Saturday, 31 May 2008

Badminton Racket Strings Part Two

The type of string you put in your badminton racket is also very important. We have already talked about string tension in part one, now i want to talk about string gauge and how it affects your game. The most popular string you will come across is made by Ashaway and Yonex. These are the only two string types i have personally used since the 1990's. Before that i used whatever was in the rackets when i bought them, although i did go through a faze of using carbon strings when they were popular. They used to smell like carbon, and i liked that, so i used them!

In the 1990's i used Ashaway, as these were the most popular brand and offered the best value and quality. These days i use Yonex or Ashaway. Now, after all we have gone through with different rackets and string tension, there is another factor to deal with, the string gauge, and this affects your game, but it is nowhere near as important as the actual tension. The 5% extra your badminton racket may give you, combined with the 5% extra the tension may give you, adds up to around a 10% advantage. The string you actually use adds up to another 1-2% if that.

Ok, you actually hit the shuttle with the strings, not the racket, so they are super important. String gauge or thickness relates to the diameter of the string. The gauge is designated by a number, and thick strings have a lower number compared to thinner one's. If we take a look at Ashaway as an example, these are their string gauges.

Gauge Diameter
20 .80-.90mm
20 micro .78-.82mm
21 .70-.80mm
21 micro .68-.72mm
22 .60-.70mm

Thick strings perform differently to thin strings in the racket. There is no hard and fast rule here, all badminton players are different, so their choice of string will be different, in order to compliment their own game. Thick string will naturally last longer than thin string, it is more durable, and it will take longer for it to break as there is more of it. Thick string will also hold it's tension longer.

Thin gauge string will give less durability and will break more easily compared to thick string. However thin strings offer more power and control. The thin gauge will have less resistance through the air, allowing you to swing your badminton racket slightly quicker, thus generating more power. Thin string will also bite into the shuttle base on impact, giving more control and slice. Bear in mind this is ever so slight and most players will not notice much difference.

If we match the string gauge and badminton racket to ability, we will see a clear pattern now. This is what happens:-


TENSION- 15-18lbs


STRING GAUGE- 21-21 micro
TENSION- 18-23lbs


STRING GAUGE- 21 micro
TENSION- 23-30lbs

More recently Ashaway have extended their range and the latest and most popular strings are the Flex 21 micro, used by Nathan Robertson and Gail Emms, and the Microlegend XL. These types of strings can be strung to 33lbs tension.

The Yonex range is classified as follows:-

BG63- 0.70mm
BG65- 0.70mm
BG65Ti- 0.70mm
BG86Ti- 0.68mm
BG80- 0.68mm
NANOGY 95- 0.69mm

Yonex badminton racket strings are used by 95% of top players. They are the most popular strings, but the fact that most top players are sponsored by Yonex means they will naturally use their strings as well.

Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Badminton Racket Strings Part One

The strings in your badminton racket are one of the most important parts of improving your game. As you learn new skills and improve your footwork and technique, you will also realise that your strings can greatly affect the feel of your racket. I have talked about how your racket will give you, at most, an extra 5% to your game, no matter how much money you decide to spend, but badminton racket strings can also offer you an extra 5%, perhaps even more.

The entire feel of your badminton racket will be affected by your string tension. As a general rule, the higher the tension, the more control you will have, the lower the tension, the more power you will have. Now there is a trade off here as well. High tension will give you less power, and low tension will give less control.

If your strings have lower tension, when the shuttle makes contact it will sink in to the strings and then be repelled back out. This acts like a slingshot and this is how you get the power. The problem with this slingshot effect is that because the shuttle is moving further in and out of the string bed, there is less control.

At higher string tensions, when the shuttle makes contact with the racket strings, it will not sink into the strings as much, and so the slingshot effect is not as pronounced, hence less power. However, because the shuttle is not moving in and out of the string bed as much, you will have greater control.

As a beginner you will probably not be too concerned with any of this, you just want to play and improve your skills, and hopefully just hit the shuttle over the net in a general direction. The tension in most factory strung rackets is low, and this is to ensure the frame is not broken, or indeed that the actual strings don't snap.

Let's look at the typical scenario is for a complete beginner. You will most likely have a low cost badminton racket, which is exactly what you want. This racket will be made from cheaper materials and so it will be quite heavy, but it will have more flexibility. For a beginner this extra weight can cause problems because poor technique combined with more weight can put your wrist, forearm and shoulder under stress. There is the potential for injury here. The low tension strings will give more power, and combined with the weight and flex of the racket, in theory you will hav the best chance possible of creating more power, and all of these factors will produce less control. But so what? Your only learning, and rightly so.

