Title:
Batting Tee Apparatus
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A baseball batting tee apparatus for positioning a baseball and guiding a bat swing, comprising a planar base support a first upright member having a first and second end; said first end releasably mounted to said base support and extending in a vertical direction, a second upright member having a first and second end, first end of second upright member telescopically and lockably engagable to second end of said first upright member, allowing the selective vertical adjustment of the second end of the second member, said second end of second member formed to receive and support a baseball, at least one adjustable swing guide comprising an adjustable two member assembly, further comprising, a first swing guide member, having a first and second end, first end rotateable and affixed to said first upright member and lockable in its entire range of motion, second end provided with a hingeable attachment to first end of second swing guide member, second swing guide member capable of lockable positioning through adjustment of said hingable attachment and rotatable first swing guide member attachment to attain a range of positions above, below, and in the horizontal plane of said second end of second upright member.



Inventors:
Molloy, Thomas J. (Downers Grove, IL, US)
Hubbell, Kevin P. (Niles, IL, US)
Application Number:
11/854485
Publication Date:
04/10/2008
Filing Date:
09/12/2007
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63B69/00
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
ARYANPOUR, MITRA
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
DYKEMA GOSSETT PLLC (CHICAGO, IL, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A baseball batting tee apparatus for positioning a baseball and guiding a bat swing, comprising: a planar base support; a first upright member having a first and second end; said first end releasably mounted to said base support and extending in a vertical direction; a second upright member having a first and second end, first end of second upright member telescopically and lockably engagable to second end of said first upright member, allowing the selective vertical adjustment of the second end of the second member, said second end of second member formed to receive and support a baseball; at least one adjustable swing guide comprising an adjustable two member assembly, further comprising; a first swing guide member, having a first and second end, first end rotateable and affixed to said first upright member and lockable in its entire range of motion, second end provided with a hingeable attachment to first end of second swing guide member; second swing guide member capable of lockable positioning through adjustment of said hingable attachment and rotatable first swing guide member attachment to attain a range of positions above, below, and in the horizontal plane of said second end of second upright member.

2. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein the second swing guide member is formed of a reslilient material, such as a closed cell foamed polymer.

3. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the lockable telescoping engagement between said first and second upright members is achieved by the provision of a vertical series of holes along a tubular first upright member, and the insertion of said second upright member formed with a spring-loaded pin or pins, engageable with said series of holes to provide a plurality of possible elevations.

4. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein first end of first swing guide member is attachable to first or second upright member by a vertically adjustable collar capable of being locked in position with a set screw.

5. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein first end of first swing guide member is attachable to first or second upright member by a lockable ball-and-socket joint.

6. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein second end of second upright member supports a baseball upon a resilient bristle material capable of retaining its initial shape after impact with a bat.

7. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein second end of second swing guide member is further coupled with a resilient bristle material capable of retaining its shape after impact with a bat.

8. The apparatus of claim 1, additionally comprising a flexible outer fabric layer attachable about the perimeter and beneath said planar base support, with a beaded material disposed there between in sufficient quantity to create a bean bag support, capable of achieving a level setting for said apparatus on otherwise uneven ground.

9. The apparatus of claim 1, additionally comprising a spring disposed between said planar base support and said first upright member, allowing said apparatus to resiliently return to its original orientation after being struck with a bat.

10. The apparatus of claim 1, additionally comprising a resilient material disposed between said planar base support and said first upright member, allowing said apparatus to resiliently return to its original orientation after being struck with a bat.

11. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein said first upright member is formed of a resilient material, such as rubber, allowing said apparatus to resiliently return to its original orientation after being struck with a bat.

12. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein said planar base support is hollow, resealable, and fillable with sand, water, or other weighting material to maximize stability.

Description:

PRIORITY CLAIM

The Present Invention claims priority to U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 60/843,878, filed 12 Sep. 2006.

