Title:
Low-Profile Batting Helmet
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The present invention is directed to a low-profile batting helmet. The low-profile helmet includes a gradually-sloped front portion for covering and protecting the front portion of a user's head. The gradual slope of the front portion permits the helmet to conform closely to the users' head, providing more contact between the helmet and the wearer's head than occurs with a conventional helmet. The close conformity of the helmet to the user's head provide a snug fit to secure the helmet to the head and increased comfort to the wearer. In addition, the gradual slope of the front portion presents a decreased vertical surface component (compared to conventional helmets) such that a strike from a stray ball is more easily deflected compared to a strike to a conventional helmet.



Inventors:
Broersma, Lester (San Diego, CA, US)
Hoying, Brian (Saint Louis, MO, US)
Application Number:
12/040552
Publication Date:
09/03/2009
Filing Date:
02/29/2008
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
2/425
International Classes:
A42B3/12; A63B71/10
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
YOON, JANE SUJIN
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 low-profile batting helmet, comprising: a rigid shell comprising a front portion, a rear portion, a left portion and a right portion shaped to cover the respective front, rear, left and right portions of a wearer's head, said shell defining a bottom opening and an inner cavity for receiving said wearer's head, wherein said front, back, left, and right portions converge at a top point corresponding to a centerline of the helmet, said centerline corresponding to an intersection of lengthwise and widthwise planes extending through a lengthwise center point and widthwise center point, respectively, of the helmet; and wherein a slope of said rear portion of said helmet is steeper than a slope of said front portion of said helmet.

2. The low-profile batting helmet of claim 1, wherein a first distance, measured along an outer surface of said rigid shell between said top point and a front center point defined by the intersection of a reference line extending through said centerline in said lengthwise plane and said front portion of said rigid shell, is less than a second distance, measured along an outer surface of said rigid shell between said top point and a rear center point defined by the intersection of said reference line and said rear portion of said rigid shell.

3. The low-profile helmet of claim 2, wherein said first distance ranges from about seventy percent to about ninety-five percent of said second distance.

4. The low-profile helmet of claim 2, further comprising a bill extending outwardly from said front portion and wherein said front center point corresponds to an intersection of said front portion and said bill.

5. The low-profile helmet of claim 2, wherein said slope of said front portion measured at said front center point is not parallel to said centerline.

6. The low-profile helmet of claim 5, wherein said slope of said front portion measured at said front center point is within the range of from about five degrees to about thirty-five degrees from parallel to said centerline.

7. The low profile helmet of claim 5, wherein said slope of said front portion measured at said front center point is within the range of from about ten degrees to about thirty degrees from parallel to said centerline.

8. The low profile helmet of claim 5, wherein said slope of said front portion measured at said front center point is approximately twenty degrees from parallel to said centerline.

9. The low-profile helmet of claim 1, wherein an area of said front portion, measured as the area of the front portion extending outside of a first reference line between said top point and a front center point defined by the intersection of a second reference line extending through said centerline in said lengthwise plane and said front portion of said rigid shell, is less than an area of said rear portion, measured as the area of the rear portion extending outside of a third reference line between said top point and a rear center point defined by the intersection of said second reference line and said rear portion of said rigid shell.

10. The low-profile helmet of claim 9, wherein said areas are cross sectional areas, and wherein said area of said front portion ranges from about seventy-five percent to about ninety percent of said area of said rear portion.

11. The low-profile helmet of claim 9, wherein said areas are cross sectional areas, and wherein said area of said front portion is about eighty percent or less of said area of said rear portion.

12. The low-profile helmet of claim 9, wherein said areas are surface areas, and wherein said area of said front portion ranges from about seventy-five percent to about ninety percent of said area of said rear portion.

13. The low-profile helmet of claim 9, wherein said areas are surface areas, and wherein said area of said front portion is about eighty percent or less of said area of said rear portion.

14. The low-profile helmet of claim 1, further comprising padding affixed to said rigid shell within said inner cavity, said padding having an inner surface configured to conform closely to said wearer's head.

15. The low-profile helmet of claim 14, wherein a portion of said inner surface contacting said wearer's head ranges from about fifty percent to about ninety percent of a total area of said inner surface.

