Title:
Baseball/Softball Strike Zone Trainer For Hitters
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A practice device for baseball/softball players and umpires. It is used to help the hitter identify where the strike zone is and know where his or her sweet spot is located. This invention allows a hitter to focus on the location of each pitch without being distracted with the need to actually hit the ball. It consists of a free standing upright rectangular frame an attached home plate, a loop material catch panel that fits inside the frame. A three colored adjustable loop material strike zone. Plastic baseballs covered with Velcro hook material. Tally rings attached to the top of the frame for scoring and a weighted bat handle for the batter to grip.



Inventors:
Edmondson, James Duane (St. Charles, MO, US)
Application Number:
11/764521
Publication Date:
12/18/2008
Filing Date:
06/18/2007
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63B69/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
KLAYMAN, AMIR ARIE
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
JAMES DUANE EDMONDSON (SAINT CHARLES, MO, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A baseball/softball training apparatus comprising: A rectangular framework unit including a vertically disposed main framework member approximately 40″×62″ made from pvc pipe and various pvc tee and ell fittings. A base framework member projecting from the rear with two braces joined to the rectangular framework to make the unit freestanding. A home plate framed on the front and sides with pvc ell fittings and pipe 3 feet long joining to the rectangular framework. A smaller pvc pipe with various pvc fittings attached to the top of the main framework member. The pipe contains 20 pvc rings used for tracking the batters progress. Black loop fabric slightly smaller than the rectangular framework stretched taut in the framework using 6 inch bungee cords that pass through several grommets and wrap around the pipe. Loop material of three colors red, green, and yellow used to form the strike zone. The green and yellow colors are joined together to form two separate panels that expand or contract. A smaller 8″×11″ red panel fastens to the front of the green and yellow panel. This panel is the batters hot zone or sweet spot. It is positioned any where within the strike zone. The three panels contain hook material on the back side for fastening to the loop material. A plastic weighted bat handle 9 inches long and plastic balls the size of baseballs covered with white hook material.

2. The apparatus as in claim 1, instead of PVC pipe and fittings being used another material such as a molded plastic or galvanized tubing would be used.

3. The apparatus as in claim 1, wherein the 40″×62″ rectangular framework is measured at 40″ wide×50″ tall to better suit the position of an umpire practicing ball and strike calls looking over the shoulder of a catcher.

4. The apparatus as in claim 1, wherein the 3 colored targets each contain a sewn on digit representing 0, 1 and 2 strikes. The red target 0 strikes, the green target 1 strike, and the yellow target 2 strikes.

5. The apparatus as in claim 1, wherein the strike zone is removed and a large round loop or hook material target 30″ across with various colors and numbers similar to the appearance of a large scale dart board is utilized for playing recreational games.

6. The apparatus as in claim 2, wherein the strike zone is removed and a large round loop or hook material target 30″ across with various colors and numbers similar to the appearance of a large scale dart board is utilized for playing recreational games.

7. The apparatus as in claim 1, wherein the strike zone is removed and a large square loop or hook material target 30″×30″ with various colors and numbers is utilized for playing recreational games.

8. The apparatus as in claim 2, wherein the strike zone is removed and a large square loop or hook material target 30″×30″ with various colors and numbers is utilized for playing recreational games.

9. The apparatus as in claim 1, wherein the plastic balls are the size of regulation softballs and covered with white hook material.

Description:

TECHNICAL FIELD

This invention relates to a baseball/softball training device. Specifically the subject relates to improving the visual and mental skills of hitting, in addition pitchers and umpires also benefit in learning the visual skills.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

As can be seen by reference to the following U.S. Pat. Application No. 20020123397 the prior art is more than adequate for the basic purpose and function for which it has been designed, However, it is deficient in one or more of the following areas. It does not equip a hitter with the essential visual skills needed for zone hitting. Zone hitting is seeing a pitched ball and learning to swing or not swing, based on three distinct locations within and around the strike zone; lack of a tally bar and rings for keeping track of a hitters progress; an attached home plate area for a batter to position him or herself relative to the location of the strike zone; or the portability of this invention; being small enough to fold flat and set up in a matter of seconds; or the shortened version of this invention that is utilized by umpires for the training of calling balls and strikes.

When playing the game of baseball, it is very important for a hitter to possess the mental and visual skills needed to be a productive hitter. The batter must know whether to swing or take the pitch, depending on all of the different ball and strike counts he or she might have in a real game. It is also important to know which areas of the strike zone to cover for each one of those ball and strike situations.

While the prior invention uses defined targets for hitters and pitchers it should be noted that the strike zone part of the prior art is designed for pitching, not hitting. The prior art is not equipped with two of the three properly defined zones that are considered necessary for training a hitter to take good quality at bats. Nor is it equipped with an attached home plate that folds down and extends out in front of the trainer precisely aliened with the strike zone panels. It is vital that the batter have an accurate point of reference as to where he or she should take their stance to prepare for a game type at bat.

The following are the three defined target areas this training device comprises to teach a batter to become a more skilled hitter.

1. The hot zone or sweet spot, this is a red loop panel that can be positioned any where the batter likes the pitch. This is the smallest of the three targets and the batter swings with only a bat handle and is taught to swing at all pitches that hit and adhere to the hot zone panel with one exception. With three balls and no strikes the batter is taught to take the pitch. The prior art does not define a hot zone area within the strike zone.

