Title:
ATHLETIC TRAINING APPARATUS AND METHOD
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An athletic training apparatus to train a player with or without a coach is disclosed. The machine includes a collapsible frame, a striking structure, a coaching cage, and one moveable member. The collapsible frame provides a height adjustment mechanism to allow partial collapsibility of the frame during storage or movement. The striking structure couples detachably to the collapsible frame. A player or coach selects the striking structure in accordance with desired goals of an athletic training session. The coaching cage is incorporated within the collapsible frame. The coaching cage assists the coach to in real-time provide an unobstructed view of a player's body position and player motion; thereby, coach's real-time observations and feedback train a player's movements to achieve a hit to a defined target or objective. A movable member transports the collapsible frame between a first location and a second location with minimal disassembly.



Inventors:
Gutierrez, Daniel (San Pedro, CA, US)
Application Number:
12/419437
Publication Date:
11/26/2009
Filing Date:
04/07/2009
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
473/451, 473/453
International Classes:
A63B69/00
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
20080146384Swing speed sport conditioning aidJune, 2008Hansen et al.
20080182675Methods and apparatuses for time-constrained games of billiards, pool and the likeJuly, 2008Flores
20070293330INTER-LEVEL PLAY BILLIARDS GAMEDecember, 2007Garrison et al.
20090170640BALL DROP METHOD AND SYSTEMJuly, 2009Thompson et al.
20050009623Spin controlling golf club impact faceplateJanuary, 2005Dickinson
20030211907Fun-go baseballNovember, 2003Liberfarb
20010031676Racket strung in double diagonal stringing pattern with frame markings and methodOctober, 2001Luskin et al.
20060025231Novelty golf putterFebruary, 2006Richard
20060270496North bearing cap toyNovember, 2006Salinas
20050192114Interchangeable alignment system for golf puttersSeptember, 2005Zider et al.
20090325745Sport Ball BladderDecember, 2009Rapaport et al.



Primary Examiner:
ARYANPOUR, MITRA
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Robert E. Kasody, Esq. (Costa Mesa, CA, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. An athletic training machine to train a player with or without a coach, the machine comprising: a collapsible frame; a striking structure detachably coupled on a first and a second end through at least one selected tension cable to the collapsible frame, the striking structure having a striking resilience and compressibility factor at least partially selected in accordance an estimated skill level of the player and athletic sport of choice of the player; a coaching cage incorporated within the collapsible frame to provide the coach a substantially unobstructed real-time view of a player's striking position relative to the striking structure and a trajectory path of the striking structure to reach a player defined target or a coach defined target; and at least one movable member to allow repositioning of the collapsible frame between a first location and a second location along a selected transport path with little or no disassembly of the athletic training machine; wherein the collapsible frame comprises at least one adjustable height position member that comprises a first height level adjustment in an open position and a second height level in a closed position.

2. The athletic training machine of claim 1, wherein the substantially unobstructed real-time view of a player's striking position comprises a real-time front view of a player's physical hitting setup before and while swinging a striking item through contact of a striking surface of the striking structure and follow through of the striking item along the trajectory path of the striking structure toward the player defined target or the coach defined target.

3. The athletic training machine of claim 1, wherein the striking structure comprises a shape selected to substantially model an object encountered during active participation in the athletic sport of choice by the player and being disposed at an actual positional level of the object and having an actual compressibility level thereof, and wherein the actual compressibility level comprises a selected resistance level and a striking structure type having a selected compressibility rating at least partially responsive with the estimated skill level of the player.

4. The athletic training machine of claim 1, wherein the collapsible frame comprises a pivotally connected multi-segment structure that pivots and swings open to occupy a substantially half semicircular perimeter area; and wherein the collapsible frame has at least one locking member to secure the collapsible frame in the substantially half semicircular perimeter area while the athletic training machine is utilized by the player.

5. The athletic training machine of claim 1, wherein the at least one height position member comprises at least four positional levels to adjust a height of the collapsible frame to be at least partially responsive to a physical height of the player or a selected play type of the athletic sport of choice by the player to be modeled by a positional level of the striking structure.

6. The athletic training machine of claim 1, wherein the at least one movable member provides movement flexibility of the athletic training machine while in the open position from a first location to a second location along a selected transport path.

7. The athletic training machine of claim 1, wherein the at least one movable member provides movement flexibility of the athletic training machine while in the closed position from a first location to a second location along a selected transport path.

8. The athletic training machine of claim 1, wherein the coach leans into and holds at least one of the multi-segment frame of the collapsible frame that forms the coaching cage to support a selected physical viewing angle in the substantially unobstructed real-time view of a player's striking position relative to the striking structure and the trajectory path of the striking structure toward the player defined target or the coach defined target.

9. The athletic training machine of claim 1, further comprising a batting plate pivotally connected to the athletic training machine to provide a reference positional marker to aid alignment a player's body and a player's bat when swinging at the striking structure and provide an additional stabilizing member of the collapsible frame.

