Title:
Random rebound practice device
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A random rebound sports training device is provided which includes a pair of misaligned or offset net structures disposed on a frame that enable a projectile striking the net structures to rebound in a random manner. The structures are secured to a support frame such that the openings formed in the net structure, which are larger than normally utilized, are offset from one another. The offset of each of the net structures greatly reduces the potential for a projectile striking the device from contacting the same portions of the net structures, thereby causing the projectile to rebound in a random manner from the device. The frame on which the net structures are mounted can be easily configured between a use configuration and a storage configuration. Further, each of the net structures can be secured to a single support frame, or can extend from separate frames onto a target frame to provide multiple use sections on the device.



Inventors:
Hunt, Ryan (Chicago, IL, US)
Application Number:
11/523300
Publication Date:
03/20/2008
Filing Date:
09/19/2006
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63B63/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
GRAHAM, MARK S
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
BOYLE FREDRICKSON S.C. (MILWAUKEE, WI, US)
Claims:
1. A device for rebounding a projectile, the device comprising: a) a support frame; b) a first net secured to the support frame; and c) a second net secured to the support frame and spaced from the first net.

2. The device of claim 1 wherein the first net and the second net are each secured to a support line operably connected to the support frame.

3. The device of claim 2 wherein the first net and the second net are secured to the same support line.

4. The device of claim 1 wherein the support frame includes a first portion and a second portion movably connected to the first portion.

5. The device of claim 4 further comprising a third portion movably connected to one of the first portion or the second portion.

6. The device of claim 5 wherein the first net is secured to the first portion and the third portion, and the second net is secured to the first portion and the second portion.

7. The device of claim 6 wherein the first net and the second net are secured to opposite sides of the first portion.

8. The device of claim 1 wherein the first net is formed with generally square apertures.

9. The device of claim 8 wherein the generally square apertures formed in the first net are each at least two inches wide.

10. The device of claim 8 wherein the second net is formed with generally square apertures.

11. The device of claim 10 wherein the first net and the second net are formed with different sized generally square openings.

12. The device of claim 10 wherein the first net and the second net are formed with similar sized openings.

13. The device of claim 1 wherein the support frame includes a target panel and at least one support panel.

14. The device of claim 13 wherein the target panel and the at least one support panel are secured at opposite ends to a pair of brackets.

15. The device of claim 14 wherein the target panel is adjustably secured to the pair of brackets.

16. The device of claim 14 wherein the at least one support panel is pivotally secured to the pair of brackets.

17. The device of claim 13 wherein first net and the second net are each secured to the target panel to form a random rebound portion for the device.

18. The device of claim 17 wherein only one of the first net or the second net is secured to the at least one support panel.

19. The device of claim 18 further comprising; a) a first support panel pivotally connected to the pair of brackets; and b) a second support panel pivotally connected to the pair of brackets and spaced from the first panel, wherein the first net is secured to the first panel and the second net is secured to the second panel, and wherein the first and second panels form rebound portions of the device.

20. A device for rebounding a projectile, the device comprising: a) a support frame; and b) a first net secured to the support frame, wherein the first net includes first openings that are between about 1.500 inches and 3.000 inches in width.

21. The device if claim 20 further comprising a second net secured to the support frame and spaced from the first net, wherein the second net includes second openings that are between about 1.500 inches and 3.000 inches in width.

22. The device of claim 21 wherein the first openings and the second openings have different widths.

23. The device of claim 21 wherein the first openings and the second openings have the same width.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to sporting equipment, and more specifically to a rebound practice device utilized to practice games requiring balls or other projectiles to be thrown or caught by an individual.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

To enable individuals to practice various sports involving the throwing of a projectile, such as a ball, at a specified target, such as another player, a number of different practice devices have been developed. The majority of these devices include a target having a rebound component or net which directs the projectile thrown by the individual against the target back to the individual after striking the target.

To enhance the realistic, live action game qualities of the practice targets of this type, a number of different devices have been developed which allow the device to rebound or redirect the projectile back to the individual in an unpredictable, or random, manner. These devices, instead of having a net, use surfaces formed of a more rigid material that include a number of knobs, bumps or other projections on a contact surface that is to be struck by the projectile. Thus, instead of striking a generally flat surface, the projectile strikes one or more of the projections at different angles, causing the projectile to rebound off of the projections in a random direction. As a result, the individual utilizing the device is forced to react quickly when attempting to catch or retrieve the projectile rebounded from the device in a manner similar to that experienced during actual play of the game.

