OCULAR ENHANCEMENT TRAINING SYSTEM

The present invention is a method for training a player of a game in which an object is projected towards the player at a normal velocity range. Depending on the application of the training method, the normal range of velocity for the projected object in the game is determined. An apparatus is provided for projecting the object at a velocity greater than the normal velocity range. The object is projected towards the player at the velocity greater than the normal velocity range. This routine is repeated to improve ocular conditioning and physical objects of the game.

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Description

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0001] Various training programs and methods have been proposed to enhance the performance of athletes, including dietary programs, muscular development programs, aerobic conditioning programs, as well as programs and methods for sharpening the mental skills necessary to successfully compete at various competition levels. Programs which simulate competitive conditions have also been used to train athletes.

[0002] In addition, conditioning programs have been devised which subject an athlete to exaggerated conditions, i.e., conditions which the athlete would never encounter during normal competitive situations. The theory behind such exaggerated training programs is that after being continually subjected to extreme conditions, an athlete will be better prepared physically and mentally to perform under normal (i.e., less extreme) competitive conditions.

[0003] An exaggerated condition training program is commonly used in baseball where bat speed is crucial to successfully hitting a baseball. Before stepping into a batter's box to face live pitching, a batter will swing two or three baseball bats, or swing a single bat having a weight or “donut” slid down around the barrel of the bat. When the batter steps into the batter's box to face a pitcher, the batter's muscles are conditioned to swing a heavier bat. Accordingly, when the batter swings a lighter bat (i.e., a single bat or a bat without the a donut) the conditioned muscles will propel the bat at a greater speed.

[0004] Recently cross-training programs have been developed which combine training of various muscular groups, or muscular and aerobic development, and even programs which combine dietary conditioning with muscular, aerobic and mental training. However, ocular conditioning has been relatively unexplored as it relates to the performance of athletes.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0005] It is an object of the present invention to provide an ocular enhancement conditioning program which can be used alone or in combination with a variety of other conditioning programs to enhance the performance of an athlete.

[0006] It is also an object of the present invention to provide a multimedia interface system and training method which employs exaggerated ocular conditioning to enhance a user's ability to view a moving object under different operating conditions.

[0007] It is yet another object of the present invention to combine ocular conditioning and physical training to provide a multimedia interface system and training method to improve an athlete's performance. Accordingly, the present invention can be used to train baseball players to focus on and follow a baseball propelled at velocities greater than the normal range of velocities the player will encounter during a game. The present invention can also be employed for training hockey goalies to focus on, follow and catch/block hockey pucks propelled at high velocities, or train tennis players to return high speed serves and other shots. Certain aspects of the present invention can also be used to train downhill skiers and race car drivers.

[0008] In a first aspect of the present invention a training method and system comprising a computer program for generating and displaying a moving object according to a variable set of operating parameters is provided. An operator can improve his ability to pick-up and follow moving objects by viewing the computer generated object at various speeds, angles of trajectory and the rate at which the display of the moving object is repeated.

[0009] In a second aspect of the training method and system of the present invention, the first step is repeated simulating a realistic competitive environment. For example, when the present training method and system is used to train a hockey goalie, a life size, three dimensional computer-generated display of a hockey player shooting a hockey puck at variable speeds, variable angles and under variable conditions (i.e., a break-away or with several players blocking the goalies view) is generated.

[0010] A third aspect ofthe present invention provides a virtual reality computer program, including the necessary hardware and software. The virtual reality program is capable of simulating all aspects of the competitive environment (e.g., lighting conditions, crowd conditions, noise conditions, etc.). The computer program generates a moving object according to a set of programmable operating parameters. The program can simulate and exaggerate velocities and trajectories of the moving object that a player might typically encounter during competition. The operating parameters can be programmed to display an entire game or just a consecutive sequence of opportunities (e.g., a single at bat in baseball or a single offensive set in hockey).

[0011] In a final aspect of the present invention, an apparatus is provided for projecting an object at an operator. The apparatus is capable of projecting the object at variable speeds, angles and intervals. The operator can attempt to hit, catch, or knock down the moving object as it is propelled towards him.

[0012] In each aspect of the invention, the operator begins viewing the object at a speed which the operator can comfortably follow and view. The speed of the object is slowly increased until the operator can no longer follow and view the moving object. At this point, the speed of the object is slowly decreased to a point where the operator can comfortably viewthe moving objectonce again. The cycle is repeated, gradually increasing the top speed at which the moving object is displayed.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

[0013] In a preferred embodiment, the conditioned ocular enhancement training system and method of the present invention comprises four general aspects. In the first aspect, a computer generated program displays a object moving at a predetermined rate of speed. The motion of the object is looped to repeat itself at variable rates of speed and angles of trajectory. An operator can vary several operating parameters, e.g., the rate of speed at which the program generates the displayed object, the rate of the repeated looping action, and the angle of trajectory before, during or after the generated display. In a preferred embodiment, the computer generated display will appear on a computer monitor or television screen in three dimensions (i.e., depth, width and height).

