What Do You Think About When Choosing A New Badminton Racquet?

Almost every day I receive emails from players around the world telling me about their style of play on a badminton court. They then ask me which is the best racquet for their particular style of play.

If you’ve spent time reading my blog or forum you’ll probably already know the answer I would give. However, for the reader that hasn’t been around this blog, here is the answer I always give…

“Your style, technique, badminton experience, physique and muscular structure are different to mine and anyone else for that matter. Therefore, how you feel a racquet will also be different to me and every other player. This means nobody can accurately advise you which racquet to use.”

I honestly believe that the only person who can decide whether a racquet is right for you…is you. However, this means you have to take your time and go through the experience of testing different racquets.

And, this is where the big issue is. Most players do not have access to a wide range of racquets. There are very few retailers who have demo racquets for players to test on court which means it’s almost impossible to get your choice right at a first attempt.

Experience Counts?

As your badminton experience grows, you develop a feel or instinct for what you like in a racquet and also what you dislike. This experience, whilst invaluable, can occasionally be to the detriment of your game. Let me give you an example…

A few years ago I selected Armortec 900 Power as my racquet of choice. I really loved the racquet and it seemed to cover many aspects of my game. Not being a naturally powerful player, I needed the additional weight in the head of the racquet to help me hit hard.

One day I was running a demo session with a player and for some reason really struggled defensively which made me question my decision on AT900P. For the next season, I switched racquets to Nanospeed 9900 which was head light. Immediately my defence was “back to normal” and for a time I was still hitting hard.

During the season I noticed that my smash was being returned more often which puzzled me. What had changed? It took a while to figure out that my body had adjusted to the lighter headed racquet. Initially, switching from a head heavy to head light racquet meant my muscles were used to working harder to play an overhead shot. When I switched, the muscles worked just as hard, which initially got me a better result. Over time, the muscles eased off for some reason, which eventually left me with a worse result.

So, I picked up my old AT900P and tried it again. At first it felt slow however when I began to smash there was an immediate improvement. It then dawned on me what had been happening and that I had been asking the wrong questions.

The lesson here is that despite my experience I made an error due to drawing conclusions without asking the right questions. I now know what questions to ask before choosing a new badminton racquet – do you?

Ask The Right Questions

The first question you should really be asking is…

1) Do I really need a new racquet?

You see, many players create beliefs in order to justify to themselves that they need a new racquet. Most of the time the facts are simple – you don’t need one. However, the marketing from the racquet companies lure us into believing that playing with “that” racquet will almost magically make you a better player. That simply isn’t true.

If you really want to see significant improvement in your game, then invest in a coaching course or a coach. A good coach can do more to help you improve your game than any new racquet can.

Of course , if your racquet has a crack, or is looking very worn then it’s probably the right time to change it. Let’s also remember that a good re-string can also transform the performance in a racquet, so test string tension and type of string too.

OK, we’ve covered the first point. What’s the next question?

2) What are the characteristics of my current racquet that I really like/dislike?

You need to be aware why you like your existing racquet because ultimately it is the guide, your starting point to knowing where to begin choosing a replacement. If you like a medium flex shaft then perhaps this is the most important characteristic you need in a new racquet. By all means test a racquet with flexible or stiff shaft to validate your knowledge, just in case you find your tastes have changed. Do the same with head weight, actual weight of the racquet and grip size although I appreciate some countries have limited offerings in some of these characteristics compared to others.

3) What aspects of my game do I want to enhance with this new racquet?

This question makes you look at your current game first to decide which are the most important features you’d like to improve. Would a change in racquet really help? The answer can be positive depending on which features are on your personal list.

4) What aspects of my game am I prepared to allow a dip in performance until I can fix them?

This is just as important as question 3. Let’s give you a quick example here. You’ve decided that you want more power in your overhead and therefore are now seeking a head heavy racquet. This will result in a reduction in your immediate capability in defence and around the net area as the racquet head will move slower than your current model. However, this can be improved simply by doing my armchair exercises.

5) What am I prepared to pay?

