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Publication numberUS20070142138 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 11/563,952
Publication date21 Jun 2007
Filing date28 Nov 2006
Priority date19 Dec 2005
Publication number11563952, 563952, US 2007/0142138 A1, US 2007/142138 A1, US 20070142138 A1, US 20070142138A1, US 2007142138 A1, US 2007142138A1, US-A1-20070142138, US-A1-2007142138, US2007/0142138A1, US2007/142138A1, US20070142138 A1, US20070142138A1, US2007142138 A1, US2007142138A1
InventorsMark R. Acton
Original AssigneeActon Mark R
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Training article for throwing and catching
US 20070142138 A1
Abstract
The present throwable article is a toroidal-shaped ring of tightly-rolled elastic-knit fabric, such as by using knee-high sport socks. The number of layers in the roll may vary, but preferably include 15-30 layers or more of rolled fabric, such that the cross-sectional ring is a solid and relatively tight mass. Size and shape may be varied, but it is contemplated that the size will preferably be kept about equal to or less than a softball such as 3- to 4- inches outer diameter, and with a weight of about 3-5 ounces. The throwable article is useful for training and/or for live games. It can be tailored in size, shape, weight, and functional characteristics for any game, any age and any environment.
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Claims(19)
1. A throwable article comprising:
a palm-sized, donut-shaped ring made from a rolled tube of stretchable material and having a construction suitable for throwing and being caught.
2. The article defined in claim 1, wherein the ring has a maximum outer diameter of about 3 to 4 inches, and a height of about 1- to 2 inches.
3. The article defined in claim 2, wherein the ring has a weight of about 3-8 ounces.
4. The article defined in claim 3, wherein the ring has a weight of about 4-5 ounces.
5. The article defined in claim 3, wherein the ring defines natural axis of rotation and includes an inner hole aligned with the natural axis.
6. The article defined in claim 1, wherein the ring defines a natural axis of rotation and, when bisected along a plane containing the natural axis, defines circular cross sections spaced on opposite sides of the natural axis, each circular cross section being about 1 to 2 inches diameter.
7. The article defined in claim 1, wherein the stretchable material includes stretched knit material.
8. The article defined in claim 3, wherein the ring has a weight of about 3-8 ounces.
9. The article defined in claim 1, wherein the rolled tube forms at least 15 layers of the stretched material.
10. A throwable article comprising:
a throw ring made from a rolled tube of cloth.
11. The article defined in claim 10, wherein the rolled tube forms at least 15 layers of rolled material.
12. The article defined in claim 10, wherein the throw ring weighs at least about 3 to 8 ounces and defines an outer diameter of less than about 4 inches.
13. The article defined in claim 10, wherein the ring defines a natural axis of rotation and a hole aligned with the natural axis, with inner portions of the cloth pushing inward and substantially closing the hole.
14. A throwable article comprising:
a throw ring covered with fabric having an outer size of at most about 6 inch diameter, a weight of about 3 to 8 ounces and a compressibility of about 20% to 40% when compressed with a 10 pound weight.
15. The article defined in claim 14, wherein the ring defines a natural axis of rotation and a hole aligned with the natural axis, with inner portions of the cloth pushing inward and substantially closing the hole.
16. The article defined in claim 14, wherein fabric comprises stretchable knit material.
17. A method comprising steps of:
throwing and catching a cloth ring of sufficient weight and size to be thrown and caught in a manner simulating playing catch with a baseball.
18. The method defined in claim 17, including a step of catching the ring by using a baseball glove.
19. The method defined in claim 17, including a step of hitting the ring with a bat.
Description
  • [0001]
    This applications claims benefit under 35 U.S.C. 119(e) of provisional application Ser. No. 60/751,689, filed Dec. 19, 2005, entitled TRAINING ARTICLE FOR THROWING AND CATCHING, the entire contents of which are incorporated herein in its entirety.
  • BACKGROUND
  • [0002]
    The present invention relates to an article for throwing and catching, and methods related to same. More particularly, the present article relates to a training article that can be thrown and caught, with reduced risk of injury to the participant and yet that simulates the weight and feel of a thrown baseball or softball.
  • [0003]
    Baseball and softball are often considered to be America's favorite sports. However, many people (especially children) become “afraid” of a ball when learning the game due to the risk of being injured when catching a baseball or softball. Specifically, traditional baseballs and softballs are relatively hard, such that they can jam a finger or bruise a hand when incorrectly caught. Young players often become afraid of catching a ball due to being injured, whether it is because of a bad bounce from a rolling grounder or whether it is from a ball that is potentially thrown “too hard” for their skill capability. As a result, they instinctively learn to turn away or close their eyes when the ball is coming at them.