[0014] In the first aspect, the operator repeatedly views the moving object at predetermined operating parameters. Once the operator can focus on and follow the moving object at the predetermined parameters, the rate of speed at which the moving object is displayed is increased. The operator repeatedly views the moving object at the increased rate of speed until the operator can once again focus on and follow the moving object. Once again, the rate of speed at which the moving object is displayed is increased. This cycle is repeated until the operator can no longer focus on and follow the moving object. At this point, the speed of the moving object is either: (1) slowly decreased until the operator can focus on and follow the moving object again; or, (2) decreased to the initial operating speed wherein the entire process is repeated.

[0015] For example, in the first cycle the operator may view the moving object at approximately 80 miles per hour. After repeatedly viewing the object, a second cycle begins where the moving object is displayed at 85 mph; a third cycle at 90 mph; a fourth cycle at 95 mph. Finally, at some point, for example 120 mph or greater, the operator will no longer be able to follow and view the moving object. At this point, the speed of the moving object is either slowly decreased, (i.e., from 120 mph to 115 mph, incrementally back down to 80 mph) or immediately decreased to 80 mph wherein the entire process is repeated.

[0016] In both methods, the entire procedure is ultimately repeated. This time, however, the operator will attempt to follow and view the moving object at a top speed of 130 mph. Eventually, the top speed of the moving object will exceed 200 mph.

[0017] The second aspect is similar to the first, except that the computer generation displays a realistic simulation of a competitive environment. For example, if the conditioned ocular enhancement training system and method is being used to train a baseball player to follow and ultimately hit a pitched ball, a life-size computer generated display simulates a three dimensional view that a batter would see as he stood in a batter's box awaiting a pitched baseball, including a pitcher winding up and releasing the ball towards the operator. After repeatedly viewing the pitched ball at a set of initial predetermined operating parameters, the speed of the pitched ball is increased. As described above for the first step, the process is repeated slowly increasing the speed of the moving object until the operator can no longer focus on and follow the moving object. At this point, the speed of the moving object is either incrementally decreased until the operator can easily focus on and follow the moving object again, or the process is repeated at the initial operating speed. In either case, the entire process is repeated a predetermined number of times, each time subjecting the operator to a moving object at higher peak speeds. Eventually, the operator will be able to focus on and follow the moving object at higher rates of speed, and ultimately the operator will be able to improve his performance (e.g., hitting a ball in baseball or tennis, or catching/blocking a puck in hockey).

[0018] The third aspect of the system and training method comprises subjecting the operator to virtual reality conditions. In a preferred embodiment, the operator wears a helmet or goggles having a field upon which a three-dimensional, virtual reality program may be viewed. The program can simulate a variety of competitive situations; e.g., baseball, hockey, car racing, downhill skiing. The virtual reality conditions can also simulate real life factors which effect an athlete's ability to pick-up and view a moving object. In this respect, the program will factor in lighting conditions and crowd backdrop, as well as game situations which could detract from an athlete's ability to concentrate on a moving object (crowd noise and participating players movement).

[0019] Once again, the operator views the moving object at incrementally increased speeds until the operator can no longer focus on and follow the object. The speed of the moving object is then incrementally decreased until the operator can once again focus on and follow the object, or the speed is decreased to the initial operating speed. The entire process is repeated until the operator is subjected to peak speeds in excess of 200 mph.

[0020] In the third aspect, the operator will once again be able to program the operating parameters. However, the programmed operating parameters will be incorporated into a virtual competitive situation. For example, in a baseball environment, the operator can view each position of the opposing team, including the pitcher, as he steps up to home plate. The pitcher will appear to be throwing a baseball towards the operator according to the pre-determined operating parameters. The entire virtual sequence is viewed by the operator on the field provided by the helmet or goggles.

[0021] The final aspect of the system and training method comprises the integration of physical training with ocular conditioning. An apparatus is provided which is capable of projecting an object towards an operator at variable speeds, angles of projection and rates of repetition. The apparatus can be a Jugs™ machine used for training baseball players wherein a ball is propelled from between two rotating tires, or a pneumatic ball machine used to train tennis players such as those sold by Lobster, Inc. Preferably, the apparatus is of the pneumatic type wherein the pressure created in the machine is sufficient to project objects at velocities in excess of 200 mph.

