Title:
SWING TRAINING DEVICE HAVING ADJUSTABLE CONTACT AREA
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A swing training device includes a longitudinal body comprising a handle and a shaft. The longitudinal body further comprising a first end adjacent the handle and a second end adjacent the shaft, wherein the first end is opposite the second end. A contact area assembly removably coupled to the longitudinal body and opposite the handle is adapted to provide at least one contact area along the longitudinal body. The swing training device assist in improving palm up palm down at contact and assists in developing muscle memory.



Inventors:
Mccrory, James Scott (Thousand Oaks, CA, US)
Application Number:
13/788664
Publication Date:
07/18/2013
Filing Date:
03/07/2013
Assignee:
MCCRORY JAMES SCOTT
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63B69/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
ARYANPOUR, MITRA
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
KOPPEL, PATRICK, HEYBL & PHILPOTT (Westlake Village, CA, US)
Claims:
I claim:

1. A swing training device, comprising: a longitudinal body having handle and a shaft; a first end adjacent said handle; a second end adjacent said shaft, wherein said first end is opposite said second end; and a contact area assembly removably coupled to said shaft, wherein said contact area assembly is adapted to provide at least one contact area along said shaft.

2. The swing training device of claim 1, wherein said contact area assembly is adapted to be slidably adjustable on said shaft.

3. The swing training device of claim 2, wherein said shaft comprises at least one slot arranged to allow said contact area assembly to be removably coupled to said shaft.

4. The swing training device of claim 1, said contact area assembly comprising: a contact area having a contact face and a back; a sleeve coupled to said back of said contact area, wherein said sleeve is adapted to receive said shaft; and a locking device configured to removably couple said contact area assembly to said shaft.

5. The swing training device of claim 4, wherein said sleeve is configured to receive said locking device to removably couple said contact area assembly to said shaft.

6. The swing training device of claim 4, wherein said shaft is configured to receive said locking device to removably couple said contact area assembly to said shaft.

7. The swing training device of claim 6, wherein said second end comprises an endcap to maintain said contact area assembly within said shaft.

8. The swing training device of claim 6, wherein said shaft comprises at least one slot arranged to receive said locking device.

9. The swing training device of claim 8, wherein said at least one slot is opposite said contact area.

10. The swing training device of claim 8, said at least one slot extending along said shaft.

11. The swing training device of claim 6, said shaft comprising a plurality of slots arranged to receive said locking device, such that said contact area assembly is adapted to be removably coupled to said shaft corresponding to the position of at least one of said plurality of slots.

12. The swing training device of claim 1, said handle comprising an ridge along the length of said handle adapted to assist in proper alignment of said swing training device.

13. The swing training device of claim 1, said first end comprising a knob.

14. The swing training device of claim 1, wherein said longitudinal body comprises at least one bend, such that said handle and said shaft are not axially aligned.

Description:

RELATED APPLICATION

This application is a continuation in part application of Ser. No. 13/374,269 to James Scott McCrory, filed on Feb. 21, 2012, which claims the benefit of priority of provisional application Ser. No. 61/429,258, filed on Jan. 3, 2011. The contents of Ser. Nos. 13/374,269 and 61/429,258, including the drawings, schematics, diagrams and written description, are hereby incorporated in their entirety by reference.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

Embodiments of the invention relate to a swing training device and, more particularly, to a baseball or softball training device having an adjustable contact area.

2. Description of the Related Art

It is important for a hitter in baseball or softball to hit the ball with the “sweet spot” portion of the bat. The sweet spot is typically considered the center percussion of the bat or the location that produces the greatest batted ball speed. While the exact location of the sweet spot depends on the characteristics of the bat, it is in general approximately six inches from the end of the barrel of the bat. The sweet spot can also be the part of the bat that produces the least swing resistance and bat vibration, as well as the greatest power and control, when hitting the ball. Therefore, is important for the batter to recognize the sweet spot on the bat and have a consistent swing.

To learn to recognize the sweet spot, a player needs to practice their swing while batting a ball. Repetitive practice creates a muscle memory which will enable the player to replicate their swing. Additionally, such practice is also necessary if a batter has a flaw in their swing or needs to improve their swing mechanics. It is important when doing drills and practicing swings for the batter to become trained in identifying the sweet spot of the bat.

