Ball practice suspension device
Kind Code:

The invention is directed to an apparatus for suspending a ball on a core of air and includes a conical base, an air blower disposed therein, and a variable length nozzle extending upwardly therefrom through which air is discharged.

Jordan, Domingo (El Paso, TX, US)
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International Classes:
A63B69/00; A63B69/40; (IPC1-7): A63B69/00
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Primary Examiner:
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Domingo Jordan (Astoria, NY, US)
1. A ball practice device including a housing having a base, a wall disposed thereabout and extending upwardly therefrom and terminating in an opening, an air blower disposed within the housing directing air through said opening, and control means connected to said air blower regulating the amount of air being discharged through said opening.

2. The ball practice device of claim 2 wherein the housing is cone shaped and has air inlet openings disposed about the base thereof.

3. The ball practice device of claim 2 wherein a nozzle is removably disposed in the outlet opening.

4. The ball practice device of claim 3 wherein a set of different lengthed nozzles are provided to accommodate the height of a player.

5. The ball practice device of claim 3 wherein the nozzle is telescopingly adjustable.

6. The ball practice device of claim 1 wherein the controls include a circuit including an off/on switch, a diode, a capacitor, a potentiometer, and a triac controlling the amount of electricity passing from a power source to the air blower.

7. The ball practice device of claim 3 wherein the controls include a circuit including an off/on switch, a diode, a capacitor, a potentiometer, and a triac controlling the amount of electricity passing from a power source to the air blower.

8. The ball practice device of claim 2 wherein the housing is made from plastic.

9. The ball practice device of claim 1 wherein filters are disposed on either side of the air blower to reduce the noise thereof.



[0001] Devices are known which employ an air jet to hold a ball in an elevated position. One such device is shown in U.S. Pat. No. 4,564,195(McClure et al). In this device a ball rides on a jet of air emanating upwardly from the nozzle. The purpose of this device is to enable a player to practice without a hitting partner. Moreover, unlike hitting a ball against a wall, these devices intend to support a ball in a relatively stable manner. A disadvantage with this device is that although it has an outlet-controlling device to control the flow of air, the blower is not regulated and is therefore always working at 100% capacity, thereby making it clearly energy inefficient.

[0002] In U.S. Pat. No. 5,011,144 (Marello et al), a ball is suspended in mid air. The device described in the patent with its bulky size can interfere with the swing of the racquet therefore making it difficult to practice spin strokes. Much of the focus in learning the game of tennis and other such ball sports is stroking the ball with variation of spin. The path of the racquet when hitting topspin, for example, travels underneath the ball, brushing it upwards. When hitting under spin, the path of the racquet is traveling downward in a 45-degree angle to the ground, brushing the ball downwards. With a bulky device it is difficult to practice these strokes. Since it is bulky, it maintains the ball at a constant height, and therefore permits only limited stroke practice.


[0003] It is an object of the present invention to provide a device which will support a ball in mid-air in a stable position, enabling it to be struck by a player. The nozzle creates a funnel shaped stream of pressure with a central core and an encasing film of air. When a ball is placed in this stream of pressure, the core supports the ball stably; working against gravity and the encasing film of air that is formed around the ball will keep the ball centralized protecting it from unduly winds.

[0004] It is a further object of the present invention to provide a device with an adjustable nozzle that will support a ball stably at variable heights so that a player of any size can hit it.

[0005] It is a further object to provide a device which is made of durable plastic material or the like, which if hit by a player's racquet or any other object, will not break or cause damage to the racquet. As the device is of a cone shape and has a variable length nozzle, the same allows the player to focus on the ball and not on the cone when practicing various spin strokes. As is apparent, the cone shape permits the player to concentrate and focus on the ball.

[0006] In its simplest aspect the present invention includes a cone shaped housing, an air blower therein, a pressure controller (potentiometer) and a switch therefore, noise reducing filters, and a variable length or telescopic nozzle forming the outlet nozzle. As the nozzle can be adjustably positioned, the discharged air will stably support a ball at varying heights above the outlet thereof by either controlling the fluid pressure or by adjusting the height of the variable length nozzle.


[0007] FIG. 1 is a cross sectional view of the preferred embodiment of the air cone.

[0008] FIG. 1a shows a set of variable length nozzles used with the air outlet.

[0009] FIG. 1b shows a telescoping nozzle used with the air outlet.

[0010] FIG. 1c shows another embodiment of the present invention with nozzles of different shapes.

[0011] FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the electrical controls for the air cone.


