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Title:
TENNIS RACKET AND METHOD FOR GRIPPING A TENNIS RACKET
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2015/044907
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A tennis racket (100) comprising a frame (101) defining a head portion (3) intended to strike the balls and a handle portion (1) of elongated shape on which there is defined at least one face (13, 17), in which the handle portion has a pair of grooves (10a, 10b) made on the face extending in a transverse direction with respect to the handle portion. The grooves are arranged at a different distance along the direction of longitudinal extension of the handle portion from a basal extremity (19) of the racket.

Inventors:
DRAGONE, Massimo (Via Ospedale 8, Mestre - VE, I-30174, IT)
Application Number:
IB2014/064865
Publication Date:
April 02, 2015
Filing Date:
September 26, 2014
Export Citation:
Click for automatic bibliography generation   Help
Assignee:
DRAGONE, Massimo (Via Ospedale 8, Mestre - VE, I-30174, IT)
International Classes:
A63B49/08; A63B59/00
Domestic Patent References:
WO2010089349A12010-08-12
WO2004112915A12004-12-29
WO2010089349A12010-08-12
WO2004112915A12004-12-29
Foreign References:
US3848871A1974-11-19
GB407270A1934-03-15
JP2005013683A2005-01-20
US20060073923A12006-04-06
DE2750217A11979-05-17
US7976415B22011-07-12
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
LOCAS, Davide et al. (Piazzetta Cappellato Pedrocchi 18, Padova, I-35122, IT)
Download PDF:
Claims:
CLAIMS

A tennis racket (100) comprising a frame (101) adapted to define a head portion (3), intended to strike the balls, and a handle portion (1), the handle portion (1) having an elongate shape on which at least one face (13, 17) is defined, characterised in that the handle portion (1) has a pair of opposing grooves (10a, 10b) formed on one respective face of the pair (13, 17) and extending transversely with respect to a longitudinal direction of extension (X) of the handle portion (1), characterised in that the grooves (10a, 10b) are positioned at different distances (dl, d2) along the longitudinal direction of extension (X) from a basal extremity (19) of the racket (100) in such a way that they are spaced apart by a distance (d) approximately equal to the width of a user's finger, the grooves (10a, 10b) extending along a transverse direction for a limited portion of the perimeter defined by the handle portion (1) .

A tennis racket (100) according to Claim 1, wherein the handle portion (1) has a cross-section of irregular octagonal shape, the octagon having two longer sides (13, 17) parallel to a plane (P) defined by the head portion (3), two intermediate sides (11, 15) perpendicular to the longer sides (13, 17), and oblique shorter sides (12, 14, 16 18) which interconnect each of the longer sides (13, 17) and intermediate sides (11, 15), a respective face of the handle portion (1) being associated with each of the sides (11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18), the grooves (10a, 10b) being formed on the faces corresponding to the longer sides (13, 17) .

3. A tennis racket (100) according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein the grooves (10a, 10b) are of sufficient width to contain a user's finger.

4. A tennis racket (100) according to any of the preceding claims, wherein a distance (dl) is defined between the first groove (10a) and the basal extremity (19), such that, when the index finger of a hand gripping the racket is positioned in the first groove (10a), the remaining part of the hand is entirely accommodated between the basal extremity (19) and the first groove (10a).

5. A tennis racket (100) according to Claim 4, wherein the distance (dl) between the first groove (10a) and the basal extremity (19) is in the range from 6 to 10 cm.

6. A tennis racket (100) according to any of the preceding claims, wherein a distance (d2) in the range from 8 to 12 cm is defined between the second groove (10b) and the basal extremity (19).

7. A tennis racket (100) according to any one of the preceding claims, in which the grooves (10a, 10b) are asymmetrical to each other with respect to the axis of longitudinal extension of the racket.

