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Title:
Tennis Training Device
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A tennis training device for training a user proper tennis strokes with a means for attaching the tennis training device to an upper arm of a tennis player, a means for connecting the means for attaching to a tennis racquet, and a means for restricting the position of the tennis racquet in relation to the tennis player.


Inventors:
Carter, Omwami (Alpharetta, GA, US)
Application Number:
11/420166
Publication Date:
11/29/2007
Filing Date:
05/24/2006
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
473/464, 473/553, 473/461
International Classes:
A63B69/00; A63B49/00; A63B69/38
View Patent Images:
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Attorney, Agent or Firm:
POWELL GOLDSTEIN LLP (ONE ATLANTIC CENTER, FOURTEENTH FLOOR 1201 WEST PEACHTREE STREET NW, ATLANTA, GA, 30309-3488, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A tennis training device comprising: a. a means for attaching the tennis training device to an upper arm of a tennis player; b. a means for connecting the means for attaching to a tennis racquet; and c. a means for restricting the position of the tennis racquet in relation to the tennis player, wherein the means for restricting is adapted to restrict a face of the tennis racquet.

2. The tennis training device of claim 1, wherein the means for attaching is sized and shaped to extend around the upper arm of the tennis player.

3. The tennis training device of claim 1, wherein the means for attaching is sized and shaped to extend around the upper arm of the tennis player and is adjustable.

4. The tennis training device of claim 1, wherein the means for attaching is sized and shaped to extend around the upper arm of the tennis player and is adjustable and is selected from the group consisting of cuffs, bands, and belts.

5. The tennis training device of claim 1, wherein the means for restricting is a hook for attaching the means for connecting to at least one string on the face of the tennis racquet.

6. The tennis training device of claim 1, wherein the means for connecting is selected from the group consisting of an elastic cord, an elastic leash, and rubber tubing.

7. The tennis training device of claim 1, the means for connecting is a length of an elastic cord, the means for restricting is a hook.

8. The tennis training device of claim 7, wherein the means for connecting is adjustable in length.

9. The tennis training device of claim 8, wherein the means for connecting is adjustable in length by tying a knot in the means for connecting.

10. A tennis training device comprising: a. an adjustable cuff for attaching the tennis training device to an upper arm of a tennis player; b. a cord for connecting the adjustable cuff to a face of a tennis racquet; and c. a means for restricting the position of the tennis racquet in relation to the tennis player, wherein the means for restricting is a hook for attaching the cord to at least one string of the tennis racquet.

11. The tennis training device of claim 10, wherein the adjustable cuff is sized and shaped to extend around the upper arm of the tennis player between a the shoulder and the elbow.

12. The tennis training device of claim 11, wherein the means for restricting is adjustable in length.

13. The tennis training device of claim 12, wherein the cord is selected from the group consisting of an elastic cord, an elastic leash, and rubber tubing.

14. The tennis training device of claim 13, wherein the cord is adjustable in length by tying a knot in the means for connecting.

15. A tennis training device for attaching an upper arm or a tennis player to a face of a tennis racquet, the tennis training device consisting essentially of: a. an elastic cord having a length; b. an adjustable cuff attached at a first end of the length of the elastic cord, wherein the adjustable cuff is sized and shaped to encircle an upper arm of a tennis player; and c. a hook attached to a second end of the length of the elastic cord for engaging one or more strings on the face of the tennis racquet, wherein the cord is adjustable in length by tying a knot in the means for connecting.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Technical Field

This invention generally relates to athletic training equipment and more specifically to an improved tennis stroke training device.

2. Prior Art

Various devices have been proposed for helping tennis players position a tennis racquet in the proper alignment. Many such devices can assist the player in positioning the racquet prior to the tennis stroke and maintaining the racquet in position during the tennis stroke. For example, U.S. Pat. No. 5,476,257 is such a device that attaches to the frame of a tennis racquet, specifically the end or tip of the tennis racquet farthest from the tennis player. This prior art device attaches to the frame of the tennis racquet, which can permanently scratch and damage the tennis racquet. Moreover, this prior art device is not as securely attached to the tennis racquet as may be desired.

