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Publication numberUS20030181265 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 10/102,434
Publication dateSep 25, 2003
Filing dateMar 19, 2002
Priority dateMar 19, 2002
Also published asWO2003081162A1
Publication number10102434, 102434, US 2003/0181265 A1, US 2003/181265 A1, US 20030181265 A1, US 20030181265A1, US 2003181265 A1, US 2003181265A1, US-A1-20030181265, US-A1-2003181265, US2003/0181265A1, US2003/181265A1, US20030181265 A1, US20030181265A1, US2003181265 A1, US2003181265A1
InventorsRenzo Raiss
Original AssigneeRenzo Raiss
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Tennis training system and method for simulating a real tennis match
US 20030181265 A1
Abstract
Programmable robotic ball shooting machines, linked by cable or wireless signal communication, are positioned on one side of a tennis court and are structured for firing tennis balls to predetermined locations on the opposite side of the court in accordance with a preprogrammed shot sequence. A remote control communicates with the ball shooting machines and is operable to selectively control the firing of each shot from any of the machines at a time and from a direction which is directly responsive to a tennis shot made by a practicing player on the opposite side of the court. Immediately following the firing of each shot, all ball shooting machines advance in preparation for firing the next shot in the programmed sequence at a predetermined speed, spin and height particular to each ball shooting machine position, thereby controlling the depth and location of each fired shot in order to hit the predetermined location. The system allows for continuous play, simulating a real tennis match, without breaking the rhythm and timing of the practicing tennis player.
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Claims(18)
What is claimed is:
1. A tennis training system for simulating a real tennis match on a tennis court for one or more practicing players, said system comprising:
a plurality of programmable robotic ball shooting machines positioned at predetermined locations on one side of the tennis court, said plurality of ball shooting machines each being structured and disposed for firing tennis balls, on demand, to predetermined locations on the opposite side of the tennis court in accordance with a preprogrammed shot sequence;
a remote control structured and disposed for delivering signals to said plurality of ball shooting machines for selectively controlling the firing of each shot in the preprogrammed shot sequence at a time which is directly responsive to a tennis shot made by the practicing player on the opposite side of the court.
2. The system as recited in claim 1 wherein each of said plurality of ball shooting machines is structured and disposed to fire each tennis ball in the preprogrammed shot sequence at a predetermined controlled spin, speed and height.
3. The system as recited in claim 2 further comprising a conductor connecting between said remote control and at least one of said plurality of ball shooting machines for delivering said signals from said remote control to said plurality of ball shooting machines.
4. The system as recited in claim 2 wherein said signals are delivered from said remote control to said at least one ball shooting machine by wireless communication.
5. The system as recited in claim 4 wherein said signals are radio signals.
6. The system as recited in claim 4 wherein said signals are infrared signals.
7. A tennis training system for simulating a real tennis match on a tennis court for one or more practicing players, said system comprising:
a plurality of programmable robotic ball shooting machines positioned at predetermined locations on one side of the tennis court, opposite to the practicing player, each of said plurality of ball shooting machines being structured and disposed for firing tennis balls, on demand, to predetermined locations on the opposite side of the tennis court in accordance with a preprogrammed shot sequence; and
a remote control structured and disposed for delivering signals to at least one of said plurality of ball shooting machines for selectively controlling the firing of each shot in the preprogrammed shot sequence from any one of the plurality of ball shooting machines at a time which is directly responsive to a tennis shot made by the practicing player on the opposite side of the court.
8. The system as recited in claim 7 wherein said plurality of ball shooting machines are each structured and disposed to fire each tennis ball along a plurality of lines of fire throughout a range of angles.
9. The system as recited in claim 8 wherein said plurality of ball shooting machines are each structured and disposed to fire each tennis ball in the preprogrammed shot sequence at a predetermined controlled spin, speed and height along any one of said plurality of lines of fire throughout said range of angles.
10. The system as recited in claim 9 wherein said plurality of ball shooting machines are each structured and disposed to fire each tennis ball in the preprogrammed shot sequence to a predetermined location on the opposite side of the tennis court by controlling the depth of the fired tennis ball along a selected one of the plurality of lines of fire.
11. The system as recited in claim 10 wherein said plurality of ball shooting machines are each structured and disposed to control the depth of the fired tennis ball along the selected one of the plurality of lines of fire by varying the speed, spin and height of the fired tennis ball.