Now, if we take an intermediate badminton player, their technique will be improved, footwork will be better, fitness will be increased, tactical play will now be involved, and shot selection will be improved. This player now starts looking at different badminton rackets, and is more aware of the strings and the effect they have on their game. Because they play more often, the strings start the fray and break more regularly, requiring a re-string. They find someone who re-strings rackets and are then asked what tension they would like.

By now they will want more control and power to compliment their improving game, and so they will ask for a higher tension. The question is, what tension to go for? Now we are in a whole new world of matching strings to ability and rackets. We have already seen how to choose your badminton racket, and all the different terminology used. We now need to apply this jargon to the strings as well.

The expensive Yonex rackets like the ArcSaber, Armortec and Nanospeed, all have a variety of stiff flex frames. We know this makes them unforgiving if you don't time the stroke just right. If we now have a high tension string in them, it is even more unforgiving. The sweet spot is smaller at higher tensions, and combined with the stiff flex it places everything on your technique to able to produce power. Control is at maximum, because the stiff flex combined with tight strings means the shuttle will not deviate in your intended direction. The badminton racket will feel more responsive as the shuttle will come off the strings much faster, and you will feel the difference. Everything is more stable.

The problem now is that the racket and the strings can break much more easily. A mishit shot has the potential to snap the strings and the racket frame. This is why it now comes down to your technique, or it can be very expensive. This is the price you pay, but the gains are considerable. You have to experiment to find the best match between the strings and the racket. The top end badminton rackets are designed to take this high tension, this is when they come alive, the question is are you good enough to get this benefit?

Monday, 26 May 2008

Badminton Racket Reviews

Badminton racket reviews are scattered across the internet, in forums and at online badminton stores. If you have spent your money on a top end badminton racket you may want to let people know just what it is like. There is no problem with this, after all, if you were going to buy a new television you would look for reviews on it to see what other people think of it before you buy. The internet is a great source of information. These reviews however, may not be as helpful as you think.

Every badminton player is different, with their own technique and style. One size does not fit all. This is where the problem is. If we take the television review as an example, the television is a stable, constant thing. It does exactly what it says on the tin. The only way you can affect it is by pushing it's buttons to get it to do something and that is it. If you are in a bad mood, the television is not going to act any different is it?

A badminton racket is also just an object, but it will change when you use it. When you play your strokes the racquet will flex, bend and twist etc. When it is not in use it will be stable and constant. The badminton racquet is an extension of your body, it is the link between your body and the shuttle. It allows you to play badminton.

This is the basis of the problem, as it is an extension of your body, no one else's. It becomes a personal issue. Now tell me, how can you honestly find out if a racket is going to suit you? By playing with it, period. If you read a review that tells you how much more powerful a racket is, or how much more control it offers, how do you know it will do this for you? You don't because it is entirely dependant on your own technique. There are a few things to look out for when reading reviews.

I am going to look at the Yonex Nanospeed 9000X (X is for extra stiff) The specification on the yonex website racket states it is 85-89.9g and has an extra stiff rating. The balance is head light according to the spec. The extra stiff rating would suit a power player with a fast swing, but the head light balance will take away some of this power. But, in theory, the player will now be able to swing even faster than before and generate a bit more momentum on impact, which gives a bit more back. The light head balance should also make the racket a bit more unstable on impact, although the technology in this Nanospeed 9000X should reduce this.

What does all this mean? Well if you are a beginner it will not mean that much at all. A more advanced player should know their own game. Let's say for example i am a power player with a very fast swing who has been using a head heavy badminton racket with a very stiff flex to get the most power possible. If i now switch to the nanospeed i will need to adjust my swing because i will have gone past the optimum hitting point due to the head being lighter. This will result in less power for me, unless i compensate for the extra swing speed by slowing it down a fraction. But hold on a minute, if i do that i will also lose power because i have now slowed the swing speed down to meet the flex point. There is a trade off here between swing speed and optimum flex at impact to get the best out of this racket. This difference is minimal, and you may not notice.Either way it relates to being unforgiving if you don't have a good technique.

Now i have not even mentioned any review for this badminton racket yet, but i should be able to get a rough idea if it will suit me from the above information, which is all in my head, but you will only really know for sure if you play with it. After reading the actual reviews of this racket on the internet i see that people see it differently to others. Some say it gives more power with ease, some say it needs a bit of adjustment to get the power. Some have said it has great control on touch shots and net shots, and some say it feels less stable on touch shots and needs time to get used to it.