Obvious question, I know. We all play on a budget so you then need to weigh up whether you are looking at the more expensive racquets and maybe buying one racquet, or do you compromise a little and look at the mid-price to budget racquets where you could possibly buy two or more of the same racquet (when you know it’s the racquet for you) and therefore have a spare for those times when you break a string, or worse case, break the frame in a collision.

Summary

I’ve covered a number of points here. Remember, nobody can accurately tell you a particular racquet will suit you best. By all means listen to other players, but remember, they are not you and therefore have completely different references for what makes a good racquet. Ask them if they don’t mind you trying their racquet then at least you have the knowledge of either keeping it on your like list or you can immediately discard it as something completely alien and not worth investing in.

Use the questions I have given you and hopefully you will make a more informed decision when choosing a new badminton racquet. Keep your ego out of the way. In other words, don’t buy the next great thing that is released from a manufacturer because your favourite player is using it. What suits them is unlikely to suit you and it certainly won’t make you play like them! If you do buy one of these racquets and then you don’t like it, think how you look in front of your badminton friends? I’m sure some will be thinking you have more money than sense!

Finally, do consider that you can get a far better return on investing in a coach or coaching. Resolving poor technique problems and helping you learn more skills will ensure you have these skills for life. Your racquet will rarely last as long as that.

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31 Comments

  1. morganpamela34 April 7, 2017 at 6:46 am

    Hi Paul!! Nice blog. It actually gave me a lot of information about badminton rackets. I have Dunlop Graviton AP 8300 Badminton Racket and it is really nice to play with. I feel racket does play an important role in a badminton game. Keep sharing such information in future. I will share this with my friends who love to play badminton and struggle in finding the best rackets. Thanks Paul.

  2. Aryan Sharma July 17, 2014 at 9:58 pm

    Hi Sir,

    I wanted to ask you that from which racket does the smash becomes powerful and speedy, with a head-light racket or head-heavy racket…

    And also tell me some advantages and disadvantages of the above written rackets…

    thanking you..

    • Paul Stewart
      Paul Stewart July 20, 2014 at 7:47 pm

      Wow, great question.

      It’s not the racket that creates the power, it’s the player. A player with great technique and the correct genetic makeup will have an incredibly powerful smash. They could play with any racket and have a powerful smash. This player may acquire more power by using a head heavy racket but then they may lose something in defence which a light racket will give them.

      For most players a head heavy racket will give most power but that doesn’t mean everyone can play with them. The worst racket to use is a head light but some players will argue they can get more power from this compared to others. It’s always down to personal taste.

      I hope this helps.

      Paul

  3. Badminton Passion June 27, 2013 at 6:28 am

    Thanks Paul for this beautiful article
    I think we should give some credit to Badminton Racket Manufactures for there marketing effort.
    Take an example of Yonex, They promote there products in such a way which create a center of attention for Badminton players.
    Like “World lightest Badminton Racket Yonex Arcsaber FB” , so player without knowing the technical details will rush on shopping.
    I am agree with you on identifying the real need to badminton racket , I have seen most of the time player decision is influenced by Badminton Manufacturer with excellent marketing technique.
    What do you say?

    • Paul
      Paul June 28, 2013 at 5:09 pm

      Many players do not need a new racket…they need coaching to get more from their existing racket.

      Racket manufacturers pay design agencies a lot of money to make their latest offering more appetising. So, the marketing is designed to “sell the dream” and many players fall for it.