16. The low-profile helmet of claim 14, wherein a portion of said inner surface contacting said wearer's head is greater than about seventy-five percent of a total area of said inner surface.

17. The low profile helmet of claim 1, wherein said top point corresponds to an apex of said helmet.

18. A low-profile batting helmet, comprising: a rigid shell comprising a front portion and a rear portion shaped to cover and protect the front and rear portions, respectively, of a wearer's head; wherein said front and rear portions meet at a top point corresponding to a centerline of the helmet and wherein a slope of said rear portion of said helmet is steeper than a slope of said front portion of said helmet.

19. The low-profile batting helmet of claim 18, wherein a first length of said front portion as measured along an outer surface of said rigid shell between said top point and a front center point is less than a second length of said rear portion as measured along an outer surface of said rigid shell between said top point and a rear center point corresponding to said front center point.

20. The low-profile helmet of claim 19, wherein said first length ranges from about seventy percent to about ninety-five percent of said second length.

21. The low-profile helmet of claim 19, further comprising a bill extending outwardly from said front portion and wherein said front center point corresponds to an intersection of said front portion and said bill.

22. The low-profile helmet of claim 19, wherein said slope of said front portion measured at said front center point is not parallel to said centerline.

23. The low-profile helmet of claim 19, wherein said slope of said front portion measured at said front center point is within the range of from about five degrees to about thirty-five degrees from parallel to said centerline.

24. The low-profile helmet of claim 19, wherein an area of said front portion, measured as the area of the front portion extending outside of a first reference line between said top point and a front center point defined by the intersection of a second reference line extending through said centerline in said lengthwise plane and said front portion of said rigid shell, is less than an area of said rear portion, measured as the area of the rear portion extending outside of a third reference line between said top point and a rear center point defined by the intersection of said second reference line and said rear portion of said rigid shell.

25. The low-profile helmet of claim 24, wherein said areas are cross sectional areas, and wherein said area of said front portion ranges from about seventy-five percent to about ninety percent of said area of said rear portion tion.

26. The low-profile helmet of claim 24, wherein said areas are cross sectional areas, and wherein said area of said front portion is about eighty percent or less of said area of said rear portion.

27. The low-profile helmet of claim 24, wherein said areas are surface areas, and wherein said area of said front portion ranges from about seventy-five percent to about ninety percent of said area of said rear portion.

28. The low-profile helmet of claim 24, wherein said areas are surface areas, and wherein said area of said front portion is about eighty percent or less of said area of said rear portion.

29. The low-profile helmet of claim 19, further comprising padding affixed to said rigid shell within said inner cavity, wherein a front portion of said padding conforms to said front portion of said rigid shell.

30. The low-profile helmet of claim 29, wherein an inner surface of said front portion of said padding is configured to conform closely to said wearer's head.

31. The low-profile helmet of claim 30, wherein at least seventy-five percent of said inner surface of said padding contacts said wearer's head.

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 protective helmets used in baseball and softball. Specifically, the present invention relates to protective batting helmets.

2. Description of Related Art

Protective helmets are commonly used in various sports to provide protection to a player's head and face. In baseball, for example, players commonly wear batting helmets to provide protection against wild pitches or foul balls. Offensive players also sometimes wear helmets when running the bases to protect against balls thrown in the playing field. In lower-level leagues, especially those geared to younger players, protective batting helmets are often required to protect against stray pitches and throws.

Typical batting helmets include a rigid outer shell, with padding affixed to the inside of the helmet to provide a more comfortable fit to the wearer. Because helmets are rarely custom-manufactured for a particular wearer, manufacturers attempt to make batting helmets adaptable to a large number of potential users. A typical batting helmet is shaped in a generally symmetrical pattern (as viewed from front-to-rear and from side-to-side) having relatively steep front and rear outer surfaces. So long as the helmet fits over the head and is reasonably snug such that it will not fall off, the helmet will provide protection. While a batting helmet of this configuration does provide general protection to a user, it does not generally provide a comfortable, secure fit, nor does it provide any enhanced deflection features to protect the user.

