If you’ve been shopping around for the right badminton racket, you’ll have noticed several differences. One of these differences is the shape of the head. Badminton heads come in two shapes — isometric and oval. What’s the difference?
As the name suggests, an oval-shaped badminton racket head will be round in shape. In comparison, an isometric badminton racket head takes on a less circular shape. In particular, the tip of an isometric badminton racket has a taper or slight squaring-off at the tip of the head.
These pretty much sum up the differences. Be that as it may, there’s more to the differences than how curved or squared-off the tips of the two racket heads are.
To find out more about the differences and why they should matter to you, read on!
What Is an Isometric Badminton Racket?
Isometric badminton rackets came onto the badminton scene as recently as 1980. The first isometric rackets to ever make it onto badminton store shelves were from Yonex. If you’ve got your hands on an isometric racket today, you’ve got this Japan-based company to thank for the innovation.
An isometric badminton racket is squared-off at the tip of the head. The squaring-off at the tip creates a larger area for a shuttlecock to land on. For this reason, it’s a preferred racket for those who are fairly new to the game.
The design has gone a long way since the first iteration of isometric rackets. In 1980, Yonex came up with racket heads that were square-shaped except in the edges. While much of the original design was retained, the company and others have designed isometric badminton rackets that are slightly rounded at the sides.
Despite the slight rounding, isometric rackets still look squarish compared to their oval-shaped counterparts.
As pioneers of the isometric-shaped badminton racket, Yonex continues to manufacture these types of rackets. One example of such a racket is the Yonex Nanoray 10F.
The Yonex Nanoray 10F is one of Yonex’s most beginner-friendly rackets. With its isometric head shape, there’s a larger area to strike the shuttlecock with. This makes it perfect for players who have yet to develop consistency in their striking shuttlecock striking technique.
The Nanoray 10F is also a lightweight racket, making it excellent for preventing rotator cuff injuries from repeated usage. In addition to its weight, it’s also one of the brand’s most aerodynamic alongside the Yonex Duora 33, despite its isometric shape.
What you’ll notice with the Nanoray 10F and the Duora 33 is that their heads aren’t perfectly round. This gives you a wider surface area for striking a shuttlecock regardless of speed. These rackets are also great for doubles, where the shuttlecock can fly all over the court at great speeds.
What Is an Oval-shaped Badminton Racket?
The oval-shaped badminton racket has been around much longer than its isometric-shaped counterpart. In fact, a look back at the history of the game will reveal the “senior status” of the oval-shaped badminton head. Even battledore heads were a rounded shape. If you wish to learn more about what the game and its equipment were like back then, read my post on badminton history.
Oval-shaped badminton rackets are exactly what you think — they’re badminton rackets with heads that are oval. The shape of an oval badminton racket is rounded all over, resembling a perfect oblong. Unlike an isometric badminton racket head, you’ll find no taper or square sides on an oval-shaped racket.
Because of the shape of the head, an oval-shaped badminton racket has a smaller area for a shuttlecock to land and bounce off of. Barring individual player differences and a playing style that favors quick response, an oval badminton racket is better for more seasoned players.
Despite the emergence and popularity of isometric rackets, there are still oval-shaped rackets on shelves. Victormanufactures some of the best oval-shaped badminton rackets. One of their best oval rackets is the Auraspeed 10E.
The Auraspeed 10E has perfectly rounded sides that bottleneck into the throat of the racket (the part where the head meets the shaft). More importantly, you’ll also see that the tip is perfectly curved in a similar fashion to the sides.
The shape results in a more aerodynamic racket head that easily moves through smashes. Of course, aerodynamics comes at the expense of the head’s “sweet spot,” meaning that there’s a smaller surface area for the shuttlecock. This makes it more conducive to players who have already displayed consistency in their ability to strike the shuttlecock.
What’s the Difference Between an Isometric and Oval-shaped Badminton Racket?
As mentioned earlier, the visible difference is in the shape of the two types of rackets. However, there’s more to the difference. It comes right down to what many will refer to as the “sweet spot” or striking point.
