Badminton is a phenomenal sport that combines athleticism, entertainment, style, creativity, and strategy in a single dynamic package. We bet that you would agree with us, given that you have stumbled across our website! However, badminton players are painfully aware that the basic badminton equipment – the racket, string, and shuttlecock – are extremely fragile compared to the basic equipment of other sports. This makes for a costly experience for badminton fanatics.
As badminton has acquired a reputation of being an expensive sport to partake in, it becomes of utmost importance to properly protect and maintain your equipment so that you don’t end up spending your whole paycheck on constantly replacing your equipment.
For the combination of basic badminton equipment (racket, string, and shuttlecock), a beginner may expect to spend around $85 USD1 to start playing. A professional player with top of the line equipment may spend up to a staggering $268 USD2 for the same set of basic equipment.
Let’s dive into ways to make your dollar go the furthest for you in elongating the lifespan of basic badminton equipment: racket, strings, and shuttlecock!
How to Protect and Maintain your Badminton Rackets
The badminton racket is extremely lightweight compared to the racket or bat of other sports. Put into context of everyday objects, a badminton racket is about half the total weight of your average smartphone! The racket’s light weight contributes to its delicate durability as it is prone to natural deformation from string tension and subject to cracking from colliding with other rackets or obstacles.
Protect your Badminton Rackets by:
1. Store your racket somewhere with no direct exposure to sunlight. Sunlight produces ultraviolet (UV) radiation that can be damaging to your racket. The frame and shaft of a standard badminton racket is typically made of graphite, which is highly resistant to the negative effects of UV. While your racket won’t melt like a vampire would in sunlight, prolonged exposure to UV will break down the integrity of the molecules within the racket itself. This can compromise the technologies that are built into the racket to amplyify your badminton performance – such as enhancing your smash power, shot angle, or racket handling.
While the handle of your racket is generally covered with a grip (overgrip, replacement grip, or towel grip), these material will also suffer from direct exposure to sunlight. Many grips have high absorbency to take in and hold the perspiration from a player and keep the handle from becoming too slippery. UV radiation reduces the absorbency of the material, which deteriorates the grips’ effectiveness over time.
2. Practice consistency in hitting the shuttlecock. The speed and power behind badminton shots, namely the smash or even clear, can apply a lot of force on your badminton racket. Players should diligently practice hitting the shuttlecock on the string bed, ideally within the “sweet spot” and avoid striking the shuttlecock with the frame. While this seems like common sense, beginners may not have developed proper timing to consistently achieve this. Even though a racket’s frame is quite resilient and can withstand many mishits directly by the frame, there is a risk that your racket will break when the mishit aligns with minor cracks that may have naturally developed.
3. Communicate with your partner. Racket collision is probably the biggest offender when it comes to broken rackets. While collisions are more common in beginners, they can also occur for intermediate and even advanced players. The root cause of this is in miscommunication on which player should be taking the shot. Players playing together for the first time or the infamous pairing of a left-handed and a right-handed player can result in miscommunication. Even when following basic rotation, colliding rackets is still very common. To avoid this, talk it out with your partner before you start a match and determine who should be taking each shot. Furthermore, adapt and discuss with your partner throughout the match if adjustments need to be made or reinforced.
4. Avoid “high-fiving” other players with your rackets. In a congratulatory fashion, teammates may clank their rackets together after a particularly note-worthy point won. This behavior is not as damaging as the full force from a head-on racket collision, but the micro-impacts will accumulate over time. Our recommendation would be to opt for an actual hand-to-hand hive-five in lieu of using your rackets to achieve the same.
At the conclusion of a match, opponents may also engage in high-fiving with their rackets in a gesture of mutual respect. Instead, go for an actual high-five, a slight bow, or waving along with verbally saying “good game”. Practicing proper badminton etiquette will lead to an optimal playing experience for all players on court.
