Monday, 6 October 2008

Back Up Badminton Rackets

We all have them, and they are sometimes different, but if you play a lot of badminton then you need a back up badminton racket. There is nothing worse than seeing your racket strings break and then realising you don't have a spare in your bag. Or worse, seeing your racquet break on your partners, and wondering why only yours has broken. It may not be so bad if their's had gone as well, but it only ever seems to be your own that breaks.

This leads on to what spare racket or rackets you own. Personally, i like to have the same rackets so i know that everything is the same for me. This goes for doubles and singles, always the same. I have been caught out in the past when i have broke strings and had to borrow from my partner. This is when you find out that their racket is nothing like what you play with, and the string tension is miles apart as well. This means you have to adapt, and quickly as well. I can hear the ready made excuses already if you lose. " We would have won, but i just couldn't get used to the weight, or the tension".

There are a lot of people who have all kinds of badminton rackets in their bags, for all sorts of occasions. Some have different rackets for singles and doubles. Some have different string tensions, depending on all kinds of things. Some have different tensions because their other rackets have just been left in the bag and they didn't have time to get them strung. You may have a few rackets with broken strings, just sitting there. You may have racquets in your bag that you played with and just didn't like, so they sit there, only to be used in emergencies. If it sounds like you, then don't worry, the only way i know this is because i have been guilty of all of the above in the past!

We all know what we like, and the point of having a variety of back up rackets seems quite logical. You may like that heavier racket for playing doubles, so you can get a bit more juice on the smash. Alternatively, you may like that lighter racket for doubles, so you can play fast reaction shots at the net, or fast, flat driving rallies from the mid court. You can have your own individual rackets for your style of play in mixed or level doubles.

Some people have their rackets all strung at different tensions for singles or doubles. I do this, i have my racket strung at a slightly lower tension for singles than for doubles. Singles often involves being put into difficult positions, especially in the corners, and you need all the help you can get to get the shuttle back into play with a good length, to get you out of trouble. My idea is that the lower tension will help me do this, because it slightly increases the sweet spot, and adds a bit of forgiveness to shots. In doubles, i need control, especially around the net, so the higher tension gives my touch shots more accuracy. At higher tensions, the shuttle comes off the string bed quicker, and this helps my reaction shots, and sends the shuttle back faster.

My regular readers know about my lead tape experiment, and i have two rackets with this tape added. One has just about as much lead tape as you can add, the other has just a little bit. I use the heavier one for singles, as this gives me a little more power overhead and also makes it easier to hit full length shots, it makes clearing the shuttle much easier, and this shot happens much more in singles then in doubles, for me anyway. Now, the combination of lower tension and overall heavier weight helps that little bit to enable me to get out of sticky situations without flogging my shoulder to bits.

In doubles i choose the lighter racket because i have found that the heavier racket is a bit more of a handful in playing fast reaction shots. There is only a slight difference, but that small difference in doubles is the difference between winning and losing sometimes. Despite this, i know that this heavier racket is actually helping me, because it is training my forearm and wrist as i play. When i use the lighter racket, it seems much less cumbersome, because i am in effect, strengthening these muscles as i play. It is much like training with the head cover on, when you take it off and use the racquet without the head cover, you mis-time the shuttle at first because it seems so light.

Whatever set up you prefer is down to you. I have seen players who constantly change their rackets throughout a game, they never seem to be able to find the right set up that suits them. The result is usually a poor performance with a ready made excuse. Now who's fault is that? I guess what i am trying to say is, be prepared. The higher the standard you play, the more prepared you need to be. This means spending a bit of money on badminton rackets and all the other stuff that goes with it.

Good shoes being the most important of all. If you start entering tournaments, make sure you have good shoes, because your feet will take a pounding all day long, and there is nothing worse than getting blisters or sore ankles because your good old, worn out shies just aren't up to the job anymore. I know this from experience, i have played with my big toe sticking out of my shoes. Good grip is another huge factor. Many sports halls are slippy, and your worn out tread will make sure you slip and slide all over the place. Another ready made excuse.

Take care of your feet. I recently bought a pair of Yonex shoes, the SHB100 LTD, the best that Yonex has to offer. Although i give the cost of Yonex rackets a bit of a battering on here, i do use their shoes, and i don't mind paying the money for them because they are very good. However, one thing i have noticed is that these SHB100 shoes have a weird insole, which has little ripples in them. Yonex claim this is a revolution in comfort, and helps to cushion your feet as you play. It is known as the "air cushion insole". At first it seems to do the job. But i have noticed that if i give them a good hammering by playing singles for a few hours, my feet start to get "hot". By hot, i mean the skin on my feet is stsrting to go red, due to rubbing on this insoles ripples. The solution is to get rid of the insoles for one's that don't have ripples. The problem was cured instsantly.

I don't know if any of you have had this problem, but it seems a shame that Yonex have messed up a really good badminton shoe with a stupid insole. Just put a normal one in please Yonex. The rest of the shoe is fine, and i have given them some stick recently. They do a good job, which is what i am after in a badminton shoe.

