If you had to pick the most important piece of equipment in your badminton gym bag, what would it be? Very likely, you’ll be picking your badminton racket. The badminton racket is an indispensable part of any player’s equipment and consists of several parts:
The badminton racket has four parts that make up its 680 mm maximum frame length. These parts are the racket head, shaft, handle, and throat. The stringed area is the part the shuttlecock hits, the head bounds the stringed area, and the throat keeps the head stable. The shaft is what connects the racket head to the rest of the racket. And of course, the handle is the part you’ll be very familiar with since it’s where you grab the racket.
Read on to learn more about what makes up a badminton racket and how some of these parts have evolved over the years!
The Badminton Racket Head
Let’s start with the head. The head is the widest part of the badminton racket.
The head surrounds the stringed area, a panel of strings tightly connected at the peripheries which enables the player to strike the shuttlecock with force and control. According to the Badminton World Federation’s (BWF) Equipment Guidelines, it should bind the strings tightly in a flat pattern.
The area or dimensions of the racket’s head needs to follow the guidelines set by the BWF. Based on the guidelines the racket head needs to measure not more than 280 mm (28 cm) in length and 220 mm (22 cm) in width.
The head’s stringed area can go slightly beyond the 280 mm frame so long as the excess width stays within 35 mm. Also, the excess length should not go past 330 mm.
The head of the badminton racket comes in several shapes. I have a separate article for the two most common badminton head shapes — isometric and oval-shaped. However, this variety didn’t always exist. There used to be a time when the only heads you’d find were oval-shaped. This is thanks to how the battledore – the original badminton racket – was shaped during the early days of badminton. The oval-shaped head of the battledore remained on badminton courts for much of the sport’s history.
This all changed in 1980 when Yonex introduced the badminton world to the isometric racket. Since then, the isometric head’s squared-off tip gave players the advantage of accuracy owing to its larger “sweet spot.”
The throat is a part of a badminton racket that doesn’t get a lot of attention. Part of this has to do with the fact that the throat isn’t present in all badminton rackets. Be that as it may, it’s still worth mentioning due to its presence in the BWF’s Equipment Guidelines.
The throat is between the shaft and the badminton racket head. Depending on the manufacturer’s design, it’s a trifurcation. It splits into three parts that stem from the shaft, connecting it to the frame of the badminton racket. Besides being the connective point of the head and the shaft, the throat forms the base of the head, making it more stable.
Traditionally, the head and the rest of the racket are produced separately. Manufacturers used to connect them. This is what the throat was for.
Many of today’s badminton rackets don’t have visible throats. One of the reasons for this is that during the manufacturing process, the entire racket is molded all at once. This means that there’s no need to create the shaft and head separately.
The result of the unified molding and machining process is a sturdy racket that doesn’t need a throat between the shaft and head. If you’re curious about how companies manufacture rackets this way, here’s an inside look into Yonex’s racket-making process.
Just after the throat of the badminton racket is the shaft. There isn’t much about this part in the way of BWF prescriptions other than where it is and what it connects. Nonetheless, this doesn’t mean that the shaft isn’t an important part of the racket.
The shaft links the head to the handle of the racket. It determines the flex (short for flexibility) of the racket which influences the racket and recovery time of a player. According to the BWF’s Equipment Guidelines, the shaft may be as long as the handle if not slightly longer.
The materials of the shaft are the same as those of the entire racket. The materials that make up the shaft (and other parts of the racket, for that matter) have gone a long way from what they were in the late 1800s.
During the early days of badminton, battledores consisted of wood. Chosen for its durability and density, wood came with one drawback — it’s heavy and too rigid. As a result, any strike or return didn’t create enough force, causing play to be slower than it is today.
Needless to say, there was a clamor for delivering more powerful shots. Because of this, metals and other synthetic materials like graphite and carbon came onto the scene, and where preferred by manufacturers like Yonex.
Why graphite and carbon? Power comes from a racket’s ability to oscillate near the head or frame. Graphite and carbon are resilient materials that can bend and oscillate for short periods. Used on parts of the racket like the shaft, these materials have given the badminton racket more flexibility for power shots and fast returns for exciting rallies.
Other materials that are present in badminton rackets include aluminum and compact lightweight steel. These materials do add rigidity to the shaft but are machined in such a way that they don’t add much weight, making usage comfortable for a player.
We cap off the list of parts with the handle. The handle can account for as much as a third of the entire badminton racket’s frame length, according to the BWF’s Equipment Rules.
The handle of the badminton racket is where the player grips the racket. It consists of the same materials as the rest of the racket, separated only by taping or other materials wrapped around the handle. There aren’t any specific measurement guidelines for the handle other than it should be of a reasonable size for the player. Like the other parts of the racket, it must also not have any protrusions or anything that will allow the player to change the racket’s shape or dimensions.
Applying a grip helps the player get a better grip on the handle. The grips can consist of materials like rubber and absorbent cloths.
Racket handle grips consisting of rubber and its derivatives like polyurethane are quite common. Of course, there are other materials for people with different preferences. Synthetic cloth tapes have also appeared on the market to cater to players with butterfingers or sweaty palms.
All in all, there’s no guideline on the type of material the handle should consist of. So players have free rein over what kind of tapes they’d like to wrap their handles with.
Everything Comes Together for the Betterment of Your Game
The next time you grip your badminton racket, know that all of its parts have a place. From the head to the handle, each part of your racket works together to better your game.
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