Is this any use to me? Nope. All i have done is confuse myself as to what this racket is like. What one person feels about this racket will be totally different to another. All these people have different techniques and ability, so i don't know how fast they can swing the racket or if they are a touch player etc. This is why racket reviews are useless, with one exception. If everyone who used this racket told me they kept on breaking i would stay clear of buying it. There is one more very important piece of the jigsaw, and it is the string tension used. String tension is probably more important than the actual racquet in terms of affecting your actual play. I will cover this in a future post.

My advice is to take these reviews with a pinch of salt. If you know your game well enough you will be able to make a very educated guess if the racket is for you. The best solution is to try one before you buy it. See if someone you know has one and ask them if you can have a hit with it. This will give you more of an indication as to what it is like. The yonex nanospeed 9000X is around £127 here in the UK which is a lot of money. If you are currently playing with a £30 bat, i suggest you spend the extra £97 on some coaching and improve your technique, you will no doubt improve your game more than the nanospeed ever will.

Am i saying there should be no reviews? No, i think that if someone has taken the time to write about their experiences it shows their enthusiasm whether it's a good review or a bad one. Just a word of caution though, if you read a review from an online store it is most likely always going to be positive. It would not be very good for sales if all the reviews were bad would it? If you want honest badminton racket reviews go to the forums, just bear in mind what i have told you.

Sunday, 25 May 2008

Yonex Badminton Rackets

Yonex badminton rackets are the most popular badminton rackets in the world, used by the most people, and used by most of the top professional badminton players. The reason why i am writing this post is simple, most of you will be buying one, or perhaps thinking of it. To put it simply, Yonex is badminton. They sponsor all the top tournaments, they supply all the equipment like the courts, nets, shuttles and so on. They sponsor the top players with rackets, shoes, clothing and badminton bags and luggage. Yonex are also the official equipment suppliers of the olympic games. Badminton needs Yonex, without them we would struggle to find someone to sponsor all the tournaments, and pay the prize money.

Because of this i am now going to list every yonex badminton racket from their current 2008 ranges, and i will try to find out how much you will expect to pay for them, with a little digging around from the various badminton equipment retailers on the internet. I will start with the cheapest to the most expensive, so here goes.


We have two rackets in this range which are the

The B500 BASIC has a steel head and a steel frame. This is the bottom of the range. Being made from steel it will be very heavy, and it will not do your wrist, arm and shoulder much good if you play with this for any amount of time. I could not find any badminton store that actually sells this racket!!

The B600 DF BASIC has a little bit more going for it. It has a steel shaft, but has an aluminium frame with dura-frame technology. I do not have a clue what dura frame technology is, but this yonex badminton racket is for a complete beginner, or social player. I have managed to find a price for this racquet: £7.50, though this was a special offer, the usual price is £15 plus p+p. There is no reference as to what weight these two rackets are,or the flex of the racket, even from the Yonex website, my guess is they are around 95-100g.


We have two rackets in this range which are the

The Isometric 22 Junior has a steel shaft and an aluminium head, however we now get a little more information. The flex is medium and the weight is 2U (90-94.9g)Remember the Yonex weight system from the earlier post?

The Isometric 24 VF has a graphite shaft and an aluminium head. The flex is medium and the weight is also 90-94.9g. We now have graphite introduced in this badminton racket, which should make it lighter than the steel shaft of the Isometric 22 Junior. My guess is that it will be towards the 90g mark. Both of these rackets are Isometric, which means the head has a more squared shape, which will give a larger sweet spot and compensate for mis hit shots, which is ideal for a beginner.

The best price for the Yonex Isometric Junior is £7.87 and the best price for the Isometric 24 VF is £8.99. I have yet to find out what the VF stands for


We have five rackets in this range which are the

The Muscle Power 7 has a graphite shaft and aluminium head. It has a medium flex and weighs 90-94g. It also has an isometric head shape. This is the same spec as the Isometric 24 VF, so not too sure what the difference is between these two rackets. Best price i have seen is £12.37.

The Muscle Power 10 has a graphite shaft and head. We have moved up in technology now. As a result the weight is 85-89.9g, but the flex is now "flexible" as opposed to the "medium" flex of the lower priced yonex badminton rackets. This extra flex will give you a little bit more power, but a bit less control in your shots if you are a beginner. Best price for this is £12.36.

The Muscle Power 19 LT has all graphite shaft and head, weighs 85-89g and now has a medium flex. This is slightly stiffer than the 10, so it will be less forgiving in terms of power, but you get a tiny bit more control as a trade off. Best price for this racket is £24.99.

