A badminton racket is a pivotal piece of kit for all players. Whether you own one or borrow one, it is impossible to play a game without it! Trying to find the right racket can be a very confusing and daunting experience for even the most experienced of players. Here, we will try and give you a bit of information to make this experience as hassle free as possible!
Choosing a Badminton Racket
The age old question of 'which racket is best for me?' has been asked by many a badminton player around the globe. Choosing one can be an important decision for any aspiring player looking to perfect their game. Rackets come in all different shapes and colours, and at vastly differing prices, and it is impossible to give a generic answer as to which is the best. A racket which suits one person may not suit another, and vice-versa, as we are all unique with particular playing styles and preferences.
There are a number of differences between badminton rackets. Slight variance in weight, balance, flexibility, grip size and string tension can all make a difference to the way a racket affects your game.
One of the key differences between badminton rackets is the material from which it is made. Nowadays they are made from a variety of different materials such as graphite, titanium, kevlar or carbon. Some make the racket 'stiffer' than others, and some will be more flexible. The weight is also particularly important. Some players will prefer a heavier racket, helping power shots, and others will prefer a lighter more manouverable racket making fast short movements much easier. Typically, decent badminton rackets weigh between 80 and 100 grams. The balance, or distribution, of this weight across the racket can also be a factor. Some people will prefer a 'head-heavy' racket, and others 'head-light'.
Badminton Racket String Tension
How tightly to have your racket strung is another subjective matter. Modern day badminton rackets can withstand tensions up to about 30 lbs, however most players would not have it anywhere near this tight. Typically, players have rackets strung at around 18-23 lbs, although some top professionals would be nearer the 30 lb mark. It is a common misconception that the tighter you have it strung, the more power you get. In fact the opposite is true! Lower tensions give you more power, whereas higher tensions give a far greater level of control over the shuttle. String tension is another example of personal preference, but as a rule of thumb something around the 21 lb mark is common for most amateur players.
A plethora of manufacturers exist, all proclaiming that they make the best racket. The truth is that the most important thing is the racket itself, rather than any brand name. That said, here is some information on a few of the most popular brands, to help you make a more informed choice:
Yonex Badminton Rackets
Based in Tokyo, Japan, Yonex have become the most well-known brand in badminton. They have been exclusive sponsor to the 'All England Championships' for the past 15 years, and also have a strong presence in sports such as tennis and golf. Upwards of 80% of professional badminton players, including Peter Gade, Taufik Hidyat and Lee Choong Wei, use Yonex equipment.
Based in the UK, Carlton have a very rich history in the sport. Carlton have been pioneers in badminton technology over the years, and can boast to be the first manufacturer to make all-metal rackets. Players such as Olympic silver medallist Nathan Robertson use Carlton equipment.
Based in Chicago, USA, Wilson are one of the biggest sport manufacturers in the world. They also have a very strong presence in other sports such as American football, baseball and tennis. Players such as former World Champion and current European Champion in mens doubles, Jonas Rasmussen use Wilson badminton equipment.
With a very rich history in tennis, Head are a relative newcomer to the badminton market. They are a popular brand and players such as England's Anthony Clark use their equipment.
The question - 'which racket is best for me?' - really is very subjective. Most lower end rackets are fairly all-covering, and will offer more forgiveness to the badminton beginner. With the more high-end products it really is a case of trial and error- but with vast rewards if you find the optimum racket which suits your game. There is a racket out there for everybody - its just a case of finding it!