention. For example, the guards may be attached using a single woven strap, more than two straps, or other than woven straps. Or, the guards may be attached via extensions of the resilient pads on the pieces, in lieu of separate straps. These and other variations will be apparent to those skilled in the art, and are within the scope of the present invention.

Foot Portion

Looking still to FIG. 1, foot portion 16 comprises a foot and toe guard 60 affixed to a first end 62 of an adjustment strap 64. Foot and toe guard 60 comprises a rigid shell 66 affixed to a resilient backing pad 68, positioned to protect a portion of a wearer's upper foot. The materials and manufacturing methods previously described with respect to the rigid shells and resilient backing of lower leg portion 14 and upper leg portion 12 are equally applicable to the foot and toe guard 60 just described.

First end 62 of adjustment strap 64 is secured to the upper portion of foot and toe guard 60 with rivet 61 extending through rigid shell 66 and adjustment strap 64. The adjustment strap 64 is sandwiched between rigid shell 66 and resilient backing pad 68 so that first end 62 is between the two. Of course, other means and methods known in the art may be used to attach adjustment strap 64 to foot and toe guard 60, such as stitching or gluing.

Looking now to FIGS. 1-4, a second end 70 of semi-rigid, flexible, and resilient adjustment strap 64 extends from behind the lower edge of resilient pad 18 of lower leg portion 14, where it engages with an adjustment mechanism 72 affixed to the rear of shin guard 32 as described in more detail herein below. As best seen in FIG. 3, adjustment strap 64 comprises a generally smooth front surface 74, with a rear surface 76 comprising a series of saw tooth shaped ratchet protrusions or serrations 78 extending across the width of rear surface 76 over the entire length of adjustment strap 64. Each saw tooth shaped serration 78 includes a ramp portion 79a and a flat portion 79b extending perpendicular the strap 64. As shown in FIG. 4, a rear view of a portion of lower leg portion 14 and foot portion 16, the serrations 78 of adjustment strap 64 are configured to engage with adjustment mechanism 72 on the rear of shin guard 32 to hold the adjustment strap 64 (and thus foot and toe guard 60) in a desired position similar to a ratchet mechanism.

Adjustment strap 64 may be any semi-rigid, flexible, resilient material, such as a plastic or plastic composite. Adjustment strap 64 may be made using any manufacturing technique known in the art, such as injection molding, extrusion, blow molding, thermoforming, rotational molding, compression molding, or casting.

Adjustment Mechanism

Looking to FIG. 6, adjustment mechanism 72 comprises a lever 80 pivotably attached to a base 82 such that lever 80 pivots on base 82 about axis x. Lever 80 extends from a first end 88 to a second end 90, with second end 90 curving slightly from the plane of the body of the lever and terminating in an engagement edge 92. Spring 86 is affixed to base 82, and is positioned between lever 80 and base 82 so that lever 80 is normally biased in a closed or locked position, with first end 88 pushed outwardly from base 82 and engagement edge 92 thus pushed downwardly, towards base 82. Base 82 and lever 80 may be manufactured from any strong, lightweight material. Preferably, base 82 is made from metal and is riveted to the shin guard 32, and lever 80 is made from plastic. Other variations and configurations will be apparent to those skilled in the art, and are contemplated by, and within the scope of, the present invention. For example, other materials may be used for base 82 and lever 80, and biasing means other than spring 86 may be used without varying from the present invention. Likewise, while base 82 is preferably riveted to shin guard 32, other attachment methods and means, such as screws, bolts, glue, or welding may also be used.

Turning now to FIG. 5, with adjustment strap 64 inserted through adjustment mechanism 72, engagement edge 92 of lever 80 engages against serrations 78 on rear surface 76 of adjustment strap 64. Biasing spring 86 keeps engagement edge 92 locked against the serrations 78. With adjustment strap 64 thus engaged with adjustment mechanism 72, adjustment strap 64 (and thus attached foot and toe guard 60) is secured in a desired position.

Looking still to FIG. 5, it will be apparent that a wearer may press first end 88 of lever 80 to overcome the bias of spring 86 and disengage engagement edge 92 from serrations 78 of adjustment strap 64. With the adjustment mechanism thus disengaged, a wearer can freely move adjustment strap 64 into and out of engagement mechanism 72, as depicted by line y in the figure, so that foot and toe guard 60 can be moved closer to, or farther away from, the adjustment mechanism 72. With the foot and toe guard in a desired position, the wearer can release lever 80 so that spring 86 biases engagement end 92 of lever 80 against the serrations 78 of adjustment strap 64, thus locking the adjustment strap in the desired position.

As shown in FIG. 5, the configuration of serrations 78 and adjustment mechanism 72 allows an inward adjustment (that is, allows foot and toe guard 60 to be moved towards adjustment mechanism 72) without requiring a user to disengage lever 80 from adjustment strap 64. The arrangement of saw tooth shape serrations 78, with the flat portion 79b of each saw tooth facing towards the foot and toe guard 60, allow a wearer to apply inward force (towards adjustment mechanism 72, along line y) to foot and toe guard 60 or adjustment strap 64. The force applied by the wearer overcomes the bias of spring 86, allowing engagement edge 92 to ride up the ramped portion 79a of a saw tooth shaped serration 78. Upon passing the apex of the saw tooth serration, bias spring 86 snaps engagement edge 92 back down to the next serration, where the same action may be repeated. Thus, using this ratcheting ability of the mechanism, a user may push adjustment strap 64 into adjustment mechanism 72 as desired without having to separately disengage lever 80.