10. The athletic training machine of claim 1, further comprising a batting plate pivotally connected to the athletic training machine; wherein the batting plate provides the coach a moveable reference to aid in a coach's evaluation of and a player's self evaluation of alignment of a player's body and a player's bat before, during, and after striking the striking structure to model a selected hitting position.

11. The athletic training machine of claim 10, wherein the selected hitting position comprises alignment of the player's body and the player's bat to hit a type of ball pitch selected from a group consisting of knuckle ball, slider, fast pitch, slow pitch, inside left corner of the batting plate, outside right corner of the batting plate, high pitch fastball, low pitch fastball, high pitch softball, and low pitch softball.

12. The athletic training machine of claim 11, further comprising a directional guide, the guide comprises an arrow marker to provide a suggested trajectory guide path to at least partially determine the players' body and the player's bat swinging position to aid the player to achieve a ball hit into a selected quadrant of a ball field.

13. The athletic training machine of claim 12, wherein the batting plate pivotally connected comprises a batting plate rivetally attached to a series of segmented metal pieces; and wherein the player moves the batting plate in a piece-wise segmented fashion to aid in alignment of the batting plate to a selected hitting position.

14. The athletic training machine of claim 1, further comprising a batting alignment marker coupled to the collapsible frame structure and a batting plate; wherein the batting plate is pivotally coupled to the athletic training machine to allow at least one of the coach or the player to choose a positional location to aid alignment of a player's body, a player's bat, and the batting alignment marker to substantially in real-time model a hit to a selected portion of a batting infield or a batting outfield.

15. The athletic training machine of claim 14, wherein the selected portion of a batting infield or a batting outfield is selected from a group consisting of: first base, second base, short stop, and third base and the selected portion of a batting outfield is selected from the group consisting of: right field, center field, and left field.

16. A batting training machine to train a player and to provide to a coach an ability to monitor in real-time athletic training progression of the player, the machine comprising: a collapsible frame comprising a multi-segment frame, the collapsible frame having at least one adjustable height position member to provide an ability to open the collapsible frame during use by the player and to at least partially close the collapsible frame during storage; a ball detachably coupled to the collapsible frame, the ball having a striking resilience and compressibility factor at least partially selected in accordance an estimated current skill level of a player and athletic sport that the player is participating in; a coaching cage incorporated within the collapsible frame to provide the coach a real-time unobstructed view of a player's striking position relative to the ball and trajectory path of the ball; a batting alignment marker coupled to the collapsible frame and a batting plate thereto, a batting plate pivotally coupled to the collapsible frame along a lower section of the collapsible frame to allow at least one of the coach or the player to choose a positional location to aid alignment of a player's body, a player's bat, and the batting alignment marker to substantially in real-time model a ball hit into a selected portion of a batting infield or a batting outfield; and at least one movable member to aid movement of the collapsible frame between a first location and a second location with little or no disassembly of the batting training machine.

17. The batting training machine of claim 16, wherein the batting plate provides the coach a moveable reference to aid in a coach's evaluation of and a player's self evaluation of alignment of the player's body and the player's bat before, during, and after striking the ball to model a selected hitting position.

18. The batting training machine of claim 16, wherein the coach leans into and holds at least one of the multi-segment frame of the collapsible frame that forms the coaching cage to support a selected physical viewing angle in the real-time unobstructed view of the player's striking position relative to the ball and the trajectory path of the ball toward a player defined target or a coach defined target.

19. The batting training machine of claim 17, wherein a selected hitting position comprises alignment of the player's body and the player's bat to hit a type of ball pitch selected from a group consisting of knuckle ball, slider, fast pitch, slow pitch, inside left corner of the batting plate, outside right corner of the batting plate, high pitch fastball, low pitch fastball, high pitch softball, and low pitch softball.

20. The batting training machine of claim 19, wherein the batting plate pivotally coupled to the collapsible frame along a lower section of the collapsible frame comprises a batting plate rivetally attached along a series of segmented metal pieces; and wherein at least one of the player or the coach moves the batting plate in a piece-wise segmented fashion to align the batting plate to assist in achieving the selected hitting position.

21. A process for training a player using a batting training machine that allows a coach to assist in the training process, the process comprising; transporting a multi-segment collapsible frame to a desired batting location; opening and securing the multi-segment collapsible frame to one of a series of an adjustable height position members in accordance with a height of the player to occupy a substantially half semicircular perimeter area; selecting a striking structure having a striking resilience and compressibility factor at least partially selected in accordance an estimated current skill level of the player and athletic sport of the player; detachably coupling the striking structure at a first end and a second end to the collapsible frame using at least one selected tension cord to achieve a selected hitting location; adjusting a batting alignment marker coupled to the collapsible frame and a batting plate to allow at least one of the coach or the player to choose a positional location to aid alignment of a player's body and a player's bat to substantially in real-time model a ball hit to a selected portion of a batting infield or a batting outfield; analyzing by the coach through a coaching cage incorporated within the multi-segment collapsible frame a real-time unobstructed view of a player's striking position relative to the striking structure and a trajectory path of the striking structure detachably attached to the at least one selected tension cord; and readjusting the batting plate pivotally coupled to the collapsible frame along a lower section of the collapsible frame or the ball alignment marker to improve likelihood of the player swinging at the striking structure to model a ball hit to the selected portion of the batting infield or the batting outfield in response to feedback obtained by real-time observations by the coach of one or more previously coach monitored ball training sessions by the player.