  • [0004]
    It is desirable to provide a throwable article (e.g., a ball-simulating article) which emphasizes fun and learning while reducing risk of injury. It is desirable to provide a ball that fits a small hand of a young child. It is desirable to provide a ball-simulating article that can be throw and, when thrown, provides a natural axis of rotation so that the thrown article provides a truer and more natural motion through the air and when rolling along the ground. It is desirable to be able to provide a low-cost, throwable article while providing control over size, weight, spin, throwability, catchability, roll-ability, hit-ability, and also durability. Also, it is desirable to provide a catchable device that is soft enough to be caught without injury yet hard enough to be thrown in a way that simulates a traditional baseball or softball. Aside from the medical aspects of injured fingers, wrists and hands, it is noted that softball is becoming a very popular sport for girls and women. However, many girls and women are sensitive to a disfiguring injury, especially to their face or hands. Accordingly, they tend to become “afraid of the ball” relatively more easily.
  • SUMMARY OF THE PRESENT INVENTION
  • [0005]
    The present invention focuses on a throwable article that can be thrown or caught in a manner that simulates a baseball or softball, yet that reduces risk of injury and that emphasizes the fun of a catching and throwing game. It is a durable, low-cost article having an appropriate size and weight for participants of a particular game. I, the present inventor, discovered that the present throw ring satisfies the above criteria with surprising and unexpected results, as described below.
  • [0006]
    In one aspect of the present invention, the present invention focuses on a throwable article having a palm-sized, donut-shaped ring (also called a “toroidal ring”) made from a rolled tube of stretchable material and having a construction suitable for throwing and being caught. In a preferred form, the ring has a maximum outer diameter of about 3 to 4 inches, a height of about 1 to 2 inches, a cross-sectional circular diameter of about 1 to 2 inches and a weight of about 3 to 8 ounces. The size, shape, density, and weight can be varied depending on the age level, level of skill, and desired properties based on the game being played.
  • [0007]
    In another aspect of the present invention, a throwable article includes a throw ring made from rolled cloth.
  • [0008]
    In another aspect of the present invention, a throwable article includes a throwable ring covered with fabric having a diameter of less than about 6 inches, a weight of about 3 to 8 ounces and a compressibility of about 20%-40% when compressed using a 10 pound weight.
  • [0009]
    In another aspect of the present invention, a method includes throwing and catching a cloth ring in a manner simulating playing catch with a baseball. In a narrower aspect, the method includes providing and using a baseball glove to catch the ring.
  • [0010]
    In another aspect of the present invention, a game includes throwing a ring between a player's legs.
  • [0011]
    In another aspect of the present invention, a game includes throwing a soft but throwable ring at a player's torso and, upon catching the torso, scoring points.
  • [0012]
    These and other aspects, objects, and features of the present invention will be understood and appreciated by those skilled in the art upon studying the following specification, claims, and appended drawings.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF DRAWINGS
  • [0013]
    FIG. 1 is a plan view of the present throwable training article.
  • [0014]
    FIG. 2 is a cross section taken along lines II-II in FIG. 1, the illustrated spiral rings showing the rolled fabric but being schematic and reduced in number to better illustrate the layers of the rolled fabric material.
  • [0015]
    FIGS. 3-6 are bottom, top, side, and cross-sectional views of a second version of the training article, similar to FIG. 1, but showing larger thicker throwable article and showing additional detail, FIG. 6 being taken along line VI-VI in FIG. 4.
  • [0016]
    FIG. 7 is a plan view of a tube of stretch material (i.e., a sport sock with its toe cut off).
  • [0017]
    FIGS. 8-10 are side views of a sock positioned on a fixture, the sock being shown in various partially rolled conditions as it is rolled onto the tube to construct the throwable training article of FIG. 1.
  • [0018]
    FIG. 11 is a side view of a sock positioned on a second fixture for constructing the throwable training article of FIG. 1.
  • [0019]
    FIGS. 12-14 are views showing a person manually rolling a sock to form the throwable training article of FIG. 1, and FIG. 15 which shows a second sock being rolled onto the first sock.
  • [0020]
    FIGS. 16-17 are side views illustrating a hand catching the throwable training article of FIG. 1.
