How to choose a badminton racket

The badminton racket is very important to most players. It should feel right. Like an extension of your arm.

While the right racket won’t improve your game as much as improving your technique, it is still the most important piece of equipment in the game.

Having a racket that you love, will often increase your love for badminton as well.

So, how do you choose the right badminton racket for you? In this badminton racket guide, I’ll help you with just that.

What to consider before buying a badminton racket

Remember; it doesn’t matter how much work and marketing goes into a racket, it is not going to magically increase your badminton level. It can’t make up for a lack of technique.

That’s why it’s useful to ask yourself the following questions, before buying a badminton racket.

1. Do I need a new racket?

There are the obvious cases, where your current racket has broken or gotten so worn that it’s time for a new one.

In those cases: Yes, you need a new racket.

But if that’s not you, make sure you’re not letting marketing hype get you. 

I’m already repeating myself, but a more expensive racket does not necessarily mean a better racket for you. Only you can choose what’s the best badminton racket for you.

It’s true that the right badminton racket can improve your game, but not nearly as much as improving your badminton skill level.

2. What do I like and dislike about my current racket?

Your current racket is your point of reference for choosing a new one. That makes it important to figure out what you like and dislike about it.

Consider the following points:

  • Weight of the racket
  • Balance (head-heavy, balanced or head-light)
  • Flexibility of the shaft
  • Grip size

If you go for the most expensive top-of-the-line badminton racket, you are likely to get a stiff shaft. 

For most players, that is not ideal.

It requires a lot of technical skill to use a racket like that, which most players, if they’re honest with themselves, do not possess (I know I don’t… yet).

If you go for a racket like that, you might be hurting your game (and your wallet) more than you’re helping it.

A mid-priced racket does not mean a worse racket.

3. What skill do I want my racket to improve?

Ideally, you would want your racket to improve all of your badminton skills. But that is not really possible, unless you have a very low-quality racket to begin with.

For example, if you go for a head-heavy racket, you’ll improve your attacking power, but you’ll sacrifice some speed in your defence.

It’s important to answer this question to figure out if a change of rackets will actually help your game or not.

Some ideas for your list:

  • Power of overhead shots
  • Reaction speed in defense
  • Control
  • Speed

You know your own game the best, so consider both your strengths and weaknesses. Alternatively, ask your coach or fellow players, a second-hand view can be very useful.

4. What skill am I OK with getting slightly worse?

If you have decided you want to improve your defence by getting a head-light racket, you will also decrease the power of your overhead shots.

Of course, you can still make up for it by spending extra time practicing your attacking technique. 

Just make sure you consider questions 3 and 4 together, so you can make an informed decision.

Now that we’ve covered the most important questions, let’s get into actually choosing your new racket!

How to choose a badminton racket

Noone but YOU can choose the best badminton for yourself. 

I don’t care which professional player uses it or how many reviews you read online. The racket has to fit you, not anyone else.

Your body decides what’s best. It has to feel right.

And the single most reliable way to choose a badminton racket is by trying it out for yourself.

Test, test, test

Your needs are different from any other person’s. You have a unique playing style, experience, height, weight, strength and speed. 

I could make the list even longer, but you get the point.

Take other people’s advice with a grain of salt. While they probably have good intentions, they can’t provide the best advice.

You are unique.

That’s why testing is the most reliable way to find the best badminton racket.

Sometimes, you can tell even after a couple of swings that this is not the racket for you. That’s great information that will move you closer to your ideal racket.

Maybe it’s the weight, maybe it just feels off when you hit the shuttle. Or maybe it’s just right!

The only way to figure all this out is by trying many different rackets.

But how can you test out many different badminton rackets without buying them first?