      Paul

  4. Ed June 7, 2013 at 10:16 pm

    Great article, again ! Just want to add a bit for when somebody starts his quest on selecting a new racket. If you go Yonex, they have a strange system in naming their rackets. Easiest comparison is (I don’t favor the brand) BMW: you know by just looking at the number, a 525 is a bigger car with a bigger engine than a 320. You don’t have to drive or even see the car. 2 parameters that define the car. Simple. The Yonex graph (I know Paul doesn’t like them, and perhaps this is the reason Paul ?) catalogues rackets in head heaviness and repulsion. If you have a VT9, a VT7 and a VT5, which one is the head heaviest ? According the graph it is the 9. Okay, and then ? It is the 5, and then the 7. Same thing on the other side of the spectrum. Look at the NR20, NR60 and NR80. Hard to find a logic in there (or am I missing the clue ?). Don’t know if other brands are any better in this. So, if you don’t have the rackets you want to test at your disposal, and you have to select them in the catalogue, good luck. The graph only helps you to select a range before you go to the retailer: if you look for a head heavy racket, select all that starts with an A or V, skip everything that starts with a N. Cheers, ED

  5. Elisha March 12, 2013 at 7:43 pm

    Hi Paul,

    Your site has been a great source of information to me. I used to play lots when I was younger. Late 80s to mid 90s but haven’t since. Now that I’m coaching the high school senior team, I had to reacquire a racket and actually play again!
    I can’t express how much I missed playing my favourite sport after a 15+ years hiatus!

    Anyway to get back on topic, I don’t really remember what type of player I used to be but I played both singles and doubles and had various rackets from Carlton, Pro Kennex and Yonex. So last week was the first time I played the game again and used the school racket which I immediately found unacceptable. I then purchased a relatively cheap Wilson Ngage racket that was just under 90g and while it was okay, I felt it was lacking in power. This was the one I bought: http://www.wilson.com/en-us/badminton/racquets/944226/
    So I returned it and tried to find a more reliable racket. And not knowing my playing preference I was trying to find as much information as possible as to what racket works better for certain playing styles. I read lots of reviews including the ones one here. I supposed the more I play, the more I can determine what my new playing style is.
    However being much more muscular and less flexible now, I decided I needed a head heavy racket and work on my offensive game rather than running around and being defensive!
    I narrowed down my choice to the Yonex Voltric 5, 7 and 9. I ended up picking up the 7 today because the 5 was nowhere in sight and the closest shop that carried it was over an hour away. I decided against the 9 based on your review on the vibrating shaft.
    Since it is currently the week of march break, I won’t be able to test it out until next week!
    I have the same red one you reviewed. I know that Yonex redesigned the Voltric 7 and it is now available in silver and I saw somewhere that someone has it in blue as well. Do you know if this is just a new paint job or if there is a structural design change as well?

    Regards,
    Elisha

    • Paul
      Paul March 12, 2013 at 11:43 pm

      Elisha

      Yonex only re-painted VT7 but didn’t change the specification so you should be fine with the original version in red.

      Good luck with your next playing/testing session.

      Paul

      • Elisha March 20, 2013 at 11:53 pm

        Thank you Paul. So far I have had 2 sessions with it. I had a little tension buildup closer to my wrist after the first session but was okay the next session. My shins on the other hand is a different story.
        I think I need to restring to maybe 23lbs. Too much string movement and I have to readjust the strings quite often.
        Also since the VT7 is lighter than the rest of the Voltric series, how much of the balance would get affected if I regripped with a overgrip vs replacement grip?

      • Paul
        Paul March 21, 2013 at 7:39 pm

        Elisha

        It’s difficult to tell as this will depend on the type of grip and you really need to judge this for yourself. It’s all part of the learning experience.

        Paul

  6. kennyc296 December 31, 2012 at 4:31 am

    Thanks so much for all of your great work and I hope you can keep it up! Your reviews are the best I’ve ever read.

  7. kennyc296 December 29, 2012 at 5:52 pm

    Hey Paul, could you please write a review on any of the new Nanoray racquets. This would be greatly appreciated.

    • Paul
      Paul December 29, 2012 at 10:39 pm

      I will be reviewing Nanoray 800 and 600 very soon.

      Paul

  8. kmt170281 November 24, 2012 at 10:04 am

    Hi Paul ,
    I am a regular visitor of your site..
    Again it is a nice post with nice information.
    I have doubt , How dose racket weight impact the badminton player performence
    Pl clarify. thanks in advance

    • Paul
      Paul November 25, 2012 at 8:26 pm

      Players who are weaker at the rear court need to consider whether they want their racket to give them a bit more power. To do this a flexible or medium shaft is recommended together with a heavy headed racket.