  • [0021]
    FIG. 18 is a perspective view showing a baseball (or softball) simulating game including a pitcher throwing the training article, a batter with a bat to hit the training article, and fielder with a baseball glove for catching the training article.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS
  • [0022]
    The present throwable articles (see FIGS. 1 and 3) are toroidal-shaped rings of tightly-rolled elastic-knit tubular fabric material or similar material. The number of layers in the roll may vary, but preferably include 15-30 layers or more of rolled fabric, such that the cross-sectional ring thus formed is a soft by relatively solid and tight mass. Size and shape may be varied, as illustrated by comparing articles 10 (FIG. 1) and 10A (FIG. 3), but it is contemplated that the size will preferably be kept about equal to or less than a softball such as less than 6 inches diameter, (and more preferable about 3 to 4 inches outer diameter), and with a weight of about 3-5 ounces. The throwable article can be used for training and/or for live games. It can be tailored in size, shape, weight, and functional characteristics for any age and environment.
  • [0023]
    The illustrated throwable article 10A (FIG. 3) is particularly adapted for use as a training article since it is well-adapted for use in training exercises. It is made from tubular stretch-knit material such as knee-high soccer socks, weighs about 3 to 8 ounces (or more preferably about 4-5 ounces), has about 3 to 4 inches outer diameter, and has a height of about 1- to 2 inches. The article 10A preferably has a compressibility of about 20%-40% (based on compression using a 10 pound weight). The illustrated article 10A (FIGS. 3-6) is made using a pair of knee-high soccer socks 10B for 10-12 year olds (FIG. 7), such as those marketed by Nike or Adidas Companies. First, one sock 10B is pulled into the other and the toes are slit at end 11A (or cut off) to create a tube of knit elastic material (stretchable fabric). Then, the double tube is rolled to a toroidal ring shape, and its outer end 12 secured to prevent unrolling. The resulting toroidal ring-shaped article 10A is well-suited for throwing and catching. The outer end 12 is preferably attached to the underlying material by a non-scratching attachment method, such as by adhesive, bonding material, stitching, plastic rivets, snaps, Velcro™, or other ways known in the art for unobtrusive attachment.
  • [0024]
    FIG. 7 illustrates a tubular sock 10B cut off at its toe end 11A. (Alternatively, a slit can be made at its toe.) Notably, it is contemplated that many tubular materials can be used, depending on the functional properties desired in the article 10 (or 10A). Further, it is contemplated that the material can be laminated or that it can be wrapped around a core of inner material if desired to provide a particular weight, feel, and/or compressibility.
  • [0025]
    Using the sock 10B shown in FIG. 7, the throwable article 10 (or 10A) can be made on a fixture 15 as illustrated in FIGS. 8-10, or on a fixture 15A as shown in FIG. 11, or made by hand as illustrated in FIGS. 12-15. Specifically, in FIGS. 8-10, the coaxial, coextensive pair of socks 10B are telescopingly positioned on the fixture 15. The fixture 15 includes upper and lower mandrel halves 15A and 15B pivoted at end location 16 and biased apart by a spring 17 at the other end. The pair of socks 10B are rolled, starting at location 20 near end 16 (FIG. 8). As the roll increases in size (see FIGS. 9-10), the spring 17 is compressed allowing the mandrel halves 15A and 15B move toward each other to compensate for the center hole of the ring getting smaller and smaller. It is noted that the present throwable article 10 (or 10A) can be made without a mandrel simply by rolling a sock on one's lap. (See FIGS. 12-15.) However, by use of a mandrel, the rolling operation can be carried out much more quickly and consistently.
  • [0026]
    It is contemplated that other mandrels or fixtures can be used for the same purpose. For example, FIG. 11 illustrates a fixture 15A in the form of a unitary tapered post. Depending on the frictional and functional characteristics of the material and of the fixture 15A, it is noted that the fixture 15A may be treated with a rubber or frictional material to help hold the sock 10B on the fixture 15A during the rolling process . . . but to allow the sock 10B to be pulled onto the fixture to start the process. The present assembly method can be automated for rapid production of the throwable article 10 (or 10A), such as by providing a continuous tube of material pulled onto the small end of the fixture 15A. In the automated process, after the tubular material is rolled down to the small end of the fixture, glued and cut off, the continuous tube of material is again pulled upwardly onto the fixture and the process repeated.