Here are a few ways:

  • Ask your retailer for test rackets. This might not work, but it’s always worth a shot. Racket sellers that sell near a court are usually more inclined to agree to lend you rackets before buying.
  • Ask your coach for rackets. Your coach probably has a few rackets in his or her bag. Ask if you can try out a couple because you’re considering buying a new racket and wants to know what feels best.
  • Racket swap with friends. During your next badminton session, swap rackets with one of your friends. You can try their racket for half an hour or longer and then swap with another friend as soon as you can.
  • Racket swap with strangers. Guess what, most people are friendly. Many players have spare rackets, and if you approach them in a friendly way, they might be willing to lend or swap rackets with you for a session.

Once you find the right racket, you will know.

I really enjoyed Badminton Becky’s way of testing out new rackets. Check out her video here, where she manages to test out three Victor rackets: Auraspeed 90S, Hypernano X 900, and Jetspeed S Satsir L (none of which she owns) in a single session.

The specifics of badminton rackets – everything you need to know

Even though testing is the preferred way to choose a badminton racket, it’s important to know the different qualities of badminton rackets in general.

This way you can look at your current badminton racket and determine what you like about it. You will be able to use this information as a point of reference for future racket choices too. 

You will be able to pick and choose which aspects of your game you want to improve with your new racket.

Weight

Most modern badminton rackets weigh somewhere between 80 and 90 grams (3U or 4U). Here is a table of the badminton weight classes.

UWeight in grams
1U95-100
2U90-94,9
3U85-89,9
4U80-84,9
5U75-79,9

As you can see, it is possible to get slightly lighter and slightly heavier rackets than the 80-90 grams bracket, though most players don’t. It’s more usual to go slighter lighter, down to 5U.

Note: The ‘U’ can be slightly different depending on the racket manufacturer, but even so it’s fairly close.

Light vs heavy rackets – what’s better?

There are pros and cons to both, but it’s really all about preference.

Light rackets are easy to maneuver quickly. This makes it easy to react to fast shots or change the pace of the game. The downside is that you can’t generate as much power as with a slightly heavier racket.

Heavy rackets are easy to generate power with. That can make it more difficult for your opponents to reach your shots. The downside is that they are more difficult to maneuver, which makes it slightly more difficult to react to shots and change the pace of the game.

So what’s better?

Well, nothing is really better. It depends on your preference and playing style. 

And remember: the differences are slight.

You will still be able to react to shots even if your racket is slightly heavier, and you’ll still be able to generate power with a lighter racket.

Choose what feels best for you.

Balance

A badminton racket can have three different balances; head-light, head-heavy, or evenly-balanced.

There are pros and cons to all the different balances.

Head-light

With head-light rackets, more weight is distributed into the handle of the badminton racket than the head.

This makes the racket very easy to maneuver, making it easier to react to fast shots and keep a high pace in fast rallies.

Those qualities make head-light rackets popular among doubles players.

The downside of head-light rackets is that it’s more difficult to generate a lot of power with them from the rear court.

To better understand this, try imagining how hard you would be able to hit ground with a sledgehammer. 

Now think how much less power you would be able to generate if you held it by the head instead of the handle. 

That’s exactly how it works with badminton rackets too.

Head-heavy

For head-heavy rackets, more weight is distributed into the head of the badminton racket than the handle.

This makes it ideal for generating a lot of power from the rear court.

That makes head-heavy rackets a popular choice among singles players, since the game is slower than doubles.

Of course, the downside is that the racket is more difficult to maneuver and react with.

How quickly would you be able to react to a shuttlecock with a sledgehammer…? Again, it’s the same dynamic with badminton rackets.

Evenly-balanced

As you have probably guessed, an evenly-balanced badminton racket is right in between the head-light and head-heavy models.

That means there’s not too much to say about it, since I would simply be repeating myself.

Good to know: The balance of a badminton racket influences how heavy a racket ‘feels’. A head-heavy racket is more difficult to maneuver than a head-light one. So even if the rackets have the exact same weight in grams, the head-heavy one still might feel a bit heavier.

Flex

The flex of a badminton racket refers to how flexible the shaft of the racket is. 

Remember that it’s a range. You can find rackets that are very stiff, slightly stiff, medium flex and very flexible.

The flex of a racket affects two things: 

  1. Power
  2. Control

Let’s get into it.