BACKGROUND OF INVENTION

a. Field of Invention

The Present Invention relates generally to baseball swing training. More specifically, the Present Invention relates to a device for properly training and improving the swing technique of both developing and experienced batters alike through visual and tactile encouragement and reinforcement of a proper swing trajectory.

b. Description of Related Art

The use of a tee for batting practice in baseball is a well known training technique for all walks of baseball players, from the youngest of players to professional athletes. In the use of a tee, the a baseball is supported on a vertical member, formed at the top to receive a baseball. Often, the lower end of the vertical member is affixed to a planar support replicating the home plate used in baseball competition. To utilize the baseball tee, the height of the ball is adjusted over the plate to approximate the position of a pitched ball as it would travel over the plate. The batter assumes a stance adjacent to the plate, and swings a baseball bat to strike the ball and propel it into the playing field, simulating the actions the batter would take in striking a pitched ball. Tees are used by developing players who have not yet refined the skills and coordination to hit a pitched ball, and also by experienced and even professional players who desire to refine their hitting technique through repetition.

In combination with the use of a tee, it is advantageous to provide an additional means of encouraging the batter to exercise a proper swing technique. A mistake common in developing batters is a tendency to swing upwards through the strike zone, resulting in either a strike or an unfavorable batted ball trajectory. Rather, it is desirable for a player's swing path to be substantially level, or even slightly downward as the bat travels through the strike zone and over the plate.

Multiple solutions have been proposed to combine a means for training a particular swing with a traditional tee. Such a proposed solution is disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 6,878,077 to Andrews, the contents of which are incorporated herein by reference in its entirety. In Andrews, a series of no less than three upright standards or members are claimed, supported on a crossmember framework in order to define the parameters of a good swing. Though the standards in Andrews may be adjusted as a unitary assembly, they may not be individual adjusted relative to one another. Referring to FIG. 1 of Andrews, series of standards begins in sequence from the initial position of the batter's swing, and provides an forward and outside standard to limit the batter's outward reach. No guide or standard, however, is provided in Andrews to align the trajectory of the bat with respect to the plane of the ball as the swing is executed.

Another exemplary proposed solution is disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 6,579,195 to Lamb, the contents of which are incorporated herein by reference in its entirety. In Lamb, a tubular lattice framework assembly is disclosed, to be used in conjunction with either a traditional tee or a pitched ball, in which at least two uprights are aligned on a line perpendicular to a line extending rearward from the plate. Neither upright in Lamb is located in the line defined by the hypothetical pitched ball path and the tee. The assembly in Lamb is supported by a framework which encloses three sides of the batter's box, wherein the batter stands within the framework. The primary function of the invention claimed in Lamb is to utilize the surrounding framework to prevent the batter from overstepping. Although the rearward guideposts in Lamb assist in defining the initial trajectory of the batters swing, the height, location and proximity to the tee in Lamb are non-adjustable, thus limiting the ability of the user to tailor the invention to individual batters. Further, the position of the guideposts in Lamb define the initial, rather than final, swing trajectory.

Another exemplary proposed solution is disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 6,413,175 to Mooney, the contents of which are incorporated herein by reference in its entirety. In Mooney, a vertical member supports a pair of lateral members, one supporting a bristle brush-type ball support, and the other supporting a vertical upright mounted on a horizontal swing arm which is designated to be placed away from the batter and above the ball height to discourage over-extension of the batter's swing and otherwise encourage a compact swing.

Another exemplary proposed solution is disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 4,886,267 to Licardi, the contents of which are incorporated herein by reference in its entirety. In Licardi, an ā€œIā€ shaped framework is provided, extending from in from of the plate to rearward of it with the central member of the framework oriented along the path of a hypothetical pitched ball. At fixed points along the central member are mounted telescoping vertical members. A central vertical member functions as a tee, while a second member is positioned rearward of and extending above the batter's rearward shoulder so that the batter is positioned between the second member and the tee, and adjacent to the central I member. Although Licardi functions to cue the batter to set his or her initial swing position, no provision is made to guide the bat path as it extends through the strike zone.