      Those with natural power have the best options because they can generally choose any type of racket as long as it has a stiff shaft. Somebody who is naturally gifted with power does not need the flex in a shaft to provide a little more power.

      in UK we are very limited regarding racket weight. We generally have one choice from manufacturers and this tends to be around 84-89g. Again, if a player chooses a lighter racket, this may erode their power from the rear code (subject to each individual) which means they compensate by throwing their shoulder into the shot and injuring the shoulder.

      Whilst light rackets assist in defence and net area, badminton is generally not won from defending, but attacking. So why on earth choose a racket to rely of defence when you actually need to improve your attack?

      There are also plenty of armchair exercises (see videos) to help a player improve their defence with a heavier racket.

      i would not recommend choosing a racket that is heavier than say 91-92g because it may become that bit too heavy to work well for you.

      I hope this helps.

      Paul

      • kmt170281 November 26, 2012 at 3:25 am

        Thanks Paul …
        This will really help a lot.

  9. Antony Thundathil September 20, 2012 at 7:34 am

    Hi Paul
    I searched your forum for articles on string tension and string width but coludnt find anything, can you tell me where they are. And which has more head weight, the voltric 3 or voltric 5, i am using armortec 30, so would the voltric 5 be an upgrade for me or the voltric 3 or should i jus change the combination of the string?

    • Paul
      Paul September 24, 2012 at 10:47 pm

      Antony

      I have discussed incorrect string tension in articles and on the forum so the information is there. I haven’t played with a Voltric 3 to know whether it’s similar to Voltric 5 or not. AT30 is a very good racquet. However, before you buy another new racquet, please read my article on choosing a racquet as the questions there may help you.

      It may be that the best way forward is to test different strings or tensions on your existing racquet first and you find it plays so much better because of the tests you carry out. Make sure you keep notes of the test you do and your thoughts on each string at different tensions.

      To your success

      Paul

  10. cywong August 17, 2012 at 7:12 am

    Hi Paul

    I have read some of your articles and have 2 questions. Please forgive me if you have already answered similar questions before.

    Generally speaking, rackets which are 1. Head heavy 2. With flexible shaft 3. String at Low tension, will provide more power and rackets which are opposite will be more controllable. (Please let me know if I am wrong)

    I am wondering what will be the differences between a head heavy, extra stiff shaft racket which strung at high tension and a head light, flexible/stiff shaft racket which strung at low tension.

    Another question is that for a player who is quite powerful compare to his ability in the control department, from your angle as an experienced player and coach (I understand everyone’s feeling of a racquet is different and can only decide whether a racquet is right for himself), should he use a racket which can help him in the control department or a racket which can boost his strength, power?
    Apologize for my poor expression, hope you understand my question.
    Thanks in advance,
    Cyrus

    • Paul
      Paul August 19, 2012 at 9:31 am

      Cyrus

      Yes, a heavy heavy, flexible shaft with relatively low tension should be the most powerful combination, although I suspect very few players will be able to play with it.

      The difference in the two combinations you suggest with greatly depend on the player. You see one player may love the head heavy racket and hate the the head light racket and vice versa. This is where you can only compare based upon your references. They will play differently for different players.

      For your final question what you need to remember is that it will depend on the player whether they prefer to get the most out of power a racket can yield, or control. Each player will have a different answer depending on their style of play and which area of their game is most important.

      For me VT80 seems to be my ideal racket. It’s heavy enough to give me more power and yet I can still exercise the control I’m looking for.

      Sorry to say, the overall answer to all of your questions, as you say in your email, is the players personal choice. That’s what many players neglect and want others to answer for them. And yet, they are the only one who feels the racket with their own collective experiences, likes and dislikes.

      Paul

  11. white91 March 31, 2012 at 11:18 am

    Yes as I said I do agree mostly with what was already said, however the discussion is more balanced now.