However, these practice devices that have been developed for redirecting the ball toward the individual in a random manner are formed with generally solid plastic or rubber rebound surfaces including the projections extending outwardly from the surface at various intervals that provide the uneven surface that causes the projectile to be redirected in a random manner when struck. These types of materials are not easily deformed into more compact forms, such that to store the rebound surfaces the surfaces formed of these materials must often be disassembled for storage, instead of being folded similar to simple rebound nets. In addition, due to the different requirements for mounting these heavier random rebound surfaces to form the practice device, the type of frames supporting these surfaces necessarily have to be constructed differently from the conventional frames utilized to hold rebound nets, making the devices less lightweight and portable as a result. Thus, while providing more realistic game play than prior rebound devices, the random rebound structures are limited in their usefulness due to their portability and storage limitations.

As a result, it is desirable to develop a random rebound practice device capable of redirecting a projectile in a random manner toward an individual that is constructed similarly to widely known and accepted structures for rebound devices to include the portability and ease of use of those devices.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

According to a first aspect of the present invention, a random rebound practice device is provided which includes a support attached to a target panel. The support is formed of one or more support panels that each includes a rebound net secured thereto that extends from the respective support panel onto the target panel. On the target panel, each of the net structures are secured to the target panel and offset slightly from one another on the target panel. The offset of the net structures enables the net structures to function similarly to a rebound net. However, instead of simply rebounding a projectile or ball back to an individual utilizing the device, the offset net structures redirect the projectile off of the target panel in a random manner.

According to another aspect of the present invention, the net structures attached to the support and target panels of the device are each formed similarly to rebound nets used in prior art rebound net devices, but each define apertures therein that are larger than normally used in rebound net designs. The larger apertures formed in the net structures of the present device enhance the ability of the misaligned net structures on the target panel to redirect the projectile striking the target panel in a random and unpredictable manner. Further, the net structures forming the rebound section of the target panels are secured to the frame for the target panels with a tension in the net structures that is higher than that used in prior art net constructions. This higher tension in the net structures further enhances the ability of the net structures to rebound a ball striking the net structures in a random manner.

According to still another aspect of the present invention, the support panels form a base for the target panel that can be placed where desired. The support panels are each pivotally secured to the target panel in order to enable the support panels to be moved between an extended use configuration, and a folded storage configuration. The support panels can be moved independently with respect to one another to position the device in various alternative use configurations where one or the other of the support panels is extended from the bracket while the others are maintained in the storage configuration. Additionally, the target panel can be adjusted with respect to the support panels to provide an added adjustment mechanism for the device when in use.

According to still a further aspect of the present invention, due to the attachment of a single net structure to each of the support panels, the net structures on each of the support panels can function as a rebound net separately from the random and unpredictable rebound abilities of the misaligned net structure located on the target panel. Thus, the device can provide different functions depending upon the use desired of a device by an individual.

Numerous other aspects, features, and advantages of the present invention will be made apparent from the following detailed description together with the drawings figures.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The drawings illustrate the best mode currently contemplated of practicing the present invention.

In the drawings:

FIG. 1 is an isometric view of a random rebound device constructed according to the present invention in the use position;

FIG. 2 is an isometric view of the device of FIG. 1 in a storage position;

FIG. 3 is a cross-sectional view along line 3-3 of FIG. 1;

FIG. 4 is a schematic view of the device of FIG. 1; and

FIG. 5 is an isometric view of a second embodiment of the device of FIG. 1.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

With reference now to the drawing figures in which like reference numerals designate like parts throughout the disclosure, a random rebound practice device constructed according to the present invention as indicated generally at 10 at FIG. 1. In the preferred, illustrated embodiment, the device 10 includes a pair of support panels 12 and 14 connected to a target panel 16. The shape of the support panels 12 and 14 and the target panel 16 can have any desired configuration, but in the preferred embodiment, the panels 12-16 are each generally rectangular in shape and are each connected at one end to a pair of brackets 18.

The support panels 12 and 14 each are formed with a U-shaped, tubular frame 20 that is formed of a rigid material, such as a metal or hard plastic. The frame 20 for each panel 12 and 14 is pivotally secured at opposite ends to each of a pair of bracket 18 through the use of a suitable fastener or pivot pin 22 fixedly attached to each of the brackets 18 and to which the U-shaped frame 20 is rotatably mounted. Further, while the frames 20 are illustrated as being generally U-shaped, the frames 20 can have other shapes, such as square or circular, among others, depending upon the particular use for the device 10. In addition, to provide added stability to the device 10, the brackets 18 are connected by a support bar 19 that extends between the brackets 18.

Each frame 20 also includes a net structure 24 secured thereto. The net structure 24 is preferably secured to the frame 20 using an attachment bar 26 that is fixedly secured along the inner periphery of the U-shaped frame 20. The attachment bar 26 is spaced from the inner periphery of the frame 20 by a number of supports 28 spaced along the length of the frame 20 and connected between the frame 20 and the bar 26. The bar 26 ad the supports 28 are also preferably formed of a rigid material, such as a metal or hard plastic, and most preferably are formed of the same material as the frames 20 to facilitate the attachment of the supports 28 to the frame 20, and the bar 26 to the supports 28.

