I’ve been stringing badminton racquets for over 20 years. This has included string for beginners to international players. Having seen the changes in technology from two piece racquets, to one piece composite frames, nano technology and isometric heads, I’ve pretty much seen it all over the years. The development in racquet technology has brought us lighter and yet stronger frames.
This development has also generated a significant amount of testing by international players, looking for competitive advantage. Tensions have been pushed higher and have now entered those usually seen in squash racquets. Bear in mind squash racquets are significantly thicker and heavier than badminton racquets and therefore they are designed to withstand these tensions.
So here’s my guide to racquet tensions. As with all guides, there are players who will not wish to be classed as a beginner or low level player (there’s that ego again), and therefore dismiss my recommended tension. Also, tensions are so personal. We all play a different game, some are power players, some are great tacticians, some have a very broad range of shots, others have limited shots but have mastered them. Essentially we’re all different. You need to experiment to find the optimum tension for your style of play.
- Beginner – 16lbs – 18lbs – especially if playing with plastic shuttles
- Beginner – 17lbs-19lbs if playing with feathers
- Intermediate – 18lbs -23lbs
- Advanced – 23lbs-28lbs
- County/International – 26lbs – 32lbs
As I said previously, this is a guide. I know county players who are happy playing with 22lbs and I also know some who play with 27lbs or more.
Whilst stringers will string your racquet beyond the manufacturers recommended tension, expect them to stipulate that they will not be responsible if the frame breaks.
Whilst playing with plastic shuttles is extremely cost effective compared to feather shuttles, please bear in mind that hitting these shuttles are a major cause of tennis elbow. Plastic shuttles do not fly like a feather. You generally have to put more effort into clearing the shuttle to the back of the court than you do with a feather.
As the saying goes you “stroke a feather and punch a plastic.”
Because there are significant flight differences between plastic and feather shuttles, it is recommended that you lower your string tension to get more repulsion properties from your string and less vibration. If you’re playing with a plastic shuttle and have your racquet strung at say, 24lbs, you may as well play with a board.
As with all sports, a modicum of common sense prevails. I’ve known players who play with both plastic and feather shuttles. Thankfully, they are fully aware of the increased dangers of playing with plastics compared to feather shuttles and use a different racquet, strung 2-3 lbs less than their racquet for feathers in order to compensate.