12. A method for simulating a real tennis match on a tennis court for one or more practicing players, said method comprising the steps of:
positioning a plurality of programmable, computer-controlled robotic ball shooting machines at predetermined locations on one side of the tennis court, opposite to the one or more practicing players;
programming said plurality of robotic ball shooting machines to fire a plurality of tennis balls, on demand, to predetermined locations on the opposite side of the tennis court in accordance with a preprogrammed shot sequence; and
selectively commanding the firing of each shot in the preprogrammed sequence from any one of the plurality of ball shooting machines at a time which is directly responsive to a tennis shot made by the practicing player on the opposite side of the court.
13. The method as recited in claim 12 wherein said step of selectively commanding further comprises the step of:
selectively commanding the firing of each shot in the preprogrammed shot sequence from any one of the plurality of ball shooting machines from a direction which is directly responsive to the location of the tennis shot made by the practicing player on the opposite side of the court.
14. The method as recited in claim 13 further comprising the step of:
controlling the angle of each shot in the preprogrammed shot sequence by providing a plurality of lines of fire, throughout a range of angles, along which each of the fired tennis balls from each of the ball shooting machines may be directed.
15. The method as recited in claim 13 further comprising the step of:
controlling the firing of each shot in the preprogrammed shot sequence from any one of the plurality of ball shooting machines along a plurality of lines of fire throughout a range of angles.
16. The method as recited in claim 13 further comprising the step of:
controlling the spin, speed and height of each fired shot in the preprogrammed shot sequence from any one of the plurality of ball shooting machines.
17. The method as recited in claim 15 further comprising the step of:
controlling the depth of each fired shot in the preprogrammed shot sequence from any one of the plurality of ball shooting machines by controlling the spin, speed and height of each fired shot along any one of the plurality of lines of fire throughout the range of angles.
18. The method as recited in claim 17 further comprising the step of:
controlling the depth and the selected one of the plurality of lines of fire of each fired shot in the preprogrammed shot sequence in order to hit the predetermined location on the opposite side of the tennis court.
Description
    BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
  • [0001]
    1. Field of the Invention
  • [0002]
    The present invention relates to tennis practice systems and methods and, more particularly, to the use of programmable robotic ball shooting machines for firing return shots to a practicing tennis player in a manner which simulates a real tennis match.
  • [0003]
    2. Discussion of the Related Art
  • [0004]
    Automatic tennis ball shooting machines are well known and are used worldwide for practicing and developing tennis skills. A feature common to all existing ball machines is the manner in which balls are fired according to set intervals. While most existing ball machines allow for adjustment of the timing of a firing sequence, the lapsed time between each fired shot remains constant once the speed of the machine has been set. For example, if the ball machine is set on a fast speed, shots may be fired every two seconds. On the other hand, if the ball machine is set on a slow speed, a longer amount of time will lapse between each shot. However, once the speed of the machine is set and the firing operation is activated, the amount of time between each fired shot remains constant. When used in practice, the constant intervals of the ball firing sequence becomes awkward and forces a practicing tennis player to play in a rhythm which is not natural or in any way controlled by the player. For instance, if the practicing player hits a fast ball (i.e. a drive), he has to wait for the set time interval to lapse before the next shot is fired by the ball machine. On the other hand, if the practicing player hits a high, slow ball (i.e. a lob), the next ball may be fired by the ball machine before the player is ready and at a time which is earlier than the player's shot would normally be returned by an opposing player. This awkward timing imposed by ball machines disrupts the practicing player's stroke and play rhythm and is the main reason why competitive tennis players, such as tennis pros, do not use ball machines in practice.
  • [0005]
    Accordingly, in view of the problems and shortcomings of automatic ball firing machines presently used for tennis practice, there remains an urgent need in the tennis industry for a system and method which uses at least one and preferably two or more programmable robotic ball shooting machines for firing return shots to a tennis player, from an opposite side of a tennis court, in a manner which simulates a real tennis match, so that the ball is returned at the moment and from a direction that an opponent would ordinarily play the ball on the opposite side of the net.
  • SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
  • [0006]
    According to the system and method of the present invention, two or more programmable robotic ball shooting machines are positioned on one side of a tennis court and are structured for firing tennis balls to predetermined locations on the opposite side of the court in accordance with a preprogrammed shot sequence. A remote control communicates with the ball shooting machines and is operable to selectively control the firing of each shot from any of the machines at a time and from a direction which is directly responsive to a tennis shot made by a practicing player on the opposite side of the court. The robotic machines communicate with each other so that immediately following the firing of each shot, all ball shooting machines advance in preparation for firing the next shot in the programmed sequence at a speed, spin and height which will hit the predetermined court location. The system allows for continuous play, simulating a real tennis match, without breaking the rhythm and timing of the practicing tennis player.
  • OBJECTS AND ADVANTAGES OF THE INVENTION
  • [0007]
    It is a primary object of the present invention to provide a system and method which uses two or more ball shooting machines for returning the shots of a practicing tennis player(s) in a manner which simulates an opposing player(s).
  • [0008]
    It is a further object of the present invention to provide a system and method for use on a tennis court for returning shots of a practicing tennis player(s) at a time and from a direction which simulates the return shot of an opposing player(s) on the opposite side of the court.
  • [0009]
    It is still a further object of the present invention to provide a tennis training system and method for use on a tennis court and which is adapted to recreate a real tennis match for a practicing player(s) in preparation for play against a known opponent(s).
  • [0010]
    It is still a further object of the present invention to provide a tennis training system and method which uses two or more programmable robotic tennis ball shooting machines for firing return shots to a practicing tennis player(s) and to predetermined locations on the tennis court in accordance with a preprogrammed shot sequence.
  • [0011]
    It is still a further object of the present invention to provide a tennis training system and method which uses two or more programmable robotic tennis ball shooting machines operable by a remote control for selectively controlling the firing of return shots to a practicing tennis player(s) from a direction (i.e. angle) and at a time which is directly responsive to a tennis shot made by the practicing player(s).
  • [0012]
    It is still a further object of the present invention to provide a tennis training system and method using programmable robotic tennis ball firing machines which provides for continuous play, in a manner which simulates a real game, without breaking the rhythm and timing of a practicing tennis player(s).
  • [0013]
    It is yet a further object of the present invention to provide a tennis training system and method using a plurality of programmable robotic tennis ball firing machines and a remote control for selectively firing return shots to a practicing tennis player(s) from a direction and at a time when the practicing player(s)'s shot would normally be returned by an opposing player(s) on the opposite side of the tennis court, and wherein each of the robotic tennis ball firing machines is structured and disposed to control the speed, spin and height of each tennis ball fired as a return shot in order to achieve a desired type of shot which hits a desired location on the opposite side of the tennis court.
  • [0014]
    It is still a further object of the present invention to provide a tennis training system and method which uses a plurality of programmable robotic tennis ball shooting machines and a remote control for selectively controlling the firing of each shot from any of the machines at a time and from a direction which is directly responsive to a tennis shot made by a practicing player on the opposite side of the tennis court and, wherein the desired depth of each return shot fired by any of the robotic tennis ball firing machines is achieved through controlling a combination of the speed, spin and height of each fired return shot.
  • [0015]
    It is still a further object of the present invention to provide a tennis training system and method which uses a plurality of programmable robotic tennis ball shooting machines positioned at predetermined locations on one side of a tennis court, and wherein the tennis ball shooting machines are specifically adapted to fire tennis balls to predetermined locations on the opposite side of the court in accordance with a preprogrammed shot sequence, and wherein each predetermined shot location is achieved by controlling the speed, spin and height of each fired shot in conjunction with the angle of the shot as a result of the position of the tennis ball shooting machine on the tennis court.
  • [0016]
    These and other objects and advantages of the invention are more readily apparent with reference to the following detailed description taken in conjunction with the drawings.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • [0017]
    For a fuller understanding of the nature of the present invention, reference should be made to the following detailed description taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings in which:
  • [0018]
    [0018]FIG. 1 is a schematic diagram showing a remote control communicating with a plurality of robotic tennis ball firing machines in accordance with the system and method of the present invention;
  • [0019]
    [0019]FIG. 2 is a top plan view of a tennis court illustrating a plurality of shot locations and directions achieved by the system and method of the present invention using two robotic tennis ball firing machines;
  • [0020]
    [0020]FIG. 3 is a top plan view of a tennis court illustrating a plurality of shot locations and directions achieved by the system and method of the present invention using three robotic tennis ball firing machines; and
  • [0021]
    [0021]FIG. 4 is a side elevational view illustrating variations in shot depth achieved through controlling a combination of speed, height and spin of tennis balls shot from a robotic tennis ball firing machine of the system and method of the present invention.
