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How to choose a Badminton Racket

Posted by Yumo Pro Shop on

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 the rackets and what they mean.

A common mistake made by most people is that they use the racket that their favourite badminton player uses.

Different people have different styles of playing badminton. Some rackets may be suitable for some but not for others.

Use a racket that works to your strengths!

Before you choose your own badminton racket, ask yourself whether you want to play a game of POWER or CONTROL (i.e. using a power racket or control racket)

You cannot have both power and control in one racket. However, you can choose to have a balance of both.

badminton racket parts

 

The picture above shows the names of the different parts of a racket.

How do you know whether a badminton racket is good?

When choosing your badminton racket in a shop, you can do a few simple things to test the quality of the racket.

Stiffness/Flexibility

badminton racket flexibility

 

Hold both ends of the racket and bend it slightly -please be gentle when you're in the shop :) If the racket is easily bent, it has a flexible shaft or otherwise, a stiff shaft.

Accuracy in Placing Shots

badminton racket bending twisting

 

Hold the racket handle with one hand and use your other hand to twist the head of the racket sideways. If the head of the racket does not twist, it's perfect for shot placement. Flight direction is more certain when the racket head does not twist easily.

Things to Consider When Choosing Your Own Badminton Racket

  1. Weight
  2. Balance Point
  3. Stiffness of Shaft
  4. Shape of the Frame

1. Weight

With today's technology, a good badminton racket should weigh 85 -92g (without the string and grip).

A heavy racket is considered a power racket. Heavier rackets accumulate more momentum during your badminton swing, hence giving you more power.

The downside is that a heavier badminton racket is harder to control. It's also less comfortable handling a heavy racket.

Therefore, if you want to play a game of control, lighter rackets will be perfect for you.

Sometimes, the weight of a racket is classified into a few categories, namely:

2U: 90-94g
3U: 85-89g
4U: 80-84g
5U: 75-79g

2U is the heaviest and 5U is the lightest.

3U and 4U are common in the market, whereas 2U and 5U are rare.

The weights described above do not include the weight of the badminton string and the grip.

Therefore, when you're testing a badminton racket in a shop, take into account that the racket will be heavier after you string it and add a replacement grip.

2. Balance Point

This is the point on the badminton shaft that indicates the CENTER of the badminton racket.

 

badminton racket balance point

 

The picture above is a simple test to find out about the balance point of your racket.

Head Heavy Balance Badminton Rackets:

The majority of pro rackets available are head heavy balance, because that is what helps to give extra power from the back of the court for smashing and clearing. You should go for a head heavy racket IF: You have the basic speed of foot (and arm) and you have plenty of control mid and front court. You just want the power to KILL !
Within the "Head category, a stiff frame would suit the more accomplished (or physically stronger) player by providing more control. A medium or flexible frame would help to provide more power to those that need it.

Head Light Balance Badminton Rackets:

These rackets are great if you play a lot of doubles and like the extra speed that a head light racket gives you. Lets face it most people play doubles or mixed at club level. The extra speed of manueuverability in the front and mid court allows for great control and defence. You do lose a little bit from the back of the court, but it depends what is important to you...
Within the "Head-Light" category, a stiff frame would suit the more accomplished (or physically stronger) player by providing more control. A medium or flexible frame would help to provide more power to those that need it.

EVEN Balance Badminton Rackets:

If you play both singles and doubles, have an all round game (or wish to develop one), then you shuld go for an evenly balanced racket. There is enough weight in the head to help in smashing and clearing from the back of the court and enough weight in the handle to help move the racket around quickly for fast front and mid court play. This category is also good if you suffer from tennis elbow, or any kind of arm problems. this is because there is no strong pull from the head, yet enough weight in the head to ensure you do not try and smash too quickly with a bent arm!
Within the "Evenly-Balanced" category, a stiff frame would suit the more accomplished (or physically stronger) player by providing more control. A medium or flexible frame would help to provide more power to those that need it.

You can adjust the balance point of your racket to suit your playing style even after you have purchased the racket.

If you prefer more control

You may add more weight on the handle:

  • Wrap 2 badminton grips
  • Wrap a heavier badminton grip
  • Use lighter/thinner badminton string

If you prefer more power

You may add more weight on the racket head:

  • Wrap a lightweight badminton grip

After making some weight adjustments to your racket, you can always use the same test above to identify the balance point of the racket.

In order to create a more suitable racket for yourself, read more on badminton strings and badminton grips.

3. Stiffness of Shaft

When you're choosing a badminton racket, you have a choice between a flexible or stiff racket shaft.

A flexible shaft can bend easily, whereas a stiff shaft can hardly bend.

Before buying a baminton racket, pay attention to the stiffness of your racket. You can adjust the weight and balance point of a racket after the purchase. But the stiffness of the racket is fixed.

However, a racket shaft, like all other equipments, will 'season'. This means that over time, it'll become less stiff to a certain extent.

The table below tells you whether a stiff or flexible shaft suits your playing style.

Flexible Shaft

Repulsion: Good
A flexible shaft offers good repulsion of the shuttlecock in a badminton swing. This is because a flexible shaft bends slightly towards the back and stores energy during your swing motion.

 

As the shuttle comes into contact with the string bed of the racket, the stored energy will be released and then transferred to the shuttlecock.

Therefore the holder of the racket does not have to exert too much strength for badminton shots such as badminton clears from baseline to baseline.