8. A method for holding a tennis racket, the racket comprising a frame (101) adapted to define a head portion (3), intended to strike the balls, and a handle portion (1), the handle portion (1) having an elongate shape with an octagonal cross section, and having at least two opposing faces (13, 17) defined on it, the method comprising the steps of:

a . supporting the knuckle at the base of the index finger of a first hand (PM) on a first face (13) at a sufficient distance (dl) from a basal extremity (19) of the racket to enable the four fingers of the first hand (PM) joined together to be supported on a second face (17) opposite the first face (13);

b. closing the first hand (PM) so as to grip the handle of the racket; c. supporting the knuckle (n2) at the base of the index finger of the second hand (SM) on the face which is reflectively symmetrical to the face supporting the knuckle (nl) of the first hand (PM), in a position which is axially displaced towards the head portion (3) of the racket along a longitudinal direction of development (X) of handle portion (1) with respect to a point of support of the knuckle at the base of the index of the first hand (PM) on the first face (13) ;

d . closing the index finger (i2) and the thumb (p2) of the second hand (SM) in an upper position along direction (X) with respect to the first hand (PM);

e. placing the remaining part of the second hand (SM) in a position such that the first hand (PM) is covered, so that the two hands partly overlap.

9. A method according to Claim 8, in which the second hand (SM) is separated from the first hand (PM) by a distance (d) which is approximately equal to the width of a user's finger.

10. A method according to Claim 8 or 9, wherein the handle portion (1) has a pair of grooves (10a, 10b) extending in a substantially transverse direction with respect to the longitudinal direction of extension (X) of the handle portion (1), the grooves (10a, 10b) being placed at different distances (dl, d2) along the longitudinal direction of extension (X) from a basal extremity (19) of the racket (100), in such a way that they are separated by a distance (d) equal to approximately the width of a user's finger, and wherein the knuckle of the first hand (PM) is supported in a position opposite the first groove (10a), in such a way that the tip of the index finger is at least partially accommodated in the groove (10a), and the knuckle of the second hand (SM) is supported in a position opposite the second groove (10b), in such a way that the tip of the index finger is at least partly accommodated in the second groove (10b).

Description:
TENNIS RACKET AND METHOD FOR GRIPPING A TENNIS RACKET

DESCRIPTION

The invention relates to a tennis racket and a method for gripping a tennis racket.

Typically tennis rackets comprise a frame in which there is a defined a head portion in which the strings are fitted, and a handle by which the racket is held.

In the game of tennis the racket is gripped by the player's dominant hand to make shots, with the possible assistance of the other hand on the backhand

(two-handed) or rarely also on the forehand (two-handed).

In the commonest configuration the handle has the form of an elongated body with an octagonal cross-section. This shape is particularly widely used because the racket can be gripped firmly for both forehand and backhand shots, and it also allows the grip to be changed quickly and comfortably.

It has in fact been noted that the grip on the racket is of fundamental importance for making shots accurately and powerfully.

In addition to this conventional shape, numerous variant shapes and in general characteristics have been proposed for tennis racket handles in order to improve the grip and make changes in grip simpler for making different shots. For example United States patent application US 2006/0073923 describes a substantially S-shaped tennis racket, which therefore ends in a handle of curved shape.

These alternative shapes have found little or no use in the game of tennis because they require movements which differ from conventional movements and are in general not very effective from the point of view of striking dynamics.

An alternative solution is described in German patent DE 2750217 which provides a racket having a double U-shaped handle, in such a way that each limb of the U is gripped by one hand.

The idea underlying this patent is that of using both hands when playing tennis in order to impart greater force when striking.

A similar racket, in which the handles are however arranged in a V-shape, is also described in United States patent US 7,976,415.

Here again, however, the movements associated with these double-handed rackets necessarily require changes in the playing technique used to make shots with two hands at the same time.

In fact when the grip of one of the hands is released when making a shot the grip on the racket will no longer be in line with the axis of the racket, thus making it very difficult to impart force and accuracy when hitting.

For this reason these double-handed rackets have found minimal use in the game of tennis, particularly at competitive level.

Again, with the aim of encouraging playing with two hands, international patent application WO 2010/089349 describes a tennis racket with a handle provided with two groups of grooves separated by a distance equal to approximately the width of a hand. The upper grooves are then made in such a way as to provide better ergonomics for one hand and encourage grip, while the lower ones are intended for the other hand. As a consequence the aim of these grips is to assist the use of both hands at the same time for both the forehand and backhand.