  • [0022]
    Like reference numerals refer to like parts throughout the several views of the drawings.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS
  • [0023]
    Referring to the several views of the drawings, and initially FIG. 1, the tennis training system of the present invention is shown and is generally indicated as 10. In accordance with a preferred embodiment of the invention, a plurality of programmable robotic ball shooting machines are positionable at predetermined locations at one end of a tennis court (see FIGS. 2 and 3). Preferably, two or more of the robotic ball shooting machines are used in the system and are linked together by cable or wireless signal communication to communicate with one another.
  • [0024]
    As seen in FIG. 1, three programmable robotic ball shooting machines 20, 30 and 40 are provided and communicate via a link 50. The communication link 50 may be a conductor, such as a cable or wire connection or, alternatively, the communication link 50 may be a wireless signal communication such as radio or infrared signals. Each of the robotic ball shooting machines 20, 30 and 40 are provided with a protective housing 52 which is shaped to deflect tennis balls which may inadvertently strike the housing. The ball shooting machines 20, 30 and 40 may further be supported on wheels 54 to facilitate movement of the machines onto the tennis court and into proper position. The housing interior of each of the ball shooting machines is structured for holding a supply of tennis balls in a manner similar to that of conventional automatic tennis ball shooting machines. A robotic ball feed and firing mechanism is further provided within the housing interior of each ball shooting machine 20, 30 and 40. The robotic ball feed and firing mechanisms is controlled by a computer device within the housing interior which is preprogrammed with a particular sequence of shots. The shot sequence program may be created on an external computer device, such as a laptop computer or handheld computer device (e.g. a PALM Computer). The shot sequence program is then loaded into the memory of the computer device contained in each ball shooting machine 20, 30 and 40. The shot sequence program is particular to each ball shooting machine position and provides specific instructions to each ball shooting machine 20, 30 and 40 for firing each shot in the programmed shot sequence at an angle (i.e. along a select line of fire) and at a speed, spin and height which is particular to each ball shooting machine position, thereby controlling the angle and depth of each shot fired from any one of the machines in order to hit predetermined locations on the opposite side of the court.
  • [0025]
    A remote control device 60 is provided with control buttons 62, 64 and 66 for selectively commanding any one of the plurality of ball shooting machines to instantly fire the next shot of the preprogrammed shot sequence. The remote control device 60 communicates with the ball shooting machines through either a hardwire (i.e. cable or wire) connection or, alternatively, a wireless signal connection (i.e. radio or infrared signals). The remote control device 60 may communicate directly with each of the plurality of ball shooting machines 20, 30 and 40 or, alternatively, the remote control can communicate with one of the ball shooting machines which serves as a master. The remaining ball shooting machines, serving as slaves, can receive the fire command instructions from the master via the communication link 50.
  • [0026]
    Referring to FIGS. 2 and 3, the positioning of the ball shooting machines on a tennis court are shown in accordance with preferred embodiments thereof Specifically, the ball shooting machines are positioned at predetermined locations on one side 82 of a tennis court 80, and preferably behind base line 83 at one end of the tennis court. Upon receipt of a fire command from the remote control device 60, the selected ball shooting machine instantly fires a tennis ball at an angle, speed, spin and height as directed by the computer device so that the fired shot will be directed to a predetermined location on the opposite side 84 of the tennis court 80 according to the shot sequence program. For example, if the next shot in the shot sequence program is to be a drop shot, at a particular location on the opposite side of the court, then each ball shooting machine is prepared to fire the drop shot at an angle, speed, spin and height which will cause the fired tennis ball to hit the location of the desired drop shot. Alternatively, if the next shot in the shot sequence is to be a long drive, then each ball machine is prepared to fire the next tennis ball in the shot sequence at the angle, speed, spin and height which achieves the long drive shot to the specific court location.
