How to Choose a Badminton Racket
Choosing the correct or best badminton racquet for yourself can be daunting at first. With such a wide range of rackets from a variety of brands to choose from, it can be difficult to know where to start. At TennisNuts, we believe this decision can be narrowed down to two key questions; what type of balance the racket has, and how flexible the shaft is. Beyond this, many of the brands have rackets that cater to each combination of these factors, and you can then filter through them based on price and other factors.
Once you have finished reading, you can check out our list of recommendations at the bottom of the page, head to our Top 10 Badminton Rackets guide, or go back to the main rackets page and filter via 'balance and flex', so that you can find the best racket for your game. Once you have selected the right racket for your game, why not check out our guide on how to choose a badminton string?
All Badminton racquets can be categorised based on their balance, or where the weight of the racket is largely located. The three categories are: Head-Heavy, Even-Balance and Head-Light. Head-Heavy rackets have the mass shifted towards the head, resulting in a heavier head. Head-Light rackets have the mass shifted towards the handle, resulting in a lighter head. Even-Balance rackets, as the name suggests, have the mass distributed evenly throughout the racket.
Head-Heavy Balance Badminton Rackets
Head-Heavy badminton rackets 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 racket.
Head-Light Balance Badminton Rackets
Head-Light badminton rackets, by comparison, are more suitable for club players who play doubles far more than singles. The advantage of using a head-light racket 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 rackets 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 racket.
Even Balance Badminton Rackets
Even-Balance rackets, as you may suspect, are designed to provide a middle ground between Head-Heavy and Head-Light rackets, 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 racket is the best choice, as the racket will be suitable for all types of shots. The majority of regular players now carry rackets for different scenarios, so if you are looking to start playing, then an Even-Balance racket 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 racket to give you something that will help in every scenario.
Shaft Flexibility (Flex)
Shaft flexibility is just as crucial as balance when purchasing a badminton racquet, and the correct level for you is dependent on your wrist/arm speed. Manufacturers have generally agreed upon on categorising rackets as 'Flexible', 'Medium' and 'Stiff', though there are variations on this such as 'Medium-Stiff' and 'Extra Stiff'. Put simply, the quicker and more explosive your wrist/arm speed (often known as swing speed), the more likely you are to benefit from a stiffer shaft. The slower and smoother your wrist/arm speed, the more likely you are to benefit from a more flexible shaft. Beginners are far more likely to benefit from purchasing a racket with a flexible shaft, whereas more advanced players tend to favour stiffer shafts as advanced players have much better technique. If you are unsure about how much flex you need, then you should purchase a medium or medium-stiff flex badminton racket.
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.
A more flexible shaft will bend and unbend much more easily, ensuring that players will get the racket to bend and unbend to the required level. By comparison, a more explosive, 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.
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).
If you are a singles player, then we would recommend choosing the 3U option as this will provide more overall mass (without affecting the balance), ensuring that the racket offers more stability at the cost of a little speed. The majority of singles players now use 3U rackets as standard.
If you are a doubles player, then we would recommend choosing the 4U option as this will provide more speed to your game, allowing you to react much quicker at the net and against opposing smashes. The majority of doubles players now use 4U rackets as standard.
The grip size is denoted by "G"; the smaller the number, the larger the handle size. Yonex rackets come in G4 as standard, whereas Victor rackets come in G5 as standard.
The racket tension is denoted by "x lb to y lb"; the minimum to the maximum stringing tension recommended. Generally we recommend that beginners play with a tension closer to the lower-end, as this will provide additional power for them.
Once you have selected the right racket for your game, why not check out our guide on how to choose a badminton string?