Another tennis-related training device is described in U.S. Pat. No. 4,150,821, which requires a glove and a fitting that attaches to frame of a tennis racquet. Still another tennis-related training device is described in U.S. Pat. No. 4,030,732, which requires a shoulder or chest harness and a ring that is fixed to the handle of a tennis racquet. Yet another tennis-related training device is described in U.S. Pat. No. 3,937,465, which requires a shoulder or neck harness and an actuated metal clamp that is clamped to the frame of a tennis racquet. Another tennis-related training device is described in U.S. Pat. No. 3,858,881, which also requires a clamp, the clamp being attached to the handle of a tennis racquet.

A feature of the present invention is to provide an improved tennis training device. Another feature of the present invention to provide a tennis training device that is light in weight. A further feature of the present invention to provide a tennis training device that is easily adjustable to varying lengths and varying upper arm circumferences and, thus, is adjustable to varying human anatomies, for example arm lengths and bicep sizes.

It is also a feature of the present invention to provide a tennis training device that can be easily connected and removed from any tennis racquet. It is still another feature of the present invention to provide a tennis training device that is more convenient than prior art tennis training devices and that is not as bulky or cumbersome as prior training devices so that the device can be conveniently packed away and transported and, thus, will be used more frequently. It is a further feature of the present invention to provide a tennis training device that is not unnecessarily restrictive or uncomfortable.

These features, and other features and advantages of the present invention will become more apparent to those of ordinary skill in the relevant art when the following detailed description of the preferred embodiments is read in conjunction with the appended drawings in which like reference numerals represent like components throughout the several views.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention provides an improved tennis training device that in one illustrative embodiment includes an adjustable cuff for securely yet releasably attaching about the bicep of the user, a means for restricting the motion of a tennis racquet, and an elastic cord connecting the cuff to the means for restricting the motion of the tennis racquet. More specifically, the present invention provides a device releasably attachable to a tennis racquet to maintain the tennis racquet in a desired position relative to the user's arm so as to assist in improving the user's tennis stroke.

Briefly, the tennis training device comprises the following features. An attachment means such as an adjustable cuff that is sized and shaped so that it can be wrapped around the upper arm of a tennis player, preferably above the elbow of the tennis player's playing arm. A restricting means for releasably attaching the attachment means to the tennis racquet, such as a hook or clip that cooperates with the tennis racquet. A connecting means such as an elastic cord attached at a first end to the attachment means and at a second end to the restricting means. The hook or clip also can be a ball or other shaped device that can cooperate with the connecting means in connecting the attachment means to the tennis racquet.

Thus, the present invention provides an improved tennis training device that in one illustrative embodiment includes an attachment means for attaching the tennis training device to an upper arm of a tennis player, a connecting means for connecting the attachment means to a tennis racquet, and a restricting means for attaching the connecting means and the attachment means to the tennis racquet so as to restrict the position of the tennis racquet in relation to the tennis player, wherein the restricting means is sized and adapted to restrict and position a face of the tennis racquet relative to the player and is positioned on the connecting means. Preferably, the attachment means is sized and shaped to wrap around the upper arm of the tennis player and includes an adjusting means, such as a hook portion and loop portion, that allows the attachment means to fit any of various sized tennis players. More preferably, the attachment means for is adjustable and may be a cuff, a band, a belt or the like, adjustable or not. The attachment means is connected to the connecting means, which may be a cord, a leash, a length of rubber tubing or the like, elastic or not.

The working length of the connecting means, referred to herein variously also as a cord or leash, and thus the relative working length of the tennis training device, can be adjusted by tying a knot in the cord at different locations along the length of the cord. Alternatively, any of the commonly known or future developed devices for adjusting the length of a cord-like component can be used for this purpose. Thus, the tennis training device can be adjusted for use by various sized tennis players. Alternatively, the invention can be made in various sizes, namely, by having different sized cords and/or cuffs so as to be less adjustable and more tailored to individually sized tennis players.

The tennis training device can be attached or otherwise positioned to a face of the tennis racquet by either threading the cuff through two adjacent strings on the head of the racquet and pulling the cord through the strings until the means for restricting the motion of the tennis racquet contacts the strings and prevents further movement of the tennis training device relative to the tennis racquet.

