Badminton is a fantastic sport. 🏸
With a wealth of health and fitness benefits, it is the perfect activity for those looking for a fun and efficient way to exercise and stay active. It is also cheap to get started and you don’t need lots of expensive equipment or gear to participate.
Fundamentally, there are 3 key pieces of badminton equipment you’re likely to need – racket, shuttlecocks, and shoes.
If you’re playing in your garden or outside, you may need to get yourself a badminton net too.
We’d recommend you wear a light and athletic t-shirt and shorts but these don’t need to be bought specifically for badminton, you can just use whatever you already have.
Choosing a Badminton Racket
There is such a wide range of badminton rackets to choose from, it can be difficult to know where to start. Two keys elements in selection, however, are what type of balance the racket has, and how flexible the shaft is.
All Badminton racquets can be categorised based on their balance, or where the weight of the racket is largely located. There are three categories: Head-Heavy, Even-Balance and Head-Light. Head-Heavy rackets have the mass shifted towards the head, resulting in a heavier head. Head-Light rackets have the mass shifted towards the handle, resulting in a lighter head. Even-Balance rackets have the mass distributed evenly throughout the racket.
Head-Heavy Balance Badminton Rackets
Head-Heavy badminton rackets are very popular with players who like to play a powerful game from the back of the court. The extra mass in the head, can increase the power of clears and smashes. As these types of shots are integral to badminton rallies, players who are looking to ensure they can consistently produce lengthy clears should consider purchasing a Head-Heavy racket.
Head-Light Balance Badminton Rackets
Head-Light badminton rackets are more suitable for club players who play doubles more than singles. The advantage of using a head-light racket is that the head and frame have far less mass and are therefore much easier to manipulate and swing. This is crucial when defending against opposing smashes, as you will need to react as quickly as possible to return the smash. By the same principle, Head-Light rackets are also much more desirable when playing shots at the net, particularly if you look to finish off rallies at the front of the court. If you prefer to play driving, fast and attacking badminton when playing doubles, or are a singles player who has excellent technique and swing speed, you should seriously consider a Head-Light racket.
Even Balance Badminton Rackets
Even-Balance rackets, as you may suspect, are designed to provide a middle ground between Head-Heavy and Head-Light rackets, and attempt to offer the advantages of both, giving you enough power from the back and enough control & manoeuvrability at the front. If you have no preference between playing at the net and playing at the back, or are unsure, then an Even-Balance racket is the best choice, as the racket will be suitable for all types of shots. The majority of regular players now carry rackets for different scenarios, so if you are looking to start playing, then an Even-Balance racket will help you develop an all-round game. Additionally, if you are a more advanced player or play singles and doubles frequently, then you may also consider purchasing an even-balance racket to give you something that will help in every scenario.
Shaft flexibility is just as crucial as balance when purchasing a badminton racket, and the correct level for you is dependent on your wrist/arm speed. Manufacturers have generally agreed upon on categorising rackets as ‘Flexible’, ‘Medium’ and ‘Stiff’, though there are variations on this such as ‘Medium-Stiff’ and ‘Extra Stiff’. Put simply, the quicker and more explosive your wrist/arm speed (aka “swing speed”), the more likely you are to benefit from a stiffer shaft. The slower and smoother your wrist/arm speed, the more likely you are to benefit from a more flexible shaft. Beginners are far more likely to benefit from purchasing a racket with a flexible shaft, whereas more advanced players tend to favour stiffer shafts as advanced players have much better technique. If you are unsure about how much flex you need, then you should purchase a medium or medium-stiff flex badminton racket.
A stiffer shaft will bend and then unbend very quickly, ensuring the explosive swing-speed player has the maximum power and control possible. By comparison, a slower swing-speed player would not be able to use the advantage of a stiff shaft as the shaft would not bend or unbend enough, resulting in a loss of power.
A more flexible shaft will bend and unbend much more easily, ensuring that players will get the racket to bend and unbend to the required level. By comparison, a more explosive, fast swing-speed player using a more flexible frame would connect with the shuttle prematurely, before the shaft unbends and is still bent backwards, resulting in a loss of control and power.
A badminton racket’s weight is denoted by “U”; the smaller the number, the heavier the weight. For example, 3U (85-89g) is heavier than 4U (80-84g).
If you are a singles player, then choose the 3U option as this will provide more overall mass (without affecting the balance), ensuring that the racket offers more stability at the cost of a little speed. The majority of singles players now use 3U rackets as standard.
If you are a doubles player, then choose the 4U option as this will provide more speed to your game, allowing you to react much quicker at the net and against opposing smashes. The majority of doubles players now use 4U rackets as standard.
The grip size is denoted by “G”; the smaller the number, the larger the handle size. Yonex rackets come in G4 as standard, whereas Victor rackets come in G5 as standard.
The racket tension is denoted by “x lb to y lb”; the minimum to the maximum stringing tension recommended. Generally beginners play with a tension closer to the lower-end, which provides additional power for them.
Choosing a Badminton shuttlecock
Next to the racket, the shuttlecock is the most important piece of equipment. It usually has a weight of roundabout 5g and consists of 16 overlapping feathers with a length of 70mm stuck into a piece of cork.
The shuttlecocks differ in quality, durability, shuttle speed, but the most important distinction is between goose feather shuttlecock or plastic shuttlecock. What kind of shuttle you should use depends on your level of play and your budget.
