Amongst sports, few require as much delicate precision and athleticism as badminton. Popular in asian countries and western alike, it has gradually raised in prevalence in the past 30 years. It is a rare sport that can be played casually or fiercely by both the old and young.
Badminton rackets are delicate pieces of equipment. Every piece plays an important factor in how well it connects with the bird. The after effects of each strike is dependent on everything from technique to the environment.
Every player is completely unique. While certain styles of physical forms or experience can overlap, certain distinct components make them stand out. It’s the minute details that really make the difference in how matches goes.
The balance preferences of a badminton racket for a player can influence how fluid their shot is. The weight can lead to more choppy strikes and can make dealing with air resistance easier or more difficult.
Your overall equipment choices will partially determine the quality of your game. Using loose stringed rackets with flimsy handles will kill your front hand and backhand no matter your skill level. Every piece makes a difference from play to play.
The top factors consider when purchasing athletic equipment is as follows:
The brand or source of your equipment matters. From your athletic shoes to your racket, every bit if important. Compared to most sports, badminton places a higher focus on agile body movements above all else.
Accuracy is only maintained when speed is present. This means that your shoes needs to have strong grip to make digging in between movements easy. Without that, you are liable to lose your footing when spiking or volleying between shots.
Subpar equipment doesn’t last as long and thus you are forced to adapt to each new piece of equipment. Taking the time to invest in quality equipment means it can potentially offer usage for years or even decades to come. Not to mention, subpar equipment substantially raises the likelihood of injury.
The problems that come with choosing a shoddy manufacturer also includes the difference in the quality you will use versus your opponents. Bad quality equipment can be used when playing a sport at your leisure.
You aren’t playing an opponent or for a serious purpose. The quality of the game wouldn’t be drastically affected. In a competitive sport such as badminton, every piece matters. The old adage “you get what you pay for” extends to the sports arena as well.
While old rackets will have some wear and tear overtime, low quality rackets will use cheap glue and wood components that will break quickly after only a few avid uses. They won’t stand up to temper tantrums or frustrating moments that some pros go through during training.
When deciding between buying new versus used, consider the limited info you will have on an old racket. More likely than not, it will break due to its heavy prior usage even if it doesn’t appear damaged.
This leads to money that could have been spent on one racket needing to be used for both a new racket and an old racket that didn’t hold up.
Comfort is the important first step to judging the quality of a piece of equipment. If the racket’s grip works well in your hands, this means it will be easier to control. Without a solid comfortable grip that fits your hand, your speed will be cut down as well as your accuracy.
If the grip doesn’t work effectively or doesn’t feel as if it is tight, the likelihood of a mis-swing increases. Basically, when you are going for what should be a relatively easy return with your front or back hand, you may end up chipping the shot or connecting with the frame of the racket.
This will end up in losing points that could have easily been won.
The weight of the racket should rest comfortably in your hand without taking too much to swing quickly. If it is top heavy, it will lead to your accuracy being compromised. If it is too light, the striking force will be limited when the strings connect with the birdie.
How each strike feels also plays an important part in how consistent your game will be. If the sensitivity is high, your touch will be more on point with each swing. This will make drop shots easier and help control the flow of the game when playing a more advanced player.
Certain pieces of equipment that aren’t required for the game can lower your likelihood of injury. Opting to invest in knee guards for when slippage occurs or for the pressure on your knees can go a long way to making sure you can play the game longer.
For more direct game equipment advice, consider purchasing shoes that offer ankle support. The secondary option would be to get an ankle guard. They come in handy when games or tournaments are running long and lactic acid builds up in the legs.
This leads to your movements not being as sharp and can lead to mis-steps and ankle twists that can effectively end your run or tournament. Investing in badminton wear that can keep your knees and ankles safe are important. One study stated that over 44% of badminton players sustained a ligament or spraining injury over the course of a ten year career.