The Muscle Power 22 LT has all graphite shaft and frame, weighs 85-89.9g but has a "flexible" flex rating, so we are back to a bit more power in your shots. Best price is £32.00. The badminton stores now decide that this racket is good enough to give a product description, which states the it is aimed at the improving club/league player and is well balanced for ease of use. I can't argue with this description, but i am not so sure about the balance being even, as there is no mention of this in the Yonex spec on their website.

The Muscle Power 99 has an all graphite shaft and head, but we also have a new technology called HM Ultimum Ti in the shaft, and UHM Ultimum Ti in the frame. In case your wondering, HM stands for high modulus and UHM stands for ultra high modulus. The marketing crap states that the head is meshed with ultimum titanium and the shaft has high modulus graphite overlaid with ultimum fibres, the result is an extra hard hitter's racket which gives maximum power and at the same time refinement in control.

The weight is still 85-89.9g but the shaft now has an "extra stiff" rating, which means this yonex badminton racket is about as unforgiving as you can get. If you do not have a quick enough swing speed you will lose a bit of power, so this is for advanced level players only, who have good technique. This extra stiffness will send vibration down your arm into your shoulder, even if you do have a good techique, so beware of this. The recommended stringing tension is 24lbs. To get the most out of this yonex badminton racket i would suggest at least this tension, a lower string tension will take away any slight advantage the stiffness will give you.

There is a big difference in price with the Muscle Power 99 compared to the other rackets in this range. The best price i found was £79.00. To find this out i had to click on the "checkout price" again, which makes me laugh. I had a little snoop around the badminton stores and guess what? Yep, they all sell it at the same price, and they all make you click the checkout price button to find this out. Smells a bit funny don't you think? All the rackets in the Muscle Power range are isometric.


We have five rackets in this range which are the

The Muscle Power 150 has a graphite shaft and a graphite super alloy frame, the weight is 85-89.9g and it has a medium flex, so it is quite forgiving. The advertising says it is a good all round badminton racket with a slightly head heavy balance which will give you more power. Aimed at improving club players. As the entry level racket it offers a bit of everything. Best price is £39.99.

The Yonex Armortec 250 has a high modulus graphite shaft and a graphite gForce Ti frame. Not sure what gForce Ti is all about, but it must mean there is a bit of titanium in the head. The flex is medium and the weight is 85-89.9g. This racket apparently has the new Yonex Delta Power frame which creates a more aerodynamic shape and a solid hitting surface. I can guarantee you will not notice the decrease in air resistance. Best price for this yonex badminton racket is £59.99.

The Yonex Armortec 700 has a UHM graphite/ ultimum Ti shaft and a UHM graphite/ gForce Ti head. We have moved on in technology again, and the result is an extra stiff flex, so it's as unforgiving as the Muscle Power 99. The weight is 85g. The product description says that this badminton racket is used by more top players than any other. It is aimed at the serious player with a medium to fast overhead hitting action who prefers a head heavy balanced racquet. The ultimum and titanium offer more stability when you hit the shuttle. This yonex badminton racquet is also for good singles players and players who like to smash in doubles play.

Jesus, i think i need to go out and see if i am suitable for this racket. The spec is the same as the Muscle Power 99, so it will have the same charcteristics. In case you are interested, Lin Dan uses this racket according to the website i got this info from, yet the official yonex wesite says that Lin Dan uses the Armortec 900 Power, so someone is lying here. It doesn't really make any difference though, you will not play like him if you use this racket, no-one will. This is just a marketing ploy to get you to buy the racket, after all, if it's good enough for Lin Dan it must be good enough for you right? The best price is hidden again, but it turns out it costs a whopping £95.99. Guess what? yep, it's the same price at all the badminton stores i looked at.

The yonex Armortec 900 Technique has a high modulus graphite/Elastic Ti shaft and a ultra high modulus graphite/Micro Ti/Elastic Ti head. How do they fit all this into one racket? It must be to justify the cost. The flex is stiff, and the weight is 85g. It says is designed for control players, probably because it is less stiff than the Armortec 700 and Muscle Power 99, and so they are assuming that control players have slower swings and will benefit from the extra flex. The diffence will hardly be noticable however. The price is £119.99. Good grief, how can you justify that price? We are reliable informed on the yonex website that Taufik Hidayat uses this badminton racket, so perhaps this will justify the cost when you tell your friends how much you paid for it.

The Yonex Armortec 900 Power has the same spec as the Armortec 900 technique as far as i can see, so how in the hell is it any different. The weight is the same, it uses the same technology in the shaft and frame and the flex rating is the same, ie, stiff. The head shape is the same on the yonex site, ie i would have perhaps expected to see the isometric head shape on the power version, and an oval head shape on the technique, but it appears there is no difference. This must mean they are the exact same racket but with different paint. My guess is that the power has a heavier head than the technique. The price is also £119.99.