This zone is the ideal area for a batter to receive a pitch. Balls thrown in the hot zone area increase the batter's chances of hitting a line drive which produces more base hits.

2. The green zone or the true strike zone. This is a green and yellow loop panel divided in the middle horizontally for overlapping. This makes the strike zone variable for matching the exact height of each player. The panels fasten to the main black panel using hook tape on the back side of each. The batter practices swinging at all one strike pitches that hit and adhere to the green part of this panel including the red panel, with one exception. With a three ball and one strike count the batter is trained to only swing at pitches that hit and adhere to the smaller red panel.

3. The yellow zone. This is a baseballs width surrounding the green zone. The batter practices swinging at all two strike pitches that hit and adhere to the yellow green or red panels. The batter is trained to expand their strike zone as they accumulate strikes. This is known in the game of baseball as protecting the plate. It is the inventers opinion that protecting the plate is the greatest skill a player can learn from training with this apparatus. The prior art does not encompass this area around the strike zone.

This invention was developed through years of coaching and observing little league hitters and their inability to take good quality at bats in game situations. There has long existed a need among hitters for a new type of hitting practice apparatus that works well as a visual aid for both the player and the coach and that overcomes many of the shortcomings of the prior art.

DISCLOSURE OF THE INVENTION

Briefly stated, the hitting and umpiring practice apparatus that forms the basis of this invention comprises of a framework unit that supports a portable backstop panel comprised of Velcro loop material with secondary Velcro loop targets that form a strike zone that catches pitches thrown by a pitcher to the batter. The batter swings with only a bat handle and learns the best time to swing and not swing in real game at bats. Each plastic baseball thrown by the pitcher is covered with Velcro hook material that adheres to the strike zone, revealing the exact pitch location.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Attributes of the invention will become more clear after studying the best mode for carrying out the invention along with the observation of the drawings.

FIG. 1 is a front perspective view of the batting practice apparatus that forms the basis for the invention.

FIG. 2 is a rear perspective view of the batting practice apparatus.

FIG. 3 is an enlarged front detail view of the upper right side of the batting apparatus.

FIG. 4 is an enlarged detail view of the backside upper left part of the batting apparatus

FIG. 5 is an enlarged back detail view of the primary target attachment to the frame of the apparatus.

FIG. 6 is a front perspective view of a shorter embodiment designed for umpire training.

FIG. 7 is a front perspective view of the shorter embodiment utilized as a recreational game similar to throwing darts.

BEST MODE FOR CARRYING OUT THE INVENTION

Referring to FIG. 1, the baseball/softball training apparatus of this invention is used for training hitters to swing at designated areas of the strike zone in accordance with the various ball strike counts in real game situations. The batter swings with only a bat handle while the pitcher throws a plastic baseball, covered with Velcro hook material.

As shown in FIGS. 1 and 2 the framework constructed with PVC pipe and various PVC fittings comprises generally rectangular vertical main framework member (12), and fittings (6) (9) and (11). It is attached to a generally U-shaped base framework member (28) and fittings (6) and (9), along with a bracing system (25) and (26) to form a rigid generally upright rectangular framework to employ the primary Velcro target panel (21).

As shown in FIG. 1 the attached home plate (1) is framed with PVC pipe (4) and fittings (9) that are cut in a manner so as to house the home plate. The home plate (1) is attached to the main framework in a manner that allows it to rotate and position adjacent to the primary target (21).

As shown in FIG. 2 the bracing system (25) can do the same by separating at the middle fittings (26) and rotating along with the U-shaped base framework (28) against the back side of the apparatus. This allows the apparatus to fold flat for the purpose of moving or storage.

In addition as shown in FIG. 1 the top of the batting apparatus includes a tally bar (15) along with 20 rings (16). The rings are positioned in the middle of the tally bar and are moved to the left or right for the purpose of monitoring a batters progress.

As shown in FIG. 5 the primary target color black (21) is fastened to the main upright framework by passing 6″ ball bungee cords (22) through 16 grommets (32). The bungee cords stretch the primary target (21) taut and form a surface that is ideal for catching the Velcro baseball (31). A plastic weighted bat handle (30) is used for batting.

As shown in FIG. 1 two one inch wide strips of white Velcro loop (20) are sewn to the primary target (21) for the purpose of aligning the red, green and yellow Velcro strike zone targets (17) (18) (19).

The three colored strike zone (17) (18) (19) includes Velcro hook material sewn on the back side for adhering to each other and also adhering to the primary target (21). As shown, the green and yellow panels (18) (19) are divided into two equal parts horizontally for the purpose of overlapping. This is necessary so as to make the strike zone variable to match the exact height of each batter.

FIG. 6 is shorter embodiment used for training umpires for developing skills in calling balls and strikes. The construction is the same as the FIG. 1 embodiment minus the red and yellow targets (17) (19). The umpire would only need to recognize strikes therefore only two green targets (18) overlapping would be needed.

FIG. 7 is an embodiment of FIG. 6 replacing the umpire targets (18) with a three colored Velcro loop panel (25) designed similar to a dart board. Three levels of tally rings, bars and fittings (13) (15) (16) would be used for scoring. Each level of rings would match the colors of the target. This embodiment would not include an attached home plate.

It should be understood that the framework of the apparatus can be constructed of materials other than PVC pipe such as a molded plastic or metal material.