The various injuries that naturally occur can include Tennis Elbow, knee wear and tear, bruises and broken bones from slippage.
Badminton equipment as a whole is relatively inexpensive. It doesn’t tend to be more expensive than a few hundred dollars to a couple thousand maximum. The reason is that it only has a few pieces.
The must-have important pieces of equipment are limited to the aforementioned list. The cost for just those is dependent on how seriously you intend to take badminton as a sport. If you intend to be a casual player, then you will be able to get away with other safety equipment and training tools.
It makes it easy to keep costs low.
Whenever you find a piece of equipment that you think will improve your game, always ask yourself the above question. Ultimately, if it doesn’t handle safety or improve the quality of your game directly, it’s pointless.
By far, the most important piece of equipment when playing badminton is the racket. Every racket has its benefits and disadvantages. This can depend on how its weight is balanced, its manufacturers consistency, or other factors that can play into how you choose your racket and how well it works.
Most beginners and people who have ever had PE in middle school have used a beginners racket. It’s usually light and easy to swing. It doesn’t have alot of stability to its frame, so it is perfect for practice without the possibility of ruining a more expensive racket. Ideally, the weight range falls between 79 grams and 100 grams.
The fact that it is easy to swing makes it easy to apply too much force too quickly. While it can be easy to manipulate the racket itself, it doesn’t make it easy to understand how you hit the shuttlecock will alter how it moves across the court.
The advantage of using less heavy rackets is that it makes adapting easy. When beginners are first learning how to adapt to varying opponents styles by doing striking drills, the lightness make it easy to respond. The added benefit is that they tend to be less stressful on the body. Which means that there is less possibility for issues later on when initially learning proper form.
How the weight is distributed in your racket can determine how easily you are able to control it. If you aren’t sure what works best for you, consider the following:
The strength of your strings and their elasticity play a big part in how well the shock is absorbed when striking. Without a bounce back effect with a small amount of give, the racket itself will cause losses in power that could have been easily solved. Essentially, a small amount of give can be found by pushing the string themselves. Applying light force, you will be able to see how much resistance it gives.
For power players, the more the resistance, the better the power. This means that your strings will need to be tightened further within the racket body. The amount of resistance will be dependent on your skill level and location.
The differences are attributed to the metric for measuring force as well as the differences in strength and physicality of players. The environment can also dictate how much the racket and its string warp due to temperature changes.
When playing a tournament, be sure to check on your racket strings for warping signs.
Control goes a long way during badminton matches. Most would assume the sport is based on pure athleticism or technique. Most matches are won or lost by lack of control. Besides weight distribution, the most important factor for ensuring control is the grip at the base of the racket.
The factors that really matter when determining the quality of a grip are fairly straightforward:
The the material the grip is made of is matters for a few reasons. The material itself is the deciding factor for how long the grip will last overtime. This means after avid use, how often it will need to be repaired or replaced. How spongey the material is can determine how much a hand will be able to sink into the material to establish more strength for shots.
There are two big groups of materials that matter. Cloth and a synthetic sponge material. Each has strengths that make them preferred by one style of a player versus another. Cloth grips are great for absorbing moisture and are easier to use due to their low corrosiveness in the hand.
This means that less damage will happen to those that don’t wear gloves without any loss in control. The issue is that cloth grips tend to become moldy and damaged. Overtime it will begin to fall apart and will need to be replaced within a short amount of time. They also pick up a larger amount of bacteria. The possibility for players to get sick is significantly increased.
While the sponge grips are great because they tend to last longer, they slip easier from the hand. One popular approach is to wrap the cloth material around a hardened sponge material grip base. This gives the firmness of the sponge material with the comfort and easy replaceability of the cloth grips.
Racket grips can be found in a variety of sizes. The grips are dependent on what a player is looking for. Smaller grips offer more control and are lighter. The problem is that because they are lighter at the bottom, the weight distribution may be off.