5. Utilizing a racket sleeve or cover. When carrying and transporting your badminton equipment around, players may have many different items within their carrying vessel – rackets, shuttlecocks, strings, shoes, grips, towels, clothing, cellphone, wallet, keys, etc. Especially in tight compartment spaces, multiple items can be pressed up on one another, putting each at risk of damaging one another. Even in a badminton bag if all rackets are stored within the same compartment, placing two rackets against each other may cause each to damage the other. To avoid this, players can protect their racket by buying accessories that provide cushion for the rackets. These include: a racket cover (which protects just the head of the racket), a racket sleeve (which covers the entirety of a racket), or a racket bag (which can store multiple rackets and equipment all together).
While most standard rackets nowadays come with a racket sleeve along with the purchase of the racket, we at BadmintonBites recommend you getting both racket sleeves and a badminton bag to ensure the safety of your prized badminton rackets.
Maintain your Badminton Rackets by:
1. Regularly checking and replacing your grommets. Grommets are the little rubber tubes that exist along the perimeter of the racket frame which allows safe passage for the strings to pass through. Due to the string tension of strung rackets, the grommets will experience natural deterioration. When grommets wear down to the point that the strings come in direct contact with the racket frame, the pressure from the string tension may be applied directly to the racket frame itself. Over time, the racket frame itself can sink and become indented from the string pressure. This phenomenon will alter the racket’s shape and aerodynamics, decreasing the rackets overall performance.
2. Cutting all of the cross (horizontal) and main (vertical) strings whenever a string snaps. Whenever a string breaks on your racket, you want to promptly cut the remaining intact strings to relieve the imbalanced pressure the remaining strings are exerting on the racket frame. Unlike a fully strung racket that disperses the tension unilaterally across the racket frame, a single missing string will throw off the balance. Keeping the remaining strings strung will pull on the racket frame and deform the shape, which will render it unplayable over time.
3. Not overdoing the string tension on the racket. A very common question in the badminton community is “what string tension should I use?” as there is a popular misconception that higher string tensions means more power. The fate of your racket is influenced by the string tension you choose to have your racket strung at. Manufacturers understand the dangers of high string tension on the racket frame and impose warranty limits for string tension. Players should heed this warning and not go overboard in choosing an exceedingly high string tension. Not only may this put your racket at higher risk of imploding during a mishit, but will make you ineligible for the manufacturer’s warranty.
How to Protect and Maintain your Badminton Racket Strings
Badminton racket strings are extremely thin, so thin that they are only about half the diameter of your average spaghetti noodle! Players should heed the advice below as strings can break arguably as fast as a shuttlecock, yet can be much more painstakingly slow to replace.
Protect your Badminton Strings by:
1. Storing your rackets in an area without extreme temperature changes. Both extreme heat and extreme cold can impact a badminton string’s durability and lifespan.
Extremely heat temperatures stretch out the badminton strings, which can decrease the tension, which leads to a sub-optimal playing experience. Even if the temperature cools back towards room temperature, the strings will not return completely back to its original tension, as the molecules within the string have been permanently altered by the extreme temperature. As such, avoid storing your rackets in the trunk of a car if you live in a geography that is especially hot – temperatures within cars can sometimes be 40-60ºF higher in the car than outside on a sunny day with no air circulation. Additionally, you would want to avoid storing your rackets near a heater or vent within your house.
Extremely cold temperatures harden the badminton strings and make them brittle, which are more prone to breaking. If you are traveling from a cold location to your badminton gym, a bit of patience may be your best bet to preventing the brittleness from compromising your badminton strings. Take a moment to allow the strings to thaw and warm up within your badminton facility instead of jumping straight into playing with them on court. In terms of storage, avoid storing your rackets inside the trunk of your car if you live in a particular cold geography, as well as not on the floor of your garage or basement as they tend to be particularly cooler than the rest of your house.
Our overall recommendation would be to store your rackets within individual racket sleeves to keep them cushioned and in a temperate state. Furthermore, top badminton manufacturers have developed special technology within their badminton bags that specifically deals with providing protection against temperature changes. Yonex offers the Thermo Guard attribute within its two top end bags – the Pro Racquet Bag (9 PCS) and Pro Racquet Bag (12 PCS). Victor on the other hand, offers a thermo compartment in multiple of their badminton bags such as the Victor BR-9609CD Racket Bag.