Proper hand path is an important element in the ability of a batter to hit the ball properly. Therefore, batters are usually instructed to develop proper hand path as a means of improving their hitting. Unfortunately, this is easier said than done, since the batter usually experiences difficulty in determining whether or not his or her hands and arms are moving in the proper path without the assistance of a coach appraising the swing. Continuous practice is required to develop the proper hand path and it is impractical for the major portion of the practice to be conducted in the presence of a coach. Thus, advantages are to be gained when the batter himself can ascertain the proper hand path of his/her swing during private practice sessions.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

A swing training device is presented which overcomes the problems noted above. A longitudinal body comprising a handle and a shaft. The longitudinal body further comprising a first end adjacent the handle and a second end adjacent the shaft, wherein the first end is opposite the second end. A contact area assembly on the longitudinal body and opposite the handle is adapted to provide at least one contact area along the longitudinal body.

These and other features, aspects and advantages of the present invention will become better understood with reference to the following description and claims.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a swing training device according to an embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 2 is a side view of the swing training device of FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 is a backside view of a longitudinal body of the swing training device of FIG. 1.

FIG. 4 is a side view of the longitudinal body of FIG. 3.

FIG. 5 is an exploded view of the swing training device of FIG. 1.

FIG. 6a is perspective view of a contact area assembly of the swing training device of FIG. 1.

FIG. 6b is a front view of the contact area assembly of FIG. 6a.

FIG. 6c is a review view of the contact area assembly of FIG. 6a.

FIG. 6d is a top view of the contact area assembly of FIG. 6a.

FIG. 6e is a side view of the contact area assembly of FIG. 6a.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

Embodiments of the invention provide a swing training device having an adjustable contact area that can be utilized to assist in training and/or improving of swing mechanics.

FIG. 1 shows a swing training device 10 according to an embodiment of the invention. A longitudinal body 12 includes a handle 18 and a shaft 22. The longitudinal body further comprises a first end 14 adjacent the handle and a second end 16 adjacent the shaft 22, wherein the first end is opposite the second end. The swing training device 10 further comprises a contact area assembly 20 on the longitudinal body 12 opposite the handle 18, wherein the contact area assembly 20 is adapted to provide at least one contact area 32 along the longitudinal body.

The first end 14 can be arranged to have dimensions greater than the handle 18 so as to prevent the swing training device 10 from sliding out while in use. In one embodiment, the first end 14 can comprise a knob similar to a conventional baseball or softball bat in order to prevent the swing training device from sliding out while in use. However, in other embodiments, the first end 14 can be arranged in many different forms and is not intended to be limited to the embodiments disclosed herein. For example, the first end 14 can have a square-like shape or any other shape.

The handle 18 extends from the first end 14 towards the shaft 22 and has a cylindrical-like shape. The handle 18 is configured to be similar to a handle of a conventional baseball or softball bat. As shown in FIG. 4, the handle 18 further comprises a ridge 24 that is arranged to assist users with proper hand placement on the handle when using the swing training device 10. The ridge 24 extends from the first end 14 along the length of the handle 18 towards the shaft 22. The ridge 24 assists users to properly position their hands on the handle 18. The ridge 24 is also aligned with the contact area 32 of the contact area assembly 20.

An advantage of the invention is that the ridge 24 provides a tactile sensation on the user's fingers that allows users to properly position their hands on the device 10, such that repetitive use of the device 10 allows users to develop a muscle memory in proper hand placement on the device 10. This muscle memory will assist users in proper hand placement when holding a conventional baseball or softball bat.

Yet another advantage of the invention is that having the ridge 24 aligned with the contact area 32 assists users with properly positioning of their hands on the handle 18 with respect to the contact area 32, such that when swinging the device 10 the contact area 32 is properly aligned in all phases of the swing, especially when the contact area 32 collides with a ball. Minor shifts in the positioning of the hands on the handle 18 could cause the contact area 32 to be at an angle when colliding with a ball, such that the ball is hit high up in the air similar to a “pop fly” or hit downwards toward the ground. The ridge 24 and contact area 32 being aligned allows a user to identify whether unexpected events occur during a swing of the device 10 that results in an improperly hit ball. For example, if a user has proper hand placement on the handle 18, but continues to hit the ball high in the air or down to the ground, then it is possible that the device 10 is being rotated during the swing such that the contact area 32 is not properly positioned when colliding with a ball.