Thus, it can be seen that there remains a need in the art for a protective batting helmet that provides a better fit to a user and that further provides enhanced protection to the user.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention is directed to a low-profile batting helmet. The low-profile helmet includes a gradually-sloped front portion for covering and protecting the front portion of a user's head. The gradual slope of the front portion permits the helmet to conform closely to the users' head, providing more contact between the padding along the inner surface of the helmet and the wearer's head than occurs with a conventional helmet. The close conformity of the helmet to the user's head provides a snug fit to secure the helmet to the head and increased comfort to the wearer. In addition, the gradual slope of the front portion presents a decreased vertical surface component (compared to conventional helmets) such that a strike from a stray ball is more easily deflected compared to a strike to a conventional helmet.

In an exemplary embodiment, the helmet comprises a rigid shell for protecting the head of the wearer, with the front portion of the helmet having a low-profile, gradual slope. Padding on the interior surface of the helmet contacts the wearer's head, with the padding on the interior of the gradually-sloped front portion of the helmet thus conforming closely to the wearer's head to provide a snug, comfortable fit. The low-profile, gradually-sloped front portion ensures that a greater percentage of the interior of the helmet is in contact with the wearer's head and reduces any gaps between the helmet and the head as compared to conventional batting helmets. The low-profile of the front portion of the helmet further provides a non-vertical surface to deflect any stray pitches and reduce the impact transferred to the wearer when the helmet is struck by a stray ball.

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 right-side elevational view of a prior-art batting helmet.

FIG. 2 is a right-side elevational view of a low-profile batting helmet in accordance with an exemplary embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 3 is a view of the prior-art helmet of FIG. 1 with included dimensional and reference markings.

FIG. 4 is a view of the low-profile helmet of FIG. 2 with included dimensional and reference markings.

FIG. 5 is a cross-sectional view of the prior art helmet of FIG. 1 shown in use on a wearer's head.

FIG. 6 is a cross-sectional view of the low-profile helmet of FIG. 2 shown in use on a wearer's head.

FIG. 7 is a cross-sectional view of the low-profile batting helmet of FIG. 1.

FIG. 8 is a front elevational view of the low-profile helmet of FIG. 2.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF EXEMPLARY EMBODIMENTS

A low-profile, protective batting helmet in accordance with an exemplary embodiment of the present invention is depicted in FIGS. 2, 4, and 6-8. While the invention will be described in detail hereinbelow 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 first to FIGS. 2 and 8, a low-profile batting helmet in accordance with an exemplary embodiment of the present invention is depicted generally by the numeral 10. Batting helmet 10 includes a rigid shell 12 with a bill 14 extending outwardly from the front of the helmet. Rigid shell 12 includes a front portion 16, a rear portion 18, and left and right side portions 20a, 20b, which in combination define a bottom opening 22 for placing the shell over a wearer's head. The front, back, and side portions together define an inner cavity 24 which generally conforms to the shape of a wearer's head. Left and right ear covers 26a, 26b extend downwardly from the left and right side portions 20a, 20b to cover the wearer's left and right ears, respectively. Left and right ear openings 28a, 28b through left and right ear covers 26a, 26b, respectively, provide ventilation to the wearer and allow the wearer to hear while wearing the batting helmet. Ventilation openings 30a, 30b in the upper part of the left and right side portions allow air circulation into and out of the helmet to cool the wearer's head. Bill 14 extends outwardly from front portion 16 of the rigid shell in the area generally corresponding to a wearer's forehead, to protect a wearer's eyes from sunlight and precipitation without unduly limiting the wearer's upward view, Bill 14 is slightly convex shaped to divert precipitation to the sides of the bill. As indicated by line z′ in FIG. 2, the slope of front portion 16 at its point of intersection with bill 14 is substantially less steep than the nearly vertical slope of the front portion of the prior-art helmet depicted in FIG. 1 as indicated by line z in that figure.

Preferably, rigid shell 12 is constructed from any rigid, impact resistant material. Most preferably, rigid shell 12 is constructed of a rigid plastic material such as Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS) or polycarbonate. Rigid shell 12 is preferably formed as a unitary piece, including bill 14, using known processes such as molding or casting. Rigid shell 12 may be custom manufactured to accommodate head sizes from extra small (6⅜) to extra large (7½), or may be manufactured to an intermediate size. As will be described in more detail herein below, helmet 10 may also include padding affixed along the inner surface of shell 12 to provide a resilient, comfortable surface against a wearer's head.

