Rackets – overall characteristics
A badminton racket must be no more than 680mm in length and 230mm in width. Ideally it should not weigh more than 100 grams. Rackets can be made from a wide variety of materials, with different characteristics in terms of durability, weight and flexibility. Some makes of racket offer certain models at slightly different weights. Lighter rackets can be good for manoeuvrability, heavier rackets are better for power. Grip sizes can also vary.
Rackets can cost anywhere between £10 and £200. Getting advice from a local racket shop is a good idea and having the opportunity to try a number of rackets is the ideal. Alternatively, ask a friend to lend you theirs to try out. Having done this, buy the best you can afford, but bear in mind if you begin to play regularly, an identical second spare racket will soon become essential.
Shorter rackets are available for children and these are worth considering as they may allow children to succeed in striking the shuttle earlier in their development. BADMINTON England's Bisi Programme includes rackets for junior players.
Badminton racket grips will eventually wear out. Rackets bought from new generally have synthetic grips and these can be replaced again with synthetic materials, or with towelling grips. Replacement grips can cost between £2.50 and £4.00.
Unfortunately badminton racket strings break leaving you with the challenge of getting them restrung. The following list provides a few hints and tips regarding racket restringing.
When a string breaks, what should I do?
Well apart from changing to your spare racket you should also:
- Note where the string broke. If it is roughly in the centre of the string bed then that’s ok, give yourself a pat on the back for hitting the shuttle with the right part of the racket! However, if the string has broken near a grommet (small plastic tubes inside the frame where the string is threaded), then finding a way to mark that grommet is useful. This grommet may well need replacing before any future restring is completed.
- Cut the remaining strings from the racket and remove them. This is because once one string breaks there is the potential for the racket head to become distorted if other strings remain under tension.
What string should I use?
There is a vast array of strings, each having slightly different characteristics. Ask for advice from your stringer about the different options available.
What can I expect to pay?
This depends largely on the type of string being used. You can expect to be charged anywhere from £12 to £18, about 20-35% will be for the strings, the rest for will be labour.
How tight should my racket be strung?
String tensions vary from 20lbs to 28lbs, although 22-26 is more typical. Better rackets will come with a recommended tension guide; however, this can vary depending on personal choice. Initially stringing your racket in the middle of the racket’s recommended range is a good starting point.
Badminton is generally played with shuttles that consist of 16 goose feathers embedded in a cork base that is covered in leather. These shuttles can cost from £8 to £20 per dozen. Their flight characteristics and the ability to slice and spin make them the preferred choice of higher level players.
Plastic shuttles are usually made of a synthetic base and a moulded nylon “skirt”. Some plastic shuttles have cork bases, with a covering that gives a better grip on the racket compared to shuttles with a purely synthetic base. Plastic shuttles are more durable and can last 4 -5 times longer than feather shuttles. These are more commonly used for beginners.