Description:

PRIORITY PATENT APPLICATION

This application claims priority to U.S. provisional application Ser. No. 61/128,451 filed on May 22, 2008 entitled “Hitters designated Hitters H-D-H 3000” by inventor Daniel Gutierrez and incorporates by reference in its entirety the above mentioned application.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The invention relates generally to the field of athletic and sports training gear and assemblies and more specifically in one exemplary aspect to an athletic training machine and method to improve training and monitoring of player's athletic ability related to ball hitting or striking events.

2. Description of Related Technology

Batting practice assemblies are well known in the art. Such assemblies are utilized for strength training and confidence building of baseball and softball players alike. The main idea of batting practice assemblies is to improve muscle memory and athletic ability without the need to chase balls, provide realistic hitting resistance, and provide ease of use for a wide variety of users. Examples of the related art assemblies and their teachings below are incorporated by reference in their entirety in this application.

A first category of related art assemblies is batting practice using a batting plate oriented approach. One example of such batting machine is called the SwingAway (SA) Titan Elite. The SA Titan Elite includes a SA Hitting Mat. The SA hitting mat provides a layout of nine balls called the X-Pattern. The X-Pattern creates player visualization where a hitter should contact a ball as it comes across home plate. On home plate, there are arrows coming off each of the balls to indicate the desired direction of flight of the ball. The 1 ball is for inside pitches, the 2 ball is for slightly inside pitches, the 3 ball is down the middle, the 4 ball is for slightly outside pitches, and the 5 ball is for outside pitches.

A second category of related art assemblies are pole supported and attachable batting assemblies. One such device is the Hit-A-Way batting machine constructed of solid polyurethane tubing and using adjustable Velcro bindings on each end to attach to any secure pole that is around your home (e.g., telephone pole, flag pole, basketball pole). An adjustable ball allows a user to set a hitting height level. As a user tosses the Hit-A-Away ball, the ball wraps about your selected pole. As the ball unwinds, a user hits the adjustable ball of the Hit-A-Away. Another pole attached related art assembly includes the Power Bag Junior. The Power Bag Junior has a bag that weighs 3.5 pounds. The Power Bag Junior mounts to any pole of 3½″ diameter or smaller. A top arm and u-bolts mount the Power Bag Junior to a pole. The bag can be removed from the top arm after use for storage.

A third set of related art assemblies include band adjustable batting machines. One such device representative of the set includes PRO-360CP that includes Bat Action Power Band Set and Youth Bat Action Power Band Set. The Bat Action “Self: Trainer” practice machine includes a Nedco “square insert” ball component. The PRO-360CP provides user movement drills and rotation of a Power Band Set in a wide circle to allow batters to see and track the ball. The speed and height of the Power Band Set can be adjusted to match a user age or user ability level. Another member of this set includes the Power Drive Hitting Tee Fold-N-GO batting practice machine. The Power Drive Hitting Tee uses an angle bar to teach a user muscle memory to hit climbing line drives. A front setup bar will teach your muscle memory to stay back, turn on the ball, and get your hands through the hitting zone to make contact.

In contrast to the above instances, athletic training apparatus may further be desired to achieve still wider variety of training and/or muscle memory options and provide improved user athletics mechanics as well as provide various types of and configurations that are adjustable to fit a user without requiring complicated attachment/de-attachment hardware. In one instance, eliminate or reduce the need for professionals or buckles, bolts, or screws to secure an athletic training apparatus to a designated width or type of pole or tree. In yet another instance, an athletic training device may be needed that provides coach ability to obtain an unobstructed view of any or all the following: ball contact area, player's hand and arm follow through shortly before, during, and after contact with the ball, player's stance shortly before, during, and after contact with the ball so that more consistent hitting mechanics may be realized.

In another instance, a user may find it beneficial that an athletic training machine be durable and easily movable and fit in a compact footprint during transport to a designated hitting area or storage. Furthermore, a user may further desire the athletic training machine be easily assembled or disassembled “on the fly” and easily installed or removed in a minimal time. In addition, a user desires the athletic device adjustable to a current skill but also conformable to use and create minimal restriction in a user's movement or normal hitting or striking pattern.