We have seven rackets in this range which are the

The yonex nanospeed 500 has a carbon nanotube graphite shaft and a graphite head. The flex is medium and the weight is 85-89.9g. This nanotube technology uses tiny particles of fullerene and carbon which gives a high performance molecular bond, creating very fast head speed and maximum power. It is aimed at a club player with a medium speed overhead action who prefers a head light balanced badminton racket. You got that? The price is around £44.99 and this is the entry level.

The yonex nanospeed has a carbon nanotube graphite shaft and a high modulus graphite head. the flex is stiff so it is less forgiving than the 500, and has a bit more technology in the head of the racket. The marketing woffle says you will get 5% more power, 10% more durability, and it is 30% more impact resistant. wtf? What does 10% more durability mean? Does it mean that it will last 10% longer than the other yonex badminton rackets? 5% more power? Only you will produce 5% more power if you improve your technique.

Will you be able to notice the extra power? will it make the difference between winning and losing? will your opponent notice you are hitting 5% harder? will they come up to you and say "wow, your hitting the shuttle about 5% harder than last time we played, you must have a new yonex nanospeed racket. Ok, perhaps i am being a little bit cynical here, but you get the message.

The yonex nanospeed 4500 has a high modulus graphite/fullerene shaft and a graphite head. The flex is medium and the weight is the same as the others. This is for good standard/county players with a high speed hitting action and prefer a head heavy balanced badminton racket for all round power. Wait a minute, i thought a medium flex rating was for players with a slower speed swing? I guess that the head heavy balance must compensate for this, and slow the swing speed down to match the flex. So,the head heavy balance and the medium flex will give you optimum power. This is getting complicated now! The price is £69.99. I am wondering why this racket is called the 4500, it just doesn't seem to fit in with the rest of the series. I guess we will never know.

The yonex nanospeed 7000 has high modulus graphite and fullerene in the shaft and head, has a sfiff flex rating and weighs 85g. It is basically the same as the 4500 but with a slightly stiffer frame and a bit more technology. The marketing states this is aimed at high standard club players with a medium fast hitting action. This does not make sense, the 4500, which is the next racket down from this is designed for county standard players, yet the 7000 is not aimed at such high a level. Anyway, the price is £103.99.

The yonex nanospeed 8000 is the same as the 7000 but with an extra stiff rating, so even without looking at the product description i can tell that this badminton racket is designed for fast swing players, and is similar to to muscle power 99, and the armortec 700. However, the badminton store i am looking at says that no, it's head light so it's aimed at players who want more control and manoeuvrability. Ok let's sort this out. I assume that control players have a slower swing speed so the extra stiff flex will not suit them, but because this badminton racket is head light it will compensate for the slower swing speed and in theory you should still be reaching optimum power on impact. This makes the nanospeed 8000 the exact opposite of the nanospeed 4500, yet you will still achieve the same power. This marketing bullshit is getting worse. It costs £111.99.

The yonex nanospeed 9000X has the same technology as the others except that it also has Elastic Ti in the head. It is the same weight, and is extra stiff. It is head light so it is basically the same as the 8000, except that it costs £127.99. so i can guess that the "Elastic Ti" costs about £16.


There are two rackets in this range which are the

The ArcSaber 7 has a high modulus graphite shaft and a high modulus graphite/CS carbon nanotube head. The CS stands for "cup stack" which stores energy and this creates the power and control. The flex is medium, so it is more forgiving than the stiffer rackets. Medium flex racquets are usually aimed at club level players according to the marketing because they cannot swing the racket fast enough. I do like the added bit of crap at the end of the description which says "we have tested the arcsaber and it really is truly amazing! with awesome power and superb control" No shit. Do you really think they would say anything less? Of course not, they just want you to but one. The price is £111.99. gulp.

The Yonex ArcSaber 10 has a bit more technology such as super high modulus graphite and ultra PEF high modulus graphite, whatever that is. It has a stiff flex, weighs 85-89.9g and costs £127.99 so it is the most expensive racket in the yonex badminton range along with the nanospeed 9000X. There will no doubt be more from the ArcSaber range in due course, and my guess is that there will be stiffer flex one's.

So there you have it, the entire Yonex badminton racket range. Now that you know something about every racket you need to decide which one suits your game, but probably more importantly, which one suits your budget, because there is no fun in spending a fortune on a racquet, only to see it snap on your partners tatty old racket.