This saw tooth serration configuration also prevents adjustment strap 64 from being moved outwardly (that is, foot and toe guard 60 moved away from adjustment mechanism 72) without separate disengagement of lever 80 by the wearer. With engagement edge 92 engaged against a saw tooth shaped serration 78, any outward movement is prevented by the engagement or abutment of engagement edge 92 against the flat portion 79b of the serration 78. Thus, unlike the inward adjustment previously described, flat portion 79b of serration 78 withstands the applied force and holds the adjustment strap in place, as there is no ramped surface in this direction for the engagement edge to ride up. Thus a wearer may not adjust foot and toe guard 60 outwardly without also separately disengaging lever 80 by pressing first end 88 of the lever 80.

Of course, other arrangements and configurations of the adjustment mechanism and strap will be apparent to those skilled in the art. For example, instead of saw teeth, the strap may include triangular shaped serrations, with ramps on both sides. This configuration would allow the adjustment strap to be moved inwardly or outwardly to a desired position, without a wearer having to separately disengage lever 80. Or, the saw teeth could be oriented opposite the direction shown, so that a user could move the adjustment strap outwardly, but not inwardly, without separately disengaging lever 80. In addition, other adjustment mechanisms and arrangements that would enable the strap to be moved and preferably locked in place will be obvious to those skilled in the art, and are within the scope of the present invention.

Turning back to FIG. 1, with adjustment strap 64 inserted in, and engaged with, the adjustment mechanism as just described, adjustment strap 64 extends downwardly from behind lower leg portion 14 to foot and toe guard 60. Foot and toe guard 60 is thus positioned below the lower edge of lower leg portion 14, in the area of a wearer's foot.

Leg protector 10 thus comprises an upper leg portion 12, a lower leg portion 14, and a foot portion 16, configured as just described. The portions are connected together as described in a complete leg protector, with the foot and toe guard portion being adjustable to lie along any portion of the wearer's foot. The leg protector may be manufactured in any particular size, or may be manufactured to an intermediate or one-size-fits-all configuration. In any configuration, the leg protector may be fitted with various sizes of removable pads attached to the inner side of any of the described guards as desired by the wearer.

With the structure of leg protector thus set forth, the use and operation of the protector will now be described.

Operation

Looking to FIGS. 1 and 2, in use, leg protector 10 is attached to a wearer's leg 94. Upper leg portion 12 is secured to the leg with attachment straps 36c, 36d, to position knee guard 42, thigh guard 44, and shield 46 to protect the wearer's upper leg. Lower leg portion 14 is secured to the leg with attachment straps 36a, 36b, to position resilient pad 18, shin guard 32, left and right shin guards 34a, 34b, and left and right ankle guards 36a, 36b to protect the wearer's lower leg. Foot portion 16 is attached to lower leg portion 14 with adjustment strap 64 as previously described so that foot and toe guard 60 lies on top of, and protects, the wearer's foot 96.

With the leg guard thus attached, shin guard 32 lies substantially parallel with the shin portion of the wearer's leg, with a linear axis z defined along shin guard 32 running substantially vertically, with the wearer in a standing position. With foot and toe guard 60 positioned over the toes of the wearer, as shown in FIG. 1, adjustable strap 64 extends along the top of the wearer's foot, behind shin guard 32, and to the adjustment mechanism located on the back of shin guard 32. To move the foot and toe guard 60 to a position over the wearer's upper foot, as shown in FIG. 2, the wearer simply pushes upward on the foot and toe guard 60, moving adjustment strap 64 through the adjustment mechanism as previously described, so that the strap moves linearly along axis z of shin guard 32.

The wearer may likewise move foot and toe guard 60 back to the position over the toes, as shown in FIG. 1, by pressing the first end of the lever of the adjustment mechanism to disengage the engagement edge from the serrations on the adjustment strap, as previously described, thus allowing the wearer to pull adjustment strap 64 linearly outwardly, along axis z, from the adjustment mechanism.

Thus, a wearer may adjust foot and toe guard 60 to any position over the foot, from an over-the-toes position as shown in FIG. 1, to an over-the-ankle position as shown in FIG. 2, or to any position in between. In a desired position, the adjustment mechanism locks the adjustment strap in place to prevent further movement of the foot and toe guard. The leg protector may thus be adjusted to adapt to wearer's of various sizes, or to be adjusted to a particular wearer's preference.

As can be seen, the invention described herein provides a catcher's leg protector that allows a wearer to adjust the positioning of the foot and toe guard portion to the wearer's preference, while simultaneously providing the protective benefits of a conventional leg protector. Of course, other embodiments or configurations will be apparent to those skilled in the art, and are contemplated by and within the scope of the present invention.

The term “substantially” or “approximately” as used herein may be applied to modify any quantitative representation which could permissibly vary without resulting in a change in the basic function to which it is related. For example, the shin guard is described as lying substantially parallel with the shin of a wearer, but may permissibly vary from parallel if the variance does not materially alter the capability of the invention.

While the present invention has been described and illustrated hereinabove with reference to various exemplary embodiments, it should be understood that various modifications could be made to these embodiments without departing from the scope of the invention. Therefore, the invention is not to be limited to the exemplary embodiments described and illustrated hereinabove, except insofar as such limitations are included in the following claims.





 
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