Thus, what is needed are improved athletic training apparatus and methodology that permits easy initial configuring and reconfiguring, i.e., provide adaptability, and upgrade capability so that the same unit be utilized (or added-on to) if new functionality is desired. Furthermore, such improved apparatus and methods would also ideally allow a person other than a professional or licensed personal to adjust or retrofit the athletic training apparatus, and would further permit creation of user-customized athletic training configurations and customized fit and appearance of the athletic training apparatus as well as new patterns requiring minimal efforts, e.g., minimal adjustment or removal and replacement or adaptation of existing components. Furthermore, the device should provide improved “real-life” feel and muscle memory strength and user adjustable so that a player may be able to achieve improved ball contact as well as increased confidence in their athletic ability.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In one aspect of the present invention, an athletic training machine is disclosed. The athletic training machine includes a collapsible frame, a striking structure detachably coupled to the collapsible frame, and a coaching cage. The coaching cage incorporated within the collapsible frame provides the coach a substantially unobstructed real-time view of a player's striking position relative to the striking structure and a trajectory path of the striking structure from a moment of contact with a player toward a player defined target or a coach defined target. In one embodiment, cable length and tension values are selected and placed one or both ends of the striking structure to simulate a desired baseball play (e.g., high ball pitch, low ball pitch, fast velocity ball pitch, slow velocity ball pitch). In yet another embodiment, cable length and tension values are selected to match height or ability requirement of a player responsive to a coach or player's desires. In one embodiment, one or more movable members move or reposition the collapsible frame between a first location and a second location along a selected transport path without disassembly of the athletic training machine. In one embodiment, collapsible frame includes an adjustable height position member to adjust height of the athletic training machine during player use and partially close the collapsible frame during storage.

In another aspect, a process for training a player with coach assistance is disclosed. In this process, the collapsible frame is opened and set to the desired position including adjustment of height position members to allow the frame to span a substantially half semicircular perimeter area. Afterwards, a ball is selected having a striking resilience and compressibility factor at least partially selected in accordance an estimated current skill level of the player in a chosen athletic sport. The ball is detachably coupled to the collapsible frame to achieve a selected hitting location. A batting alignment marker coupled to the collapsible frame structure and a batting plate is adjusted. Through a coaching cage built into the collapsible frame, a coach analyzes in a real-time unobstructed view of a player's striking position relative to the ball and trajectory path of the striking structure.

These and other embodiments, aspects, advantages, and features of the present invention will be set forth in part in the description which follows, and in part will become apparent to those skilled in the art by reference to the following description of the invention and referenced drawings or by practice of the invention. The aspects, advantages, and features of the invention are realized and attained by means of the instrumentalities, procedures, and combinations particularly pointed out in the appended claims.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a front perspective view of athletic training apparatus and player aligned with training apparatus, ball alignment marker, striking structure, and coach positioned within coaching cage with an unobstructed view of player's hitting form in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a front perspective view of athletic training apparatus of FIG. 1 including batting plate, ball alignment marker, and striking structure and coaching cage in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 3 is a top view of athletic training apparatus of FIG. 1 to illustrate batting plate, ball alignment marker and movement capability of athletic training apparatus thereof in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 4 is a left side view of athletic training apparatus of FIG. 1 to illustrate athletic training apparatus height adjustment capability and striking structure positioning at a first training level by attachment through a selected tension cable to a top of the athletic training machine and at a bottom of athletic training machine through a detachable connector to meet athletic training requirements of coach or player in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 5 is a left side view of athletic training apparatus of FIG. 1 to illustrate height adjustment capability and striking structure positioned between a selected tension resistance training cable on either end of striking structure at a second training level to meet athletic training requirements of coach or player in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 6 is a left side view of athletic training apparatus of FIG. 1 to illustrate height adjustment capability thereof and striking structure positioned between a selected tension resistance training cable on either end of the striking structure to achieve a third training level to meet athletic training requirements of coach or player accordance with an embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 7 is a left side view of athletic training apparatus of FIG. 1 to illustrate height adjustment capability thereof and striking structure positioned between a selected tension resistance training cable on either end of the striking structure to achieve a fourth training level to meet athletic training requirements of coach or player in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 8 is a left side view of athletic training apparatus of FIG. 1 to illustrate height adjustment capability thereof and striking structure positioned at a fifth level in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 9 is a front view of athletic training apparatus of FIG. 1 and FIG. 1 to illustrate movable members and a striking structure positioned at a second training level in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 10 is a top view illustrating athletic training apparatus of FIG. 1 in an open position

FIG. 11 is a top view of athletic training apparatus of FIG. 1 to illustrate a collapsed (closed) folded multi-segment frame view of athletic training apparatus of FIG. 1 with batting plate extended to illustrate compactness of size during transport to a player training area or storage location in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 12 is a top view of athletic training apparatus of FIG. 1 and FIG. 11 to illustrate a fully collapsed (closed) folded multi-segment frame view of athletic training apparatus of FIG. 1 to illustrate compactness of size during storage or transport to storage in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention; and

FIG. 13 is a logical flow diagram illustrating one exemplary embodiment of a process of operation of athletic training apparatus of FIG. 1 in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Reference is now made to the drawings wherein like numerals refer to like parts throughout.

Overview

In one salient aspect, the present invention discloses apparatus and methods for, inter alia, producing an athletic training apparatus as well as provide custom capabilities, in one variant, to produce various configurations customized for a particular training style or type of environment to provide an unobstructed viewing angle by a coach of a striking position and stance of a player. In particular, the present invention discloses apparatus and process to provide athletic training apparatus having an adjustable height to allow numerous sized players and playing styles to be implemented, for instance, teenager, junior, high school, college, and professional players alike to build-up strength and endurance while training muscular coordination.