A similar racket, again intended for two-handed play, is described in WO 2004/112915. This document also describes how such a racket is gripped, with one hand holding the bottom of the handle and the other hand longitudinally offset with respect to the other at the top of the handle. In this way both the hands grip the racket at the same time, thus making it possible to perform all shots with two hands.

The technical innovation underlying this invention is therefore that of providing a tennis racket equipped with a suitable handle which makes it possible to make two forehand shots with one hand symmetrically and with an identical performance technique, which is structurally and functionally designed to overcome all the disadvantages mentioned with reference to the cited known art.

The cited problems have been overcome through a tennis racket according to claim 1 and through a method for gripping a tennis racket according to claim 8.

Preferred characteristics of the invention are defined in the dependent claims. The invention and method according to this invention makes it possible to play the game of tennis in a simple and immediate way, making it possible to make two symmetrical forehand shots with one hand on both the left and right, both of which are powerful and accurate, and which also allows tennis to be played conventionally using a dominant limb/hand making both forehand and backhand shots.

The racket according to this invention therefore allows it to be used in a way similar to conventional rackets or in an alternative way, as specified in the method claimed in this invention.

Characteristics and other advantages of the invention will be more apparent from the following detailed description of a preferred but not exclusive embodiment illustrated by way of indication and without limitation with reference to the appended drawings in which :

- Figure 1 is a front view of a tennis racket according to this invention;

- Figures 2A and 2B are a front view and a side view respectively of the handle of the tennis racket in Figure 1 ;

- Figure 3 is a transverse cross-section of the handle in Figure 2A;

- Figures 4A, 4B, 4C and 4D are perspective views illustrating successive stages in the method for gripping the racket according to this invention; and

- Figures 5A and 5B are perspective views illustrating successive stages in the method for gripping the racket according a different version .

With reference initially to Figure 1, a tennis racket according to this invention is indicated as a whole by reference number 100.

Racket 100 comprises a frame 101, for example formed from a structure of composite material, in which there is defined a grip portion 1 constituting the handle of racket 100, which will therefore be referred to below using the term handle, a central portion 2, also known as the "heart" of the racket, and a head portion 3 comprising a surface 30, also known as the flat, comprising a plurality of strings 31, which is impacted by the ball when shots are made. The racket according to this invention is in particular suitable for use when playing tennis with two forehands, in which, in substance, the player makes shots using one of the two hands alternately, transferring the racket between the right hand and the left hand during the "waiting stage", in such a way as always to make forehand shots from the back of the court, playing the sport in an essentially symmetrical way (symmetrical tennis) .

This method of playing tennis therefore provides that forehand shots are made with both the right and left hand, with it also being possible to make backhand shots with one or two hands without making any technical changes in performance of the other shots, such as serves, volleys, smashes, etc.

The advantage associated with this way of playing tennis is associated with the idea that the forehand is the most effective shot when playing this sport.

In fact the forehand is a shot which allows absolute facility of movement and change of position, both because it can be made when necessary in an almost frontal position, and because the other arm is free to move and therefore able to support and balance running and sideways or forward and backward movements.

In general players can apply greater power to the forehand than to the backhand because the muscles of the anterior part of the body (flexors), which are anatomically more developed than extensors, can be used; in addition to this the player's arm which is not gripping the racket is free to move in the forehand, balancing the body during the various stages of movement, unlike what happens in the two-handed shot where the player is "restrained" by the simultaneous two-handed grip, and is therefore limited in movement and balance. It is obvious that similar considerations will also apply to the use of those rackets described previously which provide for the use of both hands for both the forehand and the backhand.

For these reasons competitors as a rule tend to play mostly forehand shots, even if the ball enters the backhand zone.

In practice, unlike in conventional tennis where the player makes a forehand shot from one side and a backhand shot from the other side, maintaining a grip on the racket with the same upper limb (even if sometimes assisted by the other in two-handed shots), in symmetrical tennis the player always strikes the ball on the forehand, transferring the racket from one hand to the other, making two forehand shots which are essentially identical, making symmetrical movements bilaterally. It is possible to play tennis in this way by virtue of this invention, in which racket 100 and the method of gripping the racket according to this invention has a handle 1 suitably shaped to allow transfer of the racket between the two hands in an extremely easy and quick way, and to allow a secure and accurate grip.