Whether you have an army of 10 badminton rackets at your disposal, or just a couple, make sure you are prepared for string breaks and racket breaks. Look at what overgrip you have. I went through a phase of sweaty hand syndrome, and no matter what i used i could never feel comfortable with the grip. I used Karakal, towelling and then made a big mistake of trying supergrip, which it supposed to help you grip better. The towelling grip is good for a few games and then it goes hard, so you have to keep replacing it. There is also many forms of powder you can sprinkle on your hands to keep them dry. These work on towelling grips, but not so well on Karakal grips, they just make the surface even slippier for me.

One thing i found quite funny was a whole thread in a forum based on someone's review of all the types of overgrips from the manufacturers. This review included cost, sweat absorption over time, tackiness etc. What the hell is all that about? How on earth can i relate to somebody elses sweaty hand? That had to be one of the daftest reviews i have ever seen. I can only give one piece of advice regarding overgrips, and that is to buy a dark coloured one, because if your anything like me, if you buy a lovely white one, within one hour it will not be white, and everyone will be able to see just how much sweat your hand gives off.

Ok this post is going off topic yet again as usual! Look after your badminton rackets, don't throw them around when you lose, they break very easily, and remember if you blame your racket for a poor performance your really blaming yourself, it ain't the rackets fault.


Nezcaro said...

What a great series of blogs. I've just spent the weekend reading every posting. Well done.

I've been playing badminton for 20 years and currently play four times a week. I used to be a power player and could easily play the shuttle to the back of the court or do fast smashes to beat my opponents. In fact I had a penchant for hitting clears that fell just on the base line, a great feeling to see you opponents consistently leave the shuttle because they think it is going out for it to just touch the base line :-).

A few years ago I became ill and was simply too sick to play for over three months. It's taken several years to get back to full strength including periods with a number of shoulder injuries. This meant that I could no longer perform the base line to base line shots or fast smashes.

I've tried various rackets and ended up buying a couple of Brownings with which I'm very happy with except I still could not do the shots that I used to be so good at. The rackets gave my far greater control and because of my inability to power play I've had to improve my range of shots so it has not been a total disaster as my footwork, techniques and tactics have certainly improved.

I recently thought that I would ask for a new racket for Christmas and so googled for some advice and came across your blog. I've taken your idea of adding weight to the handle and am astounded at the difference it has made to my game. Yes I can now hit the clears and do the fast smashes like I used to. There is no getting away from the fact that it works and is cheap and easy to do. I simply took several repair washers and attached them to the base of my backup racket with a cup washer and screw.

My current backup racket is a Browning Stealth Ti with a 90g frame. It has been restrung and has a Carlton over grip. Before customization the balance point was 280-290mm. With the washers the balance is 225-235mm. If anything I overdid it a bit and will redo it tomorrow with a bit less weight and try it out next week.

My current main racket is a Browning Nanotec 75 CTi with a 75g frame. This has been restrung with Yonex BG65Ti at 21/22 lbs and has a Carlton over grip. Current balance point is 275mm. When I've finished experimenting with my backup racket I will customize my main racket in a similar way. In fact I think I will be customizing all my rackets in future!

antony said...

Hi there Nezcaro
Glad to hear you are back to your best. The extra weight really does help with clears and smashes, and it's very good for helping with shoulder problems. I, too overdid the weight, i put an entire roll of lead tape on my handle! However, the results are pretty good to say the least.

Good to see you are using Browning rackets, they offer good playability, and don't cost a lot. Also, don't forget about string tension. You have your Browning strung at 21-22lbs, this will also help give you a bit more power on overhead shots as the strings will flex more on impact.

My sparring partner also uses Browning rackets with added weight on the handle. He is the current all england champion in his age group (50!!) Don't be fooled by his age, he can still run around all day, is super fit, and still beats players half his age every week. And he specialises in singles. Once he added the weight to his racket, it gave him even more of an advantage, and the Browning rackets he uses are the Oxylite. You won't go wrong with Browning.

Thanks for the kind words about this blog. i hope you have found something that will help you.

Anonymous said...

where is this ridiculous grip chart you are talking about. i would like to see this....

Owtaman said...

Hi, about using grip powder on Karakal Supergrip, the trick is not to put too much of them, just a little will do, too much powder will make the grip so slippery that it become completely useless.

I am one of those that could sweat to such that friends would ask me if I have just climb out from a swimming after the session, I am basically dripping.

What I do is I will have to use a towel to wipe my arm dry, then shake a little bit of grip powder on my palm, then hold the racket grip and twist and rub the powder onto the grip. Never use too much of those grip powder, it will make it worse.

antony said...

Hi Owtaman

I also find adding grip powder on the super grips is a waste of time. Grip powder works best on towelling grips for me. You are right about adding too much grip powder, you end up just binning the grip and starting again.

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