SUMMARY OF INVENTION

The invention solves the problems and overcomes the drawbacks and deficiencies of prior art batting tee apparatus by providing a compact, simplified, easy-to-use apparatus to both support a baseball on a tee and provide a guide to encourage a favorable swing path through the ball. The batting tee apparatus may include a traditional batting tee, provided with a telescoping capability to adjust ball height, combined with a multi-dimensionally adjustable swing guide arm to delineate, through both visual and tactile feedback, a proper swing trajectory. The swing guide may be a two-member structure, have a first member with a proximal end is adjustably attachable to the vertical portion of a batting tee. The distal end of the first member may be rotatably and lockably adjustable with respect to the proximal end of a second member to allow the second member to be placed in a variety of orientations substantially parallel to the batting tee. The second member may also be formed of a brightly colored material, to enhance the visual feedback provided by it in encouraging a proper swing path. The second member may also be formed of a durable and resilient material, such as a closed cell foamed polymer or a rubber material, to allow multiple bat impacts while retaining shape and functionality.

First, the present invention overcomes the drawbacks and deficiencies of prior art batting tee apparatus by providing a means to guide the path of the batter's swing as it passes through the region defining the strike zone with respect to the batter and ball. Defining an ideal bat path through this critical zone is desirable because the final trajectory of the bat before it contacts the ball determines the trajectory of the batted ball. Proper alignment in this phase of the batting swing is the goal of the present invention, for which the prior art has not provided a satisfactory solution.

Second, the present invention overcomes the drawbacks and deficiencies of prior art batting tee apparatus by providing an assembly that is compact in both storage and operation, as well as easy to set up and take down. Prior art batting tee apparatus combined with an accompanying swing guide are often large and unwieldy. Many require the use of lattice work on the ground extending the entire surface area of the batter's box. The present invention takes up no more of a footprint than a home plate would standing alone. The swing guide of the present invention is attached to the vertical member of the tee, and may be folded up next to the tee for storage, providing a portable and compact apparatus that may be quickly and easily set up for use and removed for storage. Additionally, the base may be made removable from the upright tee assembly by means of a threaded insert or other attachment means known to those skilled in the art. Further, the unique assembly of the present invention assures that although the swing guide will function to adjust the batter's swing, the remainder of the apparatus will not interfere with the batter's set up, stance, or swing.

Additionally, the present invention overcomes the drawbacks and deficiencies of prior art batting tee apparatus by providing maximum adjustability with respect to the ball position and the relative position thereto of the swing guide. The adjustability of the several elements of the present invention provides maximum versatility to accommodate batters of all shapes and sizes. Further, because each individual batter may suffer from a variety of potential deficiencies in his or her swing, and thus require specific, tailored correction, the present invention provides the unique ability also to adjust the relative position of the swing in both relative height and also distance along the hypothetical pitched ball path.

Additionally, the present invention overcomes the drawbacks and deficiencies of prior art batting tee apparatus by providing a means to achieve a level apparatus in the absence of level ground. A fabric layer or layers formed beneath and attachable to the base are fillable with sand or other beaded material to form a bean bag like support upon which the planar base support may rest and maintain a level orientation. Additional stability is provided in the present invention by the provision of a spring or other resilient material between the planar base support and first upright member. The apparatus is thus able to resiliently regain its orientation in the event of an inadvertent bat strike. Finally, additionally stability is provided in the present invention by the provision of bristle type material, such as may be found in a brush, to form the ends of both second upright member and second swing guide member. The use of bristle material minimizes the amount of force transmitted to the apparatus in the event of a glancing impact with a bat, and thus maximizes stability.

Additional features, advantages, and embodiments of the invention may be set forth or apparent from consideration of the following detailed description, drawings, and claims. Moreover, it is to be understood that both the foregoing summary of the invention and the following detailed description are exemplary and intended to provide further explanation without limiting the scope of the invention as claimed.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The accompanying drawings, which are included to provide a further understanding of the invention and are incorporated in and constitute a part of this specification, illustrate preferred embodiments of the invention and together with the detailed description serve to explain the principles of the invention. In the drawings:

FIG. 1 is a diagram illustrative of the batting tee apparatus according to the present invention, in a side view equivalent to the perspective of a right-handed batter.

