In the UK most racquets arrive pre-strung, with set grip thickness and type, depending on the manufacturer and the price of the racquet. This may be beneficial for a beginner or inexperienced intermediate level player, however, there is always a point with any player that they begin asking questions about their racquet, string types and tension because they wish to improve and consider that a restring may help them.
Understand your Playing Style!
When analysing our own game, it can be hard to recognise where we need to improve and how to do it without a coach's keen eye. Having the right racquet, clothing and footwear is great, but if we have the wrong strings or tension, then we make everything so much harder when playing. However, if we really think about our game, we can start to identify which guidelines may help with certain issues, so ask yourself the following.....
Do you mostly play Singles or Doubles?
Do you mostly play Men's, Ladies', Mixed?
Do you smash, clear or dropshot more often?
Do you find yourself more at the front of the court or the back?
Do you often hit out the back of the court, get average distance, or struggle to hit to the back?
Do you mainly play aggressively, always attacking, do you mainly defend, or a good mix?
When smashing, how hard do you hit compared to other players and how accurate is it?
When clearing, do you reliably clear to the back/corners or do you often hit mid-court?
When playing at the net, do you struggle to place the shuttle exactly where you want it?
Which shots you play, where those shots go and how hard you can hit can all be helped or hindered by your racquet, your string type and string tension. So understanding your playing style will help you to understand your racquet and string needs.
First and most importantly, RACQUET CHOICE IS PURELY PERSONAL, there is no right or wrong, it is down to the preferences of the individual player, however, these suggestions may help anyone with not sure on what to look for.
Singles players tend to need to hit acute angles with their racquets, in order to out flank their opponent. To this end, a racquet with a more flexible shaft will help whip the head around to flick the shuttle wider or at a steeper angle. A more flexible shaft will bend and unbend much more easily, ensuring that players will get the racquet to bend and unbend to the required level. However, a more explosive, aggressive, fast swing-speed player using a more flexible frame would connect with the shuttle prematurely, before the shaft unbends and is still bent backwards, resulting in a loss of control and power.
Doubles players usually need less of an angle, but a faster connection with the shuttle, so a stiffer shaft is preferred. A stiffer shaft will bend and then unbend very quickly, ensuring the explosive swing-speed player has the maximum power and control possible. By comparison, a slower swing-speed player would not be able to use the advantage of a stiff shaft as the shaft would not bend or unbend enough, resulting in a loss of power.
Head-Heavy badminton racquets are very popular with players who like to play a powerful game from the back of the court, providing them with extra mass in the head, which can increase the power of their clears and smashes. As these types of shots are integral to badminton rallies, players who are looking to ensure they can consistently produce lengthy clears should consider purchasing a Head-Heavy racquet.
Even-Balance racquets, as you may suspect, are designed to provide a middle ground between Head-Heavy and Head-Light racquets, and attempt to offer the advantages of both, giving you enough power from the back and enough control + manoeuvrability at the front. If you have no preference between playing at the net and playing at the back, or are unsure, then an Even-Balance racquet is the best choice, as the racquet will be suitable for all types of shots. The majority of regular players now carry racquets for different scenarios, so if you are looking to start playing, then an Even-Balance racquet will help you develop an all-round game. Additionally, if you are a more advanced player or play singles and doubles frequently, then you may also consider purchasing an even-balance racquet to give you something that will help in every scenario.
Head-Light badminton racquets, by comparison, are far more suitable for the majority of club players, as doubles is a far more popular game type than singles. The advantage of using a head-light racquet is that the head and frame have far less mass and are therefore much easier to manipulate and swing. This is crucial when defending against opposing smashes, as you will need to react as quickly as possible to return the smash. By the same principle, Head-Light racquets are also much more desirable when playing shots at the net, particularly if you look to finish off rallies at the front of the court. If you prefer to play driving, fast and attacking badminton when playing doubles, or are a singles player who has excellent technique and swing speed, you should seriously consider a Head-Light racquet.
Most racquets have their total weight printed on the frame, but there are weight classes. The weight is denoted by "U"; the smaller the number, the heavier the weight. For example, 3U (85-89g) is heavier than 4U (80-84g). Singles players tend to opt for heavier racquets (3U) as they will provide more overall mass (without affecting the balance), ensuring that the racquet offers more stability at the cost of a little speed. Doubles players lean more towards the lighter 4U as this will provide more speed to your game, allowing you to react much quicker at the net and against opposing smashes.
The grip size is denoted by "G"; the smaller the number, the larger the handle size. Yonex racquets come in G4 as standard, whereas Victor racquets come in G5 as standard so have a thinner handle. All racquets come with a grip already in place, but some players prefer towelling grips, perforated grips, ribbed grips, or simply just thicker grips.
Racquet string tension is measured in lbs for a Badminton Racket, denoted by "x lb to y lb"; the minimum to the maximum stringing tension recommended (measured in Kgs for a Tennis Racket). We will cover string tension in more detail on the STRINGS page, but a very quick rule of thumb is the lower the tension, the more power the racquet has, the higher the tension, the more accurate the racquet is. The aim of getting your racquet strung correctly is to find the middle ground where your playing style benefits from both power and control.