Do you know how to choose the right badminton racket for you?

by Johnny Jacks

In addition to the shuttlecock, the racket is one of the most crucial pieces of equipment for badminton players. Rackets can either enhance or impede your inherent power, making the selection of the right badminton racket a vital consideration.

Choosing a suitable racket is no simple task, but by understanding a few key parameters, you can find the right one for you. Whether you’re a novice or a seasoned player, these factors are essential for making an informed choice:

1. Racket Weight

Racket weight is typically denoted by the letter U. Lower U values indicate heavier rackets. An ideal badminton racket usually weighs between 80g and 100g.

  • 6U (F): 70 – 74g
  • 5U: 75 – 79g
  • 4U: 80 – 84g
  • 3U: 85 – 89g
  • 2U: 90 – 94g
  • 1U: 95 – 99g

For beginners, a lighter 3U racket is advisable, as overly heavy rackets can be challenging to handle when you’re not accustomed to power distribution during shots. However, choosing an excessively light racket can hinder muscle development needed for badminton play. Singles players often opt for slightly heavier 3U rackets for stability, while doubles players should consider 4U rackets for quicker reactions to opponents’ shots. Lighter rackets also reduce wrist and shoulder strain, minimizing the risk of injury.

2. Racket Balance

Apart from weight, badminton rackets are also categorized based on their balance point, often referred to as the gravity set point. There are three primary types of badminton rackets: head-heavy, balanced, and head-light.

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You can determine the type of racket by gently placing a finger in the center of the shaft and observing how the racket tilts. If the racket head points downward, it is a head-heavy racket. Conversely, if the racket head points upward, it is a head-light racket. If the racket lies flat, it falls into the balanced category.

The balance of the racket holds significance when deciding on a badminton racket purchase.

The balance of the racket holds significance when deciding on a badminton racket purchase.

Head-Heavy Racket

A head-heavy racket, often referred to as an offensive racket, places the majority of its weight in the head. This design offers a distinct advantage in smashes, as the head’s weight adds power to these shots. Additionally, head-heavy rackets excel in generating long strokes during back-and-forth swings. However, they come with a drawback—limited defensive capabilities.

Due to the substantial weight in the racket’s head, reaction times to opponent’s shots may be slower. The weight distribution can also exert pressure on your wrists when executing crosses or tackles.

Head-Light Racket

A head-light racket, also known as a defensive racket, features a relatively lighter head. This design enables quicker and more effortless cross movements. Head-light rackets are often favored in doubles play, where rapid reactions to opponent smashes are crucial. They offer speed advantages, allowing precise net play. However, they tend to lack power when executing smashes.

Balance Racket

The balance racket combines characteristics of both head-heavy and head-light rackets. This versatility makes them a well-rounded choice, offering the power needed for smashes and the speed required for effective blocking. If you’re uncertain about which racket to select, a balance racket can be an ideal choice, as it supports both offensive and defensive playstyles.

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3. String Tension

You can assess string tension by pressing your palm against the strings and observing the depth of indentation. The optimal string tension is achieved when the strings depress only 1mm upon pressure.

If you find yourself exerting excessive force on the shuttlecock, consider increasing string tension. For beginners, a string tension of 22 – 23lb is typically more suitable. Keep in mind that standard string tension may vary by region due to temperature’s influence on string tension.

Optimal string tension will assist you in your shots.

Optimal string tension will assist you in your shots.

4. Racquet Flexibility

The shaft’s flexibility is another crucial factor to contemplate when selecting a badminton racket. Your choice should align with the speed of your wrist and arm movements.

Racket with a Stiff Body

Rackets with stiff bodies swiftly regain their original shape after bending. They are ideal for individuals with rapid and forceful wrist or arm motions, often professional athletes or those with advanced playing techniques.

Racket with a Flexible Body

In contrast, rackets with flexible bodies take longer to return to their natural shape after bending. These rackets suit individuals with slow and smooth wrist or arm movements. Therefore, if you’re a beginner, consider opting for a badminton racket with a flexible body.

5. Handle type and size

Grip of the handle is also considered one of the points to consider when choosing to buy a racquet. There are two factors that affect the grip of a racket, namely the type and size of the handle.

Handle type

Currently, there are two types of handles that you often encounter: towel handles and synthetic plastic wire handles. Towel handles are usually softer and absorb sweat better.

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However, they can be a breeding ground for bacteria and mold, so you’ll need to change your towel wraps fairly often. Synthetic wraps are usually smooth and less messy. However, this type of rope is very poor in sweat absorption, so it can make you uncomfortable.

The synthetic resin grip is more commonly used.

The synthetic resin grip is more commonly used.

Handle Type and Size

The grip of the handle is a crucial consideration when selecting a racket, with two key factors to assess: handle type and size.

Handle Type

Presently, you’ll come across two common handle types: towel handles and synthetic plastic grips. Towel handles are typically softer and offer better sweat absorption. However, they can become breeding grounds for bacteria and mold, necessitating regular towel wrap replacements. Synthetic grips are generally smoother and less prone to messiness but are not as effective at absorbing sweat, potentially causing discomfort.

Handle Size

Handle size is denoted by the letter G and typically comes in six types (ranging from G1 to G6). Your choice should align with the size of your hand to ensure a comfortable grip. Larger handles often provide a firmer hold, enhancing hand strength. Conversely, players who prefer strategic finesse may opt for rackets with smaller handles, as they offer greater flexibility.

The racket is a fundamental component of badminton play, so careful consideration in selecting the right one is essential. Familiarizing yourself with these parameters and essentials will assist you in making an informed choice tailored to your needs.

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