[0022] The player views the projected object at incrementally increased velocities until the operator can no longer focus on and follow the projected object. Similar to the first three aspects, the speed of the projected object is either incrementally decreased until the player can focus on and follow the projected object, or decreased to a velocity within the normal velocity range a player will be subjected to in game situations. For example, a player is subjected to a number of repetitions at 85 mph, then 95 mph, then 110 mph, then 130 mph, and preferably up to velocities in excess of 200 mph. The velocity is then reduced to a velocity within the normal range, e.g., about 80 mph to about 100 mph.

[0023] Unlike the first three aspects, in the final aspect the player focuses on and follows the projected object, and attempts to change the course of the projected object by hitting, catching, or knocking down the projected object. In this regard, the final aspect ofthe invention can be utilized by athletes immediately prior to competing in a game. For example, prior to a baseball game a player may take batting practice and be subjected to baseballs projected at velocities well above the normal range of velocity the player might encounter during an actual game situation; e.g., in professional baseball batters will encounter pitches in a normal velocity range of about 80 mph to about 100 mph. Thus, prior to the start of a game baseballs are repeatedly projected towards the player at a velocity greater than 110 mph, especially greater than 120 mph, and even greater than 140 mph. The player may simply focus on and follow the projected ball, or the player may incorporate the physical object of the game (e.g., hit a baseball with a bat, hit a tennis ball with a racket, or catchiblock a hockey puck) into the training method. This allows the player to enhance his ocular conditioning and improve his physical skills. Consequently, the player is better conditioned to achieve the physical object of the game when subjected actual game situations where the object is propelled in the normal range of velocity (i.e., much less than the training range of velocity). Especially good results have been proven where a player is subjected to this method over an extended period of time; e.g., 10-20 days, a month or even an entire season.

[0024] The method of training of the present invention can be easily applied to other games and sports. For example, in tennis the method can be used to train a player to return an opposing player's serve which can reach a normal velocity range of about 90 mph to about 120 mph. In this case, a player is subjected to tennis balls projected at velocities of greater than 140 mph, especially greater than 160 mph and even greater than 200 mph. The same is true for training a hockey goalie who may be subjected to shots in a normal velocity range of about 80 mph to about 110 mph.

Claims

1. A method for training a player of a game in which an object is projected towards the player at a normal velocity range, the method comprising the steps of:

determining the normal range of velocity for the projected object;
providing an apparatus for projecting the object at a velocity greater than the normal velocity range; and
projecting the object towards the player at a velocity greater than the normal range of velocity.

2. The method of claim 1 further including the step of attempting to change the course of the projected object through an act of the player.

3. The method of claim 1, wherein the game is baseball and the normal range of velocity is about 80 mph to about 100 mph.

4. The method of claim 3, wherein the object is projected towards the player at a velocity greater than 110 mph.

5. The method of claim 1, wherein the game is tennis and the normal range of velocity is about 90 mph to about 120 mph.

6. The method of claim 5, wherein the object is projected towards the player at a velocity greater than 140 mph.

7. The method of claim 1, wherein the apparatus is also capable of projecting the object at a velocity in the normal range of velocity and the object is first projected towards the player at a velocity in the normal range of velocity and then projected towards the player at a velocity greater than the normal range of velocity.

8. The method of claim 1, wherein the apparatus includes pneumatic means for projecting the object.

9. A method for training a player of a game in which an object is projected towards the player at a velocity in a normal velocity range, the method comprising the steps of:

determining the normal velocity range;
providing a means for generating a display of a simulated object, the means for generating the display being capable of generating the simulated object moving at a first velocity within the normal velocity range and a second velocity greater than the normal velocity range;
generating a first display of the simulated object moving at the first velocity within the normal velocity range, the player viewing the moving object at the first velocity; and
generating a second display of the simulated object moving at the second velocity greater than the normal velocity range, the player viewing the moving object at the second velocity.

10. The method of claim 9, herein the means for generating a display of a simulated object includes a computer.

11. The method of claim 9 further including the steps of:

providing an apparatus for projecting the object at a third velocity greater than the normal velocity range; and
projecting the object towards the player at the third velocity.

12. The method of claim 9, wherein the apparatus includes pneumatic means for projecting the object.

13. A method for training a player of a game in which an object is projected towards the player at a velocity in a normal velocity range, said method comprising the steps of:

determining the normal range of velocity;
generating a first display of an object simulated to be moving at a velocity within the normal range of velocity, the player repeatedly viewing the first display; and
generating a second display of the object simulated to be moving at a velocity greater than the normal velocity range, the player repeatedly viewing the second display.

14. The method of claim 13, wherein the velocity of the first display is incrementally increased within the normal velocity range.

Patent History

Publication number: 20020111231
Type: Application
Filed: Sep 23, 1998
Publication Date: Aug 15, 2002
Inventor: MICHAEL BONAVENTURA (EVANSTON, IL)
Application Number: 09159746

Classifications