As someone starting out to play badminton (and multiple other racket sports for that matter), I remember having a lot of concerns about my racket. Which racket should I choose, what are the different factors I should consider, would my game be affected by the racket I go for…there were a lot of question-marks.
Below I try and drill deeper into the factors you need to consider before buying a badminton racket as a beginner and follow that up with my own recommendation on the 10 best badminton rackets for someone just starting out.
Badminton can trace its origins back more than two thousand years to the ancient civilizations of Europe and Asia, and the sport of battledore, or shuttlecock, which involved two people hitting a shuttlecock back and forth between themselves competing to see how long they could go before it touched the ground.
The modern game though can be attributed to the mid-19th century and the British rule of India (read more about the history of badminton here)
Military officers stationed there had the idea of adding a net to the original sport of shuttlecock, and the new game was exported back to England, where it was played at the country house of the Duke of Beaufort called Badminton (hence the name).
By the end of the 19th century, the first tournaments were being played, and, in 1934, the International Badminton Federation was formed.
Today, badminton is amongst the ten most popular sports in the world in terms of participation, with an estimated 220 million people playing it globally.
Choosing a Badminton Racket as a Beginner
As with any racket sport, the single most important piece of equipment for any player is the racket itself. And, when looking to make their choice, a potential buyer will be confronted with a wide range of rackets, from a variety of different brands and manufacturers.
With such an array of choice, many novices may be tempted by such simple characteristics as color and design. However, in order to ensure that the racket is best suited to their needs there are four criteria which should be used – balance, weight, flexibility of the shaft, and the grip.
All badminton rackets can be categorized into three types when it comes to balance – head-heavy; head-light, and even-balanced.
These rackets are designed for players who like to play from the back of the court, and strike the shuttle hard. They provide them with extra mass in the racket head, enabling them to put more power into their shots and smashes. However, they are slower through the air, and can be tiring to hold during long matches.
These rackets are suitable for playing close to the net, because the weight is distributed closer to the frame, making it easier to manipulate and impart control, although the feeling on impact with the shuttle is less solid.
They are also better suited to doubles than head-heavy rackets. As they are lighter, juniors and those of a slighter frame may also prefer to use this type of racket.
This type of racket tries to offer the best of both worlds, giving players enough power from the back of the court, and control and manoeuvrability closer to the net. For many beginners, an even balanced racket is the best option as it helps them to develop an all-round game.
It should be noted that advanced players will normally have at least one of each type of balanced racket in their bag.
The weight of a racket is denoted with the letter “U” with the smaller the number, the greater the weight. That means, for example, that a 3U racket (85 – 89 grams) is heavier than a 4U version (80 – 85 grams).
The weight is important, especially when starting out in the sport, because choosing one that is too heavy can make them difficult to use, when a player has not yet learned the correct technique. On the other hand, if a racket is too light, it can be difficult to build the muscle needed to generate power.
The majority of singles players use 3U rackets because they provide more overall mass, and ensuring that the rackets imparts more stability, even if this does mean sacrificing a little speed.
However, 4U rackets are commonly found in doubles, where speed is more important around the net, and the ability to react quickly to opponents’ smashes.
Almost as important as balance and weight when it comes to choosing a racket is the flexibility of the shaft – sometimes known as flex. Deciding what type of shaft is suitable for a particular player depends on their arm/wrist speed.
The terminology used to denote shaft flexibility varies between manufacturers and brands, with some describing them as “Flexible” Medium” and “Stiff”, whilst others will use variations on this, such as “Medium Stiff” or “Extra Stiff”.
However, the guiding principle is that the faster a player’s arm/wrist speed the stiffer the type of shaft will suit their game.
And, by contrast, the slower and smoother the wrist/arm speed, the more flexible a racket will be suited to their needs. Advanced players tend to favour stiffer rackets.
With a stiffer shaft the racket bends and then unbends quickly, but they are difficult for less advanced players to use because they lack the skill and technique to use them without suffering a loss of power.
At the other end of the scale, a flexible shaft bends and unbends much more easily, but those with a fast arm/wrist swing often find that they connect with the shuttle too early, resulting in a loss of power and control.
The grip size is denoted by the letter G, with the smaller the number, the larger the size of the handle. Whilst the size of the grip is mainly a matter of preference, most experts recommend beginning with the smallest one available – usually either G5 or G6. The reason for this is that whilst it is difficult to add over grips to build them up, it is very difficult to downsize a grip.
In addition it can be difficult for children who begin playing with too large a grip to generate power with their fingers when they are older, because they had to rely on their arms too much when they first started out playing.
Rackets are sold with factory strings, and, many advanced players will have them immediately restrung to make sure that they are responsive to their style of play. The racket tension is denoted by the terminology “x lb to y lb” describing the minimum to the maximum stringing tension required. Novices should begin with a tension closer to the lower end of the scale, as this will help them produce more power.
