This badminton racket maintenance article is long overdue. As a tournament stringer, I see so many different badminton rackets. At tournaments, the pressure is on. There isn’t the time to spend on preparation of a racket. Generally, there’s just about enough time to restring the racket and possibly add a logo onto the strings. This is expected for sponsored players but is still optional.
There are three requirements to ensure your racket is playing its best:
- The choice and life of the string
- The grip
I have written articles and recorded videos on string choice and string tension. I recommend you read/watch these when you can. Also check out my dedicated stringing page. Some players will use their beloved racket until a string breaks before having it restrung. That’s fine for beginners, social and league players who are currently at the lower end of the skill spectrum.
For highly skilled badminton players, especially those playing in the leagues, there should be greater consideration for having your racket restrung frequently. Why? Over time, strings lose some of their elasticity. String tension drops and therefore the racket is not playing anywhere near the tension asked for.
Badminton strings will lose around 10% in tension within the first 48 hours following stringing, and then continue to diminish at different rates, depending on the string. This is what’s known as string creep. It’s common for players to enjoy playing with their racket more just before string breakage i.e. when tension is at its lowest.
I’ve heard various “rules of thumb” regarding how often a racket should be restrung. Take these as guidelines and go off your instinct. A common “rule” is to consider how many times per week you play. If you play twice a week then have your racket restrung twice a year. I’ve heard this “rule” from so many different places. However, there’s a difference between a player who is on court for one hour, twice a week and a player who plays for three hours, twice a week. Add into this, playing standards, intensity of play plus other variables and you can see the “rule” is not so good.
My advice is to use a professional stringer and discuss with them how often you should have your racket restrung. Whilst you may think the stringer is going to sell you lots more restrings in a year, they wish to retain your custom so it’s not in their interest to upset you. Work out your budget and then see if you can agree a program with your stringer.
When stringing at the All Englands, I see a range of grip types. What the players have in common is that they will replace grips often to ensure they do not play with a worn out grip.
For social and league players, the story is so different. When I visit clubs I see lots of rackets with poorly fitting grips. I also see a high percentage of grips that are clearly past their best and some are extremely dangerous.
With grip selection, this is personal. I have tested hundreds of grips over the years, all of which were good in their own way. All of the racket manufacturers offer a range of grips so there is no excuse for not finding a suitable grip for you.
How often should you change your grip?
If towel grip doesn’t feel right, then look for a grip that offers high absorbency. A common sense approach is required to changing the grip and will depend on how often you play, and how sweaty your hands are.
If you have relatively dry hands like me, then a tacky grip may prove to be the answer. These grips have a limited life and will not remain tacky for too long, but the feeling on them is worth it. I find a tacky grip lasts me around 2-3 weeks and I pick up a racket every day. If you play once a week then a grip like this can last for a couple of months.
If you wear a ring on your racket hand, then you may find the ring is rubbing against the grip, creating a hole. In situations like this you choose whether to remove your ring before play or change your grip more often. Worn areas can sometimes spread. This in turn may lead to rubbing in other areas and you leaving court with a blister.