The shaft 22 extends from the second end 16 towards the handle 18 and comprises a cylindrical-like shape. The shaft 22 can be configured in many different ways and is not intended to be limited to a cylindrical-like shape. In other embodiments, the shaft 22 and handle 18 can have the same or different shapes. In the embodiments of FIGS. 1-5, the shaft 22 and handle 18 have a cylindrical shape having the same diameter, whereas in other embodiments the shaft and handle can have different dimensions.

The shaft 22 is configured to receive the contact area assembly 20, wherein the contact area assembly can be removably coupled to the shaft. The contact area assembly 20 is adapted to be slidably adjusted on the shaft 22, such that the positioning of the contact area assembly can be adjusted to different locations along the shaft 22. An advantage of the invention is that the device 10 can be arranged to simulate different bat lengths by adjusting where the contact area assembly 20 is coupled to the shaft 22, which allows the device to be used by various different users, such as but not limited to young children, adolescents and/or adults.

The contact area 32 of the contact area assembly 20 can also be arranged to simulate the “sweet spot” of a baseball or softball bat by coupling the contact area assembly 20 to a specific area of the shaft 22. For example, the shaft 22 can be arranged to comprise markings identifying the location of the “sweet spot” for bats of different lengths. This allows a user to easily identify where the contact area assembly 20 is to be coupled to the shaft 22, such that the contact area 32 simulates the “sweet spot” of a bat of a specific length. In some embodiments, the contact area assembly 20 can be positioned on the shaft 22 to simulate the “sweet spot” for bat lengths within the range of 26-34 inches. However, in other embodiments, the range of bat lengths the device 10 can simulate can be less than or greater the 26-34 inches; the invention is not intended to be limited to the range of bat lengths disclosed herein. In other embodiments, the shaft 22 comprises markings that can be used to couple the contact area assembly 20 to the shaft at locations that represent different areas of a bat, and is not intended to be limited to positioning the assembly 20 at the “sweet spot”.

With reference to FIG. 3, the shaft 22 further comprises at least one slot 26 that is arranged to allow the contact area assembly 20 to be removably coupled to the shaft 22. As will be further discussed below, the contact area assembly 20 comprises a locking device 42 that is configured to extend into the at least one slot 26 so as to couple the contact area assembly to the shaft 22. The locking device 42 can be arranged to couple the contact area assembly to the shaft using a variety of different methods. For example, in one embodiment, the locking device 42 is threadedly received by the contact area assembly such that the locking device is screwed into the contact area assembly and extends into the at least one slot until the locking device contacts an interior surface of the shaft 22. The locking device 42 thereby imparts a force onto the interior surface of the shaft and firmly couples the contact area assembly 20 to the shaft 22.

In other embodiments, the shaft 22 can be configured to comprise a threaded surface to receive the threaded locking device 42. In yet other embodiments, the locking device 42 can be a spring loaded device that uses a spring force to couple the contact area assembly to the shaft. In other embodiments, the locking device 42 can be arranged to apply a clamping force onto the contact area assembly 20 so as to couple the contact area assembly to the shaft. In the embodiment of FIG. 3, the shaft 22 comprises one elongated slot 26 that extends along the shaft 22. However, in other embodiments, the shaft 22 can comprise a plurality of slots that are spaced apart instead of an elongated slot, wherein each of the plurality of slots are arranged to receive the locking device 42 so as to couple the contact area assembly 20 to a point along the shaft that corresponds to one of said plurality of slots.