With reference therefore to Figures 2A, 2B and 3, in a similar way to rackets constructed in accordance with the known art, handle 1 has an elongated shape with an octagonal transverse cross-section. Preferably the octagon is of irregular shape and has two longer sides 13, 17 parallel to a plane P defined by head portion 3 of the racket, two intermediate sides 11, 15 perpendicular to the two longer sides 13, 17 and shorter oblique sides 12, 14, 16, 18, which join the preceding four sides together.

Obviously a corresponding face, also known as a bevel, of handle 1 is associated with each of the abovementioned sides.

It should also be noted that when tennis played conventionally, when making a forehand shot the racket handle is gripped with the knuckle at the base of the index finger supporting face 13, 14 or 15 (known as the third, fourth or fifth bevel in the jargon). Depending upon the position of the knuckle on the handle, the grip on the racket is indicated in the jargon as being of the Eastern, Semi Western or Western type. As a rule, because of the size of handle 1 varies according to the size of the user's hand, the tip of the terminal phalanx of the index finger lies on the side opposite that supported by the knuckle.

As will be seen from the figures, handle 1 of racket 100 according to this invention also comprises a pair of grooves 10a and 10b, a lower one and an upper one, made on opposite faces, preferably on longer faces 13 and 17 corresponding to the longer sides of the octagon of the transverse cross- section of handle 1. In greater detail, grooves 10a and 10b extend over the entire width of the corresponding face. It is therefore obvious that in the case of a handle with a transverse cross-section they will also partly extend over the adjacent faces. As an alternative, for example in the case of forehand shots made with Semi Western or Western grip, the two grooves may be made on the same face or bevel, one below and the other above.

Grooves 10a and 10b run in a transverse direction with respect to the longitudinally extent of axis X of handle 1. According to a preferred embodiment grooves 10a and 10b run in a substantially perpendicular or slightly inclined direction (preferably not more than 30 degrees with respect to the X axis).

In addition to this, as may be seen from Figures 2B and 3, grooves 10a, 10b may also partly run on the oblique sides adjacent to longer sides 13, 17. In this way even if the racket is gripped with the knuckle at the base of the index finger on face 14 or 15, the tip corresponding to the terminal phalanx of the index finger can reach groove 10a. More generally it should be noted that in the racket according to this invention grooves 10a, 10b nevertheless extend over a limited portion of the perimeter defined by handle 1. In this way, not only will the racket have an asymmetrical shape making it possible to provide a single orientation for the racket when it is gripped, but the grooves will only be present in the reference positions for the finger, thus maintaining a flat surface in the parts of the face where the grooves are not present, that is similar to that of conventional handles, thus enabling an optimum grip. This makes it possible for the racket to be held firmly when making shots, given that the knuckle at the base of the index finger, which would not find a suitable supporting surface if the grooves were present, must be supported on the side of the handle opposite the groove.

Grooves 10a and 10b also have a width and depth such that a finger, in particular the user's index finger, may be partly supported in such a way as to provide a gripping point for that finger on the racket.

By way of example, the grooves may have widths si, s2 between 1.5 and 2.5 cm and depths pi, p2 between 0.2 and 0.5 cm.

A first groove 10a is provided at a distance dl along the axial direction of handle 1 with respect to the base of extremity 19 of the handle, and is sufficient to hold the finger of one hand. In particular, as will be more particularly illustrated below, because the index finger is positioned in groove 10a, distance dl will be sufficient for the middle finger, the ring finger and the little finger.

Bearing in mind that even in this case the dimensions of handle 1 may vary according to the size of the user's hands, distance dl may indicatively be between 6 and 10 cm.

Groove 10b on the upper opposite side (or alternatively on the same side) instead makes it possible to support the index finger of the other hand, thus defining a reference position .

In this way racket 100 may be gripped effectively for the playing of symmetrical tennis.