  • [0027]
    As seen in FIGS. 2 and 3, each ball shooting machine 20, 30 and 40 is prepared to fire a shot at one of a plurality of angles as indicated by the lines extending from each of the respective ball shooting machines to the numbered positions 1 through 9 and A-B on the opposite side 84 of the tennis court 80. Then, by varying the speed, spin and height of each fired shot, the depth along any of the desired angles can be controlled so that the fired tennis ball will strike the court at any desired position along the line of fire. More specifically, referring to FIG. 4, each ball shooting machine 20, 30 and 40 is adapted to fire each shot in the programmed shot sequence at a speed, spin and height which will cause the fired ball to travel over the net 80 and land at select, predetermined locations on side 84 of the tennis court in a manner which achieves a particular type of tennis shot.
  • [0028]
    Accordingly, in use, when a practicing tennis player on the opposite side of the court 84 hits a tennis shot towards, for example, ball shooting machine 30, then remote control 60 is operated by depressing the appropriate control button to activate the firing of the next shot in the preprogrammed shot sequence from ball shooting machine 30. The fired shot will then be in accordance with the preprogrammed shot sequence, traveling along one of the angled lines of fire at a speed, spin and height which will cause the fired tennis ball to reach the predetermined location on the opposite side 84 of the court, thereby simulating the return shot of an opposing player on side 82 of the tennis court 80. In this manner, each tennis shot made by a practicing player on side 84 of the tennis court 80 can be selectively returned by any of the ball shooting machines 20, 30 or 40 so that a return shot is fired at a moment in time and from a direction that an opponent would ordinarily play the ball on the opposite side of the net 86.
  • [0029]
    The programmed shot sequence can replicate a series of shots in a volley, game, set or match. Moreover, the programmed shot sequence can be based on the identical shots made by a player in a previous match. Thus, a tennis player preparing to play an opponent in an upcoming match can use the tennis training system and method of the present invention to prepare for play against the opponent. In this instance, the preprogrammed shot sequence can be based upon the opponent's shots made in a previous match against the practicing tennis player or another opponent. In this manner, the practicing tennis player can practice in a virtual match against an upcoming opponent and become better acquainted with the style of play and type of shots normally made by the opponent. Moreover, a practicing player can use the tennis training system and method of the present invention to correct mistakes made in previous matches against an opponent while developing skills to better handle difficult shots normally made by the opponent.
  • [0030]
    While the instant invention has been shown and described in accordance with preferred and practical embodiments thereof, it is recognized that departures from the instant disclosure are contemplated within the spirit and scope of the present invention as set forth in the following claims and under the doctrine of equivalents.
Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US7285061 *Aug 4, 2003Oct 23, 2007Ervin WagnerSports skills training method and apparatus
US7510493 *Oct 12, 2007Mar 31, 2009Ervin WagnerSports skills training apparatus
US7691012 *Oct 27, 2004Apr 6, 2010Precision Sports Robotics, LlcProgrammable ball throwing apparatus
US7766770Dec 22, 2005Aug 3, 2010Precision Sports Robotics, LlcProgrammable ball throwing apparatus
US7980967Jan 31, 2006Jul 19, 2011Precision Sports Robotics, LlcProgrammable ball throwing apparatus
US8287404 *Apr 5, 2010Oct 16, 2012PrecisionSports Robotics, LLCProgrammable ball throwing apparatus
US8480517 *Aug 3, 2006Jul 9, 2013Christian Richard GŁttlerTraining device
US20050032581 *Aug 4, 2003Feb 10, 2005Ervin Wagner''Sports skills training method and apparatus''
US20050172943 *Oct 27, 2004Aug 11, 2005Fungoman, Inc.Programmable ball throwing apparatus
US20060118096 *Jan 31, 2006Jun 8, 2006Fungoman, Inc.Programmable ball throwing apparatus
US20060236993 *Dec 22, 2005Oct 26, 2006Fungoman, Inc.Programmable ball throwing apparatus
US20080254918 *Oct 12, 2007Oct 16, 2008Ervin WagnerSports skills training apparatus
US20100252015 *Apr 5, 2010Oct 7, 2010Fungoman, Inc.Programmable ball throwing apparatus
US20120108365 *Aug 3, 2006May 3, 2012Christian GuttlerTraining device
Classifications
U.S. Classification473/422
International ClassificationA63B69/40, A63B69/38
Cooperative ClassificationA63B2225/50, A63B69/40, A63B69/38
European ClassificationA63B69/38, A63B69/40