Six Best Badminton Rackets for Beginners
Here are our six recommendations for the best badminton rackets for beginners currently available on the market. There are four others we have added towards the end as honorable mentions.
- Yonex Nanoray 70DX 4UGS (Check its price on Amazon here)
- Yonex Voltric Z-Force 2 (VTZF2-4uG4) (Check its price on Amazon here)
- Apacs EdgeSaber 10 (Check its price on Amazon here)
- Fostoy Badminton Racket (Check its price on Amazon here)
- Yonex Duora 10 (Check its price on Amazon here)
- Dynamic Shuttle Sports Titan G-Force 7
- Genji Sports Ahead 360 Nano Kevlar 7200Z (Check its price on Amazon here)
- Yonex Nanoray 900 (Check its price on Amazon here)
- Li-Neng SuperLight Windstorm 72 (Check its price on Amazon here)
- Stenson N80 Graphite Single High-Grade Racket (Check its price on Amazon here)
Yonex Nanoray 70DX 4UGS
As a brand, Yonex are popular because of their overall lightweight design and use of innovative technologies. The Nanoray 70DX is tailored to offer players speed, control and power when they are on the court.
The racket weighs, on average, 84 grams, has a G4 grip, and is head light in terms of balance.
One of the ways that his racket is different is because Yonex has made use of technical innovations including incorporating a carbon nanotube into the frame and shaft of this racket. This was done to improve its repulsion, answering the complaints of those players who feel that lightweight rackets do not allow them to hit the shuttle with as much power as they would like.
The model also has an aero frame which improves its aerodynamics and speed of a swing. It also makes it easier to execute and control drop shots. The racket has a built-in T-joint between the shafts, which reduces the amount of torque generated, and consequently the movement, giving the user greater control.
In addition the Nanoray has an isometric form which offers player more consistency when the shuttle strikes the racket, again helping to improve control. It also means that this can be maintained, even if perfect contact is not made with the centre of the racket.
- Use of innovative technologies means that the racket is speedy and powerful;
- It is flexible and durable enough to take high tension strings. This helps both with power and control;
- It has enhanced repulsion;
- Lightweight but durable.
- Head light balance so not so suited for players who prefer an attacking game;
- The Nanoray depends heavily on the wrists to generate power;
- It has a very stiff shaft which means that it is really designed for advanced players. It is not a suitable racket for beginners.
Yonex Voltric Z-Force 2 (VTZF2-4uG4)
The latest improved version of a best-selling model, the Z-Force 2 features an ultra-thin shaft and Yonex’s tri-voltage system to increase the energy when a player plays a smash.
Weighing 84 grams it is head heavy with a 4 grip. It is notable for the shift which uses Nanometric carbon technology allowing the shuttle to be hit with increased power, and reducing its deceleration.
The racket uses tungsten infused grommets to maximise the time between the shuttle and the strings. This enables the player to strike it in a controller manner, and means also more power can be generated by the head of the racket.
The way that the tip of the grommet is located inside the frame reduces air-resistance, and helps to produce a smooth swing.
- Features dual side functionality which means both forehand and backhand shots can be played with equal dexterity;
- Includes cutting-edge technology which allows balanced and accurate smash shots to be played;
- Renowned for the attractiveness of the design.
- Head heavy so not suitable for those who like to play close to the net or rely in control;
- Features a stiff shaft so not suitable for beginners;
- More expensive than some alternatives.
Apacs Edge-Saber 10
The Edge-Saber is designed to provide power with shaper smashes whilst, at the same time, allowing the user to play accurate drop shots and operate with ease close to the net.
Weighing in at 85 grams, its shaft is made of graphite and incorporates a carbon nanotube offering both strength and flexibility.
It features an isomeric head frame which equalises the length of the main and the cross strings in the string bed. This results in larger sweet spots, making it easier to strike the shuttle in a consistent manner resulting in improved accuracy, even if it does not strike the head in a true fashion.
With a 4 grip, the Edge-Saber holds a lot of energy at the point of impact, and releases it back with great force. It is a very fast racket and is particularly suited for persistent offence, and smashing.
It comes in an attractive white colour, and utilises a Control Support Cap to produce a wider and flatter surface compared to many other models and enabling better gripping and a faster swing.
- It has a large sweet spot, enabling accuracy when playing shots and smashes;
- The control support cap provides a comfortable grip and aids a fast swing;
- The grommet system aids smashing power.
- The racket is more suitable for beginners than advanced players because It does not offer the power of a number of competing models;
- Favours those looking for price over performance.
Fostoy Badminton Racket
The Fostoy brand is famous for producing rackets with fully carbon frames, fibre wires, and solid wood handles. Designed for players of all levels, it is well-balanced and strong.
The Fostoy weighs 100 grams and has an oval head design which increases the effective area of the racket net, and expands the sweet spot, meaning it is easy to hit any shot with accuracy, even if the shuttle strikes off centre.