  • [0027]
    As illustrated in FIGS. 16-17, the present throwable training article 10 (or 10A) can be configured in size to fit well into the palm of a user's hand 30. In particular, due to its donut-like toroidal shape, the article 10 (or 10A) can fit into the natural crevice 31 of a user's palm (regardless of the user's age or physical size) between the thrower's (or catcher's) fingers and thumb. The shape and size of the article 10 (or 10A) reduces risk of injury to the thrower's little finger and thumb, while still permitting a firm catching and throwing motion. Notably, the article 10 (or 10A) can be thrown by gripping and snapping of the first and second fingers, which produces a rotation of the article 10 about its natural axis of rotation (i.e., axis 36). The rotation is a stable rotation (much like the rotation of a thrown “Frisbee™” disk), such that the article 10 (or 10A) passes through the air without random tumbling. This reinforces a proper throw to the thrower, thus facilitating a teaching method focusing on how best to throw the article 10 (or 10A). It also causes the article 10 (or 10A) to fly through the air and also bounce off the ground and roll along the ground with a truer line of movement, thus facilitating a teaching method focusing on how best to catch the article 10 (or 10A). Notably, the shape and size of the article 10 (or 10A) can be configured for optimal size for the particular person, whether it be age 10-12 or 16-18, and whether it be male or female. The article 10 (or 10A) can also be tailored in size and weight for a particular game or environment, such as for use in a gym, or in wet weather.
  • [0028]
    As illustrated in FIG. 18, the present throwable article 10 (or 10A) can be used in a baseball simulating game (or softball simulating game). Since the illustrated article 10 (or 10A) is compressible and slightly lower in weight than a traditional baseball, it does not fly as far, thus facilitating its use within a gym or other enclosed area. At the same time, due to the size and shape of the article 10 (or 10A), it can be appropriately made to accurately simulate a baseball game in terms of the feel of throwing, catching, and overall play. It is noted that the natural axis of rotation of the toroidal-shaped article 10 (or 10A) about an axis 36 through its center hole provides an excellent feel for throwing, since it teaches a natural spin of the ring 10 when thrown. The natural axis of rotation also keeps the rotation in the same plane, letting the article 10 (or 10A) stay in the same plane for good catchability. Interestingly, the article 10 (or 10A) can be caught not only with a bare hand, but also with a baseball glove. Further, it can be hit with a bat due to its durability, feel and weight.
  • [0029]
    It is contemplated that the present throwable article 10 (or 10A) can be varied for particular age groups and particular sports. For example, heavier (or lighter), larger (or smaller) shapes and sizes can be readily made. It is noted that most baseballs and softballs are about 7 to 8 ounces and range in palm size. The present throwable article 10 (or 10A) can be made to be similar weight if desired. Further, it can be constructed at low-cost and made from existing materials which are readily accessible to most consumers.
  • [0030]
    It is also contemplated that stiffer or harder or water-resistant outer coatings and/or harder or heavier inner core materials can be added to the article 10 (or 10A). Further, the compressibility can be changed by changing the stretchability of the material used, and also by wrapping each layer tighter (or looser) during the rolling process. It is contemplated that an article 10 (or 10A) can be made with a foam-molded inner, a rubber inner, or a plastic inner, and that it could be covered with a cloth outer. Notably, the present invention is very durable, washable, repairable and capable of homemade construction . . . although a consistent product made to commercial standards is more preferable.
  • [0031]
    As noted above, the present rolled toroidal shape can be made in different ways. It can include a single sock, or two or more socks, whether rolled in series or pulled inside each other and then rolled. Also, a particular sock can be made longer, shorter, or have different stretchiness. Also, the sock can be rolled very tightly or more loosely.
  • [0032]
    The present invention includes not only the article 10 (or 10A), but use of the article 10 (or 10A) in a ball game and/or for training purposes (FIG. 18) to teach throwing and catching with reduced risk of injury. It is noted that the present article can further be modified and used in any game having a ball or puck, including hockey, football, lacrosse, and similar sports.
  • [0033]
    It is to be understood that variations and modifications can be made on the aforementioned structure without departing from the concepts of the present invention, and further it is to be understood that such concepts are intended to be covered by the following claims unless these claims by their language expressly state otherwise.
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Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US20070197318 *11 Jan 200723 Aug 2007Serrano Jude RApparatus and method for game
USD736870 *7 Jun 201318 Aug 2015The Pill Golf LLCFlat chamfered golf ball
Classifications
U.S. Classification473/588
International ClassificationA63B67/14
Cooperative ClassificationA63B2069/0006, A63B65/10, A63B69/0002
European ClassificationA63B65/10, A63B69/00B