The length of the cord between the cuff and the means for restricting can be adjusted by a tennis player or by a tennis instructor so that the head of the racquet is positioned in a proper tennis stroke position. The distance of the means for restricting relative to the cuff preferably is such that the tennis player is permitted to stroke the tennis racquet with relatively free arm and body movements but that the tennis player Is restricted from “breaking” the wrist and swinging the head of the racquet in front of the tennis player's wrist during use.

The present invention also includes a method for assisting a tennis player in correctly stroking a tennis racquet. The method includes attaching an attachment means to an upper arm of a tennis player, attaching a means for restricting the motion of the tennis racquet to the tennis racquet, and selecting or adjusting the length of a connecting means connecting the attachment means and the means for restricting motion so that the tennis racquet is prevented from unwanted forward motion and therefore is swung by the tennis player in a preferred or correct tennis stroke.

These features, and other features and advantages of the present invention will become more apparent to those of ordinary skill in the relevant art when the following detailed description of the preferred embodiments is read in conjunction with the appended drawings in which like reference numerals represent like components throughout the several views.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a tennis training device embodying the invention.

FIG. 2 is a plan view of an attachment means suitable for the present invention.

FIG. 3 is an axial view of the attachment means shown in FIG. 2.

FIG. 4 is a plan view of a combination of a restricting means and a connecting means suitable for the present invention.

FIG. 5 is a perspective view of the training device of FIG. 1 as attached to a tennis racquet and a tennis player's arm.

FIG. 6 is a perspective view of a first alternative embodiment of a restricting means and a connecting means suitable for the present invention.

FIG. 7 is a perspective view of a second alternative embodiment of a restricting means and a connecting means suitable for the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

Illustrative embodiments of a tennis training device for training a user in proper tennis swing and stroke technique according to the present invention to provide a full and detailed written description of the invention, and of the manner and process of making and using it, so as to enable one skilled in the pertinent art to make and use it, as well as the best mode of carrying out the invention, are shown in FIGS. 1-6. FIG. 1 is a perspective view of an illustrative tennis training device embodying the invention. FIG. 2 is a plan view of an attachment means suitable for the present invention. FIG. 3 is an axial view of the attachment means shown in FIG. 2. FIG. 4 is a plan view of a combination of a restricting means and a connecting means suitable for the present invention. FIG. 5 is a perspective view of the training device of FIG. 1 as attached to a tennis racquet and a tennis player's arm. FIG. 6 is a perspective view of a first alternative embodiment of a restricting means and a connecting means suitable for the present invention employing a movable restricting means to adjust the usable length of the connecting means. FIG. 7 is a perspective view of a second alternative embodiment of a restricting means and a connecting means suitable for the present invention employing using a knot to adjust the usable length of the connecting means.

FIGS. 1 and 5 shows one illustrative embodiment of the present invention alone (FIG. 1) and in combination with a tennis player 80 and a tennis racquet 70 (FIG. 5), which is a tennis training device 10 for training a tennis player 80 in proper racquet holding and swing technique, that comprises an adjustable cuff 20 for attaching the tennis training device 10 to an upper arm 82 of a tennis player 80, a connecting means 14, such as a leash or cord, for connecting the adjustable cuff 20 to a face 74 of a tennis racquet 70, and a restricting means 40 for restricting the position of a tennis racquet 70 in relation to a tennis player 80, wherein the restricting means 40 is sized and adapted to communicate with the face 74 of the tennis racquet 70 so as to restrict the movement of the tennis racquet 70 relative to the tennis player 80 and specifically relative to the arm of the tennis player 80.

