Once in a while a new product is launched in the badminton world which helps players improve their game.
Recently I was sent two “training” racquets for evaluation, which is something I rarely do. However, I’m always open-minded and like to test new training tools as attendees at my residential training weekends will testify. The question is, do these training racquets really work or are they just another flash-in-the-pan product? Read on…
The training racquets in question are the StrengthPro 140 and 160. Bearing in mind they are training racquets, my review will be slightly different to my usual standards as I have no wish to rate these racquets alongside the best that Yonex or Victor have to offer.
Readers of my blog will know that I’m an advocate of training tools to help you the player achieve more in badminton. I’ve written a number of articles and recorded videos on ways to improve the power in your wrists and forearms. The principles from these i.e. overloading specific areas of the body to make them do more work certainly apply to these training racquets.
So let’s take a closer look…
StrengthPro 140 is a standard looking white badminton racquet with relatively plain graphics which is a nice change. It looks like any other badminton racquet in terms of dimension etc. Grip size feels bigger than Yonex G4 and is possibly a G2 but I can’t be sure. The grip itself is a Karakal PU grip – very nice.
What makes this racquet different is the weight. Most racquets I test weigh around 80-90 grams. This racquet weighs a whopping 140 grams – wow! As you can imagine it feels heavy compared to my Voltric 80 so technically it should give me a good workout. The racquet can be strung up to 32lbs tension which means you can string to your required tension to get the closest feel to your existing racquet. That’s a plus point in itself.
StrengthPro 160 is available in yellow or orange with plain graphics. It has similar features to 140 except that it weighs in at 160 grams! So, if you really want to take your workout to extreme levels then perhaps this will be the training racquet for you.
It’s hitting time…
With standard stringing I felt the stringbed was a bit springy for my tastes. So my first tip would be to have this racquet re-strung to your preferred tension. This I have now done.
What was interesting was the short amount of time it took to feel tired using these racquets. Clears were relatively easy and being a fan of head heavy racquets I loved the extra weight to really feel where the racquet head was travelling. In fact I feel the racquet helps tremendously in developing awareness of your racquet and what it is doing in so many situations. It also gives you a really good endurance workout!
The racquets were mainly tested in defence and net situations as these were the areas I was training my students at the time. I must confess both me and my students really struggled with the racquets initially because we weren’t used to them. Prior to receiving these racquets I always used an old squash racquet when overloading defence so it was great to have a better alternative.
During my training sessions I had my students smashing shuttles at me and I had to respond with different returns. So I had to lift, drive and block shuttles that were being hit very hard indeed. I struggled most with SP160 which stands to reason because it’s the heaviest of the two racquets. However, the training racquets did exactly what I wanted – they initially slowed down my response to the incoming shuttle until I focussed and worked harder to find my form. As a result, when I swapped the racquets for my Voltric 80 I was so quick “on it” that the quality of my returns improved considerably.
I purposely haven’t prolonged this review because of what these racquets are meant to do. What I can confidently say is that these racquets are absolutely brilliant! They really help you develop as a player because you have the chance to have a good technical workout by simply overloading the key areas for technique i.e. hands and forearms. These racquets force you to improve your technique and you also get an endurance and strength workout at the same time.
In addition I used these racquets at home doing my “armchair” exercises and again they added another dimension. For serious overload try placing the old racquet cover and book on one of these and see how difficult the exercise becomes!
All of my students commented how good these racquets are and I can only echo their sentiments. If you’re a serious student of badminton and looking to reach the top then you MUST have one of these racquets in your bag.
Coaches, you should also have one of these in your bag because you never know when this could be the answer to solving a technique issue or just training good players.
I can honestly say that StrengthPro Training Racquets are one of badmintons best kept secrets. They really do a superb job of training the player and that’s exactly what they’re for.
As a result of this test I now carry both the StrengthPro 140 and StrengthPro 160 in my bag at all times and wouldn’t consider leaving them behind for a minute. I’m glad to say my old squash racquet will have to find another home as there’s no room in my bag now that I have the StrengthPro racquets.
RRP for these racquets is only £65. If you go to the StrengthPro website you can probably get a better deal than this as they do have offers from time to time, although to me they’re certainly worth the money.