US 3820785 A
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
United States Patent [191 Occhipinti et al.
[ PRACTICE TENNIS RACKET  Inventors: Peter W. Occhipinti, 672 Downing St., Teaneck, NJ. 07666; Anthony Toriello, 8 White Pine Rd., Upper Saddle River, NJ. 07459  Filed: Dec. 13, 1972  Appl. No.: 314,547
 US. Cl. 273/29 A, 273/73 R, 273/73 D [51 Int. Cl A631) 69/38  Field of Search... 273/29 A, 67 R, 73 R, 73 D, 273/74  References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 6/1902 Boulanger 273/73 R 10/1928 Claremont 273/73 D June 28, 1974 3.083968 4/1963 Takahashi 273/73 R FOREIGN PATENTS OR APPLICATIONS 11,528 5/1909 Great Britain 273/74 11,965 5/1911 Great Britain 273/73 D Primary ExaminerRichard C. Pinkham Assistant ExaminerTheatrice Brown Attorney, Agent, or FirmBrumbaugh, Graves, Donohue -& Raymond  ABSTRACT A practice tennis racket comprising a handle and a racket head provided with a masking cover overlying the strings on each side of the racket head. The cover masks a preselected area of the racket head to leave a desired area of the strings exposed for striking a ball in a conventional manner.
7 Claims, 5 Drawing Figures mama-5 ZATERTEBmza mm SHEET 1 [IF 3 FIG. 2
mmrznaunz m4 1820.785
SHEET 2 BF 3 FIG. 3
PRACTICE TENNIS RACKET BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION This invention relates to a practice tennis racket and, more particularly, to a practice tennis racket which permits the player to determine whether he is hitting the ball properly and within a defined area of the racket head.
Various techniques have been devised to aid tennis players in improving their stroke. For example, as disclosed in US. Pat. No. 3,503,6l1, a practice tennis racket includes a ball catching bag disposed on one side of the face of the racket instead of strings. When the ball hits the center of the racket, the ball is trapped in the bag, thereby indicating that the user has properly hit the ball.
While this known racket does help the player to develop a true stroke, there are several limitations. The practice racket may only be used for practice because the strings are removed. Since the cup is on one side of the racket, it is not possible to practice both the forward and backswing. Also, the cover which is disposed across the end opening of the bag offers wind resistance to cause the practice racket to react differently from an actual playing racket. Catching the ball in the bag is inconvenient because it is not possible to continue play until the ball is removed.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION There is provided in accordance with the present invention an improvement in a practice racket that overcomes the disadvantages of prior art practice rackets. In a practice racket according to the present invention, masking means provided to mask a preselected area of the racket head to leave a desired area of the strings exposed for striking a ball in a conventional manner. A ball striking the masked area of the racket head has a dampened rebound characteristic.
In a preferred embodiment, the masking means comprises a cover overlying the strings on each side of the racket head. The cover has a central opening formed therein which exposes the central area of the racket head. With the cover affixed to both sides of the racket, the user may practice hitting the ball properly on either side of the racket. When the cover is formed of either elastic or rigid material, the ball striking the cover will be impelled thereby at a velocity greatly reduced from that of a ball striking the strings or unmasked area of the racket head. Preferably, the cover is formed with a plurality of holes to minimize wind resistance to the motion of the racket. The cover may be secured to the racket by strings laced through a series of small peripheral holes in the cover or by a fastener affixed to the sides of the cover facing the racket head.
In another form of the invention, the strings of the racket head are laced'such that some of the strings near the periphery have a greater spacing than the central strings. Thus, a ball hitting the periphery has a somewhat dampened rebound, thereby permitting the user to determine whether the ball has been stroked properly.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS In the Drawings: FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a practice racket according to the present invention;
FIG. 2 is a sectional view of the practice racket taken along line 2-2 of FIG. 1;
FIG. 3 is an alternative embodiment of the practice racket according to the present invention;
FIG. 4 is still another embodiment of the practice racket; and
FIG. 5 is a sectional view of the practice racket of FIG. 4 taken along line 5-5 thereof.
DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS In the illustrative embodiment of a practice racket arranged according to the present invention, as shown in FIG. 1, a tennis racket, represented generally by the reference numeral 10, comprises a handle 12 (shown partially), and a racket head 14 formed with a string section 16. The tennis racket 10 is only an example of the type of racket with which the invention may be practiced, it being understood that the word racket includes any netted device used for hitting balls and also paddles used in table tennis. The handle 12 and head 14 may be fabricated from wood, metal or other desirable materials. The string section 16 may be a single nylon string laced through holes, as shown in FIG. 2, in the head 14 to form a mesh.
According to the present invention, a pair of covers 18 and 20 are mounted on the racket head 14 and over each side of the string section 16. Each of the covers 18 and 20 has a central hole 22 that exposes the string section 16 for striking a ball in a conventional manner. The hole 22 is somewhat larger than the size of a tennis ball, but covers with holes of many sizes may be used. For instance, it may be desirable to use covers with large holes initially, and then as the player becomes more skillful in hitting the ball in the center of the racket, a cover with smaller holes may be used.
A series of holes 24 are formed in the covers 18 and 20 to decrease the resistance to movement of the racket which the air exerts on the covers 18 and 20. Thus, it is desirable to make the racket react as closely as possible to a normal tennis racket. The size of these holes may vary, but they should not be so large as to prevent the ball from contacting the covers when the ball strikes the covers.
There are several techniques for securing the covers to the racket. In FIG. 1 and FIG. 2, the covers are formed with holes 26 around the periphery of the covers and with holes 28 aroundthe central hole 22. A string 30 is laced around the head 14 and through the holes 26 in both covers 18 and 20. Also, a string 32 is laced through the strings l6 and through the holes 28 in both covers.
The fastening arrangement shown in FIGS. 4 and 5 is particularly advantageous, because the covers 18 and 20 are easily inserted onto or removed from the racket. Thus, the same racket may be used readily for practice or actual play. Also, as previously stated, covers with different central holes of different sizes may be easily attached to the racket. The covers 18 and 20 have a fastener known by the tradename VELCRO. This fastener comprises a mass of hooks 40 and loops 42 that interconnect with the strings of the section 16 to hold the covers.
The covers 18 and 20 may be formed of various types of material depending upon the desired indication that the ball has not been properly stroked from the center of the racket. If the sheets 18 and 20 are formed of a flexible material, such as rubber or soft pliable plastic, the ball has a dampened rebound. Alternatively, the sheets 18 and 20 may be formed of a rigid material, such as a hard plastic which will also impel a ball at a velocity which is greatly reduced from that of a ball striking the string section 16.
Referring now to FIG. 3, the spacing of the interwoven strings forming the string section 16 is varied from a wide spacing at the periphery to a close or conventional spacing at the center of the racket head. A ball striking the string section near the periphery has a dampened rebound characteristic to thereby permit the player to determine whether the ball has been stroked properly.
The embodiments of the present invention are intended to be merely exemplary and those skilled in the art will be able to make numerous variations without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention. All such variations and modifications are intended to be included within the scope of the invention as defined by the following claims.
1. A practice racket for hitting balls, comprising:
a racket head connected to said handle, said racket head comprising a planar annular frame and a string section supported on the frame; and
dampening means for dampening the rebound characteristic of a preselected peripheral portion of the string section while leaving a central portion relatively unaffected, said dampening means comprising a cover disposed over a significant part of the preselected peripheral portion of the string section.
2. The practice racket according to claim 1 wherein said dampening means comprises masking means for masking the outer portion of the string section to leave the central portion of the string section exposed.
3. The practice racket according to claim 2 wherein the masking means comprises at least one cover member shaped to overly the one side of the racket head, the cover having a central hole to expose the central portion of the string section.
4. The practice racket according to claim 3 wherein the masking means comprises two cover members, each cover member overlying one side of the racket head.
5. The practice racket according to claim 4 wherein each of the cover members is formed of an elastic material.
6. The practice racket according to claim 4 wherein each of the cover members is formed of a rigid material.
7. The practice racket according to claim 4 wherein each of the covers has a plurality of holes formed therein to decrease the wind resistance thereof.