Sunday, 17 May 2009

Li Ning BadmintonRackets

I was watching the Surdiman cup finals today on the internet and saw the chinese badminton team kitted out in their Li Ning gear. They were also using Li Ning badminton rackets. I had heard some time ago that Yonex could not afford to sponsor the chinese national team and so they are now sponsored by Li Ning. In the UK, virtually nobody has ever heard of this brand, i certainly hadn't. The Korean team were also playing with Victor rackets and equipment, and they were previously sponsored by Yonex. It would appear that Yonex is losing it's dominance..

Is this is a good thing? I say yes it is because we may finally see some real competiton and this will help to make Yonex drop their prices. Here is another burning question for all those people who have been brainwashed by Yonex over the years- how can it be that these top players can still play at the same level without yonex badminton rackets? The answer is that yonex rackets have been hyped up for years and people automatically believe they must be the best because they are the most expensive.

How can Lin Dan beat Lee Chong Wei playing with a Li Ning racket, when Lee is playing with a yonex racquet? I have never even seen a Li Ning racket in my life, i didn't even know they made badminton racquets, but it seems this makes little difference to Lin Dan, or the rest of the chinese team. The same goes for the koreans who use the Victor rackets. This illustrates my point very well, that it depends on who is holding the racket, ie the player. This past year has seen the biggest shake up as far as sponsorship goes, with teams switching manufacturer, yet all these players are still playing at the same level. This means that the badminton racket is not that important, which is what i have been saying for the last year on this blog.

Will this mean the demise of Yonex? Will they become a second rate brand? Will they lose their market share? I think they will certainly see a drop in sales in China because people will start to use the Li Ning rackets. I bet that Victor will see an increase in sales as well because if they are good enough for the top players then they must be good enough for the rest of us right? This is what sells racquets. This is why the likes of Victor have paid so much money to sponsor these teams.

There will no doubt be interest from players in the UK about Victor and Li Ning. I guarantee that the online retailers will be looking to stock more of these badminton rackets. I bet central sports will be a little bit worried about this, as they are the biggest Yonex dealer here in the UK. But i bet the smaller shops will be over the moon because if Yonex loses it's grip on them, they can now just stock other brands who will not price fix everything, and so us players will get a better deal.

I may be wrong here, and it could end up being the same situation, just a different manufacturer, but i don't think so. It has always been the case that people view Yonex at the top of the tree, and every other brand comes behind them. Brands such as Carlton, Wilson, Head, Forza, Apacs, Fleet, Victor, and any other brand out there. The reason is that we have been brainwashed for years by Yonex, by clever marketing and high prices. I have used Yonex badminton rackets in the past but they were no better than the Carlton Airblade i used, or the Apacs rackets, or the Browning rackets from Racketworld. The only difference was the price, which is the biggest factor for me. There is now way on this earth that i would pay over £100 for a badminton racket and many others feel the same way too.

On another note, i am reliably told that i am getting some new Apacs rackets to test. Not sure what they are yet, but they are new for the coming season here in the UK. I am also getting some Apacs badminton shoes to try out, so hopefully i will post these reviews pretty soon.

Sunday, 3 May 2009

Badminton Racket String Tension- The future

There is much debate about string tension and how it effects power and control. I have looked into this in previous posts and the answer is that it all comes down to who is holding the badminton racket, ie, it all depends on you. Some players argue that low tension means more power and high tension means less power. Then you have the argument over control, and some say low tension means less control, and high tension means more control. Is there a right answer to all of this? Probably not because it all depends on the player, always will.

There is no right and wrong answer to this and i will tell you why. Let's take the notion that low string tension gives more power. This is based on the fact that at low tension the strings will flex more and act like a slingshot, and propel the shuttle off the string bed, thus giving the power. Sounds reasonable doesn't it? The problems start when you add the player into this. Everyone has a different swing speed, so the strings are going to flex differently depending on the swing speed of the player, and so you will get varying amounts of power.

The same goes for the notion that high tension gives less power. Does it? It all depends on how fast you can swing your badminton racket, and so make those strings flex enough to generate power. If you are a beginner and you string your racquet at 30lbs, chances are the shuttle will not travel very far because you simply cannot make the strings flex enough, period.

If you measure the swing speed of a player, and they already do this with speed guns, it should be possible to find the best string tension to give the maximum power for any given player. They do this type of thing in golf already to find the best club to match the player. Perhaps they have already done this for badminton. Can you imagine how good this would be?

You could have your swing speed analysed and then matched to the best tension for you. I suppose you could also match the exact racket to your swing speed as well. The manufacturers know the flex ratings of all their badminton rackets, so it would be possible to know exactly how much any racket would flex from a certain swing speed.

I wonder if someone like Yonex has thought of this already. They already have a speed gun at the All England where you can go and find out just how fast your swing is. They could then tell you what the best tension is for you from your swing speed. Going a bit further, they could probably tell you which actual racket would be the best for you, and with which string tension you should be using as well.

Can you imagine how many rackets they could sell from this information? Any racket manufacturer going could also do the same thing for their entire badminton racket range. The only problem is that the major manufacturers do not have their own shops, but if a retailer had a speed gun in their shop? Jesus, i think i have just found the answer to all badminton players dreams. I can see it now... The retailer has a little book that has all the different rackets flex ratings, and from this they know how much it will flex from any given swing speed. In fact you probably don't even need this, you would have a computer program that would calculate it all for you. You just enter the swing speed and the program does the rest.

The customer just brings their own badminton racket with them and uses this for the swing speed test, and then you get the correct tension to use for this racket. Perhaps this is the way forward, who knows, but if i was a badminton retailer it would sure be a pretty novel idea to sell more rackets