As disclosed in FIGS. 1, 2, 4 and 5 the shaft 22 is arranged to comprise two bent portions 48, 50 such that the longitudinal body 12 is not straight. The shaft 22 comprises a first bent portion 48 adjacent the handle 18 and a second bent portion 50 between the first bent portion and the second end 16. The shaft 22 having the two bent portions 48, 50 assists the user to ensure that their hands remain in front of the shaft 22 during a swing and when making contact with a ball. The device 10 also assists the user to keep their hands inside the ball. When hitting a baseball it is important to allow the ball to travel deep into the hitting zone and avoid reaching out to try to hit the ball. In order to do this successfully, the hands must be kept close to the body when swinging a bat, such that the barrel of the bat or shaft 22 of the device 10 lags behind the user's hands allowing the user to stay long through the strike zone so that the barrel or shaft 22 is extending through the strike zone for a long period of time. The user's back elbow should be kept close to the body during the swing and up until the bat contacts the ball. Keeping the hands close to the body during the swing allows the hands to be between the body and the ball, or as it is commonly known as keeping the hands inside the ball. This reduces the swinging motion and the path the bat takes during the swing.

Having the hands out of place when swinging the device 10 or a bat will not result in an optimal swing. If the hands move away from the body during a swing, the swing is a longer motion and increases the path the bat travels. In this instance, the path the bat travels during the swing is out and around the ball, which can cause the user to pull outside pitches, roll their wrists over, hit weak ground balls and/or weak pop ups. The bent shaft 22 will allow a user to easily determine if their hands are inside the ball, such that their hands are close to their body and have a reduce swinging motion. For example, if a user moves their hands away from their body when swinging the device 10 and makes contact with a ball, the ball is likely to be pulled, because the bends in the shaft 22 position the shaft 22 at an angle with respect to the handle inducing the ball to be hit in a pulled manner. The flight of the batted ball when using the device 10 can inform the user whether their hands and/or arms are properly positioned during the swing.

With reference to FIGS. 6a-e, the contact area assembly 20 comprises a contact area 32 having a contact face 33 and a back 34. The contact area assembly further comprises a sleeve 36 coupled to the back 34 of the contact area, wherein the sleeve is adapted to receive the shaft 22. A locking device (shown in FIGS. 1, 2 and 5) is configured to removably couple the contact area assembly to the shaft, wherein the locking device is received by an opening 38 of the sleeve 36. The sleeve 36 further comprises a channel 40 that is shaped to correspond with the shape of the shaft 22, such that the contact area assembly 20 is adapted to be slidably adjustable on the shaft 22.

The contact area assembly 20 can be coupled to any portion of the shaft 22 within the at least one slot 26 of the shaft. As stated above, the contact area 32 can be arranged to simulate the “sweet spot” for bats of different lengths by slidably adjusting where the contact area assembly is coupled to the shaft. In one embodiment, the contact area 32 is oval-like shape. However, the invention is not intended to limit the contact area to having an oval-like shape. The contact area 32 can be shaped in many different shapes, such as but not limited to triangular, quadrilateral or any other polygonal shape. In yet other embodiments, the contact area can be shaped to have straight edges, curved edges, rounded edges or a combination thereof. The contact area assembly 20 is adapted to slide along the shaft 22 such that the locking device 42 extends into and is received by the at least one slot 26 of the shaft, whereby the locking device couples the contact area assembly to the shaft.

The at least one slot 26 is opposite the contact area 32 which requires the opening 38 of the sleeve 36 to be aligned with the at least one slot 26 so that the locking device 42 can be received by the opening 38 and the at least one slot 26. This configuration ensures that the contact area assembly 20 is properly arranged on the shaft 22 so that the contact area assembly 20 can be coupled to the shaft.

In one embodiment, the locking device 42 can be a threaded bolt wherein the opening 38 is correspondingly threaded to receive said threaded bolt, whereby the threaded bolt extends into the at least one slot 26 of the shaft 22 until the threaded bolt contacts a surface of the shaft 22. The threaded bolt is threaded within the opening 38 until the surface of the shaft prevents further rotation of the threaded bolt, at which point the threaded bolt applies a force onto the surface of the shaft which couples the contact area assembly 20 to the shaft 22. The threaded bolt can be unscrewed removing the force applied by the threaded bolt onto the surface of the shaft and allowing the contact area assembly 20 to be positioned to another portion of the shaft by sliding the contact area assembly to the desired location.