I will keep on saying this, but the difference between the top end bats and the starter one's is about 5%. Yes, you will certainly notice the difference between a steel racket and the latest arcsaber, the price will be the main difference! but good technique is the be all and end all. All the other badminton rackets in between these will give a tiny little difference if any at all.

Saturday, 24 May 2008

Badminton Racket Basics

Before you rush off to buy your next badminton racket it's a good idea to know the basics. If you are a beginner you do not need to spend much money on your next racket. A cheap badminton racket will do just fine when you start out. How cheap? Well, i would aim to spend about £30 maximum. There are a lot of decent rackets available at this price.

When you buy a badminton racket you need to look for a few things, the weight, the balance, the head shape, the stiffness rating, the grip size, and later on as your skills progress you will need to look at the string tension limit of the frame.

Most racquets weigh between 80-100 grams. More weight will generally give you more power at the expense of manouverability. A heavy racquet will be harder to swing through the air, but it will be more stable than a lighter racket. A lighter racket will offer more swing speed and manouverability, at the cost of power and stability.The lightest badminton racket i have come across is the Karakal SL-70 which as you can probably guess from the title weighs 70 grams. Be aware that this is the weight before you add the strings and your grip. All advertised weights are for the frame only.

Yonex use their own system for determining the weight, which is the U system, and it ranges from U= 95-100g all the way to 4U= 80-84g. Other manufacturers have their own way of doing things. When you first start playing it is not that important to concentrate on the weight, the most important thing is to improve your sklills.

The balance of a badminton racket refers to just that. There are two kinds, head heavy and even balanced. A head heavy racket will give you more weight at the top of the swing, and more power and stability on contact with the shuttle. Even balance will give you less power, but it should be easier to manouver.

The head shape is usually an egg shape, but you can also buy isometric head shapes. The isometric has a more square head, which gives a larger sweet spot. The sweet spot is where you gain the most power when you hit the shuttle. If you can hit the shuttle in the middle of the racket you will be hitting the sweet spot all the time. With an enlarged sweet spot you will have more chance of getting power from slightly mishit shots. When you are beginning this could be useful, so it is worth considering.

The stiffness of the racket relates to how much flex there is. A stiff racquet will not have much flexibity and so it is unforgiving for a beginner. A flexible racket will obviously have more flex and this will give a beginner a bit more power, as you will have a kind of sling shot effect, but at the expense of control. You should only buy a stiff racket when your technique is good enough to cope with it, otherwise you will be risking shoulder problems, as the vibration from hitting the shuttle will travel down your arm and into your shoulder joints.

Grip sizes come in all different systems. Yonex badminton use their G system, which range from G2 (the largest)to G5 (the smallest). Other brands use small, mediun and large. This is all down to your personal preference, and i would suggest that if you have big hands your going to need a big sized grip!

The string tension limit of the frame relates to how tight you can string the badminton racket. Modern racquets allow you have much higher string tension, some upto 30lbs, although most manufacturers recommend around 20-25lbs. You can string modern rackets to higher tensions, but don't be surprised when the head buckles and breaks. Most rackets come pre strung at around 20lbs, and if your a beginner this is just fine for now. Strings are very important, and i will talk about this on a future post.

To give you an example of how this information is put together i have found a description of the lowest priced racket from a badminton equipment retailer on the internet. The racket in question is the Yonex Armortec 150 and it costs £34.99

Yonex Armortec is loaded with power and speed, to give your game a new dimension. Armotec unleashes a new level in smash power. Lightweight technology suits today's rapid play perfectly. Armortec's performance is due to a new hybrid construction developed by Yonex to enhance the frame's acceleration.

Suitable for improving club players, it is a very easy racket to use.

FLEX: medium
COMPOSITION FRAME: graphite super alloy
SHAFT: graphite
WEIGHT: 3U (85-89.9g)

Ok, let's look at the product description first, or should i say the marketing crap. This badminton racket is loaded with "power and speed". Wow, that's not bad for a cheap badminton racquet. Immediately i can see myself being able to reach this "new dimension" by hitting the shuttle harder and faster than i could ever dream of. Really? What a load of rubbish. The only way i will be able to hit the shuttle harder and faster is if i get my technique almost perfect and get down to the gym and train like never before. Only then will i reach this new dimension.

The "new level in smash power" will only be reached by perfecting my technique, not by this racket. It may help a tiny little bit, but mot much. I particularly like the fact that it suits "today's rapid play". The best badminton players in the world may play at a rapid pace, but the rest of us may only play at this pace for a short while before collapsing.

I guess what i am trying to say is, don't believe the hype. Learn the basics first, because without good technique and footwork all of this marketing drivel will mean absolutely nothing to you.

