There are literally hundreds of badminton rackets on the market. It’s difficult to choose which racket is the right fit for you. The truth is, no one racket is perfect for everything. It’s like trying to pick the best house on the market – everyone has different needs. Racket choice breaks down to three major things: features, budget, and experience. Let’s explore each of those things to try to narrow down the right racket for you.
Racket Features (Specs)
If you were to attempt to balance your racket on one finger, would you need to slide your finger closer to the head of the racket, or closer to the grip? This simple exercise can tell you quite a bit about a racket. It will let you know if a racket is head-heavy or head-light. What do those things mean?
- Head-heavy rackets tend to be power rackets. They carry more power in their swing and are great for smashing as well as clearing the shuttle. On the other hand, a head-heavy racket will slow down your recovery swing and can tire out a weak shoulder quickly.
- Head-light rackets aren’t as great for offensive power-hits but are great for speed, control, and reaction time. The maneuverability of a head-light racket tends to be superior to a racket with more weight in the head.
- Even-Balance – If you prefer a modicum of advantage in both power and control, choose a versatile racket that has an even balance. It is neither head-heavy nor head-light. This is probably the best choice for a beginning player who doesn’t yet recognize their playing style or preferences.
The shaft of a badminton racket is graded by its flexibility. You’ll notice terms like medium flex or extra stiff in product descriptions and racket reviews. Players with a slower swing can utilize the bend in their racket to generate a bit of extra power behind the shuttle. Shuttlers with a faster and more explosive swing would lose their shot control with a very flexible racket shaft.
For this reason, beginners tend to lean towards a more flexible shaft to give their swing a bit of extra power. Professional or advanced shuttlers tend to prefer a stiffer shaft that performs well in fast rallies. Note that there are always exceptions to every rule. As a beginner, you may find that you prefer a stiffer racket.
The two major shapes you’ll find when shopping for badminton rackets are ‘oval’ and ‘isometric’. Oval shaped badminton rackets are exactly what they sound like – oval. This means that the vertical strings are longer than the corresponding horizontal strings on the racket, creating a concentrated ‘sweet spot’ that provides the most power if the shuttle strikes your racket on that spot.
An isometric racket shape is also occasionally referred to as ‘square’. More of the vertical and horizontal strings are the same length. This makes for a larger sweet spot, but less playing area as a whole.
Badminton rackets have multiple grip circumference categories. G1 grips are thick (4 inches) and are preferred by players who use more arm power. On the complete opposite end of the spectrum are G6 grips, which are thinner (2.75 inches) and are preferred by players who tend to use more wrist and hand power. Grip choice is really dependent on individual players playing style and comfort preferences.
Don’t Break Your Budget!
When you begin shopping for your first racket, you might head to the pro-shop at your local badminton center. Understand that some of the rackets in this pro-shop are advanced rackets designed specifically for advanced or professional play. Some sticker shock will likely follow if you pick up one of these rackets first. Rest assured that you don’t need to $250+ when buying your first new racket.
If you’ve just signed up for lessons, and have yet to set foot on a court, purchasing your first racket will be a confusing venture if you approach it without a little research. If you’ve only been playing for a short while, and aren’t competing, there’s not necessarily a need to drop big bucks on a top of the line Yonex racket. If you are a true beginner, you need to know that Yonex is to Badminton as Adidas is to Soccer. They seem to have cornered the market on rackets, but there are other more affordable options out there. Spending $50 or less as a new player is completely reasonable, and definitely possible. Second-hand rackets in like-new conditions may also available through notice boards at your local club. Check out some of our recommendations.
Choose a Good Racket for Your Experience Level – Beginner, Intermediate, or Advanced?
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Best Badminton Racket for Beginners
If you’re just starting, it probably isn’t wise to drop an arm and a leg on the racket that you know is used by the most recent Olympic medalist. It’s not going to perform the same for you as it does for them. You can start with an inexpensive choice, and then adjust as you learn to recognize your strengths and preferences on the court. Beginner badminton rackets can come from Walmart, Amazon, or even a pro-shop.
The Wilson Matchpoint is an excellent beginner’s alternative that won’t break the budget. It’s a lightweight, medium flex racket and runs around $25. It’s not top of the line, but is exactly what you need to learn the basic rules of badminton, and play a few introductory matches as you begin to learn your strengths and weaknesses.
The Senston N80 is another great selection for entry-level or even intermediate players. It’s a high-grade racket without the pro-level price. It averages around $37. It’s a lightweight racket, which is a great feature for beginner players who haven’t built up the stamina necessary to play longer matches.
If you’re one of those athletes that absolutely must have the best of the best, then the Yonex Nanoray 20 might be your best bet. It’s the highest price point of the beginner’s rackets recommended here but is high-quality and will last long after you’re no longer a beginner. This head-light racket is has a high-flex shaft that will put both speed and power behind your shots.
Best Badminton Racket for Intermediate Players
As you spend more time on the court, you’ll become aware of your own style of play. Investing in a more specialized racket that lends itself to your playing style and strengths can bring your game to the next level.
The Yonex Astrox 6 is a head heavy racket with medium-stiff flexibility. It’s great for players who love to be on the attack and provides the power for a very effective smash. It’s got an isometric frame (read on for a basic description of what isometric means) that creates a large ‘sweet spot‘ to maximize quality hits. It runs a little more expensive than some entry-level rackets for beginners but is still affordable at around $100.
The Yonex Voltric 7 is another superb choice for intermediate players. It’s a great quality racket at a midrange price. Surprisingly lightweight, the racket allows for great reaction time without wearing out the shuttler. It’s got a slightly head heavy balance to allow for some decent smashing.
The Arcsaber 11 has a stiff flexibility shaft that allows shuttlers to utilize its power potential to the max. It’s a lightweight, aerodynamic racket with an isometric head that won’t disappoint in performance OR price.
Best Badminton Racket for Advanced and Professional Players
Editor’s Choice: The Yonex Duora Z-Strike is our personal favorite, and racket of choice for an advanced or professional player. It has a super-thin shaft and a 4-inch grip size. The even balance of this racket lets you play with speed and avoid wearing out your upper arm and shoulder during long rallies. It’s a higher-end racket, but worth every penny for players who want to perform at an elite level in competition. The Duora Z-Strikes versatility makes it a preferred racket for doubles as well. This is the preferred racket of woman’s singles player Carolina Marin.
The Yonex Astrox 77 is another high performing racket. Its lightweight lends itself to endurance and the isometric heavy head makes for a large sweet spot and supreme power. It’s great for smashing and is the choice racket for women’s singles phenom Ratchanon Intanok.
Rounding out the list of choices for advanced players is the Voltric Z-Force II. This high-end racket combines fast handling and copious power. It’s thin shaft and isometric head send shuttles sailing with speed and accuracy. This is the preferred racket of England’s Chris Adcock.
At the end of the day, the perfect racket is the one that feels the best in your hand, and lends itself to your playing style. Don’t be afraid to ask around at your matches to see what fellow players in your general skill bracket are using, and why they prefer that racket.