Isometric and oval-shaped rackets differ in the “sweet spot” they’re able to give their users. This spot is the stringed surface area on a badminton racket where a shuttlecock can be struck. Isometric badminton rackets have larger striking points compared to oval-shaped rackets.
Granted, a few square centimeters more of hitting space might not mean much; it probably doesn’t in the grander scheme of the game. Be that as it may, this extra bit of space can mean a world of difference for those with certain playing styles. It’s also significant for those just getting into the game.
We’ll get into why the difference can matter. For now, you might be wondering which of the two rackets came into existence first.
Which Racket Was Created First?
As mentioned earlier, the isometric badminton racket is a fairly recent innovation in the sport. With that said, it’s easy to say which racket head shape blazed the trail for others.
The oval-shaped racket has been in existence long before the isometric racket. Dating back to the time of wooden battledore rackets, the oval shape remained unchanged. The isometric racket only came into existence in 1980 thanks to Yonex.
What Are the Pros and Cons of Each Racket?
Now let’s get into the boons and banes of both rackets. Let’s start with isometric badminton rackets.
An isometric badminton racket, due to its relatively flatter tip, has a larger space for the stringed area (the striking point). In fact, this spot can be larger by as much as 30% compared to the area of an oval-shaped racket!
This enables shuttlers to quickly respond with shots without missing the shuttlecock. Just imagine hitting a tennis ball with a large chopping board.
The larger surface area of the striking point may seem like something every racket should possess. Ironically, the large area and squared-off tip come with drawbacks.
One drawback is the reduced aerodynamics of the shape. For all its accuracy in hitting the shuttlecock, the wider area of the tip causes a bit of drag. In other words, there’s too much air resistance going against the tip and the entire racket, by extension. This leads to slightly slower strikes or swings.
This is where the oval-shaped racket shines. Because it’s rounded at all parts, it’s more aerodynamic. The effect is especially pronounced if the balance of the racket is even or a bit heavier at the head. This leads to faster and more powerful shots.
The problem is that an oval badminton racket has a smaller sweet spot. This means that the racket requires more skill to wield. It’s no surprise that a lot of oval-shaped rackets are built for intermediate and advanced shuttlers.
Should You Choose an Isometric or Oval-shaped Badminton Racket?
Now comes the time to decide. As always, there’s no clear-cut answer to these sorts of binary inquiries.
Ultimately, the one you choose will depend on several factors. One factor is your skill level or where you are in your badminton journey. The other, if you’re more seasoned, is your style of play.
Let’s start with skill level. When we talk about beginners, there’s going to be some inconsistency in many parts of their game. One area is whether or not they can hit a fast-moving shuttlecock repeatedly. To offset the chances of not hitting the shuttlecock, a racket with a larger striking pointis preferable. For this reason, many isometric rackets are designed for beginners, as well as intermediate shuttlers.
On the other hand, you have advanced players who have more consistency in their technique. As a result of their consistency and skill, they’re able to hit the shuttlecock regardless of how small the sweet spot is. More than a larger area for striking, advanced players desire more speed and accuracy in their shots. This is where an oval-shaped racket comes in.
The above point brings us to a discussion on the style of play. Smash-dominant players will require rackets that improve power and accuracy in shots. Thus, to deliver a smashing performance on the court, oval-shaped rackets may be superior to isometric rackets. On the other hand, for rally specialists, an isometric racket may be better since the larger sweet spot allows for accurate returns of speedy shuttlecocks.
Choose the Right Head for You and Get Ahead of the Competition
Badminton racket heads come in different shapes. By picking the right one, you’ll be improving your chances of developing a badminton style that’s unique to you.
Do you fancy efficiency and quick returns? Go isometric. Otherwise, if you’re reading this with a few years of badminton under your belt, going with an oval racket won’t hurt.
Either way, you know now that variety in the shape of racket heads isn’t just a meaningless racket.
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