Groove 10b is in fact located at a distance d2 from base 19 of handle 1, which is greater than dl of groove 10a. In greater detail, distance d2 is such that the index finger of the second hand gripping the racket is in a position immediately above with respect to the first hand (d2 = dl + si).

As may be seen from Figures 4A to 4C, this position may be achieved by supporting the knuckle at the base of the index finger of the second hand immediately above first groove 10a and positioning the tip of that index finger in second groove 10b.

For this purpose distance d2 differs from distance dl by approximately the thickness of a finger and, by way of example, may vary between 8 and 12 cm. The method of gripping handle 1 of racket 100 according to this invention is illustrated in detail in Figures 4A to 4C.

Firstly, a player's first hand PM, preferably the "dominant" hand, that is the player's main hand which is mainly used to make all automatic and involuntary gestures, grips the handle in accordance with one of the Eastern, Semi Western or Western grips described above.

In practice, first hand PM is positioned with knuckle nl at the base of index finger il resting on one side 13, 14 or 15 in such a way that the index finger of that hand finds groove 10a.

In this way the position of the first hand will be close to the basal extremity 19 of racket 100.

Once first hand PM has been positioned, it is closed in such a way as to grip the handle of the racket with a forehand grip, which will be of the Eastern, Semi Western or Western type, depending upon the face on which the knuckle at the base of the index finger rests.

Second hand SM will be positioned on handle 1 with knuckle n2 at the base of index finger i2 supported on the face which is reflectively symmetrical with respect to that of the support for the knuckle of first hand PM, so that the same forehand grip (Eastern, Semi Western or Western) of first hand PM is achieved by second hand SM, in a position which is axially offset towards the head of the racket in relation to groove 10a, as illustrated in Figure 4B.

It will be noted that when the knuckle at the base of the index finger of the first hand is positioned on face 13 or 15, the reflectively symmetrical face on which the knuckle of the second hand is supported corresponds to the face opposite that on which the first hand is supported.

As a result of the grip described above the position illustrated in Figure 4C, in which the index and thumb of second hand SM are in a position axially higher than first hand PM, can be obtained, while the remaining part of second hand SM covers first hand PM.

In this way, by alternately opening one of the two hands it is possible to have a grip on racket 100 which is capable of making forehand shots with both first hand PM and second hand SM.

The two grooves make a secure reference point for the positions of the two hands and in particular for the corresponding index fingers, allowing the racket to be quickly transferred and the correct grip to be adopted between a forehand shot on one side and another on the opposite side.

Thus symmetrical tennis can be played in a particularly immediate and simple way.

As mentioned above, as an alternative the two grooves may be made on the same face or bevel in such a way that the index fingers of the two hands can be located in the lower groove for first hand PM and in the upper groove for second hand SM respectively, and again in this case forehand shots can be made with first hand PM or second hand SM by alternately opening the two hands.

Finally it should be noted that the method for gripping the racket described above can also be applied to conventional rackets, through the device of positioning the dominant hand sufficiently close to the basal extremity of the racket so that sufficient space is allowed for the other hand.

The invention thus overcomes the problem stated, at the same time offering a plurality of advantages. In particular the racket according to this invention makes a firm and effective grip possible when playing symmetrical tennis. The grooves present in the handle make it possible to identify the optimum positions for the hands quickly in such a way that the racket can be quickly transferred from one hand to the other in the "waiting position".

As a consequence the racket according to this invention is also advantageously suitable for use as a teaching instrument for teaching the technique of symmetrical tennis.

In addition to this the racket may be likewise also used when playing conventional tennis, thus allowing the player to play tennis in the manner which is most congenial for him. In this case the position of the second hand will be more generally axially displaced towards head portion 3 of the racket along a direction of longitudinal extension X of handle portion 1 in relation to the point of support of the knuckle at the base of the index figure of first hand PM on first face 13, 14 or 15, when the grooves in the racket handle are not present.

Finally the embodiment of this racket does not give rise to any additional difficulties in comparison with conventional rackets, in that all that is necessary is to make the grooves on the body of the handle, covering them with soft tape, of for example leather, in a way wholly similar to the handles currently used when playing tennis.