Title:
Batter's Box
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The Batter's Box device is an instruction tool to help children, primarily but not limited to ages 5-12, learn two aspects of proper hitting mechanics for baseball and softball: 1) feet placement base, and 2) stride. Stride has two components, length and direction. The batter's box teaches feet placement and stride by limiting the movement of the batter's feet. The batter's box is a rectangular frame that is placed on the ground. The batter stands in the frame of the batter's box and two bungee cords, one attached to the frame in front of the back foot and one attached to the frame in front of the lead, or stride, foot, create a barrier that will constrain the batter's feet (the back foot and the stride foot) if they move with improper technique. The batter's box is adjustable for player's of different height and size. The frame may be widened and the restrictive bungee cords can be placed at various increments to complement longer or shorter legs.



Inventors:
Lerch, David (South Riding, VA, US)
Application Number:
12/389548
Publication Date:
09/17/2009
Filing Date:
02/20/2009
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63B69/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
BALDORI, JOSEPH B
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
BLANK ROME LLP (WASHINGTON, DC, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A portable device for teaching proper batting stance and stride to a baseball player, comprising: a rigid frame that is substantially rectangular in shape and of a size which allows the player to stand inside the frame, the frame having an elongated near-side member and an elongated far-side member, wherein the near-side member and far-side member form the longer sides of the rectangle shape, wherein the area inside the frame is defined into a rear section, a middle section, and a front section, and wherein each of the rear, middle, and front sections contain at least one elastic cord, each elastic cords is attached to the rigid frame and each elastic cord is substantially parallel to each other such that the elastic cords span the rigid frame by being connected between the near-side member of the rigid frame and the far-side member of the rigid frame, and wherein elastic cords are adjustable to define a variety of sizes of sections within the rigid frame, and wherein the rigid frame has two or more folding joints to allow the device to be folded into a smaller size.

2. The portable device of claim 1, wherein the elastic cords are bungee cords and attached to the rigid frame by using eyelet-hooks.

3. The portable device of claim 1, wherein rigid frame is at least 0.5 inches in height and provides a raised boundary.

4. The portable device of claim 1, wherein the device folds into a a compact unit that is substantially square in shape and measures from about 10 to 16 inches along each side and from about 1.5 to about 7 inches in height.

5. The portable device of claim 1, wherein the rigid frame has a plurality of foot position indicators.

Description:

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

Not applicable.

STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH OR DEVELOPMENT

No federal government funds were used in researching or developing this invention.

BACKGROUND

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The invention relates to sporting equipment, namely a baseball training accessory for stance and stride training of beginning players.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

U.S. Pat. No. 7,090,599 discloses a baseball batting stance training assembly. The assembly essentially comprises a stance training mat.

U.S. Pat. No. 6,988,966 discloses a method for controlling a batter's foot by anchoring the rear foot to the ground using a restrictive strap.

U.S. Pat. No. 6,926,625 discloses a batter stance training device that conssists of a frame having moveable strips of cloth to provide foot guides.

U.S. Pat. No. 6,906,627 discloses a foot positioning training device with a mat having a transmitter and receiver to establish an electric eye. The electric eye is tied to an alarm that indicates when a batter has taken an improper stride while swinging the bat.

U.S. Pat. No. 6,579,195 discloses a swing path frame having guide posts.

U.S. Pat. No. 6,102,818 discloses an athletic training mat.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,976,026 discloses a balance training device for training golf and baseball swings.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,704,856 discloses a device for training batters to properly shift weight to the back leg at the beginning of a swing and to shift weight to the front leg during a swing when striking the ball in baseball and similar games. The device includes a strap which ties the left arm to the left ankle.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,613,677 discloses a batter training device where the lead foot imacts a strike plate to stop the stride.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,330,176 discloses a stance and stride training mat.

U.S. Pat. No. 4,932,656 discloses an astroturf mat having marker numbers along the side and cloth flags to use as guides.

U.S. Pat. No. 3,979,116 discloses a batter's training device that comprises a mat made from a sheet material.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The Batter's Box device is an instruction tool to help children, primarily but not limited to ages 5-12, learn two aspects of proper hitting mechanics for baseball and softball: 1) feet placement/base, and 2) stride (FIG. 3). Stride has two components, length and direction. The batter's box teaches feet placement and stride by limiting the movement of the batter's feet. The batter's box is a rectangular frame that is placed on the ground. The batter stands in the frame of the batter's box and two bungee cords, one attached to the frame in front of the back foot and one attached to the frame in front of the lead, or stride, foot, create a barrier that will constrain the batter's feet (the back foot and the stride foot) if they move with improper technique. According to most authorities, proper feet placement and stride are two of the most important mechanics to master in order to achieve hitting success.

