Last Updated on 22/11/2023 by Kriss
When it comes to badminton rackets a lot of people are overwhelmed by the amount of options and brands. We will help you filter all those options by explaining the key characteristics of badminton rackets like stiffness, balance point, weight, and grip size.
At the end of this, you will be able to make the correct choice and find the best racket for your playing style.
Let’s dive right in!
Badminton Racket Balance: Types and Characteristics
The balance of a badminton racket refers to the distribution of weight across the frame. The balance point is the spot on the racket where it can be perfectly balanced horizontally on a finger. This is a crucial factor that determines the racket’s suitability for different playing styles and disciplines. There are three primary types of racket balances:
Head Heavy Rackets: Best for Power
Head heavy rackets have more weight towards the head of the racket, resulting in a higher balance point. This distribution of weight offers the following characteristics:
- Increased power: The additional weight in the head of the racket provides more momentum during the swing. This feature allows players to generate more power in their smashes and clears.
- Easier Shots: Getting the shuttlecock all the way to the back of the court is easier with a head heavy racket. This is a big advantage for beginner players who struggle to play a nice clear shot all the way to the back of the court.
- Reduced maneuverability: Due to the added weight in the head, these rackets can be challenging to maneuver quickly, making it harder for players to react to fast-paced shots. This is most noticeable during quick defensive shots where the head heavy racket is slower than the other two types we will discuss.
- Increased fatigue: A heavier head can lead to increased fatigue in the arm and shoulder muscles, especially during long matches or extended periods of play. Since more mass is located towards the head of the racket, fatigue sets in earlier with an 85gr head-heavy racket. This contrasts with a balanced or head-light racket of the same weight, which would cause less fatigue.
Example: Yonex Astrox 99 pro– Commonly used by aggressive players who prioritize power and control in their game, like singles players. In general, you will find more singles players use head heavy rackets since singles don’t require laser sharp reflexes and defense as much as doubles. That doesn’t mean you won’t see them, Marcus Fernaldi Gideon is a doubles player who currently uses the Astrox 88 D Pro – also a head heavy racket.
If you want to know more about head heavy rackets you can check out our more detailed guide.
Balanced Rackets: Best Allrounder
Balanced rackets, as the name suggests, have an even distribution of weight throughout the frame. This balance provides a combination of power, control, and maneuverability, making them suitable for a wide range of playing styles.
- Versatility: Balanced rackets offer a good mix of power, control, and speed, catering to various playstyles and levels of expertise.
- Easier transition: Players transitioning from one racket balance type to another may find it easier to adapt to a balanced racket.
- Jack of all trades, master of none: While balanced rackets provide a good balance of attributes, they may not excel in any one particular area, limiting their appeal to players with highly specialized playing styles. You might not get that super smash power of a head heavy racket or the beautiful swiftness of a head light racket.
Example: Yonex Arcsaber 11 Pro – The predecessor of the legendary Arcsaber 11. Loved by many players for its versatility, control, and consistency. The current world number 1 in mixed doubles, Zhen Si Wei currently uses this racket.
Head Light Rackets: Best for Defense and Control
Head light rackets have more weight towards the handle of the racket, resulting in a lower balance point. This distribution of weight offers the following characteristics:
- Improved maneuverability: The reduced weight in the head allows for quicker racket movement, enabling players to respond more effectively to fast-paced shots and perform rapid net play.
- Decreased fatigue: The lighter head reduces stress on the arm and shoulder muscles. This allows for extended periods of play without excessive fatigue.
- Reduced power: The lighter head offers less momentum during the swing. That makes it more challenging for players to generate power in their shots.
Example: Yonex Nanoflare 800 – Typically used by defensive players or doubles players who prioritize speed and agility in their game. Again – that doesn’t mean you cannot use it singles. Just try it out if you love head-light rackets.
If you are a player that loves to win points by being aggressive and you love to smash – look for a head heavy racket. Do you love quick drive exchanges, fast defense, and control? Then go for a head light racket. If you are somewhere in between, you should check out a balanced racket first.
Also read: The Badminton Racket Balance Point Explained
Racket Stiffness: Stiff vs. Flexible
The stiffness of a badminton racket refers to the level of resistance the shaft offers when it bends during a shot. Racket stiffness can significantly impact a racket’s feel, and the ideal level of stiffness depends on your skill, strength, and playing style. There are two main categories of racket stiffness: stiff and flexible.
Stiff Rackets: Best for Control
Stiff rackets have a more rigid shaft, offering little bend during a shot. This characteristic provides the following advantages and disadvantages:
- Enhanced control: The minimal bending of the shaft allows for more accurate shot placement and direction, making it ideal for players who prioritize control and precision.
