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.


Hyeon Jeong said...

Hello, I just read your post! I've been playing badminton for 10 years, but it was only recent that I really got into it. I'm thinking about purchsing a new racquet, and was looking for some reviews. I completely agree with you and thank you for your post.

antony said...

Hi there Hyeon
Glad you like the blog. You may be interested in some reviews i am going to do soon on Apacs rackets. This is going to be a break in tradition on this blog because i will actually do my own review on them. Just remember that any review i do will be very subjective, so beware of what it actually means to you. Having said that, it may just prove interesting.