Furthermore, the athletic training apparatus is easily assembled or disassembled and many of its components may be interchanged or replaced with minimal skill or effort. For instance, cables may be interchanged to increase or decrease height or tension value of the striking structure so as to adjust an athletic training level for an individual player in accordance with current estimated playing level. Furthermore, the present invention durable design (e.g., metal, pivoting, folding frame structure) provides potentially a player or coach years of playtime and enjoyment from the same unit and provides not only batting practice but also provide a pre-game warm-up routine for players immediately before or after batting or hitting to achieve fine tuning of their muscle coordination skills.

As recognized by one skilled in the art, principles of the present invention are applicable to other applications, e.g., muscle rehabilitation and/or supplement existing adult or child medical muscular resistance or training programs so as to improve response time and to aid in providing a “real-time” monitoring (through coaches cage) when used in a batting training or warm-up environment or a recovery room, e.g., hospital emergency room, rehabilitation center, or the like.

Exemplary Extension Apparatus

Referring now to FIGS. 1-12, exemplary embodiments of the athletic training apparatus of the invention are described in detail. It will be appreciated that while described primarily in the context of an athletic training apparatus for sporting events, at least portions of the apparatus and methods described herein may be used in other applications, such as for example and without limitation applications including physical rehabilitation of persons or employees to increase strength and endurance for work related activities, e.g., firefighters, construction workers, patients recovering from surgery, heavy equipment operators, cargo and shipping container handlers, warehousing and restocking employees and the like. A myriad other functions will be recognized by those of ordinary skill in the art given the present disclosure.

As illustrated in FIGS. 1-8, operation of athletic training apparatus (athletic training machine) 100 is disclosed. Athletic training apparatus 100 trains a player 102 in one or more aspects of an athletic sporting event. For example, the athletic sporting event may include baseball, softball, hockey, golf, or the like. In one embodiment, athletic training apparatus 100 involves player 102. In another embodiment, athletic training apparatus 100 involves player 102 and coach 104. Advantageously, as compared to conventional player only athletic training apparatus, athletic training apparatus 100 allows player 102 and coach 104 and only player 102 training sessions.

Referring to FIGS. 1, 2, and 3, athletic training apparatus 100 includes collapsible frame 106, striking structure 108, coaching cage 110, and movable member 118a, 118b. In one embodiment, collapsible frame 106 includes a pivotally connected multi-segment structure 117a-e pivotally connected and swings open to occupy a substantially half semi-circular perimeter area 123. In one example, collapsible frame 106 forms a triad (e.g., a triangle) with its base area that abuts a designated swing practice area. For instance, collapsible frame 106 includes 2″ to 1¾″ tubular steel, which folds or collapses in a closed position to 4′×4′×2′ for easy storage. In an open position, collapsible frame 106 erects to height of 5′ to 7′ to fit most player/batter sizes. In one variant, collapsible frame 106 has one or more slidably moveable and connectable locking members (e.g., locking members 121a, 121b, 121c, 121d) secure collapsible frame 106 in a substantially half semicircular perimeter area 123 while athletic training machine 100 is in use by player 102.

In one embodiment, striking structure 108 detachably couples to collapsible frame 106 using one or more player or coach selected tension resistance cable configurations (e.g., cable 123a-i illustrated in FIGS. 4-9). Advantageously as compared to numerous single attachment point conventional batting machines that allow the ball to swing in a circular, elliptical, or straight path, athletic training apparatus 100 having two points of attachment (e.g., tethered disposition at top and bottom) for striking structure 108 provides unexpectedly improved muscle training and muscle retention properties of player 102 (for all age and ability level players).

In one exemplary example, striking structure 108 has a striking resilience and compressibility factor partially selected in accordance an estimated skill level of player 102 and/or athletic sport of choice of player 102. In one example, striking structure includes a ballistic ball. For instance, the ballistic ball may be a high density rubber coated exterior ball that is filled with a high capacity impact foam interior and including locking steel cable band with eye hooks one or both ends. Advantageously, ballistic balls allow for full force impact as well as stabilized resistance at “point of contact”. In one variant, one or more tension cables or cords (cables 123a-i) are selected to adjust height and/or tension level for striking structure 108 so that multiple athletic levels, height levels, and sports positions may be modeled using athletic training machine 100.

Referring to FIGS. 4-9, various heights are modeled using tension cords 123a-i. For example, tension cords 123a-i may be a resistive strapping system. For instance, the resistance strapping system may include hexagon end design synthetic rubber straps of various sizes and length which are interchangeable and adjusted to provide variable resistances and ballistic impact ball locations. In one embodiment, on the end of the tension cord are steel spring loaded quick-connect snaps (e.g., Caribeaner) that, for instance, may be rated at 150 lbs. In one exemplary embodiment, tension cords 123a-I may range in size from 6″ to 36″ in length and ½″ to 1″ in width.