In other embodiments, the shaft can comprise a plurality of slots, wherein each slot is arranged to receive the locking device 42. In some embodiments, the locking device couples the contact area assembly to the shaft at one of the plurality of slots by screwing a threaded bolt until the bolt stops rotating and thereby applies a force onto a surface of the shaft. In other embodiments, each of the plurality of slots can be threaded to receive the threaded bolt, such that the force coupling the contact area assembly to the shaft is the threaded bolt being threaded and held by the threaded slot of the plurality of slots. In this embodiment, the threaded bolt does not need to be threaded into the shaft and contact a surface of the shaft in order to couple the contact area assembly to the shaft. However, threading the bolt in one of the plurality of slots until it contacts a surface of the shaft provides additional structural support to further ensure that the contact area assembly is coupled to the shaft. The invention is not intended to limit the locking device 42 to a threaded bolt. The locking device 42 can be configured in many different manners, such as but not limited to, a nail, rivet, locking pin, clamp, clasp or the like.

Referring back to FIGS. 1 and 2, the second end 16 comprises an endcap. The endcap is coupled to the second end 16 of the longitudinal body 12 and is arranged to provide a stop which prevents the contact area assembly 20 from coming off the shaft 22 while the device 10 is being used. A user training with the device 10 will swing the device, and the device can be arranged to withstand the centripetal force exerted on the contact area assembly 20 during the swinging motion of the device 10. For example, the locking device 42 of the contact area assembly is at least one means employed to withstand the centripetal force and prevent the contact area assembly from coming off the shaft.

The endcap coupled to the second end 16 can also be a means employed to withstand the centripetal force exerted on the contact area assembly and prevent the contact area assembly from coming off the shaft. For example, if the locking device 42 were to fail and/or not properly couple the contact area assembly to the shaft, such that when the device is swung in a swinging motion the contact area assembly becomes dislodged, centripetal force will cause the contact area assembly to slide along the shaft toward the second end. However, the endcap coupled to the second end provides a physical stop such that the endcap receives the sliding contact area assembly and prevents the contact area assembly from coming off the shaft. The device thereby provides a number of means to ensure the device is safe. The endcap can be coupled to the second end a number of different manners, such as but not limited to being glued, welded, screwed, nailed, riveted, tension, friction, and the like, or a combination thereof.

An advantage of the invention is that the device 10 can be used to replicate bats of different lengths. The length of bat being replicated can be based on the position of the contact area assembly on the shaft, such that the positioning of the contact area simulates the “sweet spot” of a particular sized bat. The ability of the device to simulate different sized bats allows users of different body types to use the same device while only having to slidably adjust the position of the contact area assembly to a predetermined position on the shaft.

Yet another advantage of the invention is that the length of the bat being simulated can be adjusted to suit a user's preference. Batters may use different sized bats over the course of a season or training session, and having the swing training device allows the batter to minimize the amount of training equipment necessary for different sized bats.

Yet another advantage of the invention is that the longitudinal body 12 can be formed of light weight and strong material, such as but not limited to aluminum, plastic, fiber glass, a combination thereof and the like. The light weight of the device allows a user to train for extended periods such that repeated use of the device 10 does not cause fatigue and further develops the muscle memory of the user. The weight of conventional swing training devices can be similar to the weight of regulation bats, and repeated use can lead to fatigue which could negatively impact the user's muscle memory. The invention can be used for one arm drills or full swing drills and is beneficial for improving palm up palm down hand positioning at contact. The flight of the ball after contact which the contact area provides a visual indication to the batter of the positioning of their hands when contact is made with the ball. The device can be used with a variety of different balls that do not cause damage to the device, such as but not limited to Whiffle® balls. The device can be used to assist in the training or development of swing mechanics for baseball and/or softball. However, the device can be used to train swing mechanics for other sports, such as but not limited to, tennis, cricket, and the like.

FIG. 5 shows an exploded view of an embodiment of the invention. In the embodiment of FIG. 5, the handle comprises a grip 44 that assists the batter grip their hands when training with the invention. In some embodiments, the grip 44 is comprised of a neoprene grip, while in other embodiments the grip is comprised of grip tape known in the art. Any surface known in the art to assist a user to grip a baseball and/or softball bat can be used as the grip 44. The first end 14 can also comprise a neoprene cover that goes over the first end to help prevent the device being released by the user when being used.

While particular embodiments of the invention have been shown and described, numerous variations and alternate embodiments will occur to those skilled in the art. Accordingly, it is intended that the invention be limited only in terms of the appended claims.