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What Do You Think About When Choosing A New Badminton Racquet?
Almost every day I get emails from badminton players around the world telling me about their playing style on a badminton court. So they ask me what is the best racket for their particular style of play.
If you’ve spent time reading my blog or forum, you probably already know the answer I’m going to give. Anyway, for the reader who hasn’t been to this blog, here’s the answer I always give…
“Your style, technique, badminton experience, physique and muscle structure are different from mine and anyone else’s for that matter. Therefore, how you feel on a badminton racket will also be different for me and for every other actor. This means that no one can accurately advise you which racket to use.”
I honestly believe that the only person who can decide if a racquet is right for you is… you. However, this means that you should take your time and go through the experience of trying different rackets.
And here is the big problem. Most players do not have access to a wide range of badminton rackets. There are very few retailers that have demo rackets for players to try out on the court which means it is almost impossible to get your pick right on the first try.
Does experience count?
As your badminton experience grows, you develop a sense or instinct for what you like in a racket and also what you like. This experience, although invaluable, can sometimes be to the detriment of your game. Let me give you an example…
A few years ago I chose Armortec 900 Power as my racquet of choice. I really enjoyed the racquet and it seemed to cover many aspects of my game. Not being a naturally powerful player, I need the extra weight in the racket head to help me hit hard.
One day I was running a demo session with a player and for some reason he really struggled defensively which made me question my decision on the AT900P. For the next season, I changed racquets to Nanospeed 9900 which was the leader. Immediately my defense was “back to normal” and for a while I was still fighting hard.
During the season I noticed that my smash was coming back more often which puzzled me. What had changed? It took a while to realize that my body had adjusted to the lighter racket. Initially, going from a heavy racquet to a light head meant that my muscles were used to working harder to play an overhead shot. When I changed, the muscles worked so hard, which initially gave me a better result. Over time, the muscles weakened for some reason, which finally left me with a scary result.
So, I took out my old AT900P and tried again. At first it felt slow, but when I started smashing, there was an immediate improvement. Then it dawned on me what had happened and that I was asking the wrong questions.
The lesson here is that despite my experience, I made the mistake of jumping to conclusions without asking the right questions. Now I know what questions to ask before choosing a racket – have you?
Ask the right questions
The first question you should really ask is…
1) Do I really need a new racket?
You see, many players create beliefs to justify to themselves that they need a new racket. Most of the time the facts are simple – you don’t have to. However, marketing from racquet companies leads us to believe that playing with “this” racquet will almost magically make you a better player. It is simply not true.
If you really want to see a significant improvement in your game, then invest in a coaching course or a coach. A good trainer can do more to help you improve your game than any new racket can.
Of course, if your racket has a crack, or looks very worn then it is probably the right time to change it. Also remember that a good re-string can also transform a racket’s performance, so test the string tension and string type as well.
OK, we’ve covered the first point. What is the next question?
2) What are the features of my current racket that I really like/dislike?
You need to know why you like your existing racket because in the end it is the guide, your starting point to know where to start choosing a replacement. If you like a medium flex shaft then perhaps this is the most important feature you need in a new racket. By all means, try a racket with a flexible or rigid shaft to validate your knowledge, just in case your tastes have changed. Do the same with the weight of the head, the actual weight of the racket and the size of the grip although I appreciate that some countries have limited offers in some of these features compared to others.
3) What aspects of my game do I want to improve with this new racket?
This question makes you look at your current game first to decide which are the most important features you want to improve. Does a racket change really help? The answer may be positive depending on the characteristics that are on your personal list.
4) What aspects of my game am I willing to allow a dip in performance until I can fix it?
This is just as important as question 3. Let’s do a quick example here. You’ve decided you want more power in your swing and are now looking for a heavy racquet. This will result in a reduction in your immediate ability in defense and around the net area as the racket head moves slower than your current pattern. However, this can only be improved by doing my armchair exercises.
5) What am I willing to pay?
Obvious question, I know. We all play on a budget so you need to consider if you look at the most expensive rackets and maybe buy one racket, or make a little compromise and look at the average price of budget rackets where you can buy two. or more of the same racket (when you know it’s the racket for you) and therefore you have a spare for those times when you break a string, or worse case, break the frame in a collision.
I have covered a number of points here. Remember, no one can say with precision which particular badminton racket will suit you best. By all means listen to other players, but remember, they are not you and therefore have completely different references for what makes a good racket. Ask them if you don’t mind trying their racquet then at least you have the knowledge to keep it on your likes list or you can immediately dismiss it as something completely foreign and not worth investing in.
Use the questions I have given you and hopefully you will make a more informed decision. Keep your ego out of the way. In other words, don’t buy the next big thing that’s released by a manufacturer because your favorite actor uses it. What suits them is unlikely to suit you and certainly won’t make you play like them! If you buy one of these rackets and you don’t like it, think about how you will look in front of your badminton buddies? I’m sure some will think you have more money than sense!
Finally, consider that you can get a much better return by investing in a coach or coaching. Solving poor technical problems and helping you learn more skills will ensure that you have these skills for life. Your badminton racket will rarely last as long as this.
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