2. Keeping the strings away from sharp or hard objects. Badminton players tend to carry all of their badminton material within a single carrying vessel, namely a badminton bag or backpack. The biggest risk for badminton strings to break is rubbing against sharp or hard objects such as keys or even cellphones. The simple fix here would be to separate your rackets from the rest of your personal belongings and equipment by means of dedicating a single compartment of your badminton bag to your rackets, in addition to individually containing each racket within its own racket sleeve.
3. Practicing consistency in hitting the shuttlecock. Similarly to protecting your racket, consistency in hitting plays a big role in protecting your strings. Within the string-bed, there is an ideal ovally area coined as the “sweet spot” that players should aim to hit. Not only will this produce the best version of the shot you are executing, but this is where the strings-bed is most resilient. Players who have not mastered their shot timing have a higher tendency of mis-hitting, which is generally seen as striking the shuttle along the outer edges or along the perimeter of the string-bed, nearest the racket frame. The string-bed is far less resilient outside of the sweet spot, and is far more likely to snap as the force from the shuttlecock has less room and distance to be dispersed equally across the entirety of the string bed. The remedy for this is to practice your swing and shot timing!
4. Avoid hitting slice shots. Slice shots are advanced technical shots that involve the action of chopping or brushing the strings across the shuttlecock at an angle. While these shots are impressive and can be built into a player’s toolkit, they do accelerate the deterioration of the strings as slice shots apply pressure on the strings through its contact. Slicing wears down the string’s outer coating, leading to fraying and, ultimately, breaking all together.
Maintain your Badminton Strings by:
1. Regularly checking and replacing your grommets. You may be wondering, “is this deja vu? Didn’t I read this above?” The answer is: yes! Grommets are meant to provide an avenue for the strings to go through to prevent the strings from coming into contact with the racket frame. As we had mentioned above, this helps to prevent the strings from applying pressure on the racket frame, which can lead to its collapse. However, grommets also serve a protective purpose for the strings as well. The racket frame, made of hard graphite material, also applies pressure onto the strings. With sharp edges, the strings can start to get cuts or tears, which will end up in the strings breaking all together.
Make sure to check out if the grommets have worn out and partner with your stringer to replace the grommets as needed. While most professional stringers will look into your grommets as a second nature when re-stringing your racket, you should also take the responsibility as the racket owner to do your own due diligence periodically.
2. Picking up the shuttlecock with your hand rather than scooping it up with your racket. When the shuttlecock lands on the ground, badminton players have a tendency of scooping the shuttlecock off the ground to begin the next rally. It’s fast and convenient and saves the player from bending down to pick the shuttlecock on by hand. You may be wondering, why would I want to change something that is so convenient and seemingly every badminton player does it? The answer is – more or less, scooping up the shuttlecock from the ground will put your racket in contact with the floor. This repeated action will add to the wear and tear of the grommets or strings, and can accelerate their breakage. Many standard badminton rackets in the current day protect the strings on the outside of the racket frame, but still have areas in which the strings can be exposed to contacting the ground, especially at the angles in which the racket is turned to pick up the shuttlecock.
Our recommendation is to bend over and pick up the shuttlecock with your hand instead of relying on the racket to do it. This may be extra work, but think about it as you are investing in the longevity of your strings, and maybe burning some extra calories by squatting or bending over to retrieve the shuttlecock.
How to Protect and Maintain your Badminton Shuttlecocks
Badminton shuttlecocks are extremely unique projectiles used as the “ball” of the sport. There are two primary versions of shuttlecock that are used:
- Synthetic/plastic shuttlecocks used by beginner and recreational players; and
- Feathered shuttlecocks used by professional, competitive, and advanced players.
