Skill Level And Racket Design Influence String Choice
By Steve Crandall
Vice President, Sales & Marketing
Ashaway Racket Strings
The popular perception of badminton as a finesse sport ignores the critical importance of power in the game. Less powerful players may compete successfully in tennis and squash, by relying upon placement to keep the ball away from their opponent. That doesn't work in badminton, because virtually every shot is within a player's reach, unless you can force him or her to the baseline. And in order to do that, you need powerful strokes to overcome the aerodynamic drag of the shuttlecock. A lack of power is simply a setup for your opponent's smash. Power is a prerequisite for high-level play.
As a badminton player advances above the level of novice, he or she becomes more powerful. But when equally powerful players compete against each other, control becomes the deciding
factor. Thus, players should adjust their equipment-including the racket and the string-to suit their skill level.
Novice, intermediate, or advanced?
Try this methodology to select the right string for your game.
Analysis: As a beginner, you're not yet concerned about control: you're still trying to get the shuttlecock to reach your opponent's baseline. The fact that you frequently mis-hit the shuttlecock further emphasizes the need for a string that provides good power even when you're outside the sweet spot. And because you're not yet totally committed to the game, you may want to economize somewhat on your equipment, so string durability may be an issue.
Recommendation: Power comes from flexibility. Your racket should be nice and flexible, and so should your string. Go with a moderately heavy gauge (20 or 21 ga.) multifilament string for durability, and have it strung at low tension, between 12 and 18 lb., to retain lots of flex and power.
Analysis: Your swing is now more powerful. You're working on developing control, but you could still use more speed on the shuttlecock. You exhibit a higher level of commitment to the game, and you should be willing to restring more frequently, to ensure your equipment remains in optimum condition. String durability, therefore, is not as important as previously.
Recommendation: You should be using a stiffer racket now. You'll accept this reduction in power because of the improvement in control. Likewise with your string. You can go with a thinner gauge multifilament (21 or 21-micro ga.), and string it up tighter (say, 18-20 lb.), for greater relative tension and a stiffer stringbed.
You do, however, have a few options. If you're still fond of your flexible racket, you could begin by stringing it tighter than 18-20 lb. Or if you like the prestige of a professional-quality, ultra-stiff racket, you could string it looser for greater flexibility. The point, at this skill level, is that your game needs both power and control, so your equipment should demonstrate a combination of stiffness and flexibility.
Analysis: Power is no longer a problem-it's now an inherent characteristic of your game. Power comes from your swing, not your equipment, and points are won or lost on tactics and placement. You need maximum control from your equipment. You should be willing to spend more on restringing to compensate for an increase in string breakage.
Recommendation: Your racket should be stiff from top to bottom: stiff shaft, stiff head, and stiff stringbed, which should remain fairly flat even during the hardest smashes. You'll choose a thin microfilament string (21-micro), and have it strung really tight, at 20-25 lb. of tension.
Racket And String Choices - Based On Skill Level
||Power and Durability
||Power and Control