In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the next piece of essential equipment, the racquet, and go through the important aspects to consider when deciding which type of racquet is right for you.
If you live in a place where Badminton is popular, it’s pretty easy to get your hands on a decent racquet to play with your friends and family, but while a Badminton racquet might look simple from a design perspective, there’s a lot more going on in the underlying technology than you might think.
When considering what is right for you, there are a plethora of factors that affect the quality of the racket, how it feels in your hand, and ultimately, how it affects your performance.
Before diving into detail, though, let’s have a brief look at how badminton has developed over the years and how racquet technology has evolved.
The game of Badminton, and the equipment it uses, have changed a lot over the years. Racquets, for example, have evolved from wooden frames to carbon fiber.
The game itself originated in the late 19th century in Gloucestershire, England, based on the game of “battledore”, the European version of an ancient Chinese game whose name translates to “shuttlecock”. Having covered the shuttlecock in Article 1, let’s take a similar deep dive on the racquet.
Early Badminton racquets were of wooden construction, which made them quite heavy to use, especially in the later stages of a match. Clearly, this affects a player’s speed on the court and hence, their overall performance.
In the 20th century, as the popularity of the sport grew and technology advanced, heavy wood was replaced by much lighter and thinner aluminum frames. On the back of developments in the aerospace industry, carbon fiber composite materials found their way into Badminton racquets in more recent years, making them lighter still.
As well as the materials used to construct the racquet, different kinds of head shapes were tried. Oval is still the most commonly used shape, but isometric shapes like a diamond are considered by some as more efficient because of its aerodynamic properties.
Let’s not forget the role of the strings, which is another key development in the technology of the sport. As in tennis, the first strings were made from animal gut, and while natural gut strings are still used today, nylon is the more popular choice.
The final component in racquet anatomy is the handle, which includes the all-important grip. The first handles were, yes you’ve guessed it, made from wood. Players would simply wrap cloth around it to make it more comfortable and solid to grip. Nowadays, though, modern synthetic materials like elastic grips are used, as they provide the perfect grip and maximum comfort.
The key elements to focus on are the weight of the racquet, its balance point, string tension and hand grip. Whether you’re a professional or not, understanding these four components is vital to your performance and growth as a player.
This is important to your overall speed and agility. Playing with a racquet that is too heavy will hinder you. Imagine trying to hit the shuttle across the net with an extremely heavy racquet. You might have the skills, but if the weight of the racquet impacts your reflexes, you are giving an advantage to your opponent.
How do you know whether a racquet is heavy or light? Racquet weights are denoted by ‘’U’’. The smaller the number, the heavier the racquet, as follows:
So what is the perfect weight for you? The ideal weight for most players is around 80g-100g. However, singles players tend to prefer heavier racquets because they provide extra stability. Doubles players, on the other hand, tend to choose lighter racquets for their speed, which is crucial in doubles. As an example, one of the prominent lightweight rackets is the Yonex Arcsaber FB Racquet (73 gms).
The tension of the strings plays a key role in the delivery of your shot. Tension is also affected by local weather conditions, so take into account the ambient temperature and humidity you are likely to encounter where you play. More on this later.
There are two types of string tensions: stiff and flexible, with tension measured in the range from 0.60mm to 0.74mm. The strings themselves fall into two categories: thick and thin, with advanced players typically preferring thicker strings.
As a guide, here are some of the best Yonex strings for different types of player:
Different brands also have their own string thicknesses. Victor strings in the VBS range, for example, are available in 0.633mm, 0.66mm, 0.68mm, and 0.70mm.
Hardness and softness is another factor in string choice, affecting the strength of the string. Harder strings give you more propulsion, whereas softer strings give you better control.
Interestingly, the color of a string can also affect its quality, even if the brand and category is the same. For example, the BG80 white and yellow have a different feel due to the coating on the strings and dye pigmentations. As you can see, there is more to strings than meets the eye.
There are also variations in one racquet. Hybrid strings, for example, have thicker and rougher main strings (vertical), but thinner cross strings (horizontal). The advantage of hybrid strings is greater durability.
The middle of the racquet face is the sweet spot. You know that feeling, when you catch the shuttle in just the right zone on the racquet, giving you instant feedback that you achieved maximum power. In general, advanced players prefer smaller sweet spots, reflecting a higher degree of fine-tuning in their technique. Conversely, beginners find they use a larger area until they add more finesse to their game.
How do you check string tension? You can easily check the tension of the strings by pressing your palm against it and feeling how far it moves. Just like a trampoline, how far it stretches, and how fast it comes back will give you an indication of how tight or slack your strings are.
Earlier, we mentioned the impact of weather conditions on string tension. As a guide, a person playing in the tropics will need higher racket tensions. This is because strings tend to expand in the heat.
The balance point of a racquet is a commonly used way to categorize it. Balance point is important because it shows where most of the weight of the racket is.
To determine the balance point, place a finger slightly below the head of the racket, and whichever way it tilts is the balance point. To interpret this, there are there are three basic categories:
As the name suggests, head-heavy balance rackets are the ones with more weight towards the head of the racket. If you are someone who likes to play a powerful game from the back of the court, this will suit you.
Example: Yonex Voltric 0.1DG Badminton Racket, Li Ning Aeronaut 9000i, Victor Thruster HMR Light
These racquets have less weight on the head, so are easier to control. So, if you are someone who prefers speed over stability, this is ideal for you, as you can quickly and easily switch the position of the head to adapt to different situations.
Example: Yonex Nanoray, Victor Auraspeed 10
Here, the head of the racquet is evenly balanced. If you are a beginner, or someone who is still trying to find your style, this kind of racquet is ideal for you.
Example: Yonex Arcsaber, Li-Ning TecTonic 7, Victor DriveX 9X B
In terms of hand grip, there are two factors affecting your decision: Type and size.
The grip of the racket is crucial. If it’s not comfortable, it’s going to get in the way of your technique. There are two types of grips in the market: Towel and synthetic.Towel grips are soft and are more comfortable on the hands. The downside is that they also need to be changed frequently.
Synthetic grips have poorer sweat absorption properties, which makes them less comfortable. On the plus side, you don’t need to change them as frequently.
Grips come in four sizes. Players generally prefer the larger sizes, as they offer a tighter grip, which produces a more powerful shot. Players who use deception as part of their game, however, might prefer a smaller grip.
Here is the list for all the sizes in badminton grips:
|G5||Extra small grip||83mm|
|G1||Extra large grip||95mm|
These four major factors: weight, tension, balance point and hand grip, are crucial in choosing the right racquet. Hopefully, this article has given you some insight into the many factors to consider when choosing a racquet, taking into account your style, playing conditions and your goals in the sport. Like Harry Potter’s wand, every person will have an ideal racquet to suit their talents, preferences and playing style. We hope yours finds you! Happy Smashing!