If we actually look for the useful stuff, we can see that the shaft is a medium flex. This gives a little bit more power and forgivness, which is ok for a beginner, this is what you want. The racket is made from graphite and super alloy, whatever super alloy is. It means that it is made from a cheaper material, hence the lower price. The shaft is also graphite, which most badminton rackets are made from. The weight is 3U, and this relates to 85-89.9 grams, which again is an average weight. Remember, this is a Yonex racquet, hence the U system. The grip size is G3, so it's a middle of the road grip size, and suitable for most players. The recommended stringing tension is 20-25lbs, and this tension is very suitable for a beginner.

Ok, now we have seen the information for a bottom of the range Yonex racket, we will now look at the latest top end Yonex badminton racket, the Yonex ArcSaber 10. This costs a whopping £127.99. Now i have to have a little chuckle to myself here because to actually find out the price of this racket i had to press the "click here for checkout price" button. Only when i press this button can i find out what the price is. Incidently, the software on this website has already decided that i want one because it has entered a 1 in the quantity field. Why do they have to hide the cost? No doubt it is to keep prying competitors eyes away. I have done a little bit of searching around for this ArcSaber 10 and all of the badminton equipment retailers sell at the exact same price. Is this price fixing? Most websites have a price match guarantee, so i guess it would be foolish to offer this racket at a lower price because then everyone else will habe to lower their price too.

A bonus if you buy this bat is that you get free delivery and a full length head cover. No shit! at this price i would expect it to be delivered by a limousine and have a gold plated carry case. Anyway, let's take a look at the product description:-

Yonex ArcSaber 10 is made from a new material called "cup stack carbon nanotube" which is adopted in both sides of the frame in order to give strength and perseverance, it holds a large amount of energy at the impact, and releases it back like an arrow. It gives you depth and control to your game. By sharpening the control support cap, it also helps to increase your swing speed. The air resistance is decreased by 3%. The Yonex ArcSaber 10 will give you more power and control.

FLEX: stiff
FRAME: CS carbon nanotube super HMG
SHAFT: ultra PER high modulus graphite
WEIGHT: 85-89.9g

You will note that there is no recommendation as to what level of player this is aimed at, unlike the one that the Armortec 150 had. I can tell you that this badminton racket is for advanced level players. Why do they not give this recommendation? Because this particular retailer could not care less if a beginner buys it, they just want you to buy it.

We can see from the description that Yonex has developed a new technology called "cup stack carbon nanotube" whatever the hell that is. You will notice that this amazing new carbon stuff is incorporated into both sides of the frame. This means that only a tiny little piece of this stuff is actually in this racket. If you were thinking that this Yonex ArcSaber 10 was made entirely of cup stack carbon nanotube then you will be dissapointed. You need to know that all these fancy technologies such as titanium, ultimum and whatever else is the latest thing, all amount to just a fraction of what the whole racquet is made from.

This carbon nanotube actually stores energy and then releases it back like an arrow. This racket really is something else, i need one immediately if it can do this. Air resistance is decreased by 3% as well. 3% does not seem like a big difference to me. Will i actually notice this? No way, but it's nice to know i have it, it would help me justify to all my friends why i paid so much for it.

I will also have more power and control. Forgive me but power and control do not really go together. Think of it this way, if you drive a car fast, it will be harder to control. If you hit a shuttle faster it will be harder to control, yet this racket has taken care of this for me. How the hell can it do this? It can't, the only thing that will give you power is your technique, the same for control.

The flex is stiff, which means this is an unforgiving racket. If you are a beginner and you buy this ArcSaber 10 your game will actually suffer. You will probably find that your arm and shoulder start to ache after a while as the vibration kicks in from impact. Another point to realise is that the factory strings that will come with this racket will be strung at around 20lbs. This will take away all the control that you have been promised from the description. This is the importance of string tension and i will cover this in another post.

The weight is 85-89.9 grams, which is a 3U in Yonex terms, and the grip size is G3, which is the same as the cheaper Armortec 150. If i was going to buy this racket i would hope to god that i knew enough about my game to be able to specify what weight i want. But here is another problem. The lighter it is, the less power you will able to generate, it's the laws of physics, so the marketing hype will be incorrect if you specify the lightest weight available in relation to power, although the ArcSaber defies the laws of physics so what do i know.

If you are a power player then go for the heavier weight, it will help you hit the shuttle a little bit harder than a light racquet. The amazing new technology may add up to an extra 1% increase in your game, but this will come mainly from the psychological boost you will get from buying your new bat. After all, you must be able to play better with all this new carbon stuff helping you, right?