In numerous conventional athletic training machines, a coach assists a player before using but would view a player's movement or setup from a back or a side angle. More specifically, during player use of numerous conventional baseball player swing training machines, a coach would position a player's body and arms in a recommended setting (e.g. a suggested hitting position) and during practice, a coach would view from behind the player or best from a partially obstructed side view. In yet another example, during player use of conventional golf swing training machines, a coach would position a player's body and arms in a recommended setting. However, while player's body is in motion, a coach's view is partially or almost fully obstructed during a player's swing. Furthermore, coaches can only provide instruction before or after player's swing.

As compared to conventional non-coach oriented athletic training machines, a portion of athletic training machine 100 (e.g., portion of collapsible frame 106) forms coaching cage 110 (as best illustrated in FIG. 1). Coaching cage 110 provides coach 104 a substantially unobstructed real-time view of player's 102 striking position relative to striking structure 108. Furthermore, using coaching cage 110, coach 104 obtains a substantially unobstructed real-time view of trajectory path 119 of striking structure 108 traveling, for instance, to a player defined target or a coach defined target. Player defined target or coach defined target may include, for instance, a swinging position or setup to achieve a single to first base, a double to second base, a line drive to short stop, a fly ball to outfield, or the like. Advantageously, athletic training apparatus 100 provides a dual-usage advantage because a substantially same setup (e.g., same setup) allows either coach assisted feedback before, during, and after swinging by a player or player only athletic training sessions.

Continuing with embodiment, substantially unobstructed real-time view of a player's striking position includes a real-time front view of player 102 physical hitting setup before and while swinging selected striking item 132 (e.g., baseball bat, softball bat, or the like) through contact of striking structure 108 and follow through of the selected striking item 132 along trajectory path 119 of striking structure 108 along player defined target or coach defined target.

As best illustrated in FIG. 3, advantageously, movable members 118a, 118b provide repositioning of collapsible frame 106 between first location 120 and second location 122 along a selected transport path 124 without requiring disassembly (or minimal disassembly) of athletic training machine 100.

As best illustrated in FIGS. 4-8, collapsible frame 106 includes one or more adjustable height position member(s) 126a, 126b, 128a, 128b, 130a, 130b, 131a, and 131b and using pins 125a, 125b to secure frame 106 in a desired position. In one example, pins 125a, 125b are self locking, spring loaded pins that lock in a desired position to add strength and durability to the machine. In one embodiment, one or more adjustable height position member(s) 126, 126b, 128a, 128b, 130a, 130b, 131a, 131b provide(s) an open position of collapsible frame 106 by player 102 during use and to an at least partially closed position of collapsible frame 106 during storage. In one variant, height positional member(s) 126a, 126b, 128a, 128b, 130a, 130b, 131a, 131b are four positional levels to adjust a height of collapsible frame 106 to be at least partially responsive to physical height of player 102. In one embodiment, height of collapsible frame 106 is selected to model an athletic play modeled by a positional level of striking structure 108.

Referring to FIGS. 2, 3, striking structure 108 includes a shape selected to substantially model an object (e.g., baseball, softball, golf ball, or the like) encountered during active participation in the athletic sport by player 102 and an actual positional level of the object and an actual compressibility level. Continuing with this embodiment, actual compressibility level comprises a selected resistance level and a striking structure 108 type (e.g., baseball, softball, golf ball, or the like) having a selected compressibility rating at least partially responsive with the estimated skill level (e.g., novice, intermediate, expert) of player 102.

In one embodiment, movable members 118a, 118b being pivotally connected and swiveling operability provide movement flexibility of the athletic training machine 100 while in an open position (as shown in FIGS. 3 and 10) from first location 120 to second location 122 along selected transport path 124. In yet another embodiment, movable members provide 118a, 118b provide for movement flexibility of athletic training machine 100 while in closed position (as shown in FIGS. 11 and 12). In one example, the movable members 118a, 118b may be stationary mounted rubber lined wheels attached to frame 106 exterior which may be extended or compacted for easy storage.

As best illustrated in FIG. 1, coach 104 leans into and holds at least one of the multi-segment frame of collapsible frame 106 that forms coaching cage 110 to support a selected physical viewing angle in the substantially unobstructed real-time view of player 102 striking position relative to striking structure 108 and trajectory path 119 of striking structure 108 toward the player defined target or the coach defined target.

Continuing with this embodiment, batting plate 136 pivotally connects to athletic training machine 100 and player 102 utilizes a reference positional marker 113 to align a player body and player's bat 132 when swinging at striking structure 108. Advantageous as compared to conventional fixed position batting plate (home plate) batting machines, athletic training machine 100 provides batting plate 136 that is a moveable reference to aid in a third parties evaluation (coach's evaluation) of and a player's self evaluation of alignment of player's body and player's bat 132 before, during, and after physical contact with striking structure 108 to model a selected hitting position. In one exemplary embodiment, selected hitting position comprises alignment of the player's body and the player's bat to hit a type of ball pitch selected from a group consisting of knuckle ball, slider, fast pitch, slow pitch, inside left corner of batting plate 136, outside right corner of the batting plate 136, high pitch fastball, low pitch fastball, high pitch softball, and low pitch softball.