The gradual-slope and low-profile of the helmet of the present invention will now be described in part by comparison to a conventional steep-slope, high-profile helmet of the prior art.

Looking first to FIGS. 1 and 2 a prior-art helmet and an exemplary embodiment of a low-profile helmet, respectively, are depicted in approximately their correct orientation when in use (i.e., placed on the head of a standing wearer), with the bottom edge of the bill of the helmet positioned substantially horizontal, or parallel with the ground. While comparisons between the helmets as described herein will be made with reference to the depicted orientation, it will be apparent that those comparisons will relatively apply to other orientations of the helmets so long as the helmets are each oriented in the same manner. For example, while the slope of the front portion of the prior art helmet may be described as “vertical”, and the slope of the front portion of the low-profile helmet may be described as “20 degrees from vertical”, that 20 degree difference between the two will exist regardless of whether the actual orientation of the helmets is “vertical”.

As shown in FIG. 1, extending upwardly from the point of intersection with the bill, the slope of the front portion of the rigid shell of the prior art helmet is substantially vertical, as depicted by line z. By contrast, as depicted in FIG. 2, extending upwardly from the point of intersection with bill 14, the slope of front portion 16 of a low-profile helmet in accordance with an exemplary embodiment of the present invention is approximately 20 degrees from vertical, as depicted by line z′.

As can be seen, the non-vertical surface of front portion 16 of the helmet of FIG. 2 will tend to deflect any balls striking the surface such that a stray ball striking the helmet will glance off of the helmet, diverting the impact of the ball. In comparison, the substantially vertical front portion of the prior art helmet shown in FIG. 1 will not deflect a striking ball, but will transfer essentially the entire force of the impact through the helmet towards the wearer. As can also be seen, the same gradual slope exists up the entirety of the front portion 16 of the helmet of FIG. 2 such that a ball striking any portion of the low-profile front portion will tend to be deflected away from the helmet and any impact from the ball may be more evenly distributed throughout the front of the helmet.

As will be apparent to those skilled in the art, by deflecting a striking ball, the gradually-sloped, low-profile of the front portion of the helmet of FIG. 2 will also deflect a portion of the force from that striking ball upwardly, away from the wearer's forehead, and will likewise tend to deflect the striking ball away from the helmet and its wearer. As depicted in the diagram of FIG. 2, a force from a ball (depicted as line F′) striking the gradually-sloped, low-profile front portion 16 of helmet 10 (having a slope of approximately 20 degrees from vertical as depicted by line z′), will disperse into x and y components (i.e., horizontal and vertical components, as depicted by lines Fx′ and Fy′) such that a portion of the original force F′ is deflected upwardly (Fy′) and only a remaining portion (Fx′) is transferred toward the wearer's forehead. As is known in the art, the dispersion of the force is generally proportional to the angle of the surface, with a vertical surface transferring almost the entire force along the x (horizontal) axis, while a 45 degree sloped surface will essentially disperse the force equally into x (horizontal) and y (vertical) components. And, as discussed above, the gradual slope of front portion 16 continues along the entirety of the front portion, from the intersection of the front portion 16 with bill 14 to the apex of the helmet, thus the deflective ability and force dispersion effect occurs in a similar manner along the entirety of the front portion.

By comparison, as shown in FIG. 1, the substantially vertical slope of the front portion of a prior-art helmet will transfer essentially all of the force of a striking ball (depicted as line F) into an x component (depicted by line Fx) with substantially none of the force being dispersed into a y component. Thus, essentially all of the force F of a striking ball is transferred towards the wearer's forehead. It should be apparent that the depiction of incoming and dispersed force lines are not intended to be vector diagrams of the forces and their distribution upon impact, but are simply illustrative of the dispersion of the impact force into x and y, or horizontal and vertical, components.

As will be apparent to those skilled in the art, the same analysis can be applied to strikes to the helmet originating from any angle, and to various orientations of the helmet as described previously. Of course, the above descriptions are approximations of the dispersion of force as numerous other factors and components of the helmet must be taken into account in calculating the force transferred to the wearer.

Looking now to FIGS. 3 and 4, the gradually-sloped, low-profile helmet of the present invention will be described with respect to an exemplary embodiment of the invention and by comparison to a conventional helmet of the prior art.