It may be similar to a beginner racket. The larger the grip, the more force can be generated. If the grip is large, chances are a player focuses more on smashes and control. If you prefer more speed and agility, a smaller grip can play a better part.
The perfect racket can completely change up your game. It can improve your overall control and power behind every stroke. When the weight is perfectly balanced for your style, it will make your badminton game quicker and more effective.
It will make it easy to dominate both the longer shots with speed and precision. With each wrist flick, the racket will handle the leg work. This will free up more opportunity for you to focus on your plays. This leads to less mistakes, less drops, and less points lost.
As mentioned earlier, the perfect racket will feel like an extension of your arm and less like just another tool. Your grip and the racket head itself plays as much a part in your stroke as your body does.
The ideal racket by skill level isn’t clearly defined. There are a few combinations that can lead to general success for players when applied. Don’t pick based on what you feel. Think about what will work with your natural skill set and limitations. If you have small hands, a small racket grip is what you will need.
To make up for what you lose in size and weight in power, you can double wrap your grips so that your hands are able to hold the racket much more tightly. It causes a significant increase in power due to the transfer of kinetic energy from arm to wrist to racket.
One combo that is generally successful for stronger players is one that has complete emphasis on power. The big grip, top heavy, and tight strings combination makes it so that each stroke is packed with energy. This makes it swing fast and furious.
The downside is that when you play with the style of setup, it requires a sensitive racket to have the proper touch to not overpower every strike. This allows the incorporation of strategy without needing to sacrifice your opportunity to take advantage of smashable moments.
It is a predominantly offensive style and because of this the entire focus is on quick and agile game play. Opponents that are fast will have some trouble adjusting to it and keeps both players reliant on their reflexes and coordination.
The small grip, top heavy, and loose string focuses on keeping some semblance of power by keeping the racket top heavy. It means that the racket head is weighted and because of this control can be awkward at times. The small grip makes up for this by being extremely maneuverable. This combination is one of the best for a double layered grip as well.
This style is balanced. It is predominantly still offensive but the small grip gives more opportunity for agility. It also means that when power strikes happen, due to the top heavy balance, smashes are even more intense.
The strings strength also means that with even simple wrist flick returns it will carry farther and go much easier. Like the previous style, it requires a sensitive racket and grip to be fully effective and fluid. It’s focus is less on agility and more on maneuvers that will keep opponents moving and off balance.
The bottom heavy, big grip, and tight strings means that there is some power but a higher focus on play setup. It’s meant to be an effective way of keeping your opponent moving but with the purpose of pushing them to make a mistake.
Most plays are oriented towards forcing the opponent to tire themselves out by bringing them in for closer strikes and retreating every other return to compensate. Eventually, they will ideally make a mistake due to their lack of balance or energy.
Like the combo before, it’s a more balanced style of play that is good for weaker players with better speed, control, and striking technique.
Bottom heavy, with a small grip and loose strings is the ultimate in drag based playing. It’s an almost entirely defensive style that is oriented toward setup shots. It is a long form that is meant to deal with players that are too aggressive.
It’s effective for dealing with power dominant players with less control ability. It forces them to pick their power shots more carefully. The goal is to use this setup to put the shuttlecock into weird places and points on the court that are difficult to return fluidly. This can be just on the opposite side of your opponent's net in a way that they will have to over accelerate to hit it and try and control their momentum.
From sport to sport, equipment is everything. While some players make up for a lack of quality equipment when they are younger by learning to adapt, there is no replacement amongst intermediate and advanced players. Equipment may, and often is, one of the few differentiating factors between players at a high enough level.
It can be the reason why some players are able to safely play a sport long term whereas others find themselves frequently injured. It can be the reason why some players are able to consistently win and others never break beyond a certain point.
Your beginner badminton racket will work for some time. But once you begin to progress to higher levels of ability, it will become evident the limitations. Professional badminton rackets, quality shoes and other athletic wear can make all of the difference between frequent wins and losses.