Badminton Racket Reviews by Richard Doling
At TennisNuts, we are always looking for new ways to help players choose the correct badminton rackets and equipment for their game, and we are excited to announce that Richard Doling will be reviewing our wide range of badminton rackets. Richard has been a Badminton England qualified coach since 1993, working as a World Class Performance Coach for Badminton England with the England Juniors, in addition to working with a huge variety of players of all ages and abilities. Because of his success as a player and world class abilities as a coach, we are delighted that Richard will be offering his independent, expert opinion on our badminton rackets, and hope that it will help you choose the right racket for your game. Richard is also based near our store in Northwood Hills and has access to all of our badminton equipment. We initially gave him 6 of our best selling rackets aimed at good club or match players. His reviews are listed below. Our only brief to Richard was not to get too bogged down by technology or statistics, but give his opinion on each racket and the suitability or otherwise of each racket for "Advanced players", "Intermediates" and "Beginners".
About Richard Doling
As a player, Richard was ranked at No.3 in England form 1998-2000, reaching the No.1 spot in September 1998. As well as a member of the England Team for the 1999 World Championships, Richard was ranked as high as World No. 52 in 1999. Having moved to coaching, Richard still plays to an incredibly high level and won the Over 40’s All England Championship in 2016, as well as the Over 40’s National Championships in 2015 and 2016.
Richard is currently a coach for Hertfordshire County and has been a Badminton England qualified coach from 1993, working as a World Class Performance Coach with the England Juniors, ages 12-17. Richard also coaches individual players and coaches players of all ages, including the England Mens No.7, England Girls Under 19 National Doubles Champion and England Girls Under 17 No. 3.
RICHARD DOLING BADMINTON RACKET PLAYTESTS
Apart from suggesting the suitability or otherwise of each racket that I playtest, I will also give my opinion on the each rackets performance on all the major strokes including clearing, dropping, smashing, mid-court driving, net play, defence, overall singles play and overall doubles play. I will also try and indicate any feedback from people helping with the playtests and give you an indication of their standard. I currently use the Yonex Arcsaber 11, it is only fair that I review that racket first, together with similar models from other brands. I will be reviewing any rackets supplied by tennisnuts, without any affiliation to particular brands.
The racket felt really comfortable from the first minute, with long, accurate crisp clears and net hugging drops. I got the feeling of having plenty of power in reserve, which was available as soon as I decided to up the pace. Smashing was a doddle, with just enough weight in the head to give that extra pop with a downward trajectory. There was plenty of feel on the mid-court driving and net play. In the game of singles with one of my county juniors and the doubles with a group of experienced club players, it was hard to fault the racket. It felt consistently solid during all the major strokes and felt even better in the game situations. The racket did not cut through the air as easily as some of the head light rackets in the playtests, but overall it was hard to fault the racket.
I thought this was the best racket for my playing style and it will be my playing racket for the near future. It is an excellent racket for both singles and doubles play and is quite stiff and slightly head heavy, even though the stats suggest that it is evenly balanced. It reminded me of my favourite rackets from my playing days...the Yonex MP100 and the MP99. Anyway..this racket was strung in BG65ti at the factory tension around 22 lbs. My normal tension is 27 lbs for all play, but I found the factory stringing perfectly acceptable. Far too often, regular club players get rackets strung far too tight, which is good for control but not for power. After the initial group testing, this was my favourite racket, so I got the racket strung at 27 lbs before the extended testing.
I would say the racket is perfect for an all round player playing both singles an doubles. It would suit both advanced and regular club players. Not suitable for beginners as it would be too stiff. The Arcsaber FB is a great choice for intermediates, juniors and ladies due to its lighter weight. It has very similar characteristics to the Arc 11, apart from the extra weight. The 6FL and the FD models are good budget options suitable for all standards.
Victor Jetspeed S12 Review (compared to the S10)
This racket felt very quick from the first shot, with very quick mid-court drives and net play being a particular highlight. The stats suggest that this racket has a slight head-heavy balance and is a 'medium-stiff' flex racket, but I found it to be more evenly balanced. The flex feels closer to medium. This in turn meant that it was very easy to use for doubles, with players of all abilities enjoying how easy it was to use for both attack and defence. In the singles group, it perhaps lacked the solid feel of stiffer rackets, but it strikes a good balance between enough power for clears and smashes, and enough speed for net play and defence. Overall, this is a must-try for doubles players of all abilities, and for singles players looking for extra speed. If you're looking at how to get this racket strung, Beginners should go for no more than 22 lbs, and Club Players no more than 25 lbs.
All the players in the doubles session (including myself) enjoyed the incredible speed with which we were all able to manoeuvre the racket, perfect for fast defence and attack. I thought it a bit lacking in head weight for out and out singles play, although the speed through the air offset the head weight. Interestingly, all the experienced doubles players preferred this racket when in direct comparison to the Jetspeed S10. I would say that this racket is suitable for players of all abilities.
The fastest racket through the air that I have ever used. They have really done something special with the aerodynamics of this racket. I personally preferred the S10 to the S12, as it had a more solid feeling to it, a stiffer frame and shaft. The racket had all the characteristics of the S12, including the speed through the air, but was also great from the back of the court, with consistent smashes and clears. All the advanced players in the singles and doubles testing sessions loved this racket. Interestingly, all the advanced players preferred the S10 to the S12, whereas all the regular club players preferred the more flexible S12. One of the best all round rackets I have used in recent times and would have no problem in slipping this one into my bag instead of the Arcsaber 11. Another player who loved it was a really strong, young singles player who loved the speed through the air. He loved the ease with which he could manoeuvre the racket around the court, both for attack and defence.
A good all round racket for advanced doubles players. It would also suit moderate players who have an athletic build, as the stiffness of the frame requires a strong arm. Not suitable for beginners.
From the first shot this racket provided pinpoint accuracy, allowing me to clear and drop consistently. Although the racket is stated to be evenly balanced, in practice it felt head-heavy. In turn, this meant that the racket provides excellent feel from each hit. The racket is marketed as an 'extra-stiff' flex racket, and this is absolutely the case, as there was very little lag and a very solid feel, providing a similar feeling to the Z-Force 2. Being a Duora racket, this racket has different frame styles on each side, with a box frame for the forehand and an aerodynamic frame on the backhand. Although I tested both styles on forehand and backhand, the only major difference is that the aerodynamic frame offers a more solid feeling, and this is much more suited to backhand shots. Therefore, I would recommend using the Z-Strike in the recommended way, as this will give you plenty of power for your smashes and clears, while providing you with enough speed for your backhand shots.
In comparison to the Duora 10, the Z-Strike offered more power when the shuttle hit the sweet-spot, but the Duora 10 was much more friendly due to the bigger head and a touch more consistent because the shaft is more flexible. In comparison to the Voltric Z-Force 2, the Z-Strike is not as head-heavy, and therefore smashes are more powerful with the Z-Force 2, though the Z-Strike offers more consistency and much better drives.
Because of the small head and the extra stiff shaft, I would not recommend this racket for beginners, as you need the correct technique to utilise it fully. Additionally, this racket is suited for singles play, and doubles players that play exclusively at the back of the court.