Turning first to FIG. 4, the helmet of FIG. 2 is depicted in conjunction with several reference lines and points. Beginning at the junction of the front portion 16 of the helmet with the bill 14 (the junction identified as point f′) line x′ extends rearwardly, substantially horizontally, to its intersection with rear portion 18 of the helmet (the intersection point identified as r′). A vertical line y′ extends perpendicularly thorough the midpoint of line x′, with the intersection of the two being the origin, identified as o′, and the point of intersection of line y′ the top of the helmet identified as point t′. A line extending diagonally across the front portion of the helmet between top and front points t′ and f′ is identified as vf′ and a line extending across the rear portion of the helmet between top and rear points t′ and r′ is identified as vr′.

Using these identified points and lines as a reference, it can be seen that helmet 10 has a length (depicted by line l′) as measured between front and rear points f′ and r′, and a height (depicted by line h′) as measured between origin point o′ and top point t′. It can further be seen that the distance between front and top points f′ and t′, as measured along the surface of rigid shell 12, is the surface length of the front portion of the helmet (identified by line df); that the distance between rear and top points r′ and t′, measured along the surface of rigid shell 12 is the surface length of the rear portion of the helmet (identified by line dr); and that the distance between front and rear points f′ and r′, measured along the surface of rigid shell 12, is the total surface length of the helmet (identified by line dt′), such that the total surface length (d1′) is equal to the sum of the length of the front surface df′ and the length of the rear surface (dr′). Finally, as shown by the diagonally shaded areas in FIG. 2, the area of the front portion of the helmet falling outside of diagonal line vf′ is identified as af′, with the area of the rear portion of the helmet falling outside of diagonal line vr′ identified as ar′. As will be apparent, looking to FIG. 3, reference identifiers corresponding to those just described with respect to FIG. 4 are depicted in conjunction with a prior art helmet.

Looking to FIGS. 4 and 8, it will be understood that the reference lines and points identified above lie in the plane defined by the centerline of the width of the helmet, such that line y′ as just described lies along that centerline as depicted in FIG. 8, with points f′ and t′ positioned as shown. It will thus be apparent that point t′ defines a top center-point of the helmet corresponding generally to the apex of the helmet where the front, rear, left and right portions of the helmet converge, that point o′ defines an origin or midpoint of the helmet, and that line y′ defines a center-line of the helmet to which reference can be made. The centerline can be further defined as the intersection of the plane extending lengthwise through the center of the helmet and the plane extending widthwise through the center of the helmet.

It will be further apparent that point f′ defines a front center point of the helmet and that point r′ defines a rear center point. Thus, for example, referring back to FIG. 2, the slope of the front portion 16 of the low-profile helmet, as indicated by line z′, is approximately 20 degrees from parallel with the centerline of the helmet. Preferably, the slope of front portion 16 is not parallel the centerline of the helmet, but has a slope in the range of about 5 degrees to about 35 degrees from parallel with the centerline. Most preferably, front portion 16 has a slope in the range of about 10 degrees to about 30 degrees from parallel with the centerline. In a most preferred embodiment, front portion 16 has a slope of about 20 degrees from parallel with the centerline.

Referring back to FIG. 1, the slope of the front portion of the prior art helmet is substantially parallel with the centerline of the helmet. As is also apparent, any number of corresponding pairs of front and rear points f′, r′ can be defined by any number of lines (i.e., line x′) extending perpendicular to the centerline in the lengthwise plane as described above. Thus, looking to FIG. 4, shifting line x′ upwardly would create corresponding front f′ and rear r′ intersection points. The analysis and comparison of the slopes of the front and rear portions of the helmet as described herein would remain the same, and does not rely on the horizontal reference line x′ necessarily intersecting at the point where the front portion 16 of the rigid shell meets the bill 14.

Looking to FIG. 3, it can be seen that in the prior art helmet, having similarly sloped front and rear portions, that the distance df along the front portion of the prior art helmet is substantially equal to the distance dr along the rear portion of the helmet. Turning to FIG. 4, it can be seen that in the exemplary embodiment of the low-profile helmet of the present invention that the distance df′ along the front portion of the prior art helmet is substantially less than the distance dr′ along the rear portion of the helmet. Preferably, distance df′ is less than dr′, most preferably distance df′ ranges from about seventy percent to about ninety-five percent of distance dr′.

