Last Updated on 09/01/2024 by Kriss
Choosing the ideal string tension for your badminton racket can have a bigger impact than the racket itself. Why? Well, the strings are the only thing that makes contact with the shuttle. That is why the right strings and the right string tension are so important.
Today, we will dive deep into string tension, what it affects, and some common misconceptions.
Let’s dive right in!
The Impact of String Tension
String tension in badminton rackets typically ranges from 18 lbs (8kg) to 34 lbs (15kg), and the effects of these tensions can significantly alter your play style.
High String Tension
With high string tension, you gain better touch and control, but only if you can consistently strike the sweet spot, located at the center of the racket. As you increase tension, this sweet spot shrinks, demanding cleaner technique and timing. High tension also increases the likelihood of string breakage, depending on the string type used.
If you wonder about what strings to use and what materials are out there - you can check out our post about different strings and their materials.
Low String Tension
Lower tension, on the other hand, results in the string bed absorbing the shuttle more, like a trampoline effect, which, while giving you more power, leads to less control. The sweet spot enlarges with lower tension, making the string more forgiving for less precise shots. This also leads to fewer miss-hits and a decreased risk of string breakage.
Choosing the Right Badminton String Tension
The choice of string tension comes down to two key factors: your skill level and the string type.
Best String Tension Based On Skill Level
Advanced players favor higher tension for superior touch and control. However, due to the smaller sweet spot, good technique and timing are a must. High tension typically ranges from 28lbs (or 12kg) upwards, with the maximum reaching around 34lbs (15kg).
Intermediate players might prefer a larger sweet spot and want to avoid frequent restringing. A string tension ranging from 24 to 28 lbs (about 11-12kg) might be ideal in this case.
Beginner players should stick to string tensions below 24 lbs (under 11kg). As their skill and timing improve, they can consider increasing the tension.
Choosing Tension Based on String Selection
The type of string you’re using also plays a crucial role in deciding your optimal string tension. Different strings have unique physical properties that significantly influence their performance at various tension levels.
Thinner strings like Nanogy 98 (0.66mm) and BG80 (0.68mm) provide higher repulsion power and control but are more prone to breakage at higher tensions. Thicker strings like BG65 (0.70mm), known for their durability, can endure higher tension without breaking but may not offer the same level of control or repulsion.
Some players opt for a different tension for their main strings and cross strings. This double-tension practice aims to maintain the structural integrity of the racket head. Typically, the cross strings are strung at a tension that’s approximately 10% higher than the main strings. However, this is a rule of thumb, and variations are based on personal preference. We talk about this a little bit more in detail in our post about how to string a racket.
The Pre-Stretching Puzzle
Pre-stretching is the process of stretching each string to a tension higher than intended before adjusting it to the correct tension. This method, while increasing durability and maintaining tension over time, might make the string harder and more prone to snapping.
Danish players like Peter Gade often favor this process.
Testing Your Badminton String Tension
The sound of your strings can provide an indication of their tension. A high-tension string will produce a crisp ‘ping’ sound, while lower-tension strings will sound comparatively dull. The type of string used can also influence the sound. Thinner strings, for instance, produce a sharper, more vibrant sound compared to thicker strings at the same tension.
You can test the string tension by listening to the sound of the strings when hit with your hand, observing their movement, and pressing into the string bed with your thumbs. High-tension strings move less and have less give when pressed.
Don’t push too hard tough, you don’t want to break your racket frame.
However, keep in mind that string tension decreases over time. Depending on the quality of the stringing, tension may drop by 1-3lbs within a week of a restring and will continue to decrease gradually with play.
How Often Should You Restring Your Racket?
While this question might seem straightforward, the answer depends on several factors, including your play frequency, string tension, and playing style. A general rule of thumb is to restring as many times per year as you play per week. So if you play twice a week, you should aim to restring your racket twice a year.
However, if you’re playing at high string tension or have a powerful, aggressive playing style, you might need to restring more frequently due to the increased risk of string breakage. Conversely, if you’re a casual player using lower string tension, you might not need to restring your racket as often.
Keep in mind that over time, even without play, strings can lose tension. So, even if your strings aren’t broken, if your shots start feeling different, or you notice a drop in power or control, it might be time to consider restringing your racket.
Manufacturer’s Maximum String Tension Guide
While it may be tempting to string your racket at high tension levels for better performance, exceeding the manufacturer’s recommended maximum tension can risk damaging your racket. The higher the string tension, the more stress it puts on the racket, increasing the chances of the frame breaking after a racket clash or even a powerful smash.
The Science of Badminton String Tension
A study that focused on string tension experimented with the “coefficient of restitution” (COR). Simply put, the COR is a measure of the racket’s ability to transfer energy to the shuttlecock on impact.
Using computer simulations, researchers imitated the collision between the shuttlecock and the racket’s string bed at varying string tensions. They found that increasing the string tension also increased the COR. They also found that the sweet spot decreases with higher tension.
COR And The Effect On Gameplay
With their model, the authors of the study simply proved a point that we already discussed earlier in a more scientific way. Lower string tensions have a lower COR value and give a trampoline effect to the shuttlecock. The result is more powerful shots, but also less accuracy.
Higher string tension has a higher COR value, thus providing less of a trampoline effect. The researchers also suggest that more powerful players go a bit higher in string tension because they can make up for the loss in power.
Overall, the relation between the COR value and string tensions just proves what we already know, but is still an interesting insight.
In the end, understanding the nuances of string tension and how it aligns with your play style will enable you to optimize your performance on the badminton court. Don’t be afraid to experiment and find what works best for you. After all, mastering the game is not just about perfecting your technique, but also about understanding and tweaking your equipment to your advantage.
FAQ In Relation to Badminton String Tension
There is no perfect string tension. The best string tension for you is the result of your skill level, control, power, and the strings you use. Beginners should be under 11kg (24lbs), intermediate players at 11-12kg (24 to 28 lbs), and pros can go as high as 15kg (34lbs)
Restring based on play frequency, string tension, and playing style. A general rule is to change it every two months for most players. If your string tension is very high or thin, it might break earlier.
Yes, higher string tensions increase the likelihood of string breakage, especially when using thinner strings.