    As I only briefly played the old scoring system, I now realise why the rally point system has changed the game in favour of attacking. Maybe this has also lead to more players seeking head heavy rackets?

    I do agree people have a macho approach to string tensions, but forgive my lack of knowledge but I thought slacker strings produced more power due to the ‘trampoline effect’? Or does power only decline going above higher string tensions 28+?

    Thanks for clarifying your thoughts, I think what you meant was that there is a difference in modern rackets, but it is often overstated and in reality its quite small.

    Nick

    • Paul
      Paul March 31, 2012 at 10:32 pm

      Nick

      I’m not sure whether the change in the scoring system has led to players choosing more head heavy racquets or not. In my area, there seems to be a lot of players using head light racquets which actually favours a more defensive game.

      Slacker strings do produce more power. There is a point whereby there are diminishing returns on power over control caused by increasing string tension. For the average player 28lbs would be a complete nonsense. Where I live even 23lbs would be considered on the high side for most players. However, it has to be relative to the skillset, type of shuttle used and the approach by stringers to educate and advise correctly. my biggest concern with high string tension is the kids asking for it because they know their favourite player has the same tension. There’s no thought regards whether their racquet will withstand the tension or whether their bodies are ready for it.

      Your final sentence is a good summary. Yes, there is a difference in modern racquets, but it is often overstated, albeit has a part to play.

      Paul

  12. white91 March 30, 2012 at 4:23 pm

    Whilst I agree (mostly) with what has been said, I would like to offer a counter arguement. It does seem people ‘demonise’ people who buy and enjoy nice rackets. All these comments regarding the best players pick up any racket and beat people isn’t true in my experience.

    Whilst a racket shouldn’t be anyones number one priority, it should be a priority, as it will make someone a better player.

    Do you have any proof that average club players cannot hit shuttles any harder with todays rackets compared with 30 year old technology? Take my other sport cycling, this is easier to compare as the actual parameters measured are the what we are discussing, times has continued to tumble for events over the last 30 years. Cyclists wouldn’t be anywhere near as quick on 30 year old bikes. The same applies to almost everysport where new technologies are employed, swimming springs to mind.

    The game has changed greatly over 30 years, and I believe some of the changes are due to racket design, along with better coaching and tactics. Maybe someone has speed tested smashes with different rackets old and new?

    • Paul
      Paul March 30, 2012 at 6:47 pm

      Bear in mind that one piece carbon racquets came into being around 1983/84. Whilst technology has certainly improved the racquets, and the fastest smash is still increasing, the question is will the average player be able to hit any harder with these new racquets.

      Let’s break down the discussion a little further. As you well know, I’m an advocate for players selecting a racquet that best suits their game and they are the only ones who can and should choose which racquet that is. Some will just choose the most expensive with the mindset that because of the price it must be the best. Others just like to be seen with the latest racquet, even if they can’t play with it – Arcsaber Z Slash is a classic case in mind.

      Whatever the reason for the racquet selection, it’s totally up to the player. However, it’s going to be a rare occasion when the average club player really gets a lot more from the top of the range racquet – that’s certainly not my experience over the last 30+ years. But there are always exceptions. I certainly don’t “demonise” players for this although understand what you mean. It’s wrong to do that.

      It also doesn’t necessarily follow that a new racquet will help a player play better – but it might. Whether this is psychological or physical is hard to determine. But, poor technique does not disappear just because a player purchases a new racquet. Occasionally, it could be that the player has actually bought a racquet that suits them. Then, there could be a marked improvement in their game, especially in consistency of hitting.

      Having watched so many players at varying standards over the years, there are very few who have shown major improvement over the years. I’m not saying some won’t hit a little harder, because the big difference between now and 30 years ago is the string and tensions that players use. String technology has certainly changed things along with the fact racquets may be a little stronger, but not by much despite the latest nanoscience. I knew players in 1980’s having their racquets strung at 24lbs. But, in those days very few players could cope with this tension. I still question that today, however there is always that “mine is bigger than yours attitude” whether it be string tension or price of racquet.