[0012] The present invention describes an air cone for providing a controllable stream of fluid pressure for stably suspending a ball or like in mid air. In the following description, numerous specific details are set forth in order to provide a thorough description of the present invention. It is obvious, however, to one skilled in the art, that the present invention may be practiced without these specific details. In other instances, well known structures have not been described in detail in order not to unnecessarily obscure the present invention.

[0013] With reference to FIG. 1 of the drawing, the device of the present invention is depicted generally at 20 and is seen to be a cone shaped housing 6 with the base 14 thereof supporting the same on a surface and with a discharge opening 17 having a nozzle 5 extending upwardly therefrom. The cone is preferably made from plastic but can be fabricated from any suitable material, e.g. tin.

[0014] An off the shelf air blower 7 is disposed internally in the cone 6 above the base 14 and can be held in place in any conventional manner, for example, by friction fit, by adhesive, or by flexible tabs extending inwardly from the walls of the cone housing. A pair of filters 8, 8 are positioned on either side of the air blower 7 and act to reduce the noise thereof as well as to remove any impediments from the air entering from spaced inlets 15, 15 disposed about the circumference of the base 14 as it is drawn into the blower inlet 9.

[0015] The nozzle 5 as seen in FIG. 1a comes in a set of various sizes 5a, 5b, 5c, etc. and are readily replaceable at the outlet 17 in order to dispose the ball at varying heights to accommodate the height of the player practicing with the device.

[0016] Alternatively, as seen in FIG. 1b, the nozzle 5 can be telescopingly adjustable to compensate for the height of the player. It should be appreciated that a ball B in FIG. 1 can be suspended with or without any of the nozzles. However the nozzle serves to concentrate the air thereby being more effective in suspending the ball.

[0017] The air discharged from the nozzle 5 is controlled by regulating the air blower 7. The discharged air forms a funnel shaped air stream 2 having an air core 4 at its center. This air core 4 is created by air pressure hitting the walls of the outlet orifice 17 or through the variable nozzle 5. In another embodiment, FIG. 1c shows different air jet plugs 31, 41 and 51 with its respective top view 30, 40 and 50 and bottom view 32, 42 and 52. These air jet plugs can be placed into the outlets of any of the nozzles shown in FIG. 1a and 1b to give different effects to the ball 37 and to the air core 34. The nozzle 33 with air jet plug 31 placed into its outlet will create the air core 34 and the funnel air stream 36 to suspend a ball 37. The air passing through the slots on the outside surface of plug 31 and the inside wall of the outlet nozzle 33, creates an extra air film 38, 38 all around the air core 34. This air film 38, 38 is partially shown in FIG. 1c. This extra film of air 38, 38 is released in order to better protect the air core 34 from atmospheric wind. The air jet plug 41 is shaped to suspend and add spin to ball 37. It has a slot on the outside surface and when placed inside of the outlet of the nozzle 33 causes the majority of the air to be discharged on one side thereby causing the ball to spin. The air jet plug 51 outlet shape is conical and can be of a variable size. The nozzle 33 with the air jet placed on its outlet has the effect of making a stronger air cord 34 to support a heavier ball. By controlling the speed of the air blower, the air pressure can be regulated whereby an air core 4 in FIG. 1 will form an air film about the ball to support the same. This film of air 3 keeps the ball 1 stably working against gravity and protects it in windy conditions and eliminates ball movement when the air core 4 hits the ball's seams. This film of air 3 will also centralize the ball in case of sudden misalignment. If it is desired, an object can be placed underneath the base 14 of the cone in order to tilt it slightly and cause spin variation to the ball being suspended.

[0018] The air blower as seen in FIG. 2 is controlled by an electric circuit including an off/on switch 11, a diode 21, a capacitor 20, a triac 22 and a potentiometer 12 connected by a plug 16 to any conventional power source, not shown. When the off/on switch 11 is activated, the triac 22 in conjunction with the diode 21 and the capacitor 20 restricts the electricity used by the air blower 7. The restriction percentage is controlled by the manual settings of the potentiometer 12 in the circuitry and this regulates the percentage amount of air pressure discharged by the blower. In another embodiment, the air cone can have a photoelectric sensor that would replace the on/off switch 11. The photoelectric sensor can detect the ball when placed on top of the discharge opening 17 or the nozzle 5 in FIG. 1. This will automatically turn on the air blower 7 and when the ball 1 in FIG. 1 is removed, the air blower 7 will automatically turn off.

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