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How to choose the right badminton strings for your racket ?

Posted by David Pinto on

INTRODUCTION TO BADMINTON STRINGS

Okay, let's address one thing from the get-go. Choosing a string for your racquet is very confusing, right? There are so many options, sizes, brands, jargons like repulsion, string gauges, ratings, etc. and the list goes on and on. I’m sure, most players have been where you are at some point in their badminton journey, understandably. That’s because strings are the most crucial part of the racquet and your choice of string can make a huge difference to your game and playing style. Just like an artist needs a whole plethora of brushes for various aspects of their grand painting, a player needs to choose the right string and setup for their preferred style of play. Let's understand, strings, their types and all the parameters that will help you with your decision. 

THE BASIS OF YOUR DECISION

First things first, you need to keep in mind that your choice of string and setup needs to compliment your style of play and what you want most out of your racquet. If you want to land those blitzing power-smashes, a string bed tuned to more power and repulsion will suit you more. If what you are looking for is more accuracy and finesse in your cuts and spins, and a more controlled play, a racquet with good feel and control is what you need. And, if you are someone who cannot afford too many re-strings of your racquet and want a balanced string bed performance, you require more durability in your strings.

 

THE PARAMETERS

Strings can mainly be differentiated based on three main parameters: gauge, construction and material. The construction and material of the string affect the weight of the string bed, the elasticity, durability and stiffness of the string, and the overall life and performance of the racquet. There are umpteen permutations and combinations of the types of construction (like the monofilament, multifilament, multicore, or hybrid) and the material used in the core and filament, which change from manufacturer to manufacturer. This makes every string option out there, unique.

 What you need to mainly consider in order to understand how the choice of the string is going to affect your style of play is to understand how elasticity and stiffness affect the functioning of the string bed. Now why is this important, you may ask, and that’s where it gets interesting. 

 

THE A TO Z OF STRINGS

A player’s shot gets much of its power, or repulsion, from the “trampoline effect” of the string bed, i.e. the quick stretch and rebound. The more elastic the string, the higher its capability to stretch and the more resilient the string, the higher its capability to rebound. Majorly, the elasticity of the string bed is controlled by the string tension that has been set in your racquet. Lower the string tension, the more it can stretch, and more power will be at the disposal of the player.  On the contrary, the more elasticity or tension in your bed, the less control the player will have in their shot. With a stretchy string bed, the shuttle tends to follow the arc of the shot for a longer duration, which makes it difficult for the player to accurately predict the direction and spin of the shuttle after the shot.

Stiffness of the string, on the other hand, determines the feel and shock absorption capabilities of the racquet. Stiffer/harder strings transmit more vibrations from the string bed to the rest of the racquet, thereby having lower shock absorption. But with a stiff string bed, the feel from the impact of the shuttle is more apparent to the player, who can hence change and control the angle of the shot for good placement. Many players prefer a medium feel string, and that generally should suffice, but some players prefer a very hard feel in their string bed for a more controlled play. Such string beds are generally stiffer and highly strung.

 

STRING GAUGE

With string gauge, you get to know if your string is relatively thinner or thicker. Inherently, a relatively thinner string is more resilient. So, it can provide more power to the shot as compared to thicker strings, assuming the tension is relatively equal. But thinner strings are not as durable as thick strings and owing to the lower cross-section, see a quicker tension loss. In short, chances are, you are probably going to have to befriend the guy who re-strings your racquet. A thicker string, inherently, is stiffer than a thin string, thereby offering more feel, control and durability. To summarise this in a way you aren’t left scratching your head, refer to the table below:

Stringing Choices

Power

Control

Durability

Thin gauge/Lose Tension

High

Low

Medium

Thin gauge/Tight Tension

Medium

Medium

Low

Thick gauge/Loose Tension

Medium

Medium

High

Thick gauge/Tight Tension

Low

High

Medium

 

YONEX STRINGS

Yonex is arguably the most respected brand in badminton today and offers a wide range of high-quality string options. Let’s now look at some of them:

  1. Yonex BG66 Ultimax – This string offers very high repulsion owing to the thin gauge of the string at 0.65mm. It's preferred by a lot of top players who have power and smashing oriented style of game. Depending on how you set up this string, it offers pretty good control in your game. But its main drawback is its lack of durability. It can easily break on a misplaced shot and needs to be well taken care of.
  1. Yonex Nanogy 99/NBG99 - This string offers a lot more control with its construction and 0.69mm thick gauge. The repulsion available with this string is not as great as the control it offers. Its best suited for a close-net, cutting game. The construction of this string offers very good durability, making it well suited for hard-hitting players.
  1. Yonex BG AS2 Aerosnic – This light-weight string with a gauge of 0.61mm, one of the lowest currently available in the sport today, offers excellent feel and sound feedback, with good control and a very high repulsion in shots. This a preferred string for professional players who need good feedback and feel from their string. But with such a thin gauge, it lacks in durability.
  1. Yonex BG65 – This is a very well-balanced string, offering decent repulsion, control and feel in shots. With is 0.7mm gauge, it has very high durability. This is a preferred string for beginners and semi-pro players and marks as a great starting point with its overall longer life.

The table below summarises the commonly found Yonex strings, rating them for their repulsion power, durability, shock absorption and control they offer. The table after, offers as a guide to these Yonex strings, breaking them down between your level of proficiency (Beginner, Intermediate and Professional) and the choice of play you are looking for (power vs control).

 Yonex string selection guide

 

YOUR TAKEAWAY

As a beginner reading this, I’m sure this article has given you enough fodder to think over and consider. But remember that a good string and setup can make or break a game. A good racquet has a huge impact on your game, giving you an edge technically or just be enough to boost your confidence and morale with those great shots. But to identify what you need and to recognise your style of playing, and become the next great Picasso of badminton, all you need to do is consistently play the sport.


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