- Faster response: The lack of shaft bending enables quicker recovery after each shot. This allows players to prepare for the next shot faster.
- Better for advanced players: Stiff rackets are better suited for advanced players who have developed proper technique and possess the strength to generate power independently of the racket.
- Less power for beginners: Stiff rackets can be challenging for beginners to generate power with, as they may not have the technique or strength required to fully utilize the racket’s potential.
Example: Yonex Astrox 100ZZ – Favored by advanced players who seek accuracy and control in their game. You will see that most top-of-the-line rackets will tend to be on the stiff side since pro players can generate a lot of power and want the most control.
Flexible Rackets: Best for Power And Beginners
Flexible rackets have a more pliable shaft, offering more bend during a shot. This characteristic provides the following advantages and disadvantages:
- Increased power for beginners: The bending of the shaft during a shot helps generate additional power, making it easier for beginners to execute powerful shots without relying solely on their technique or strength.
- Reduced control: The bending of the shaft can make it more difficult to control the direction and placement of shots, especially for players who have not yet mastered their technique.
- Slower response: The increased bending of the shaft can cause a slower recovery after each shot, making it more challenging to prepare for the next shot quickly. Your racket might still be “vibrating” when you hit the next shot.
Example: Yonex Nanoflare Clear – Popular among beginners and intermediate players who want additional power without sacrificing maneuverability.
Racket Grip Size And Weight
Grip size and weight are two other factors that have an impact on your racket choice. That being said, they are not as important as the other ones we mentioned before.
The weight is usually given in the form of a number and the letter “U” (1U, 2U…6U). Most rackets range between 5U and 3U (75gr – 89gr) but of course, you can find heavier or lighter rackets. A lighter racket gives you more maneuverability, but less power. The opposite is true for a heavier racket.
Grip size is described like this:
|Racket Grip Size
|Size in mm
|Very Small Grip
|Very Large Grip
The grip size of your choice is determined but the size of your hand. You should try out some different grip sizes since some players prefer smaller grips.
Overall, these two factors can play a role in your racket choice – but shouldn’t be dealbreakers or something you look for primarily.
How to Choose The Best Racket For You
Selecting the ideal badminton racket for your needs involves considering several factors, including your playing style, skill level, and physical attributes. There is no racket that fits everyone. I myself made that mistake early in my days when I wanted to play the same racket that Lee Chong Wei had. It was a stiff head heavy Yonex Voltric Z-Force and it didn’t fit me at all and I quickly switched to my old racket again. To make the right choice, follow these tips:
- Assess your playing style: Determine whether you are an offensive, defensive, or all-around player. Offensive players often prefer head heavy rackets for added power and control, while defensive players might opt for head light rackets for speed and agility. All-round players can benefit from balanced rackets that offer a mix of power, control, and speed.
- Evaluate your skill level: Advanced players who have developed proper technique can benefit from stiff rackets that provide enhanced control and precision. Beginners and intermediate players might find flexible rackets more suitable. These rackets help generate additional power without the need for advanced technique or strength.
- Test various rackets: Whenever possible, try out different rackets before making a decision. Many sports stores and badminton clubs offer demo rackets to help you gauge how a specific racket feels and performs on the court. Testing rackets with different balances and stiffness levels will help you determine which combination best suits your playing style and preferences.
- Think of your weaknesses: Sometimes it makes sense to choose a racket that covers your weaknesses instead of highlighting your strengths.
It really comes down to testing a lot of rackets and seeing what fits you the best. It is also recommended to stick to your racket for at least a year to really get used to it. Having two of the same rackets is also a must, as you have to keep playing if one of your strings breaks.
Selecting the right badminton racket is crucial to your performance on the court. Understanding the different racket balances and stiffness levels is essential to making an informed decision when choosing a racket that suits your playing style and skill level.
Head heavy rackets provide more power and control but may be challenging to maneuver and cause fatigue. Balanced rackets offer a mix of power, control, and speed, making them suitable for a wide range of players. Head light rackets prioritize speed and agility but may lack power and control.
Stiff rackets are ideal for advanced players who seek precision and control, while flexible rackets are better suited for beginners who need additional power in their shots.
Ultimately, the choice of racket balance and stiffness should be based on your individual preferences, playing style, and level of expertise. It’s always a good idea to test different rackets before making a final decision to find the perfect fit for your game.
FAQ in Relation to Racket Buying
Choose a badminton racket based on your skill level, playing style, and physical strength. Consider the racket’s weight, balance point, shaft flexibility, and grip size. Test different rackets to find the best fit for your play style and comfort.
There is no “best” racket. Each player is different and you should choose a racket that suits you – not the other around.
Head-heavy rackets are great for powerful smashes. Their characteristics cater to more aggressive players. However, head-heavy rackets are slower on defense.