In one preferred embodiment, there is provided a portable device for teaching proper batting stance and stride to a baseball player, comprising: a rigid frame that is substantially rectangular in shape and of a size which allows the player to stand inside the frame, the frame having an elongated near-side member and an elongated far-side member, wherein the near-side member and far-side member form the longer sides of the rectangle shape, wherein the area inside the frame is defined into a rear section, a middle section, and a front section, and wherein each of the rear, middle, and front sections contain at least one elastic cord, each elastic cords is attached to the rigid frame and each elastic cord is substantially parallel to each other such that the elastic cords span the rigid frame by being connected between the near-side member of the rigid frame and the far-side member of the rigid frame, and wherein elastic cords are adjustable to define a variety of sizes of sections within the rigid frame, and wherein the rigid frame has two or more folding joints to allow the device to be folded into a smaller size.

In another preferred embodiment, the elastic cords are bungee cords and attached to the rigid frame by using eyelet-hooks.

In another preferred embodiment, the rigid frame is at least 0.5 inches in height and provides a raised boundary. It is contemplated that the range of the height of the rigid frame is from about 0.5 inches to about 0.75 inches, or functionally capable of providing feedback to the user without unnecessarily increasing the risk of injury.

In another preferred embodiment, the device folds into a a compact unit that is, without being limiting, substantially square in shape. It is contemplated that square and rectangular shapes will result from compact folding of the unit. In one example, the unit has two length-wise folds i.e. three sections. In this non-limiting example, where the length of the frame totals 54 inches, the length of each section would measure 18 inches on a side. Along these lines, a 3-fold frame (4 section unit) would measure 13.5 inches per section to establish a 54 inch frame when unfolded, a single-fold frame (2 section unit) would measure 27 inches per section to establish a 54 inch total length when unfolded. Although one embodiment is about 54 inches in total length, it is contemplated that the length of the frame can range from about 48 to about 72 inches, more preferably from about 50 inches to about 60 inches, and more preferably about 54 inches. The above calculations would be varied in accordance with the designed length.

Where a frame ranges from about 0.5 to about 0.75 inches to about 1.0 inches in height, it follows that a three-section frame would necessarily range in height a corresponding amount when the frame is in its folded position. The frame height is relevant in that the portable nature of the device dictates a user friendly size and shape for easy storage into a typical equipment bag. Accordingly, when the frame is 0.5 inch in diameter, two-section frame 0.5 inch in height folds to 1.0 inch, a three section frame 0.5 in height folds to 1.5 inches, a four-section frame folds to 2.0 inches. Where a frame is constructed of 0.75 inch diameter material or 1.0 inch diameter material, the folded heights are 1.5 or 2.0 inches, respectively, for a two-section frame, 2.25 inches or 3.0 inches, respectively for a three-section, and so forth.

In another preferred embodiment, the rigid frame has a plurality of foot position indicators.

In a further preferred embodiment, the frame is adjustable in width to accommodate variety in the size of the players feet.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE FIGURES

FIG. 1(a) is a top view of the batter's box. FIG. 1(b) is a perspective view of one end of the frame showing the adjustable end sections for adjusting width.

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of one of the elongated side members showing the eyelet hooks, bungee cord, and eyelet holes.

FIG. 3 is a perspective view showing the folding joint that connects the elongated side members and allows for easy foldablity.

FIG. 4 is a perspective view of a folded batter's box device. FIG. 4 also shows an exploded view of the folding joint and the joint insert.

FIG. 5 is a close view of an alternate connecting method, i.e. a hinge, for the elongated members.

FIG. 6 is a drawing of the rear section of the device and shows the guided interaction of the device with a player's foot.

FIG. 7 is a perspective view of an alternate embodiment wherein tubular elongated members are connected by way of elastic shock cords.

FIG. 8 is a top of the batter's box, and shows where the frame is fixed in width and length and is not adjustable.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

Referring now to the figures, FIG. 1 depicts the frame dimension and composition of the Batter's Box. In one preferred embodiment, the Batter's Box comprises a rectangular frame having adjustable elastic cross members which divide the inside of the rectangular frame into specific areas for placement of the feet of players that are involved in stride training.

The rigid frame is substantially rectangular in shape and of a size which allows the player to stand inside the frame. The frame has an elongated near-side member and an elongated far-side member, wherein the near-side member and far-side member form the longer sides of the rectangle shape.

FIG. 1a shows how the area inside the frame is defined into a rear section, a middle section, and a front section, and wherein each of the rear, middle, and front sections contain at least one elastic cord. In operation, a player's back foot would be placed in the rear section, the player would straddle the middle section, and place their front foot in the front section.

FIG. 1a shows that the elastic cords are attached to the rigid frame and each elastic cord is substantially parallel to each other such that the elastic cords span the rigid frame by being connected between the near-side member of the rigid frame and the far-side member of the rigid frame. The elastic cords may be attached by any commonly known method, and by way of non-limiting example eyelets and hooks are shown here. Functional equivalents are well known in the art and are contemplated within the literal scope of the invention.

The elastic cords are adjustable to define a variety of sizes of sections within the rigid frame.

In a preferred embodiment, the rigid frame has two or more folding joints to allow the device to be folded into a smaller size. In another preferred embodiment, the batter's box is foldable so that it may be easily carried around in a common sports equipment bag.