The net structures 24 each include a number of loops 30 formed around the periphery of the net structure 24 and through which the bar 26 is inserted in order to attach the net structure 24 to the frame 20. The loops 30 extend outwardly from the net structure 24 along an elastic net support line 32 positioned around the entire periphery of the net structure 24. The support line 32 is formed of a resilient and elastic material and functions to tension the net structure 24 across the frame 20. The elasticity of the support line 32 enables the net structure 24 to deflect or deform when struck by a projectile 100. After the initial deflection, the elastic bias of the support line 32 causes the line 32 to move back to its original position and urge the net structure 24 to its original position as well. This consequently exerts a rebound force on the projectile 100 that has struck the net structure 24 to send the projectile 100 back towards the individual. Depending upon the amount of tension inherent in the material forming the line 32, applied to the support line 32 during assembly, or to which the line 32 is adjusted using a suitable adjustment mechanism (not shown), the rebound force exerted by the net structure 24 on the projectile 100 can be made greater or lessened. In a preferred embodiment of the present invention, the support line 32 is formed to exert a tensioning force on the net structure 24 that can be greater than that found in prior art rebound net structures. This increased tension on the net structures 24 supplied by the support line 32 enhances the ability of the net structure 24 to rebound a ball striking the net structure 24 in a random manner. Further, in configurations for the device 10 including multiple net structures 24 on the target panel 16 creates even more tension in the target panel 16, enhancing even further the random rebound characteristics of the device 10.

Each net structure 24 further includes a number of strands 34 of any suitable material, such as rope, nylon, or the like, that extend across the net structure 24 and are fixed to the net support line 32 at opposite ends. The strands 34 can be secured at opposite ends to the net support line 32 in any configuration in order to define openings 36 of any desired shape between adjacent strands 34. However, the strands 34 are preferably oriented in a perpendicular configuration in order to form openings 36 that are generally square in shape. Most preferably, the openings 36 formed between the strands 34 are square in shape, and have dimensions of at least 2 inches by at least 2 inches. This dimension for the openings 36 in the net structures 24 is larger, i.e., about twice the size, than the dimension for openings found in prior art rebound nets, and allows for a greater portion of the ball or projectile 100 striking the net structure 24 to enter the opening 36. More preferably, the size of the openings 36 is between about 1.500 inches and about 3.000 inches in width, and more preferably between about 1.625 inches about 2.500 inches in width, and most preferably the openings 36 are square in shape. Because more of the projectile 100 enters the opening 36, the projectile 100 is rebounded off of the net structure 24 in a random manner.

The strands 34 are joined to one another at the points of intersection 37 of the respective strands 34 to maintain the position of the strands 34 with respect to one another and keep the shape and relative size of the openings 36 defined therebetween. While the connections at the intersections 37 can be made using any suitable means, such as an adhesive or mechanical fastener, preferably the stands 34 are interconnected by weaving and/or winding the threads 34 around one another as they are extended across the net structure 24, as is known in the art. By winding the strands 34 around one another at the points of intersection 37, this manner of interconnection of the strands 34 forms knobs 200 at the points of intersection 37 that can further assist in the functioning of the net structure 24 in a manner to be described.

In a preferred embodiment, each net structure 24 secured to the frames 20 on the support panels 12 and 14 is formed to have a length sufficient to enable the net structure 24 to extend from the support panels 12 and 14 to which it is secured around the support bar 19 and onto the target panel 16. However, the net structure 24 on the target panel 16 can also be formed of a single net structure 24 that extends from one or the other of the support panels 12 or 14, or that is only secured to the target panel 16 with its own associated support line 32.

The target panel 16 is formed similarly to the support panels 12 and 14 with a tubular, U-shaped frame 20 including the attachment bar 26 and supports 28 thereon to secure the net structures 24 from the support panels 12 and 14 thereto. However, in the preferred embodiment, when each of the net structures 24 from the support panels 12 and 14 are positioned on the attachment bar 26 on the target panel 16, the net structures 24 are located in an overlapping configuration with respect to one another on the target panel 16. In addition, the net structures 24 are attached to the target panel 16 in an offset configuration, such that the openings 36 formed in each net structure 24 are not aligned with one another, as best shown in FIG. 3. This offset configuration for the openings 36 on the target panel 16, in conjunction with the large openings 36 formed in each net structure 24, enables the target panel 16 to rebound a ball or projectile 100 thrown against the target panel 16 in a random manner. This is because the offset configuration of the openings 36 of each net structure 24 operates to greatly lessen the chances of a projectile 100 contacting the same portions of the net structures 24 when thrown against the target panel 16. Thus, because the projectile 100 does not strike the same portions of the overlapping net structures 24, the projectile 100 does not rebound off of the target panel 16 in the same manner, or in the same direction, as best shown in FIG. 4.