Because the shaft is 100% carbon, it retains the force in the racket and releases it when a shuttle strikes the strings, producing power. High strength wire holes help protect the strings and extend their longevity.
- Suitable for players at all levels;
- Oval head design increases the size of the sweet sport;
- The carbon frame causes less wear and tear on joints;
- Comfortable grip means players can use it for hours with no muscle fatigue.
- Heavier than many other brands, meaning that it is not suitable for those looking for a fast swing;
- Does not offer the power of some more sophisticated models;
- The look and design of the racket is a little old-fashioned.
Yonex Duora 10
Another in the Yonex product range, the Duora 10 weighs 88 grams, is even-balanced, and is stiff in terms of frame flexibility.
Like most of their models it uses an isometric head frame which enlarges the size of the sweet spot by equalising the length of the main and the cross strings. And the control support cap provides a wider flat surface than many other rackets.
It incorporates nanometric technology which improves the bonding strength of the carbon fibres in the shaft, and hence, the amount of carbon required, reducing the weight. It also has a solid feel core, reduces the amount of impact when striking a shot.
The Duora features a single pass grommet hole design which means more grommet holes which, in turn, help produce a high performance stringing pattern.
It also incorporates a built-in T joint which is made from special lightweight plastic combined with a foaming agent, and epoxy resin. This enhances performance and quality by enhancing the stability of the shuttle on the string bed.
- Oval head design increases the size of the sweet spot;
- The increased number of grommet holes and string pattern helps produce fast and accurate shots;
- It is easy to grip and to move though the area.
- It does not provide the hitting power of sturdier rackets;
- It is comparatively pricey.
Dynamic Shuttle Sports Titan G-Force 7
This racket is designed for players who like to add variety to their games, and alternate attack and defence. It is constructed of 100% Japanese Toray carbon fibre, is lightweight, and can sustain a stringing tension up to 30lbs.
It is 82 grams with a medium shaft flex, which enables a player to smash from the backcourt, and also to have better control at the net. It has a G5 grip meaning that it is easy to hold and control, and also gives a player a better rebound and consistent grip when playing defensive shots.
- Constructed form high quality materials;
- Lightweight yet strong and durable;
- Gives a player more defensive control;
- Cheap and affordable.
- Lightweight so does not produce the power of some models;
- The grip can wear out quickly;
- Some players might find it uncomfortable.
Here are four other models that might be considered.
Genji Sports Ahead 360 Nano Kevlar 7200Z
Featuring a graphite construction this racket is lightweight, yet with a firm body. Weighing 84 grams it is durable with a reinforced head coated with Kevlar.
The fibre string material is strung at 22 pounds, lending itself to an even game, giving players a mix between control and power. The rigid body is designed in such a way that the stress on impact is minimised.
It is most suited to singles players who are looking for something which offers manoeuvrability and a racket that is easy to grip and hold.
- Provides a firm body for use;
- Versatile racket – can be used at the back of the court and near the net;
- Has a large sweet spot.
- Not suitable for advanced players or those who like to hit powerful shots;
- The paint is weak in quality.
Yonex Nanoray 900
This is at the top end of the Yonex product range, and features a unique frame that helps to suppress the angle of the shuttle in mid-game, allowing a player to impart a new direction to their smash.
The shaft is stiff in nature and the composition is made of graphite. Head light it is an advanced category racket which allows a player to impart great control and a change of direction to the shuttle.
- Superior construction and design;
- Offers excellent manoeuvrability and speed through the air;
- Only suitable for experienced and advanced players;
- Grip issues have been reported;
- One of the most expensive models on the market.
Li-Neng SuperLight Windstorm 72
This model, as the name suggests, is lightweight and ideal for newcomers and also those who may be affected by the regular movements needed to play the game.
It comes with a G5 grip for better hold of the racket, and favours faster, defensive shots. The soft texture on the grip also helps keep a better grasp over shots, as does the thin handle.
The model has a slight balance towards the head, whilst the balance works well for longer rallies.
- An ideal racket for beginners and those with a slighter frame;
- The firm balance offers a firmer hold;
- Good for making fast, defensive shots.
- Lightweight so does not offer the power that more advanced players will want;
- The small handle can be difficult for some players to hold.
Stenson N80 Graphite Single High-Grade Racket
For those on a tight budget, they can do worse than choose this model.
It is made of carbon fibre graphite material which reduces the weight of the racket down to only 75 grams, meaning that there will be no shoulder or muscle fatigue suffered when using it. The Stenson has a one-piece design which keeps the weight evenly balanced throughout its layout.
The design incorporates a pyramid frame that flexes through the air, making it easier to swing. It also has a relatively large sweet spot in the middle of the racket, allowing for more forgiveness when making shots.
- Cheap – ideal for those with limited funds;
- The light body offers more flexibility when on court;
- It can work equally well with fast and slow shots.
- It is not made of the strongest materials, so the frame may break if not used properly;
- It is not capable of producing really powerful shots.