In a preferred embodiment, the frame is unitary or, it may be made in segments so that it may be stored in a compact manner and easily carried around.

FIG. 1a shows an adjustable frame, but it may also be a fixed, or rigid, frame depending on user preference. In a preferred embodiment, the frame is manufactured from ¾″ by ¾″ square metal stock comprised of rigid material. In a preferred embodiment, the rigid material may be, but not limited to, steel, plastic, wood, aluminum, carbon fiber, or titanium. In one preferred embodiment, it can be tubular piping, i.e. circular in cross section.

In the embodiment where the rigid frame is composed of various pieces, it is contemplated that the frame comprise two U-shaped end members connected by way of mid-section connecting members.

In one embodiment, the U-shaped end are unitary as shown in FIG. 8. In another embodiment, they comprise multiple pieces, i.e. male/female joined components, as shown in FIG. !a.

The frame may be manufactured through the process of, but not limited to, soldering, welding, or as being part of a unitary whole created through a single mold.

Where the left and right sides of the rigid frame (not the elongated members) are adjustable, i.e. by use of male/female joints, the width of the batter's box can be customized for the size of a particular player.

The depth of the insertion may be varied to achieve the proper width of the batter's box, which is determined by the height and size of the batter using the invention.

FIG. 1a shows eyelet hooks connected to near-side elongated member and far-side elongated member to accommodate the adjustable foot cord. One preferred embodiment provides the eyelet holes drilled at 3″, 5″, 7″, 9″, 10.5″, 12″, 13.5″, 15″, 16.5″, 19.5″, 21″, 34″, 38−, 39.5″, and 41″ inches on each elongated member.

In a preferred non-limiting embodiment, the holes being 7/32″ in diameter for 3/16 eyebolts (1″ shank, ⅞″ thread length, ⅜″ eye). FIG. 1b shows the use of a cotter pin for connecting the end portions. Note that holes are drilled for adjusting the width of the frame and re-inserting the pin(s) to lock the frame into the desired width. Although a cotter is shown, any common connector is contemplated, such as pins, bolts, screws, various locking pin type connectors, etc. that maintains the frame in the desired shape and size and connects the frame together at that location.

FIG. 2 provides a close-up view of one of the elongated side members showing the eyelet hooks, bungee cord, and eyelet holes. The eyelet holes would be drilled such that each hole would have a corresponding hole across from it on the other elongated member.

FIG. 3 is a perspective view showing the folding joint that connects the elongated side members and allows for easy foldability. FIG. 3 shows how the connecting members, i.e. elongated members or U-shaped end pieces, can be connected by way of a hidden joint insert. This mechanism allows for the unit to be folded flat in a “Z” configuration.

FIG. 4 is a perspective view of a folded batter's box device. FIG. 4 also shows an exploded view of the folding joint and the joint insert. FIG. 4 shows how the device is able to fold into a compact shape and be carried in an ordinary equipment bag, providing a critical element of convenience for a coach.

FIG. 5 is a close view of an alternate connecting method, i.e. a hinge, for the elongated members. Without being limited, the connecting method should allow for the device to be folded flat.

FIG. 6 is a drawing of the rear section of the device and shows the guided interaction of the device with a player's foot. This is an advantage compared to training devices that a flat on the ground and provide no mechanical feedback to the player about the location and movement of the rear foot.

FIG. 7 is a perspective view of an alternate embodiment wherein tubular elongated members are connected by way of elastic shock cords. Eyelets holes can also be seen in this figure, although other non-limiting ways of attaching and adjusting the spanning elastic cords are within the level of skill known in the art.

In one preferred embodiment, the batter's box device, shown in FIG. 1, is about 54″ long and has an adjustable width of 14″, 16″, or 18″, and is ¾″ tall. The device can range from about 40 to about 60 inches long, from about 10 to about 20 inches in width, and from about ½ to about 1½ inches tall. In one preferred embodiment the frame is comprised of, but not limited to, ¾″ by ¾″ and ½″ by ½″ rigid material. That rigid material may be comprised of, but not limited to, steel, plastic, wood, aluminum, carbon fiber, or titanium.

In use, a player places his feet within the frame. The player places his feet one at each end of the frame. Coach or player adjusts the center cords for the player in order to allow for the proper stance. After frame is adjusted, the player commences practice swings.

As seen in FIG. 1a and FIG. 8, the lead cord stops player going to too far forward by blocking player's stride foot. This mechanical feedback provides the player with the proper training to develop a good swing further, the frame keeps the player's stride going in the direction of the pitcher to avoid an open stance by physically narrowing player's range for motion. The back foot is similarly restricted in movement by the back cord and by the frame. The positioning of the back cord is to be set in order to achieve proper base, base being the width between the left and right foot.

It will be clear to a person of ordinary skill in the art that the above embodiments may be altered or that insubstantial changes may be made without departing from the scope of the invention. Accordingly, the scope of the invention is determined by the scope of the following claims and their equitable Equivalents.