How to Choose a Badminton Racket | Badminton Essentials for Beginners
This guide is intended for beginners who are new to badminton or for anyone that needs some help with choosing a badminton racket. To begin with, we will talk about the different specifications of a racket and what they mean.
For people who are new to badminton or do not know much about badminton rackets, they often fall into the mistake of the following:-buy the most expensive racket
-ask for what the pros/their favourite player is using
-asking what the "best" racket is or which one is "better"
As a result, they will end up unsatisfied with their racket as it may not be suitable for them and may lead to injuries down the road. They might even buy a new racket and end up spending more money than required.
Before we start talking about the different aspects of a badminton racket, familiarize yourself with the name of the different parts so you can easily find where to look on the racket.
The picture above shows the names of the different parts of a racket.
What you should consider when choosing a badminton racket:
- Overall Weight
- Head shape
- Grip Size
- Singles or Doubles
- Take home message
1. Overall Weight
When comparing the weight of two rackets, the heavier one will give you more power. I assume we all know this from high school physics that Force = Mass x Acceleration !
The downside is that a heavier badminton racket is harder to maneuver and causes more fatigue on the arm/shoulder.
Racket weights can be categorized into several categories:
6U (F): 70-74g
The weight of a racket can be found on the cone and is often seen together with the grip sizing. (eg.3UG5) The most common weight you will find for most rackets are 3U and 4U. Nowadays, rackets are getting lighter and will come in 5U and 6U as well. U and 2U are less common and are usually found in training rackets meant to workout the wrist and forearm muscles. Some training rackets can even weigh over 100g!
Badminton rackets have three types of balances. The balance of a racket can usually be found written somewhere on the shaft.
Head Heavy Balance Badminton Rackets:
Head heavy rackets give you the extra edge when hitting a smash as the head weight contributes to the momentum of a players swing and gives them more power in their shots. The downside is that with a heavier head, your reaction to shots might be a bit sluggish when on the defense. The added head weight will also be taxing on your muscles when hitting quick drives and defensive blocks.
Head Light Balance Badminton Rackets:
Head light rackets will give you the upper hand when engaging in fast drive exchanges A lighter head gives players the ability to quickly react to shots, heightening their defensive abilities. A downside to a lighter head is that you won't have as much power in your smashes but you will have better control and placement of your half smashes with a quick flick of the wrist.
Even Balance Badminton Rackets:
Even balanced rackets are in between the other two types. They are quite versatile in that they can still pack a punch when smashing and be quick enough to react to defensive shots. They are all-rounded and are suitable for most type of players.
You may adjust the balance point of a racket by:
- Adding lead tape to the head of a racket to make it more head heavy
- adding more layers of grip to make it more head light
3. Shaft Flex
Badminton Rackets range from flexible, medium flex, stiff, to extra stiff. When choosing a racket, you should take into consideration the speed of your swing so that it matches with the rackets flexibility. The ideal stiffness is proportional to the racket speed you can generate. A flexible racket will not recoil fully before the shuttle is hit, meaning the energy in flexing the racket is essentially wasted. However, if the racket is too stiff for your swing speed, it will not be flexed enough, and thus won't generate much power. An advanced player with excellent technique should use a stiff racket, whilst a beginner with a slower swing would be better off with a more flexible racket.
-a flexible shaft will give the player easy access to power without exerting much strength (little energy needed to bend the shaft)
-can easily defend smashes since you have little time to put strength into your shot
-less control of shuttle placement since the shaft is easily bent, leading to uncertainty in the flight direction of the shuttlecock.
-return of shots are slower since the shuttle stays on the string bed for a longer time due to the flex of the shaft
-low potential for power
-return of shots are faster since the shuttle does not stay on the string bed as long due to stiff flex of shaft
-more control of shuttle placement since the shaft is stiff and will give instant rebound of the shuttle
-higher potential power
-a stiff shaft will require a stronger swing and good technique in order to generate power
-more suited for intermediate to advanced players
4. Head Shape
Badminton rackets can have either an Isometric head shape (Square) or Conventional head shape (Oval)
The only difference between an isometric and conventional frame is the size of the SWEET SPOT.
The sweet spot is a specific area on the string bed of the racket (usually the center of the string bed). Hitting the sweet spot will give you maximum power.
Isometric frames have a larger sweet spot than conventional oval frames.
Conventional frames are practically non-existent nowadays and are replaced by the isometric frames.
5. Grip Size
Just like the weight of a racket, grip sizes also vary. They are usually found on the cone of the racket along with the racket's weight. The following are grip sizes (circumference in inches) that Yonex and Victor follows:
G1: 4 in
G2: 3.75 in
G3: 3.5 in
G4: 3.25 in
G5: 3 in
G6: 2.75 in
The grip size for every player is different as it is dependent on their personal preference. Smaller grip sizes will allow for more finger power/wrist action to be used whereas a bigger grip size will utilize more of the arm.
Most rackets are available in G5 and G4, with bigger grip sizes G3 and G2 available in European countries. If you don't know which size to get, it is recommended that you get the smallest grip size available to you as you can always add on an over grip to make it bigger if necessary.
6. Singles or Doubles
Another aspect you may want to consider is the type of game that you play. For example, if you are mostly a singles player, you would want to lean towards more head heavy rackets. Since singles is not as fast paced as doubles, you have more time to react to shots and therefore the extra weight of the head would not be a problem.
For those of you who mostly play doubles, an even balanced racket or head light racket would be preferred. This will allow you to keep up with the fast paced rallies in doubles.
7. Take home message
This guide was meant to be used as a reference for people who are new to badminton or for those with limited knowledge on the sport. Keep in mind that the things mentioned in this guide are only guidelines. You may see people doing completely the opposite of what was mentioned in this guide and that is fine because everyone has their own personal preference. You can use whichever racket you like as long as you are comfortable and it does not hinder your performance or cause you injury.
If you found this useful, keep reading in the next post to learn How to choose a Badminton String and String Tension.