Badminton String tension- An introduction
If you have ever wondered why some high-end badminton rackets like the Yonex Astox 100Zx come without strings, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the salesman at your nearest Ochsner Sports store is playing a not-so-practical joke on you. It turns out that such rackets give the player complete freedom to choose and appropriately set up their string and string tension to their liking and playing style.
“High-end badminton rackets come without strings to give the player complete freedom to choose and appropriately set up their string and string tension to their liking and playing style”
A very common dilemma seen in beginners and semi-pro players is the question of “what is the right tension for my racket?” or “Maybe I should get Carolina Marin’s Yonex Duora Z Strike and set the tension to its prescribed highest; that will show Tim, tomorrow”. Well, let’s answer these questions and more on how to select the best string tension for your racket.
Badminton string tension- The basics
Usually, badminton racket manufacturers specify the maximum tension that their rackets can withstand. That’s the maximum recommended tension the frame can take before it breaks. The manufacturer also specifies the recommended range for usage, like 17-22 lbs or 20-27 lbs, etc. And, mind you, these ratings are determined after rigorously testing the frames, so it would be wise to not string your rackets to more than specified. Yes, Carolina’s Yonex Duora Z Strike comes with a maximum string tension rating of 28 lbs with a tension range as advised - 3U 20-28 lbs, 2U 21-29 lbs.
“Normally, badminton rackets are strung between 18 lbs and 24 lbs and it is recommended that beginners or intermediate players set their string tensions to around 20 lbs. However while using higher end rackets, its recommended to go a bit higher, between 25 lbs and 27 lbs ”
I’m sure you’re now wondering, what do the pros set their tensions to; well, it depends. Let’s understand the specifics to see why.
All about string tension
The thing with string tension, for a beginner, is that it could seem quite counter-intuitive. Usually, you would think that having a higher string tension would give you more power and send your shuttle flying across your opponent’s court. But, unfortunately, the contrary is true.
Having a higher set string tension, where it is more tightly strung, usually implies that the shuttle has lesser time in contact with the strings. So, the player has lesser time to transfer power to the shuttle. To put it in simpler terms, with higher string tension, the shuttle bounces less. So, the player must put a lot more power into the shot. Also, with more tension on the frame, a badly aimed shot, with the shuttle hitting the edge of the string bed, could break the racket.
“Usually, you would think that having a higher string tension would give you more power and send your shuttle flying across your opponent’s court. But, unfortunately, the contrary is true.”
But interesting things happen and are possible with higher-strung rackets. The sweet spot, which is usually where you can get the maximum power from your shot is smaller in higher strung rackets, with the tension in the strings and the size of the sweet spot sharing an inverse proportion. Keep in mind that the location of the sweet spot on the string bed can be set according to the player’s convenience and playing style. What all of this allows is that the player has a lot more control over the placement and accuracy of the shot. This is because, with the shuttle bouncing less off the string bed, reduces the randomness of its directionality. A well-placed shot will typically mean that the shuttle will probably go exactly where the player needs it to.
“So, to sum up, a higher-strung racket requires a lot more power from the player, is not very durable, reduces the size of the sweet spot and the customizability calls for higher costs.”
This need for more power in these badminton rackets easily tends to cause injuries in the playing arm, injuries like the tennis-elbow, if not played properly. But a player can make these compromises for a lot more control in their play. With good technique, optimal use of the sweet spot, the shuttle can be accurately controlled and placed in the opponent’s court, something that can make a big difference in professional games. So, naturally, the player needs to have better power and technique in their style to put these high-strung rackets to optimum use. In short, it’s best we leave the higher tension rackets to when you become a lot more proficient in your game.
Do Professional badminton players always use higher string tension?
It would be inaccurate to assume that all professional-level players set their racket string tensions high. You will find some professional players who tend to use lower string tensions in their rackets. This is because every player has a different style unique to them, or in more professional settings, a strategy for the opponent they will face during a game. If a game requires more offence or powerplay, the player will usually tune their strings to slightly lower tension. For a more controlled game, with well-placed shots and more strategic gameplay, the higher string tension is preferred.
What string tension is best for Beginner or intermediate players?
But, as a beginner or an intermediate player, what should you do? A beginner, someone who typically does not have the best technique, power or accuracy as yet is better off with a lower string tension which requires lesser power from the player and offers greater durability. Learning to control shots using a low-tension racket is typically used as a tool to improve the player’s technique and helps them transition into using higher-strung rackets. Once you become more proficient in your game, you identify your style of playing and improve on your power, control and technique. This will give you a much clearer picture of the amount of tension you require in your string bed for your game.
“A beginner or an intermediate badminton player is better off with a lower string tension which requires lesser power from the player for the shot and is far more durable.”