In addition, as stated previously, the size of the openings 36, which allow larger portions of the projectile 100 to avoid striking the net structures 24, and the irregular shapes of the intersections 37 formed in the respective structures 24 further lessens the potential of the projectile 100 striking the exact same location and portions of the net structure 24. The random rebound properties of the device 10 can also be altered as desired by attaching one or more net structures 24 to the various panels 12-16 of the device 10 that have larger, and similar or different sized openings 36, or which have openings 36 with different shapes or configurations. Also, in conjunction with the larger openings 36, the tension applied to the net structure(s) 24 by the support line(s) 32 enhances the random rebound characteristics of the device 10 as well. The elastic characteristics of the support lines 32 used in each of the net structures 24 can be varied to tension the net structures 24 as desired to provide differing rebound forces from each of the net structures 24.

Because the net structures 24 are each positioned by themselves on each of the support panels 12 ad 14, each of these panels 12 and 14 can also function as a random rebound surface similarly to the target panel 16 and may direct any projectiles 100 that rebound off of the target panel 16 in a random direction in a direction back to the individual. However, these support panels 12 and 14 may also be configured with the net structures 24 thereon to function solely as a return surface for projectiles 100 striking these panels 12 and 14.

Looking at FIG. 2, the device 10 can be reconfigured from the use configuration of FIG. 1 into a storage configuration. In the storage configuration, the support panels 12 and 14 are pivoted about the pivot pins 22 with respect to the brackets 18 to move the panels 12 and 14 adjacent to either side of the target panel 16. This movement disengages a pair of stub shafts 38 attached to each end of the frame 20 for each panel 12 and 14 from similar shafts 38 located on the opposite panel 12 or 14. The shafts 38 can be formed integrally with or separately from the frame 20, and are positioned at an angle with respect to each end of the frames 20. In a preferred embodiment, the shafts 38 provide the attachment point between the pivot pin 22 and the frame 20 to which the stub shafts 38 are connected. Each stub shaft 38 includes a cap 39 disposed opposite the frame 20 that operate to enclose the frame 20 and prevent any water or other material from entering the interior of the frame 20, and optionally to frictionally engage a cap 39 on an opposed shaft 38 to facilitate holding the support panels 12 and 14 in the use configuration.

In the storage configuration, the support panels 12 and 14 are positioned generally parallel to and on opposite sides of the target panel 16. The support panels 12 and 14 can be held in this configuration utilizing a pair of braces 40 disposed on opposite sides of the device 10 and pivotally secured at each side to one of the panels 12 or 14. The braces 40 are rotatably connected to a pin 42 disposed on the frame 20 of one of the support panels 12 and 14 and can be selectively engaged with a locking pin 44 located on the opposite panel 12 or 14. In addition, the braces 40 can be connected between the frames 20 of the support panels 12 and 14 when the device 10 is in the use configuration as shown in FIG. 1 to maintain the support panels 12 and 14 in the desired configuration with respect to one another.

In order to allow the target panel 16 to be adjusted to provide the desired rebound angles for the projectile 100 striking the target panel 16, the target panel 16 may also be pivotably connected to each bracket 18, as shown in FIG. 2. The target panel 16 can be maintained in the desired angle or configuration by angular locking mechanism 46 disposed on each bracket 18 that includes a plunger 46 movably connected to the target panel 16 and selectively engageable with one of an array of apertures 48 located in the bracket 18. By depressing the plunger 46 and moving the plunger 46 into alignment with the desired opening 48, the plunger 46 can be released to extend through the opening 48 and secure the target panel 16 in a desired angle or position with regard to the support panels 12 and 14.

Looking now at FIG. 5, a second embodiment for the device 10 is illustrated in which the target panel 16 has a square frame 50 formed from a generally rigid, tubular material, and including an attachment bar 26 and supports 28 similarly to the frame 20 of target panel 16 in FIG. 1. The frame 50 can support one or more net structures 24 formed similarly to the structures disposed on the device 10 of FIG. 1 and connected to the attachment bar 26, or a single structure 24′ that includes a single support line 32′ secured to the bar 26 and on which are formed a pair of overlapping nets 52 in an offset configuration, as shown in FIG. 5. The nets 52 extend across the entire frame 50, with the openings 36 formed by the nets 52 positioned in an offset configuration to provide the random rebound characteristic for the device 10′. In addition, the frame 50 is connected to a base 54 having a pair of generally triangular supports 56 extending upward from a horizontal brace 58. In this embodiment, the target panel 16 forms the entire target portion of the device 10 with the offset net structures 24 disposed entirely within the target panel 16.

Various other configurations and alternative embodiments of the present invention are contemplated as being within the scope of the following claims particularly pointing out and distinctly claiming the subject matter regarded as the invention.