In one, directional guide (e.g., player or coach directional guide) is disclosed. In one exemplary embodiment, directional guide (e.g., reference positional marker 113) comprises an arrow to provide a suggested trajectory guide path to at least partially determine player's body and swinging position for player's bat 132 to aid player 102 achieve a real-life representation of a ball hit into a selected quadrant of a ball field. Advantageous, reference positional marker 113 has dual purposes of acting a stabilizer on each side of the athletic training machine 100 for added support and to show a batter/player/hitter a flight path of a batted ball at point of contact. In yet another variant, batting plate 136 movement is pivotally connected (e.g., using rivets 149a-d). In yet another embodiment, pivotal connection may include a hinged structure, pin, hook or the like that connect to a series of metal strips (e.g., metal segments 148a-d). In one variant, player 102 moves batting plate 136 in a piece-wise segmented fashion to aid in alignment of batting plate 136 to a selected hitting position.

Advantageously as compared with many conventional batting machines, athletic training machine 100 includes reference positional marker 113 (batting alignment marker) coupled to collapsible frame 106 and batting plate 136. As such, batting plate 136 being pivotally coupled to the athletic training machine 100 provides added flexibility as compared to conventional non-movable athletic batting machines to provide to coach 104 or player 102 ability to choose a positional location to aid alignment of any or all the following: player's body, a player's bat, and the batting alignment marker (e.g., reference positional marker 113) to substantially model in real-time a hit to a selected portion of a batting infield or a batting outfield. In contrast to operation of non-directional hit oriented athletic machines, a player may use athletic training machine 100 with or without the assistance of a coach and select a quadrant of a batting infield to hit to. For instance, quadrant of batting infield may be an area proximal to first base, second base, short stop, and third base and selected portion or quadrant of a batting outfield may be right field, center field, and left field.

Advantageously as compared to conventional player only oriented athletic equipment machines, athletic training machine 100 disclosed trains a player and provides a coach an ability to monitor in real-time athletic training progression of the player and provide real-time feedback to the player during swinging by a player. Advantageously as compared to fixed positional or limited adjustable conventional athletic machines, collapsible frame 106 has at least one adjustable height position member to provide an ability to open (fold open) collapsible frame 106 during use by player 102 and to at least partially close (fold close) collapsible frame 106 (see FIG. 11) during storage or transport to storage.

Furthermore, because striking structure 108 detachably couples using one or more cables 123a-i (e.g., different tie arrangements) to frame 106, a player with or without assistance of coach 104 may detachably couple selected striking structure 108 and tie arrangement to better meet a desired athletic training session goals as well as ball positional location to aid proper training. Advantageously as compared to conventional fixed compressibility ball, striking structure 108 striking resilience and compressibility factor at least partially to be selected (by coach 104 or player 102) in accordance an estimated current skill level in a selected athletic sport that player 102 participates.

Advantageously, athletic training machine 100 delivers superior benefits to player 102 through its dynamic tension system that maximizes a batter's “rate of force” at a ball's point of contact though it uniquely designed ballistic impact ball and its resistive synthetic rubber strapping system. Furthermore, athletic training machine 100 allows fluidity for a full batter's swing with its in-place inertia applied throughout a ball's point of contact.

In addition, athletic training machine 100 increased momentum system (by interchanging tension cables 123a-i) builds impact power with increased bat velocity and fully body balance throughout a player's/batter's swing continuum (provides synchronicity of movement) by using all muscle groups including hips, shoulders, wrists and legs which are used throughout a batter's motion as a result of in-place inertia by the resistance strapping system. Using the athletic training machine's triad design, trainers, coaches, instructors, and observers may view from any angle a player's stride, swing motion, fluidity of motion, eye focus, and consistency/accuracy at full impact of motion.

In addition, coaching cage 110 being incorporated within collapsible frame 106 favorably provides coach 104 a real-time unobstructed view of player 102 striking position relative to striking structure 108 and trajectory path 119 of striking structure 108. To further aid player 102 and/or coach 104, a batting alignment marker (reference positional marker 113) may be coupled to collapsible frame structure 106 and proximally located to batting plate 136. Advantageously as compared to conventional batting practice machines, the present invention novel coaching cage 110 and batting plate 136 pivotally coupled to collapsible frame 106 along a lower section of collapsible frame 106 allows at least one of coach 104 or player 102 to choose a positional location to aid alignment of a player's body, a player's bat, and the batting alignment marker to substantially in real-time model a ball hit to a selected portion of a batting infield or a batting outfield. In contrast to non-stabilized conventional batting training machines, batting plate 136, frame 106, reference positional marker 113, and (in one alternative embodiment batting plate 136) form a multi-section triangle stability system (e.g., a multi-section triad design) so that even with increasing player striking power on striking structure 108, athletic training apparatus 100 remains stable.

As compared to conventional fixed positional batting plates, the present invention as, for instance, as illustrated in FIGS. 1, 3, 9 and 10 depict batting plate 136 being pivotally attached to provide coach 104 a moveable reference to aid in coach's evaluation of and player's self evaluation of alignment of player's body and player's bat before, during, and after striking ball so as to more closely model a selected ball hitting position.

