A guide to badminton rackets

Finding the correct racket that fits your play may be difficult. There are lots of brands, types and series of rackets, which may become overwhelming to choose from. This guide discusses some aspects of rackets that may bring you some understanding when it comes to choosing the ONE! Bear in mind, these are just the technical specifications that comes with a racket. The perfect ONE varies depending on personal preference, skill level and playing style.

IMPORTANT: Always try the racket that you want before purchase. For instance, you may think that a head-heavy racket suits you best but after several hits, it turns out that your wrist is not strong enough to handle the weight.

Balance

Balance of a badminton racket often refers to the point of balance in the racket with respect to the handle end. Most badminton racket brands have three different balances – head-light, even balanced and head-heavy. 

  • Head-light racket
    The racket has a balance point around 270-280 mm. Commonly used by players who play doubles – fast paced player. The head and frame have less mass to allow the player to handle and manipulate the racket easily; hence is the best for a player who likes fast pace, defensive and control play. Do not expect to have a strong smash coming out of the racket.
  • Even balanced racket
    The racket has a balance point around 275-285mm. The racket is commonly used for an all-rounder: people who would like to find the mid-point between head-light and head-heavy.  An even-balanced racket is more stable and has higher angular momentum when swung. The racket is recommended for beginners who don’t know what kind of player they are yet.
  • Head-heavy racket
    The racket has a balance point around 285-295mm. The head-heavy allows for an extra punch into your hits and smashes. Power players often use this racket to be able to smash harder. From experience, these rackets require you to have a strong arm and wrist. Even though a racket would have the same weight as the headlight racket, the weight distribution makes it feel heavier and harder to maneuver, thus increases fatigue.

Weight

The weight of the rackets in badminton is denoted by the letter U – it varies from 1U – 5U. Other brands often try to follow the Yonex U-system, but the actual definition may vary. A lighter racket is more maneuverable than a heavy one. However, lighter doesn’t always mean better. A light racket is less stable than a heavier racket, meaning more force is necessary to keep its path. Furthermore, a heavier racket has a larger momentum and thus is more effective in transferring its speed and power to the shuttle.

Weight CodeWeight [g]Common use
1U95 – 99Training Rackets
2U90 – 94Attacking Singles
3U85 – 89Singles / Attacking Doubles
4U80 – 84Doubles / Defensive singles
5U75 – 79Defensive Doubles

Grip

The racket grip size is denoted by the letter G (circumferential grip size). The grip should fit nice and snug into the palm of your hand. As a rule of thumb, the tip of your ring finger shouldn’t touch your palm when gripping the racket. Grip size is a less critical criterium when choosing a racket, if you choose the wrong size you can always add a thicker or thinner grip. However, make sure that you don’t get too big of a deviation. Adding too much grip can change the balance of your racket.

Grip CodeYonex circumferential grip size
G2102 mm (extra-large)
G395 mm (large)
G489 mm (medium)
G583 mm (small)

Note: The above-mentioned sizing is Yonex size. There isn’t a standardized sizing for badminton grip size. It’s recommended to research the manufacturer to see what measurements they use. In Europe, the most common grip size is G4.

Flex

The flex of a racket is defined as stiff, medium or flexible. There is no standardized way to measure racket flex – one brand’s “stiff” may be another’s “medium”, but the above tells you roughly what to expect.

The effective stiffness of a badminton racket is similar to the effect of string tension. A stiffer racket has a similar effect as a higher tensioned string, while a flexible racket is similar to the lower tension string. In other words, the stiffer the racket, the better control you can achieve with the racket. As a rule of thumb, the faster the player’s swing, the more power they will be able to get from a stiffer shaft. The slower the swing, the more flexible the shaft needs to be. So if you are a beginner, you may want to have a more flexible shaft, though some advanced players may prefer a flexible shaft, depending on your style of play.

FlexType of player
StiffPlayers with good technique & fast swing
MediumAverage players
FlexiblePlayers with long, slow swing (also good for beginners)

Written by Indra Fadly

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