Shuttlecock Placement: Less Accurate
Since the shaft of the racket is flexible and easily bent, you'll find it slightly difficult to do perfect shot placement. As the shuttle lands on the string bed of the racket, repulsion will cause the head of the racket to vibrate, leading to uncertainty in the flight direction of the shuttlecock.

 

Therefore it's difficult to control where you want the shuttlecock to land with a flexible shaft racket.

Suitable for: Stroke players, defensive players, defending smashes.
Stroke players are also defensive players. Their style of playing is more towards performing a series of badminton lobs and badminton drop shots. They smash ONLY when they have a clear chance. Their winning strategy is to force their players into errors via long rallies.

 

Flexible shaft rackets require less strength to generate power. Therefore, stroke/defensive players do not have to worry about exerting much strength in their swing motion when doing clears and drop shots. Instead, they're able to focus on playing their defensive game.

Flexible rackets are also good for defending smashes. When defending powerful badminton smashes, a soft touch with a flexible racket is able to return the shuttle to your opponent easily (repulsion).

Level: Beginner
Flexible rackets are suitable for beginners. This is because you don't have to exert a lot of strength in doing strong badminton shots. Hitting it from baseline to baseline also wouldn't be much of a problem.

 

Since not much strength is needed, beginners don't have to worry about failing to hit the shuttle far enough, rather, they can concentrate on perfect technique.

Disadvantage
Although flexible rackets offer good power (repulsion), it lacks the speed in returning shots.

 

As the shuttle lands on the string bed, repulsion takes place (the shaft will bend backwards then forward before the shuttle is returned). In other words, the shuttle stays on the string bed for a longer period of time before it's returned.

 

Stiff Shaft 

Repulsion: Little or None
A stiff shaft offers little or no repulsion. The shuttle will bounce off immediately after it comes into contact with the string bed of the racket.

 

With less repulsion, shots are less powerful. This means that the holder of the badminton racket will have to swing harder in order to generate more power.

Shuttlecock Placement: Accurate
A stiff shaft is excellent for accurate shuttlecock placement.

 

Unlike a flexible racket shaft, a stiff racket does not bend much. When the shuttle hits the string bed of the racket, it will NOT vibrate and cause uncertainty to the flight direction of the shuttlecock.

Suitable for: Fast Attacks, Deceptions, Net kill
Badminton is a game of speed. Flexible shafts offer you power but lack the speed in executing a badminton shot. With a stiff shaft, you are sacrificing power for speed in returning the shuttle.

 

Since the shuttle bounces off the string bed of a stiff racket immediately, the shuttle will be returned FAST. With a stiff racket head, it's more about using your wrist power rather than a swing motion. The power of your wrist will be completely transferred to the shuttle.

Advanced badminton skills such as fast attacks (overhead smash) and deceptions require fast executions and are usually performed via a quick flick of your wrist.

Many top badminton players today use stiff shaft rackets to inject pace and power into the shuttle. They return the shuttle so quickly that their opponents are usually not ready to defend those shots.

Level: Intermediate or Advanced
A stiff racket head is for badminton players who would like to perform the advanced skills of badminton. Since stiff rackets don't offer much repulsion, you'll have to assert more strength into your swing to generate more power.

 

I'm not saying that beginners don't have the ability to produce powerful shots. But since flexible shafts generate more power, it requires less strength in a swing. Beginners should use this opportunity to master the correct techniques, rather than focussing on exerting strength.

If you're a beginner using a stiff badminton racket, you'll find yourself concentrating on exerting sufficient strength into your swing, rather than concentrating on correct techniques.

Intermediate or advanced players who are very familiar with correct badminton techniques can consider switching to a stiff racket to try out more advanced skills.

Disadvantage: Requires stronger swings or quick wrist action
In order to maximise your performance with a stiff racket, you'll need to have good technique for stroking to generate sufficient strength in your swing motion.

 

With a stiff racket, the strength in your swing motion will not be fully transferred to the shuttle when it hits the string bed (no repulsion).

Besides, using stiff rackets are more about utilising your wrist action to produce speed and power. Unlike a swing motion, the power from the flick of your wrist will be fully transferred to the shuttle.

Therefore, you must possess good technique for badminton strokes and able to make use of your wrist action for power and better performance.

 

4. Shape of the Frame

When buying a badminton racket, choose between an isometric (squarish) frame and a conventional (oval) frame.

The only difference between an isometric and conventional frame is the SWEET SPOT.

The sweet spot is a specific area on the string bed of the racket (usually the center of the string bed). A shuttlecock will only be hit excellently if it lands on the sweet spot of the string bed.

Isometric Frames

badminton racket isometric frame

 

Has a larger sweet spot. Therefore there's a much higher chance that you'll perform more quality shots.

Conventional Frames

badminton racket conventional frame

 

Has a smaller sweet spot. However if the shuttle lands on the sweet spot, it would be a veryhigh quality shot.

Conventional frames are rarely present in the marketplace today because most people prefer isometric shaped rackets.


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2 comments

  • Thank you for such an excellent and accurate article. I learned a lot from it even though I grew up in a Badminton-rich environment.

    Azhar

    Azhar on
  • Usually I use a heavier badminton racket and I’ve never tried a lighter one so I didn’t know that the heavier ones were harder to control. Control is something I want to improve on in my game. Maybe it is time to go buy a new superlight racket so that I can control it more. Do you recommend moving up gradually to the lightest one or just getting the 5U automatically?
    http://www.badmintonwarehouse.com/Super-Light-Badminton-Racket-s/248.htm

    Patricia Anderson on

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