Referring now to FIGS. 1, 2, and 3, an illustrative attachment means 20 in the form of a cuff 20 is shown. It is desirable that the adjustable cuff 20 is sized and shaped to wrap around the upper arm 82 of the tennis player 80 between the shoulder and the elbow of the tennis player 80. The cuff 20 is a generally tube-like structure preferably made from a soft and flexible material, such as a fabric, leather, or polymer. Additionally, the cuff 20 can comprise a padding (not shown) to increase the comfort of the cuff 20. The cuff 20 can have a length up to about 12 inches, but preferably is in the 6 to 10 inch range so that it will fit the majority of humans. It has been found that a length of approximately 8 inches provides for a satisfactory size for the majority of humans. It is desirable that the cuff 20 has a sufficient width so that the cuff 20 does not cause discomfort to a wearer 80 of the tennis training device 10. One example of an adjustable cuff is described and illustrated in U.S. Pat. No. 4,691,924. The cuff 20 can have a diameter up to about 6 inches, but preferably is in the 3 to 5 inch range so that it will fit the majority of humans. It has been found that a diameter of approximately 4 inches provides for a satisfactory size for the majority of humans.

The cuff 20 optionally, but preferably, has at least one adjustment strap 90 about the circumference of the cuff 20 so as to allow the cuff 20 to fit various sized persons, and to allow the cuff 20 to be tightened to a preferred degree when in use. The adjustment strap 90 can include hook and loop fastener portions 92, 94, such as VELCRO® hook and loop fasteners, snaps, buttons, ties, or any other fastening means. In the illustrated embodiment, the adjustment strap includes a hook portion 92 at one end and a loop portion 94 along a length of the cuff 20. A first length 96 of the adjustment strap 90 can pass through a ring 100 attached to the cuff 20, and then looped over the ring 100 and secured to another length of the adjustment strap 90. Thus, the first length 96 can be pulled to tighten the cuff 20 and then attached to the second length 98 via the hook and loop fasteners 92, 94. Thus, the cuff 20 can be slid over a human arm and comfortably secured using the hook and loop fastener 92, 94.

The attachment means 20 further can comprise at least one ring 22 to which the connecting means 14 can be attached. It is preferred that the ring 22 to which the connecting means 14 is attached be on the end of the attachment means 20 closer to the elbow, namely the lower end. As shown in FIG. 2, cuff 20 has two rings 22, one proximal to either end of the cuff 20. Two rings 22 are useful such that the tennis player 80 can put the cuff 20 on without having to be concerned with which end of the cuff 20 is pulled over the arm first. Additionally, different tennis players 80 may have preferences as to the direction they prefer to pull the adjustment strap 90, and having a ring 22 on each end allows the cuff 20 to be pulled onto the arm such that the adjustment strap 90 can be pulled in the desired direction. Further, in some instances, it may be desirable to have the connecting means 14 attached to the cuff 20 closer to the shoulder, and having a ring 22 on each end of the cuff 20 allows one to change the attachment position as desired without having to remove the cuff 20 from the arm.

The adjustment strap 90 can be permanently attached to the attachment means 20 via sewing, tacking, riveting, etcetera, or can be slidably attached to the attachment means 20. In the embodiment shown in FIG. 3, the adjustment strap 90 is slidably attached to the attachment means 20 at two points, namely loops 24, and permanently (sewn) to the attachment means 20 at one point 26, namely under ring 22. However, the adjustment strap 90 can be attached to the attachment means 20 through any combination of slidable loops 24 and/or permanent points 26.

Referring now to FIGS. 1 and 5, an illustrative connecting means 14 and restricting means 40 is shown. It is desirable that the restricting means 40 be able to attach to at least one string 78 of the tennis racquet 70 and/or has at least one dimension that is greater than the average distance between two adjacent, parallel strings 78 on the face 74 of the tennis racquet 70, so that is cannot pass between such adjacent parallel strings 78 when the tennis training device 10 is in use. For example, the restricting means 40 can be a hook or latching hook that can latch to the string 78. Alternatively, as disclosed in more detail in conjunction with FIGS. 7 and 8, the restricting means 40 can be a plastic member that includes a hole 42 having a diameter greater than the diameter of the connecting means 14 and through which the connecting means 14 fits, and has at least one dimension that is greater than the average distance between two adjacent, parallel strings 78 on the face 74 of the tennis racquet 70. In such an embodiment, the restricting means 40 may be a cord lock, a cord stopper, a drawstring toggles or the like.