      Yes, I agree the game has changed to a degree. This is partly due to racquet technology, string technology, but most of all it has changed because of the scoring system . The rally point system has speeded the game up to a degree and certainly created a situation whereby defensive players always come second. Yes, the speed is due to the racquets moving faster than those of late 1970’s but not much because one piece racquets have been around that long. So, string, higher tensions (careful here as you know my thoughts on tensions) and the scoring system are by far the biggest changes we have witnessed to the game rather than racquet technology.

      Paul

  13. dandotjones March 8, 2012 at 5:40 pm

    Paul

    Are you reviewing any new (yonex) rackets soon? If so, could you possibly tell me what you have lined up? I am in the market for a new racket however, I do not want to purchase one and then find out in the next few weeks a new/improved racket has been released which shall l match my criteria.

    Many thanks,
    Dan

    • Paul
      Paul March 8, 2012 at 7:23 pm

      Hi Dan

      So far I have 10 APACS racquets, 8 Victor racquets and around 6 Yonex racquets to review. The Yonex racquets are mainly Nanorays and then it’s the big one, the new Voltric Z Force. I had one in my hand yesterday at All Englands but couldn’t test it, much to my disappointment.

      I have already tested the APACS racquets, but have to continue writing my reviews.

      On top of this we are still editing and cataloguing the 340+ video clips taken at my last residential weekend. And, I have a job to do too!

      So please be patient as I have to prioritise here and it’s going to take weeks to get through all of this.

      Paul

  14. chrisfong89 February 9, 2012 at 3:55 pm

    Paul, i agree totally with your comments. Most of the time, we get hyped up about some new racket with some incredible new ‘technology’ that we feel compelled to buy them. And most of us mistakenly thought that a new racket with better technology will definitely bring our games up by a notch. I agree that the best investment you can do is to get proper coaching and training. I’ve seen a player with good training defeating an amateur player (with all the newest most expensive rackets) with just a low-end racket.

    I realised a long time ago that footwork is so important! No amount of money spent on rackets will help improve your game is your footwork is horrible. After that, technique is equally as important. In my opinion, the racket is probably the least important aspect of the game.

    Thanks Paul for all your advice over the years. Helped me out a lot. Hope you continue helping us players out with your reviews and advice!

    • Paul
      Paul February 10, 2012 at 12:38 am

      Hi Chris

      Many thanks for your comments. I agree that good footwork and technique are far more important to player improvement than buying a new racquet. Sadly, this involves hard work and dedication compared to flexing a credit card to purchase a new racquet. One is easily achieved whereas the other takes considerable time. Guess which many players opt for?

      Chris, I can assure you I plan to be around for a long time. I have a stack of new articles to be released over the year, plus new racquet reviews and some coaching footage from Lilleshall, so you can see me in action demonstrating technique to intermediate and advanced players.

      I still have the goal of making my blog the best online resource for badminton players despite the other sites that have more video footage. I may even begin filming again for my own video series.

      To your success

      Paul

  15. RobHarrison February 8, 2012 at 8:04 pm

    Question 1 is the one I always come back to. Every now and again I manage to convince myself that a new racquet will take my game to the next level, then I’ll play a match where my smash works beautifully and I think I’ll carry on with my trusty Nanospeed.
    I also look to the best player in my club who uses whatever comes to hand and thrashes everyone regardless. I think a lot of it is in the head at the end of the day.

    • Paul
      Paul February 8, 2012 at 10:33 pm

      Rob

      Many thanks for your comment. I agree that there is a psychological issue surrounding new racquet technology.

      If you look back over the last 20-30 years of racquet development, there have been numerous variations, some brought about by developments in technology. The bottom line here is that the average club player cannot hit the shuttle any better or any harder with the newer frames than they could with racquets 30 years ago. OK, some of the pros have, but I’ll wager that’s down improvements in training, their individual genetics, and marketing moreso than advances in racquet technology.

      Hope you’re continuing to improve your game this season and look forward to seeing you on court again.

      Paul

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