Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Understanding the design of modern badminton racquets

Badminton racquets have come a long way since

the age of wooden or metal racquets or metal/wood

composites.The wood or metal racquets were heavy

and stiff and required great strength and long swings

to impart power and were very slow on defence as they

were not very manueuverable because of gravity defying

heavy heads and stiff shafts and bulky heads.

Modern racquets are now made of slim,lightweight graphite

composites which offer very good aerodynamics.

Design is generally classified into 3 types :

1) Head heavy racquets for the hard hitting attacker

2) Head light racquets for the defensive players facilitating

rapid swings up and down,forwards and backwards.

3) Balanced racquets offering something in between.

Within the 3 classifications,design is also differentiated by

1) Stiffness of the shaft, affecting how players swing their
racquets,stronger ones with strong wrists preferring stiff shafts
and short swings, weaker ones preferring flexible shafts for a
"whiplash" or flyswatter effect to add power preferring longer
swings and use of more bodyweight.

2) Frame design-Frame design can also be stiff or flexible,and the
shape and weight of the frame will affect the aerodynamics of the
racquet.Ultimately the frame type influences heavily the degree of
control of the shuttle and stroke and also the racquet's
maneuverability and speed.

So,to me, when selecting a racquet, it is not just about whether it is
head heavy or head light or balanced, within these 3 classifications
there is also the sub-classification of shaft rigidity and frame design
which influences the hitting technique of the player.

Some other factors which may affect how the racquet responds are
its total weight,size of grip and the string tension.A smaller grip on a
stiff racquet for example may permit more manueverability.

Ultimately racquets are differentiated according to their degree of
power,control ,speed and maneuverability . It must be impossible
for a racquet to have all three and you gain some and lose some.
It is ridiculous to have a player very powerful but slow in defence
or unable to control his strokes.Even worse still is the player with
an ideal racquet but physically weak or with sluggish movement and

Choosing a wrong racquet unsuited to a player's body type,technique
or condition may cause unnecessary fatigue or inefficiency .

Professional players are generally physically honed to play with any
type of racquet but preferences on racquet types may vary across
different genders and age groups.

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