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Badminton Buying Guide

Racket

Without a racket, it would be impossible to play badminton. It is obvious to say that this is the most important (and sometimes most expensive) piece of equipment you can buy.

It is important to get a racket that suits your play style and experience. Usually players start out with a cheap racket.  Just anything that they can hit a shuttle with. While there is nothing wrong with this, most players will soon look for a better racket.

There are a couple of things to consider when looking for a new racket.

Among things to consider are weight, grip size, balance, flexibility, string tension and head shape.

Weight

Racket weight is divided into these classes:

2U - 90 grams and above
3U - 85 - 89.9 grams
4U - 80.0 - 84.9 grams
5U - 75 - 79.9 grams
Training - heavier rackets for strengthening your wrist

Li-Ning uses this system:
W1 - 78 - 80 gram
W2 - 81 - 84 gram
W3 - 85 - 89 gram

Lower weight rackets can be especially good for defensive players that want  a light touch and more control.  The lower weight can help the player to react faster. 

Aggressive players could find benefit in a slightly heavier racket as the momentum and power that can be generated by their swing is increased.

Balance

Balance refers to the balance point of the racket from the grip end.

Head Heavy - 295 - 305mm
Balanced - 290 - 300mm
Head Light - 285 - 295mm

Defensive players would generally prefer a head light or balanced racket.

Aggressive players looking for more power will likely prefer a head heavy racket.

Grip Size

Grip size indications vary per supplier, but in general the following grading can apply:

G2/S2 or Yonex G5 - 3.25 inch
G3/S3 or Yonex G4 - 3.50 inch
G4/S4 or Yonex G3 - 3.75 inch
G5/S5 or Yonex G2 - 4.00 inch

A smaller grip circumference in usually preferred since the racket shouldn't be held too tightly.  A person with large hands might prefer a larger circumference due to it being more comfortable.

Flexibility

Shaft flexibility varies from Flexible to Stiff and should be selected based on your playing style.
Most beginner rackets have flexible shafts and are great for control.  Stiffer shafts are usually selected by players with an offensive play style as they can generate more power.

String Tension

Recommended string tension:

Beginner to Intermediate players -> 18 - 22 lbs.
Advanced players -> 22 - 28 lbs.

Look for string tension guidelines on the frame of your racket.

Head Shape

There are two basic options:

Conventional - an oval head shape with a smaller sweet spot
Isometric - the head is more square in shape and has a larger sweet spot.

No prizes for guessing which one is more appealing to beginners.

For a good guide to racket selection go to http://www.badmintonwarehouse.com/articles.asp?id=123

The most well known brand is Yonex, but don't shoot down brands like Li-Ning, Kason, Hi-Qua, Wilson, Carlton and Victor.

Shuttles

Technically named shuttlecocks, but casually referred to as shuttles.  These come in two flavours:

Nylon Shuttles

Referred to as plastic shuttles, these are much more durable than feather shuttles due to the plastic skirt and can last several games. Because of the durability, these shuttles are used as practice shuttles and are normally used in lower league games. Plastics tend to leave the racket at a slower speed, but also doesn't slow down as much to the end of their flight.

Nylon shuttles come in three grades:

Green - slow speed
Blue - medium speed
Red - fast speed

Nylon shuttles are supplied by Yonex and Victor.

Feather Shuttles

Made from cork covered with a thin leather and a cone of feathers made of 16 duck or goose wing feathers. The highest quality shuttles are made from goose feathers from the left wing (right and left wing feathers aren't mixed). Better cork is also used in better shuttles.

Feather shuttles are less durable as the feathers can break easily.  It is not unusual to destroy several in a game. The durability can be increased by steaming the shuttles about half a day before using them.

These shuttles tend to leave the racket at a faster speed, but slows down faster in flight. This makes the game seem faster, but still allows the players more time to get to the shuttle.

The speed of feather shuttles are rated as following:
-Japan uses a 1 - 5 grade
-Metric weight from 48 - 52 where a 48 is 4.8gram
-Grain ranging from 75 to 79

1/48/75 - slow for use at high altitude
2/49/76 - medium slow for hot areas
3/50/77 - medium used at sea level
4/51/78 - medium fast for cold areas
5/52/79 - fast for cold areas and below sea level

Other ratings as low as 73 and high as 81 is sometimes available.

Feather shuttles are supplied by Yonex, Li-Ning, RSL, Victor, Hi-Qua and other brands.

Shoes

Movement on a badminton court is much different from movement while jogging and requires that the shoes have good grip and stability for moving across the court.

There are two requirements for badminton shoes:

- They must have non-marking soles
- They should have support and stability to protect your ankles.

Good shoes include Yonex, Asics and Adidas.

Other

Clothes should be light and allow some airflow when moving.  Short pants should be worn (unless it is extremely cold) that does not inhibit movement. 

 

A bag to store rackets, snacks and a towel is nice to have. Racket bags can be used to serve all these functions and more.  A backpack can be used, but dedicated racket bags for 3, 6 or 9 rackets offer more protection.

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