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How to Choose a Badminton Racket

How to Choose a Badminton Racket

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 do 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:

  1. Overall Weight
  2. Balance
  3. Flex
  4. Head shape
  5. Grip Size
  6. Singles or Doubles
  7. 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:

U: 95-99g
2U
: 90-94g
3U: 85-89g
4U: 80-84g
5U: 75-79g
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!

 

2. Balance

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 wrist when hitting quick drives and defensive blocks. 

View our popular Head Heavy Badminton Rackets!

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.

View our popular Head Light Badminton Rackets!

 

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.

View our popular Even Balanced Badminton Rackets!



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
    OR
  • 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 contribute any extra 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.

        Flexible Shaft

        ADVANTAGES

        -a flexible shaft will give the player easy access to power without exerting much strength (little energy needed to bend the shaft)

        -good for beginners as they can use this to practice on their technique since they won't have to focus on generating enough power for their shots

        -can easily defend smashes since you have little time to put strength into your shot

        DISADVANTAGES

         

        -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

         

        Stiff Shaft 

        ADVANTAGES

         

        -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 

         

        DISADVANTAGES

         

        -a stiff shaft will require a stronger swing and good technique in order to generate power

        -requires good use of wrist action

        -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-existant 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.  And also because you are limited by how much you can decrease the grip size.

         

        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.

        Make sure you follow Tommy.Yumo on Instagram for the latest badminton tips, news, and equipment!

        How to choose a Badminton String and String Tension

        How to choose a Badminton String and String Tension

        Before you choose a badminton string, here are some basic facts and terminology you should familiarize yourself with:
        • All strings stretch, like elastic, and therefore your strings will begin to lose tension (known as "tension creep") starting from the day it is strung.

        • Every racket has a “sweet spot.” This is an area on the string bed which will give you the most power.

        • Beginners lack the technique and is more likely to mis-hit the shuttle on the wrong part of the string bed, therefore it is recommended that they use a lower tension because the lower the tension, the bigger the sweet spot.

        • A higher tension will provide more power and control only if you can consistently hit the sweet spot. The downside is that the strings will break more easily if a mis-hit occurs because of how tight the strings are being stretched.

        • As a player becomes more consistent and has good technique, they will benefit more from a higher tension because the shuttle will travel off the string bed faster, giving them control of the shuttle.


        String tension relating to power and control

        Much of the power in a badminton shot comes from the string. Thus, it is very important to know how string tension can affect your game.  By adjusting the string tension, you can adjust the amount of power or control that you get from any string, thick or thin. 

         

        Playing with a lower tension (18-23lb)

        A lower tension means:

        -a softer (looser) string bed and thus less feeling of the shuttle which results in less control and placement

        -the racket will have a softer string bed which means that there is more "bounce/repulsion" from the strings and therefore the player can easily get power from the racket without using much strength

        -a larger sweet spot that is more forgiving and requires less accurate strokes to generate power

        -the strings are more durable and less prone to breakage from off-center miss hits at the sides of the string bed

         Conclusion:  Lower tensions are more suited for beginners who do not have good hitting technique and require more power in their game.

         

        Playing with a higher tension (24-30lb)

        A higher tension means:

        -a harder (tighter) string bed and thus more feeling of the shuttle which allows for more control and placement 

        -the player will need to be more accurate and consistent with their strokes in order to generate power due to the smaller sweet spot

        -the racket will also have a harder (tighter) string bed which means that there is less "bounce/repulsion" from the strings and therefore the player will need to input more strength to generate power

        -the strings are less durable and more prone to breakage from off-center miss-hits at the sides of the string bed

        Conclusion:  Higher tensions are more suited for advanced players who have good hitting technique and require more control in their game.

         

        Here is a table that summarizes the main points:

        String tension

        Power

        Control

        Durability

        Feel

        Vibration

           Low

        Easy

        Decrease

         Increase

         Decrease

          Decrease

           High

        Hard

        Increase

          Decrease

        Increase

          Increase

         

         

        As you may have noticed, there is a recommended string tension on every racket.  They usually have a few different ranges depending on the racket itself, 17-22, 20-27, etc...  This recommendation is there to ensure that the racket does not break when stringing.  People who choose to go over the limit may subject their racket to damage under the immense pressure from the high tension of the strings.  Professional players often string way outside the recommendation at 30lbs+ .  These players are sponsored and do not have to pay for their rackets if it breaks so unless you are sponsored, I would not recommend stringing outside the recommended tension and to do so at your own discretion.  The recommended tension is also there for warranty purposes.  Stringing outside the range will void the warranty.

        A common mistake most people make is to string at too high of a tension because of their ego.  Since it is harder to generate power at high tensions, the player will often use excessive force in order to generate power and may result in an injury to the shoulder or they may develop tennis elbow.

        Here is a suggestion for string tension for different levels of players:

        • Beginner :  17lbs-20lbs
        • Intermediate:  20lbs-24lbs 
        • Advanced:  24lbs-27lbs
        • Professional/International:  27lbs – 30lbs+

         

        For those that play with plastic shuttles, it is recommended to lower your tension by 1-2lbs.  A plastic shuttle generally requires more effort to clear to the baseline because they are heavier and fly differently compared to feather shuttles.  Lowering the string tension will give you the extra power that you need to help you with clears.

        Here is our list of strings that are most often requested by customers with the top of the list being most popular:

        Strings for Power
        BG80
        BG66 Ultimax
        BG80 Power
        NBG98
        BG Aerosonic

        Strings for Durability
        BG65 (Great for beginners)
        BG65 Titanium
        NBG95

        Strings for Control
        NBG99
        BG Aerobite

        It is recommended for beginners to use thicker strings since thinner strings are easier to break from mis-hits.

        To choose a badminton string, you should take note of your playing style as different strings will help with certain aspects of the game.

         

        If you found this useful, read our post on How to Choose a Badminton Racket

         

         Different strings are made with different materials that give them their unique characteristics.  
        Here are the string technologies/material and their description:

        Cup-Stack Carbon Nanotube:
        Advanced construction minimizes notching of the string at intersections for greater durability and high repulsion power.


        Vectran
        The Vectran high-strength and high-elasticity spiral winding prolongs durability and racket stringing tension.


        Hydro Titanium
        Compound titanium hydride coating provides not only a sharp feel at impact but increased durability.


        MultiFilament
        YONEX MultiFilament featuers a super-fine diameter for high durability and a soft feel on impact.

        where to buy badminton strings