Feathered shuttlecock are made from the actual feathers of a goose (highest quality) or duck (lower quality). You can probably imagine how delicate the shuttlecock is as these frail bird feathers are subject to the fast and furious swings of a badminton player. Players should pay particular attention to how to protect and maintain their shuttlecocks to avoid breaking their piggy banks.
Outside of protecting and maintaining your shuttlecocks, discover how to make your shuttlecocks last longer through steaming and tipping them here.
Protect your Badminton Shuttlecocks by:
1. Storing your shuttlecock away from high heat sources. Exposure to hot temperatures (such as in the trunk of a hot location, near a heater) can also subject shuttlecocks – primarily feathered ones – to becoming brittle. The high heat may dry out the natural feathers and make the delicate feathers even more fragile and susceptible to breaking. Our recommendation here would be to store your shuttlecocks in a more temperature controlled location. By following the guidance above, you would be able to kill “3 birds with one stone” (not literally) by keeping all of your badminton equipment inside a badminton bag and away from areas of extreme temperature changes.
2. Storing your shuttlecock within a tube. This piece of advice is pretty self-explanatory and may not actually require any action from badminton players themselves. However, we still wanted to emphasize the importance of following it through. Shuttlecocks – both synthetic and feathered – will almost always come in a cardboard tube, sometimes lined with foil. Due to the extreme frailty of shuttlecocks, proper storage is of greatest importance. Make sure to keep the shuttlecock safe in the tube, as exposure to any other item/equipment will put the shuttlecock’s safety at risk. What you want to be mindful of is the 2 caps on either side of a tube of shuttlecock. Through transport and travel, these caps may pop off, which gives other items in your badminton bag the opportunity to infiltrate and possibly damage your shuttlecocks. Make sure to check that these are sealed and secured each time you are carrying your badminton bag around.
Maintain your Badminton Shuttlecocks by:
1. Unruffling the shuttlecock feathers prior to each rally. When the feathers are ruffled from play but remain unbroken, a quick and easy maintenance piece is to smoothen out the feathers before starting the next rally. This action helps to return the shuttlecock back to as close to new as possible. By ignoring the ruffled feathers and continuing play, each shot will continue to alter the shuttlecock away from its ideal state, making it more prone to breaking its feathers.
2. Avoid slicing the shuttlecock. As we had mentioned above, slicing the shuttlecock can be particularly damaging to the badminton strings. However, slicing can also be a double-whammy on the livelihood of the shuttlecock. Certain slice shots have a larger contact duration with the feathers or skirt of a shuttlecock. Repeated execution of these slice shots can rapidly lead to the destruction of the feathers or skirt. To elongate the playability of a shuttlecock, players may have to curb their desire to be extra showy with their shots and stick to non-slicing shots.
3. Plucking the noticeably damaged feathers from the shuttlecock. This last piece of advice may seem extremely counterintuitive. How does removing the feathers of a shuttlecock help to preserve it for longer? Great question! Players have a natural tendency to switch out a shuttlecock when they notice a feather is damaged and/or broken. However, a shuttlecock may still be playable if a single (or even a few) feathers are damaged or broken. Especially if we are not competing in a tournament with a sponsored and unlimited shuttlecock supply at our fingertips, players should decide on a shuttlecock by shuttlecock basis on whether they need to retire a shuttlecock for a new one. A broken feather tends to cause unnecessary drag on the shuttlecock’s flight, which makes it fly erratically. You might be surprised to find out that the removal of the problem feather, as close to the base of the shuttlecock as possible, may correct the flight problem.
Our recommendation (in non-competitive play) would be to try and pluck the damaged feather and then test the shuttlecock to see if the flight is acceptable for play by hitting it behind the baseline and observing where it lands. This sequence may take you a minute or so to try, but can save on the number of shuttlecocks used in a match. If the test proves that the shuttlecock needs to be replaced, you can simply proceed to using a new shuttlecock. Try it out! What do you have got to lose?
We hope that if you have made it to the end of the post that you have picked up on some advice you can apply immediately to your handling of badminton equipment. Make sure you take care of your basic badminton equipment so that they can in turn take care of your wallet!
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