In contrast to conventional fixed position batting training machines, the present invention having movable members 118a, 118b would allow player 102 or coach 104 to roll machine 100 from one location to another location Furthermore, movable members 118a, 118b provide for pivoting of multi-segment collapsible frame 106 (e.g., lower or raise structure or turn structure) about a wheel axis of movable members 118a, 118 between a first location 120 and a second location 122 along a selected transport path 124. As best illustrated in FIGS. 11 and 12, little or no disassembly is required and only folding inward or outward frame 106 of the machine 100 (e.g., multi-segment collapsible frame 106) is required. Advantageously athletic training machine 100 ease of movably provides a substantial improvement over many conventional training machines that require batting apparatus disassembly and reassembly when user desires to relocate.

As compared to conventional rear view or partially obstructed side view only batting machines, batting machine 100 allows coach 104 to lean into and hold at least one of the multi-segment members of frame 106 that forms coaching cage 110 to provide an ability to provide close in real-time viewing of a selected physical viewing angle (e.g., within a range of approximately 2 inches to 6 inches from surface of striking structure 108). In this invention, the selected physical viewing angles for a substantially unobstructed real-time view of player 102 striking position relative to striking structure 108 and trajectory path 119 as striking structure 108 travels toward a player defined target or coach defined target.

Advantageously as compared to conventional non-alignment oriented athletic training machines, this novel athletic training machine allows player or coach to select a hitting position includes alignment of the player's body and the player's bat to hit a type of ball pitch selected from a group consisting of knuckle ball, slider, fast pitch, slow pitch, inside left corner of the batting plate, outside right corner of the batting plate, high pitch fastball, low pitch fastball, high pitch softball, and low pitch softball.

Furthermore, batting plate pivotally coupled to the collapsible frame along a lower section of the collapsible frame comprises a batting plate rivetally attached along a series of segmented metal pieces; and wherein at least one of the player or the coach moves the batting plate in a piece-wise segmented fashion to align the batting plate to assist in achieving a selected hitting position.

Exemplary Methods

Referring now to FIG. 13, an exemplary embodiment of a method 200 for training a player using a batting training machine apparatus that permits a coach's participation in the training process is described. While described primarily in the context of the exemplary embodiments of apparatus 100 shown in FIGS. 1-12, it will be appreciated that the methodology presented herein may be readily adapted to many different configurations of apparatus 100 as recognized by those of ordinary skill in the art.

In step 202, multi-segment collapsible frame 106 is opened and transported to a desired location to begin setup of batting training machine 100. In step 204, multi-segment collapsible frame 106 is opened and secured to one of a series of adjustable height position members 126, 128, 130, 131 in accordance with height of player 102 and/or desired play. Following step 202 and step 204, batting training machine 100 occupies a substantially half semicircular perimeter area 123. In step 206, striking structure 108 (e.g., ball or ball like structure) is selected. In one exemplary embodiment of step 206, striking structure 108 is selected having a striking resilience and compressibility factor at least partially in accordance an estimated current skill level of player 102 and athletic sport of player 102. In step 208, striking structure 108 detachably couples on both ends using at least one tension cord to multi-segment collapsible frame 106 to achieve a selected hitting location and selected real life muscle feedback upon contacting striking structure 108 to player 102.

In step 210, batting alignment marker 113 couples to multi-segment collapsible frame 106 and batting plate 136 to allow at least one of coach 104 or player 102 to aid alignment of body of player 102, and bat 132 held by player 102 to substantially in real-time model a ball hit to a selected portion of a batting infield or a batting outfield.

In step 212, coach 104 analyzes through coaching cage 110 incorporated within multi-segment collapsible frame 106 a real-time unobstructed view of player 102 striking position relative to striking structure 108 and trajectory path 119 of striking structure 108.

In step 214, batting plate 136 pivotally coupled to multi-segment collapsible frame 106 along a lower section of multi-segment collapsible frame 106 or ball alignment marker improves likelihood of player 102 models a hit of striking structure 108 into a selected portion of a batting infield or a batting outfield.

It will be appreciated that while certain aspects of the invention have been described in terms of a specific sequence of steps of a method, these descriptions are only illustrative of the broader methods of the invention, and may be modified as required by the particular application. Certain steps may be rendered unnecessary or optional under certain circumstances. Additionally, certain steps or functionality may be added to the disclosed embodiments, or the order of performance of two or more steps permuted. All such variations are considered to be encompassed within the invention disclosed and claimed herein.

While the above detailed description has shown, described, and pointed out novel features of the invention as applied to various embodiments, it will be understood that various omissions, substitutions, and changes in the form and details of the device or process illustrated may be made by those skilled in the art without departing from the invention. The foregoing description is of the best mode presently contemplated of carrying out the invention. This description is in no way meant to be limiting, but rather should be taken as illustrative of the general principles of the invention. The scope of the invention should be determined with reference to the claims.