Looking to take the first step towards playing badminton? There's no better place to start than with a racquet, and we'll fill you in on how to find the perfect one for you.

What You Need to Know to Buy a Badminton Racquet

As the one racquet sport played without a ball of any kind, badminton is a severely misunderstood sport in the United States. With a reputation for play at picnics and at grandmother’s house, the sport looks like fun (and it is!) but not very athletic. Nothing could be further from the truth.

It is crucial to buy the proper racquet for badminton just like you would for any other racquet sport - and if you are familiar with other racquet sports, you know that can come with a lot of nuanced variables. For those new to badminton competition, we've compiled this buying guide to help out.

The days of heavy, wood equipment are long over. Being an Olympic sport since 1992 has helped consumers see the value in quality badminton racquets. Space age carbon materials and sophisticated construction methods are now the rule - not the exception. But if you think it’s just like buying a tennis racquet, you will be in for a few surprises. Let's get started!

What is the Ideal Weight?

Compared to tennis, badminton racquets are about one fourth the weight. And they have to be. Shuttlecocks leave the racquet face far faster than any other racquet sport’s ball. However, these shuttlecocks also decelerate far more quickly than any ball due to their aerodynamics. Therefore the badminton player must have cat-like quick reflexes and a racquet able to react in a flash.

Weights are measured in grams (g) in this sport. Many shoppers are confused by the codes that can describe the weight. Here is how to decode the “U’s” that often accompany descriptions:

Weight Classification Weight (in grams)

2U

90-94g

3U

85-89g

4U

80-84g

5U

75-79g

While it is counterintuitive for some, the higher the “U” the lower the weight. The general rule of thumb is lower weights will help generate power but may compromise on control.

Stiffness of the Racquet Shaft

Second only to weight in terms of importance, how stiff the racquet is will dictate the kind of play one can expect from a racquet. If a player is just beginning they will need a shaft (see image below) that is flexible to help generate some playability. Medium stiffness is great for intermediates. Higher level players will demand a stiff shaft as that will generate the most power for the expert player.

Infographic identifying the key parts of a badminton racquet: frame, head, shaft, handle, throat, stringed area.

Grip Size

Unfortunately, the industry has failed to adopt a standard language for grip sizes. However, the most common grip sizes are designated with a “G” and a number. These codes translate to the following sizes:

Grip Code Size

G1

4 inches

G2

3 3/4 inches

G3

3 1/2 inches

G4

3 1/4 inches

G5

3 inches

Confused? You are not alone. The good news is though, choosing a size has more to do with your style of play - not the size of your hand. This is very different from choosing a tennis grip size. In badminton, you should choose a smaller grip size if you are newer to the game or if your game relies more on finesse rather than power. The smaller grip will make it easier for your wrist to adjust your shots quickly so as to hit drops and other off speed shots. A bigger grip will help you hit the big smash.

Racquet Balance

Some racquets are described as “head heavy” or “head light” or simply balanced. The beginner or the finesse player will get the most benefit from head light racquets as those will allow more variability of the swing and greater shotmaking. Head heavy racquets appeal to advanced players desiring to hit smashes with as much power as possible. Balanced racquets make sense for intermediates who are trying for the best of both worlds.

Materials

The racquet will generally be constructed of one of these four materials - each with its own pros and cons.

  • Wood: a thing from the past. Does not hold up in competition. Cheap.

  • Steel: great for long lasting use but can be heavy. Often used in combination with other materials.

  • Aluminum: usually on the lighter end. Some lack endurance

  • Carbon Fiber/Graphite: pound for pound, super light and super strong. Highest prices.

What String Tension Should I Use?

This is a source of great debate but generally speaking, novices should use looser tensions such as 17 to 20 lbs. Advanced players’ tension may fall in the 24 to 27 lbs. range with intermediaries in between. Manufacturers will often offer suggestions as to what is ideal in their products.

What is a Good Badminton Racquet for a Beginner?

Players new to the game should consider lighter weights, smaller grips and head light racquets with highly flexible shafts.

What is Best for Advanced Players?

Advanced players, particularly those using a power game, should shop for head heavy racquets with bigger grips where shafts are stiff and overall on the heavy end of the spectrum.

How Do I Decide What to Buy?

There are four things to honestly assess that will help you find your perfect racquet:

  • Know your ability. Being honest is key. Buying something designed for the pro is not optimal for novices. They are likely to get discouraged by poor results.

  • Know your style of play.

  • Know your budget. While this is not as important as other factors, it can help you decide. Just because an item is cheap, it does not mean it will get you the best results or hold up as you play more and more.

  • Frequency of play. The more you play the more you will want to invest in carbon fiber materials so as to get the longest life from your racquet.

TennisRacquets.com wants you to be the best you can be. In addition to the right racquet, don't forget about quality shoes and accessories like wristbands. Contact us with any questions!


Ready to choose your racquet?


Related Articles