Looking again to FIG. 3, it can be seen that in the prior art helmet, the area af of the front portion of the helmet lying outside of line vf (extending between front center point f and top center point t) is approximately equal to the area ar of the rear portion of the helmet lying outside of line vr (extending between rear center point r and top center point t). This illustrates the nearly symmetrical slope of the front and rear portions of the prior art helmet. Turning to FIG. 4, it can be seen that in an exemplary embodiment of the low-profile helmet of the present invention, the area af′ of the front portion of the helmet lying outside of line vf′ (extending between front center point f′ and top center point t′) is substantially less than the area ar′ of the rear portion of the helmet lying outside of line vr′ (extending between rear center point r′ and top center point t′). This illustrates the effect of the low-profile aspect of the helmet of the present invention. Preferably, area af′ is less than area ar′, and ranges from about seventy percent to about ninety-percent of area ar′ . Most preferably, area af′ is about eighty percent or less of area ar′. As will be apparent to those skilled in the art, while the front and rear areas are depicted as cross sectional areas, the same analysis applies to the corresponding surface areas of the front and rear portions of the helmet. That is, the surface area of the front portion falling outside of the plane defined by line vf′ is less than the surface area of the rear portion falling outside of the plane defined by line vr′.

Looking now to FIGS. 5 through 7, an exemplary embodiment of the low-profile helmet of the present invention will be described along with a comparison of the exemplary embodiment to a prior art helmet.

Turning first to FIGS. 6 and 7, cross-sectional views of an exemplary embodiment of the low-profile helmet of the present invention are depicted. As seen in FIG. 6, in use, helmet 10 is placed on the head of a wearer 40, with the front portion 16 of the helmet covering and protecting the front portion of the wearer's head, the rear portion 18 of the helmet covering and protecting the rear portion of the wearer's head, and the bill 14 extending outwardly in the area of the wearer's forehead. With the bottom edge of bill 14 substantially horizontal (with reference to a standing wearer, in normal batting position) helmet 10 is oriented essentially as previously described with respect to FIG. 2. Helmet 10 includes padding 32 affixed along the inner surface of rigid shell 12 such that the innermost surface 34 of the padding contacts the wearer's head to provide a snug, comfortable fit of the helmet to the head. Padding 32 may be any resilient, compressible, or semi-compressible material known in the art, such as foam or foam rubber. While padding 32 is depicted as a continuous piece of substantially uniform thickness, it will be apparent to those skilled in the art that padding 32 may comprises multiple pieces arranged within rigid shell 12, and that the thickness of the padding may be varied to provide different fits to different wearer's. These and other variations are within the scope of the present invention.

Looking still to FIG. 6, it can be seen that the low-profile of front portion 16 of helmet 10 conforms that portion of the helmet (and thus, the attached padding 32) very closely to the head of the wearer 40 such that there is a minimal gap 42b between the padding 32 and the head of the wearer. As described previously, the close conformity of the helmet and padding to the head of the wearer provides a more secure and comfortable fit to the wearer. By contrast, looking to the prior art helmet of FIG. 5 in use with a wearer, the steep slope of the front portion of the helmet leaves a large gap between the helmet/padding and the head of the wearer such that the helmet does not conform closely to the wearer's head.

Preferably, the low-profile front portion 16 conforms closely to the wearer's head such that at least about fifty-percent of the surface area (i.e., innermost surface 34) of the padding 32 in that front portion contacts the wearer's head in normal use. Preferably, the percentage of surface area (i.e., innermost surface 34) of padding 32 in front portion 16 that contacts the wearer's head in normal use ranges from about fifty percent to about ninety percent, and most preferably is greater than about seventy-five percent. As described previously, padding 32 may be provided in multiple pieces, rather than a continuous piece as depicted in the exemplary embodiment of FIGS. 6 and 7.

As can be seen, the invention described herein provides a low-profile batting helmet that provides a secure, comfortable fit, and further provides enhanced deflection capability and protection to the wearer. 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 slope of front portion 16 is described as being approximately 20 degrees from parallel with the centerline of the helmet, but may permissibly vary from that orientation 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.