We have already discussed rackets in general and how to recognize counterfeit ones. Today, in the last of this 3-part series about badminton rackets, we will dive into the part that repels the shuttle – the strings!
Two things that you have to understand when it comes to strings are gauge size (thickness) and tension. I don’t want to bore you with the mumbo jumbo of the strings that each badminton manufacturer has marketed us. So I’m just going to break it down in simple terms.
Thin vs thick strings
If you look into a string packaging, there is a lot of information on it with regards to feel, repulsion, durability etc. This information is often just a marketing gimmick. At the end of the day, it boils down to how it feels when you are using them – if you don’t feel any differences, it doesn’t mean anything to you anyway! Here are some technical differences between the different string sizes. Thin strings are defined by strings that are ≤0.67 mm and thick strings are ≥0.68.
|Better repulsion (at high tension)||Less repulsion, more stiff (at high tension)|
|Sensitive to mishits (mishits brake your strings faster)||More durable to mishits|
|Small sweet spot||Large sweet spot|
In summary, thinner strings are often more expensive, break faster and bounce more. To give you some perspective, a Yonex BG 66 (0.66mm) tensioned at 28lbs, would last me 2-2.5 weeks at 3 times per week usage, whereas Yonex BG 65 (0.70mm) would last me at least 3 months with the same tension and usage. Commonly, the thinner string is used by professionals, where they know exactly what they want out of the string. For those who are still beginning, I recommend to just start with a thicker string and try different strings as you progress (if your wallet can cope).
In badminton, the string tension varies from 18lbs to 30+ lbs. It can be categorize by the following:
- Beginner: 18lbs – 21lbs – especially if playing with plastic shuttles
- Intermediate: 21lbs -24lbs
- Advanced: 24lbs-28lbs
- County/International: 28lbs – >30lbs
Why we categorize the different tensions in different levels has to do with the sweet spot on the racket. The sweet spot is a specific area on the racket string bed. When the shuttlecock makes contact with this area, you get maximum power for your shots. As the tension increases, the smaller the sweet spot gets. Beginners often require a bigger sweet spot area compared to the professionals to hit the shuttle where they want it to be.
There is an illusion in string tension, that when you have a higher tension, that you can smash harder. It’s not 100% true – it’s only true if you have the power; if you don’t, it takes a hell of a lot more energy just to clear the shuttle. As you increase the tension, the only beneficial thing that gets better is the accuracy. Here is a table of the different string tensions:
String tension is not about getting the highest tension you can put in your racket, rather it is about finding the perfect tension for yourself! Do not delude yourself into playing with a tension that is too high. You will know the right tension when your gameplay becomes more accurate, smashes becomes faster and you can feel the bounce of the shuttle on the racket. The feeling will be different.
For those who want to better understand badminton, I would recommend to talk to your stringer, discuss with them about your want/needs – start noting down the string tension and vary the tension until you have found one that fits you best. You know when the tension is too high for you when your clear does not reach the back with the same amount of power, or when your hand fatigues easily.
Remember, string tension slackens over time, some much faster than others. Do consider these when experimenting with different tensions.
I wish you the best and good luck!
Written by Indra Fadly