Plastic v Feather Shuttlecocks
Shuttlecocks made from synthetic material like plastic are widely used for playing badminton. They are quite cheap and a single plastic shuttle can hold for a number of matches without a scratch. So compared to the easy breaking feather shuttles, these are a good option for badminton beginners. They are easy to use as well as durable and economic.
However, as you become a more accomplished player, plastic shuttlecocks will begin to feel a little crude. Additionally, since plastic shuttlecocks are harder to accelerate, players tend to “overhit”. This means hitting harder than they should and straining their body by doing so. This can cause injuries, especially to the shoulder, arm and wrist.
Feather shuttles require a good technique, because hitting them unclean will very often result in breaking the feathers and therefore needing a new shuttlecock. This could become quite costly for beginners. For intermediate and advanced players using feathers is the natural choice as they give a much better “feel” and feathers are the usual the competition shuttlecock. It is, nevertheless, the more costly option because the feather shuttlecocks break so easily.
The manufacturers of badminton shuttlecocks provide them in various speed units. The range usually goes from 75 up to 79 – Yonex is the exception. They indicate shuttle speed from 1 up to 5. This is necessary, because feather shuttles react to their environment – the temperature and altitude.
In very warm regions far above sea level shuttlecocks will fly much further. This means you`d have to choose a very slow shuttlecock if you didn`t want it to fly long of the backline all the time. In this case you should go for 75. Whereas for very cold regions below sea level, where shuttles will fly considerably less well and you would need a speedy shuttlecock. Then you`d pick 79. In a country with mild climate on sea level you would choose the medium shuttlecock speed of 77.
International Shuttlecock Speed Scale:
75 (1): Very slow shuttle
76 (2): Slow shuttle
77 (3): Medium quick shuttle
78 (4): Quick shuttle
79 (5): Very quick shuttle
The price for Badminton shuttlecocks varies hugely. This is first of all a matter of plastic or goose feather shuttlecocks. Plastic shuttles usually come in tubes of 4-6 shuttles, while feather shuttles are pretty much always provided in tubes with 12 shuttles.
Prices vary widely. For plastic shuttlecocks prices start at about £5, while feather shuttlecocks start at around £10.
As a general rule you can say, that badminton shuttlecocks should not be stored for more than 6-12 months. The time within this range will mainly depend on the brand, the quality and of course where the shuttle tubes are stored. To be on the safe side, just use them for playing within a few months.
When storing shuttles, it is important to stand the tube upright with the cork downwards and
store in modestly cold and slightly damp places.
If you have the feeling that the shuttles might be compromised by wrong or too long storage, there are some things you could try to restore them. They can be steamed using a hot iron or kettle to blow some steam over the shuttles or alternatively carefully sweep the feathers with a wet sponge.
Choosing Badminton Shoes
The two main reasons why you need to choose a good pair of shoes for badminton is firstly to maximise performance during a game and secondly to prevent injury.
There are a variety of shoe technologies to consider when purchasing badminton shoes:
Ergo shape (for stability)
Ergo shaped shoes provide comfort and stability at the forefoot area and toes. Flexibility around the toes area is important for effective and organised badminton footwork. For example when you’re in a ready position, you use your toes to help you spring forward or backward.
It helps you move more explosively to the front or back area of the badminton court and spring forward or backwards.
Power Cushion (acts as a shock absorber)
This acts as a shock absorber and enables the wearer to perform quick reverse movements.
For example, when you stretch to the front area of the court to perform an underarm badminton clear, your front leg will be supporting your bodyweight. The Power Cushion will then act as a shock absorber absorbing the pressure of your bodyweight at the front area.
The power cushion is excellent for helping you maintain body balance. This enables you to quickly move back to the centre of the court.
Double Russel Mesh (controls moisture)
This provides eight times better air-exchange compared to normal shoes so that moisture/sweat does not accumulate around your feet. It’s also lightweight and durable.
Since the Double Russel Mesh avoids accumulation of sweat inside the shoe, you will feel more comfortable during your badminton game. You also avoid blisters when there’s no moisture inside your shoes.
Preventing Injury with your Shoe Choice
Shock absorber mechanisms are essential in preventing ankle injuries. Shoes with poor shock absorbers may cause you to end up with a sprained or twisted ankle. More extreme injuries include damages to your tendons or bones around your ankle area.
Serious ankle injury could keep you out of badminton or other sports for as long as six months.
If you play intensely, there’s a higher risk of sustaining an ankle injury if you’re not wearing the correct shoes. So choose a suitable pair of shoes!
Special soles for badminton are important in preventing blisters. Continuous friction against hard surfaces will lead to blisters on your skin.
Badminton shoes are designed in a way to prevent room for friction. The ergo shape is an effective solution to prevent blisters.
Doubles Russell Mesh prevents accumulation of moisture inside your shoes. Without moisture, your feet will not rub against your socks or the inside of the shoes, thus helping prevent blisters.
Choose Shoes that Fit
If there’s extra space in your shoes (or your feet can move inside your shoes), the friction between your feet and your shoes will cause blisters. You need to provide room for your shoes to wear in. It’s common for sports shoes to eventually loosen a little after wearing it a few times. Therefore if you’re wearing the right size but it feels a little tight, bear with it and do not opt for the next size.
One good way to make sure you’re wearing the right size is to take the sole out and measure it to your foot. The inside sole should have the same size as your foot if it’s the right size.