As shown in FIGS. 1 and 5, a preferred embodiment of connecting means 14 comprises one latching hook 42 to attach to attachment means 20 and another latching hook 44 as the restricting means 40 and a length of cord 46 connecting the hooks 42, 44. Cord 46 can be elastic or inelastic, with elastic being preferred. A cord 46 length of between 7 inches and 19 inches has been found to be satisfactory, with between 10 inches and 16 inches being preferred. This cord 46 length range has been found to be able to accommodate the majority of humans. An intermediate cord 46 length of approximately 13 inches has been found to be useful for a single embodiment. The elasticity of the cord 46, if an elastic cord 46 is used, preferably should be in the 0-70% range (the cord will stretch an additional 0-70% of its original length. Specifically, the elasticity of the cord 46 should be such that the cord will not stretch easily, but will stretch when necessary to provide comfort to the user and to avoid harm to the user.

Referring now to FIG. 5, the tennis training device 10 is shown in the use position. As shown in FIG. 5, the present invention provides a tennis training device 10 that consists essentially of an elastic cord 46, an adjustable cuff 20 attached to a first hook 42 at one end of the cord 14, and a second hook 44 as the restricting means 40 for engaging one or more strings 78 on the face 74 of the tennis racquet 70. Preferably, either one of the hooks 42, 44 is adjustable and can be positioned along the length of the cord 46 between a first end of the cord 46 and a second end of the cord 46 so as to allow for the adjustment of the length of the cord 46, and thus the connecting means 14. Alternatively, the cord 46 itself can be adjustable in length. For example, one or both of the hooks 42, 44 can slide along the cord 46 and be locked in place along the cord 46 at the desired position. Alternatively, the cord 46 can be knotted so as to effectively shorten the usable length of the connecting means 14.

More specifically, the tennis training device 10 includes an adjustable cuff 20 that is sized and shaped so that the cuff 20 can be wrapped around the upper arm 82 of a tennis player 80. Preferably, the cuff should be positioned somewhere above the elbow and over the bicep of the playing arm of the tennis player 80. One end of the connecting means 14, namely hook 42, is attached to the cuff 20, for example at ring 22. In the illustrated embodiment, the cord 46 is a bungee cord or shock cord of about on quarter inch in diameter. At the other end of the cord 46 is located a restricting means 40, namely hook 44, for restricting the motion of a tennis racquet 70. The hook 44 of restricting means 40 is hooked to at least one of the strings 78 of the tennis racquet 70, preferably on a central string 78 at a location close to the lower part of the frame 72 of the tennis racquet 70. In this manner, the tennis racquet 70 is releasably connected to the bicep 82 of the tennis player 80 via the restricting means 40, the connecting means 14, and the attachment means 20.

Referring now to FIG. 6, an alternate embodiment of the restricting means 40 is shown. The restricting means is a round component 40 that includes a hole 48 that is sized so that the cord 46 can pass through the hole 48. Preferably, the hole 48 is sized so that a knot 36 tied in the cord 46 does not pass back through the hole 48 in the restricting means 40 upon the motion of a tennis racquet 70, that is, when the tennis racquet 70 is swung. The working length of the connecting means 14 and, thus, the tennis training device 10 can be adjusted by tying the knot 36 along different locations along the length of the cord 46. Thus, the tennis training device 10 can be adjusted to various sized tennis players 80. The cord 46 is one but means for connecting the cuff 20 to the restricting means 40. Other connecting means 14 may be used to connect the cuff 20 to the restricting means 40. For example, the connecting means 14 can be a string, a leash, a strap, a rope, a piece of rubber tubing and so forth. Furthermore, it is not necessary for the connecting, means 14 to be elastic. However, some elasticity is desirable.

The restricting means 40 can be of other shapes and sizes, for example a flat plate 40a with a circular hole 42a as illustrated in FIG. 7. Alternatively, the restricting means can be some other device with at least one dimension greater that the distance between two adjacent, parallel tennis racquet strings 78. In addition, the restricting means 40 can be a device that is more permanently attached to an end of the cord 46, for example by sewing, tacking, stapling, adhering, heat welding or otherwise more permanently securing the restricting means 40 to the connecting means 14. As shown in FIG. 7, the length of the cord 46 can be adjusted by varying the length of the cord 46, for example by tying a knot 36 in the middle of the cord 46 to shorten the cord 46.