FIG. 2 is a diagram illustrative of the batting tee apparatus according to the present invention, in a side exploded view;

FIG. 3 is diagram illustrative of the batting tee apparatus according to the present invention, with batter displayed for relative illustrative purposes.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

Referring now to the drawings wherein like reference numerals designate corresponding parts throughout the several views, FIGS. 1 through 4 illustrate a batting tee apparatus according to the Present Invention.

Referring to FIG. 1, the Present Invention generally provides batting tee apparatus 10 including base 12 connectable to first upright member 14. First upright member 14 is telescopically engageable with a second upright member 16, and lockable by means of a set screw 18. Top end 20 of second upright member 16 is formed to receive baseball 38 resting atop open tubular second upright member 16. Collar 22 of matching circumference is fitted about first upright member 14. Set screw 24 is provided to fix the desired height of collar 22. Formed with collar 22 is hinge 26, attachable to first end 27 of first swing guide member 28. Hinge 26 is provided with set screw 30 to allow adjustment and locking. Second end 29 of first swing guide member 28 is formed with second hinge 32. Second hinge 32 is attachable to first end 33 of second swing guide member 34, adjustable and lockable with set screw 36. The apparatus in FIG. 1 can be adjusted in a manner to set second swing guide member 34 to be essentially level with the top of second upright member 16 and the position where the user is to place teed baseball 38. Further depicted in the preferred embodiment illustrated in FIG. 1, resilient bristle material 40, such as a polymeric brush material, may be formed with or attachable to the second end of second upright member 16 to minimize damage to either the apparatus or a bat in the event of inadvertent bat-to-tee contact. Similarly, resilient bristle material 42, such as a polymeric brush material, may be formed with or attachable to the second end of second swing guide member 34 to minimize damage to either the apparatus or a bat in the event of inadvertent bat-to-swing guide contact. Additionally depicted in the embodiment illustrated in FIG. 1, fabric or other flexible layer 44 may be attachable at the perimeter of planar base support 12 and the ground. Disposed between flexible layer 44 and the ground may be beaded material in sufficient quantity to provide a level apparatus in the absence of otherwise level ground. Additionally depicted in the embodiment illustrated in FIG. 1, resilient material or spring 46 may be disposed between the planar base support and first upright member 14 to allow a resilient action in the event of inadvertent bat contact. Arrows are provided in FIG. 1 to show the dimensionally adjustable aspects of the Present Invention.

Referring to FIG. 2, the Present Invention generally provides batting tee apparatus 10 including base 12 connectable to first upright member 14. First upright member 14 is telescopically engageable with second upright member 16, lockable by means of pair of pins 18 selectively engageable with series of holes 19. Top end 20 of second upright member 16 is formed to receive baseball 38 resting atop open tubular second upright member 16. Collar 22 of matching circumference is fitted about first upright member 14. Set screw 24 is provided to fix the desired height of collar 22. Formed with collar 22 is hinge 26, attachable to first end 27 of first swing guide member 28. Hinge 26 is provided with set screw 30 to allow adjustment and locking. Second end 29 of first swing guide member 28 is formed with second hinge 32. Second hinge 32 is attachable to first end 33 of second swing guide member 34, adjustable and lockable with set screw 36. The apparatus in FIG. 2 is shown in exploded form to demonstrate the relative assembly of the various parts. Additionally, screw means 46 at bottom end 15 of first upright member 14 engageable with matching female threads 13 formed in and with base 12 to allow disconnection for storage.

Referring to FIG. 3, apparatus 10 is shown in use by batter 48 aligned in a typical batting stance adjacent to base 12 prepared to hit baseball 38 atop second upright member 16 while avoiding contact between bat 50 and second swing guide member 34 as he 48 swings the bat along desirable swing path 52.

Although particular embodiments of the invention have been described in detail herein with reference to the accompanying drawings, it is to be understood that the invention is not limited to those particular embodiments, and that various changes and modifications may be effected therein by one skilled in the art without departing from the scope or spirit of the invention as defined in the appended claims.





 
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