The racket is your most important badminton equipment. The type of racket you choose should match your playing ability.
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.
Here are some things to consider when it comes to choosing the most suitable racket for yourself.
- Weight of the racket
- Head shape
- Grip Size
- String tension
- Singles or Doubles
- Weight of the racket
The weight of the racket is usually denoted by “U”; the smaller the number, the heavier the weight of the badminton racket. When comparing the weight of two rackets, the heavier one will give you more power. The downside is that a heavier badminton racket is harder to maneuver and causes more fatigue on the arm/shoulder. A good badminton racket usually weighs around 80g to 100g.
Racket weights can be categorized into several categories: The following are weights that Yonex and Victor follows:
- 6U (F): 70-74g
- 5U: 75-79g
- 4U: 80-84g
- 3U: 85-89g
- 2U: 90-94g
- 1U: 95-100g
The following are weights that Li-Ning follows:
- W1: Under 80g
- W2: 81-84g
- W3: 85-89g
- W4: Over 90g
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 work out the wrist and forearm muscles. Some training rackets can even weigh over 100g!
What is the ideal Badminton Racket weight based on your level?
Lightweight badminton rackets are highly recommended for beginners. They should weigh between 80g to 84g (4U) as such rackets are usually easier to control.
Lightweight rackets also allow for quick stroking speeds and recovery. You will be able to deliver quick serves and switch to different strokes easily. Lightweight rackets are also easier on the wrist and shoulders, reducing the chances of injuries.
- Balance Point
Apart from weight, rackets can be categorized by their balancing point, or where the weight of the racket is largely located. To determine the type of balance your racket has, place a finger just slightly below the head of the racket to see which way the racket tilts.
Badminton rackets have three types of balances. The balance of a racket can usually be found written somewhere on the shaft.
a.Head-Heavy Balance – For attacking playing style and more power
A head-heavy racket has more mass towards the head of the racket. These rackets can increase power in the strokes and are suitable for players who like to play a powerful game from the back of the court. This type of racket is especially useful for rallies as they can produce very lengthy clears so it's definitely a weapon for those whose game revolves around long exchanges.
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.
b.Head-Light Balance – For defensive playing style and more speed
A head-light racket, on the other hand, has less weight towards the head of the racket. Hence, it’s much easier to control and swing the racket and are popular among doubles player who needs to react quickly against opponents’ smashes. This sort of racket is much easier to manipulate and swing, thus reducing reaction time. It also offers a lot more speed at the net and allows you to kill a game in the front court.
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.
c.Even Balance – For both control and maneuverability
As the name suggests, an even balance racket is designed to provide the middle ground between a head-heavy and head-light balance racket. If you’re not sure what type of playing style you’re going for, an even balance racket is the most suitable in this instance. If you are just starting out in the game, then this racket will be the perfect one to start with. Once you have established your style of play, you can then transit to the Head-Heavy or Head-Light versions to improve your overall game.
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
- 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 racket’s 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.
1.A flexible shaft will give the player easy access to power without exerting much strength (little energy needed to bend the shaft)
2.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
3.can easily defend smashes since you have little time to put strength into your shot
1.less control of shuttle placement since the shaft is easily bent, leading to uncertainty in the flight direction of the shuttlecock.
2.return of shots are slower since the shuttle stays on the string bed for a longer time due to the flex of the shaft
3.low potential for power
1.return of shots are faster since the shuttle does not stay on the string bed as long due to stiff flex of shaft
2.more control of shuttle placement since the shaft is stiff and will give instant rebound of the shuttle
3.higher potential power
1.a stiff shaft will require a stronger swing and good technique in order to generate power
2.requires good use of wrist action
3.more suited for intermediate to advanced players
- 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.
- GRIP SIZE
There are two major factors that affect the grip of a racket, namely its type and size.
- Types of badminton grips
There are two types of badminton grips - towel and synthetic.
Towel grips are softer and good for absorbing sweat. However, this makes them prone to accumulating germs and bacteria. As such, towel grips will require frequent replacement compared to synthetic grips.
On the other hand, synthetic grips are slick and less messy. However, this makes them less comfortable due to its poor sweat absorption ability.
- Size of badminton grips
Most racket grips come in four sizes. Bigger grips are favored by players who prefer a tighter feel to generate more power. On the other hand, players that like to employ the use of deception in their games will prefer smaller grips as it allows for better maneuverability.
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 following are grip sizes (circumference in inches) that Li-Ning follows:
S1: 3.125 in
S2: 3.25 in
S3: 3.375 in
S4: 3.5 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.
- String Tension
A racket has a recommended tension that can be found on the cone
Test the tension of a racket by pressing your palm against the strings and see how far it sinks. A 1mm sunken depth of the strings is the ideal tension for most players.
If you tend to channel more force into your strokes, you will need a higher tension for your racket strings. For beginners, 22 – 23 lbs. is a good tension to start with.
- 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.
Single players usually use a slightly heavier racket such as 3U rackets to ensure stability while doubles players use 4U rackets for more speed allowing them to react quicker against their opponents.
Popular Badminton Racket Brands
You will be able to find these badminton rackets at most major sports retailers in Canada
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.