I would like clear up the flex rating of a racket and what it all means to you in a nutshell. If a badminton racket has a stiff or extra stiff rating it will best suit someone who has a very fast swing as the racket will be completely in line with the shuttle on impact, giving you the optimum power. If you cannot swing fast enough the racket will have reached the optimum hitting point before you make contact with the shuttle, so the racket head will not in line with the shuttle on impact. This means your swing is not fast enough to get the most out of his type of flex.

If a racket has a medium flex it will best suit someone who has a slower swing speed, as it will take slightly longer to reach optimum power. If you have a fast swing speed and use a medium flex, then the racket will have not yet reached the optimum hitting point, so the racket head will not be in line with the shuttlecock on impact. This is the theory but the difference is small. All things being equal, if i have a fast swing and a stiff flex badminton racket i will generate the most power possible. If i have a slightly slower swing speed with a more flexible racket i will also get the most power available, as the extra flex will compensate for me. The result should be the same power from both types of racket. Another general rule is that more flexible rackets have less control than stiffer one's.

This is going into the arsehole of it, and i wouldn't worry about it because any advantage you get from it will be very small, probably about 1 or 2%, you probably will not even notice anyway.

I think this post has gone a bit too long, and i hope i have given you some badminton racket basics here, to help you make the best decision in your search for the perfect badminton racket.

Thursday, 22 May 2008

Choosing a Badminton Racket

Choosing the right badminton racket can be a very important decision no matter what standard you play at. There is such a huge choice available these days, it can seem a little daunting to know which is right for you. Hopefully i can help you choose the right badminton racket that suits your style of play.

During your quest to find the perfect badminton racket you will come across the established manufacturers such as Yonex, Carlton, Wilson, Head, Prince and countless other brands, who all want you to choose their racuets. Yonex are the most successful and popular brand, but which company you choose is up to you. This is where the fun begins. But with the right guidance and advice you will be able to make an informed decision, so that you find the right racket for you, and only you.

Every badminton player is different, with their own strengths and weaknesses. The trick is to find the right badminton racket which compliments your style of play. Now, you can spend a fortune on your weapon of choice, or, like most of us, you will probably have a limit on what you want to spend. Remember, you are investing in your game, to hopefully improve yourself, so you need to choose wisely.

It can be a real pain in the backside, when you have just gone out and spent a whole load of your hard earned cash on the latest "must have" badminton racket, only to find it doesn't live up to your expectations, and you can't understand why you aren't playing like the adverts say you should be. Guess what? you have just fallen for the marketing hype, and it's a subtle, sinister little trick that we experience every day of our lives. However, if you follow my advice i can hopefully point you in the right direction, so you can make the best decision.

You need to think of your badminton racket as the cherry on top of the cake. Without the base and the ingredients your little cherry ain't going to taste so sweet. In case your wondering what the hell im going on about, the base and ingredients are your game, it's your footwork, technique, grip, fitness and tactics. Without these, your shiny new racket is useless, and the shuttle will not go where you want it to. I would say that any badminton racket you buy will give you, at most, an extra 5% to your game. The strings you put in your racket are probably more important than the racket itself. The other 95% is all down to you. But don't worry about that, i will help you get the most out of yourself, so you can get the most out of your game.

I have played with dozens of different rackets over the years, from many different manufacturers, and they all offer something a little bit different, sometimes it's good, sometimes not so good, it's all part of the experience of finding the one that you know suits you down to the ground. It's a great feeling when it happens, but first of all you need to know about yourself, your own game, then you can tailor the right racket to your game, not the other way round.

What type of player are you? Are you a power player who likes to smash the shuttle hard? Or perhaps your a touch player who likes to move the shuttle around the court with angled shots and deception. Once you know what kind of game you play, you need to find out which badminton racket will bring out the best in your shots, and improve your badminton.

If you are just starting out the chances are that you will not know what type of player you are yet. It's just part of learning the game. There is not much point in buying the most expensive bats at this stage, you will not notice much difference in your play, trust me. As your skill level improves you will then start to know more about yourself and this is when you start to look for a better racket. The more you improve the more you will understand the basics, and you will be looking for that little bit extra to beat the competition, this is where your badminton racket comes in, but it will only give you a slight advantage, period.

In upcoming posts i will guide you through the badminton racket basics, what to look for, what to avoid, how much to spend, and where to buy.

The Badminton Racket Guide

Welcome to the badminton racket guide. This site provides tips and advice for choosing the right badminton racket for you. You can also find information on yonex badminton rackets, a popular choice for many badminton players. If you have any questions not covered in the badminton racket guide feel free to email your questions at