Another alternate embodiment of the restricting means 40 is a device that can be adjustably secured to the cord 46, for example a cord lock, a cord stopper, a drawstring toggle or the like. Such devices are used in various sporting and outdoor equipment to secure cords. Generally, a cord lock is a spring loaded device that includes two plastic parts each having a hole through which a cord can be threaded when and spring is depressed and the holes in the two parts line up. When the spring is released the holes in the parts no longer line up and the parts securely pinch the cord and “lock” the position of the cord lock or cord stopper on the cord. Commercial examples of cord locks include item numbers SP-P048, SP-P018, SP-P109 and SP-P110 of UMX, Inc. of Walnut, Calif. Still other cord locks and drawstring toggles are available from Oregon Cord Lock of Long Beach, Wash.

If hooks 42, 44 are used on the tennis training device 10, the tennis training device can be easily and quickly attached to a tennis racquet. The user merely hooks the hook 46 of the restricting means 40 onto a string 78 of the tennis racquet. If the embodiment as shown in FIG. 6 or FIG. 7 is used, the tennis training device 10 can be attached, positioned or otherwise located on a face 74 of a tennis racquet 70 by threading the cuff 20 through two adjacent strings 78 on the head of the tennis racquet 70 or by threading the free end of the cord 46 through two adjacent strings 78 on the head of the tennis racquet 70 and then positioning the restricting means 40 on the cord 46. In the latter instance, the restricting means 40 can be positioned along the length of the cord 46 by tying a knot 36 in the cord 46 or by using a cord lock or other similar cord engaging device to lock on or engage the cord 46.

The face 74 of a tennis racquet 70 is the portion of the tennis racquet 70 that is designed to hit a tennis ball and the portion of the face 74 that is the best area to hit a tennis ball is called the “sweet spot” or “sweet zone” and varies from racquet to racquet. Generally, the sweet spot of a tennis racquet 70 is located near the center of the face 74 or head of the tennis racquet 70. It is preferred to attach the tennis training device 10 as far from the sweet zone as possible but along the longitudinal axis of the tennis racquet 70. It is believed that it is preferably to locate the restricting means 40 the near the neck of the tennis racquet 70 as illustrated in FIG. 2.

In use in a preferred embodiment, the length of the cord 46, and thus the position of the restricting means 40, can be adjusted by adjusting the length of the cord 46 to a position that is desired by either a tennis player or a tennis instructor. The head of the tennis racquet 70 should be positioned above the player's wrist when hitting ground strokes and volleys and the positioning of the restricting means 40 is such that the player is permitted to stroke the tennis racquet 70 with relatively free arm and body movements but restricts the player from placing the wrist above the head of the tennis racquet 70 and maintains the tennis racquet 70 in a proper position relative to the player's hand, wrist, and arm during use. The tennis training device 10 of the present invention, when properly adjusted, that is when the cord 46 is of the proper length, properly limits movement, controls the racquet head and guides the tennis stroke so that the stroke path, or classic tennis stroke is properly executed. Thus, the length of the cord 46 from the point of attachment to the cuff 20 to the restricting means 40 can be adjusted by a beginning tennis player, or more preferably by a tennis instructor, to permit the practicing of other strokes.

The present invention 10 also may be described as a method for assisting a tennis player 80 in correctly stroking a tennis racquet 70. The method includes attaching an adjustable cuff 20 to an upper arm of a tennis player 80, adjusting the length of a cord 46 for or a restricting means 40 for restricting the position of the tennis racquet 70 in relation to the tennis player 80, so that the tennis racquet 70 is swung in the correct motion. Specifically, the cord 46 is set at a specific length such that the head of the tennis racquet 70 is maintained above the player's wrist when hitting ground strokes and volleys. The cord 46 can be adjusted in length either by knots 36 or by moving one or both hooks 42, 44 along the length of the cord 46.

The foregoing detailed description of the preferred embodiments and the appended figures have been presented only for illustrative and descriptive purposes and are not intended to be exhaustive or to limit the scope and spirit of the invention. The embodiments were selected and described to best explain the principles of the invention and its practical applications. One of ordinary skill in the art will recognize that many variations can be made to the invention disclosed in this specification without departing from the scope and spirit of the invention.