Flexible – more power

A more flexible racket shaft will result in an increase in the power of your stokes. You could say that a flexible racket acts more like a whip, while a stiff racket acts more like a sword.

Similarly, a flexible racket offers more power, while a stiff one offers more control.

More flexible rackets are popular among beginners and intermediate players, because their technique is not yet fully developed.

This means that they need all the help they can get in order to generate more powerful shots.

Stiff – more control

A stiff racket shaft will help you control where your shuttle goes better. Just like you would be more accurate with a sword than with a whip.

Stiff rackets are more popular with advanced and professional players. They are already very capable of generating lots of power, even without a flexible racket shaft.

To them, consistently hitting accurate shots is more important.

Grip size

Here is an overview of the different grip sizes:

GMillimetersInches
G2102mm4”
G395mm3.75”
G489mm3.50”
G583mm3.25”

A smaller grip size makes it easy to change grips fast during rallies, which can make your reactions quicker.

On the other hand, if it’s too small, you might need to grip the racket tighter, which will decrease the power of your shots.

You should simply choose what feels the most comfortable for you.

G4 is the most common grip size, and you might not have a choice. What I do is to add an extra grip to increase its size, until it fits perfectly.

String tension

String tension is another fairly important point. The good news is that you can easily have your racket re-strung, so the tension fits you.

Tighter strings result in more powerful shots and more accuracy. 

On the other hand, tight strings also make the sweet spot of the string bed smaller, which makes it more difficult to hit high-quality shots. 

Slightly looser strings is usually the preferable choice for beginners and most intermediate players.

Even though it’s possible to hit harder with tight strings, that will probably not be the case for beginners and intermediate players. 

At lower levels, it’s better to go for the bigger sweet spot that lower string tensions provide.

Feather or Plastic?

If you’re playing mainly with plastic shuttles, you should string 3-4 lbs lower than if you’re playing with feathers.

The reason for this is that a plastic shuttle does not fly in the same way as a feather shuttle.

You need to put much more effort into playing long clears and hard smashes than with a feather. Also, plastic shuttles are a bit heavier.

If you use plastic shuttles with a tightly strung racket, you increase your risk of suffering injuries like tennis elbow and general shoulder pain.

How’s the weather?

Maybe not your regular badminton question, but for string tension it matters. 

If you’re in a very hot climate, such as in Southeast Asia, you will probably want your string tension to be a couple of pounds higher than if you’re in the colder North America or Europe.

Very high temperatures can cause tension loss, while a lower temperature keeps the strings brittle and harder.

A friend of mine brought his racket from Sri Lanka to Budapest where I live, and his strings broke within 15 minutes of playing.

He then had it re-strung, and the same thing happened again.

If you travel from a tropical part of Asia to Europe with your usual racket, you will probably break the strings fairly quickly.

Summary of badminton racket specifics

  • Weight: Lighter rackets are easier to maneuver and react with, while you can generate more power with a slightly heavier one.
  • Balance: Head-heavy rackets are easier to generate a lot of power from the rear court with and are preferred mostly by singles players and some attacking doubles players. Head-light rackets are easier to maneuver, making them great for defending and fast rallies, which is why many doubles players prefer them.
  • Flex: A more flexible racket shaft offers more power, while a stiff shaft offers more control. Usually, a flexible shaft is preferable for beginners and intermediate players, while many pros prefer a stiff shaft.
  • Grip size: A smaller grip makes it easier to change grips fast, but it could also make it more difficult to produce powerful shots. For grips, you should choose what feels comfortable, no matter your level.
  • String tension: The lower your level, the lower your tension should be as well. Keep in mind to have your racket strung at 2-3 pounds lower tension if you’re playing mainly with plastic shuttles.

Which badminton racket should you choose?

In the end, it’s up to you.

You are unique, and that’s why you should try out different rackets and then choose one that suits you perfectly.

I hope this badminton racket guide gave you some clarity that you can use to buy the perfect badminton racket for you!

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