While in the 1980s rackets weighed between 100g and 130g, good rackets now weigh around 85g. However, rackets can still be strung to a hardness of up to 14kg. The parts of the racket are grip, the stringed area, the head and the shaft. From the origins of the sport until the 1970s, rackets were entirely made of wood. Rackets were kept in frames when they weren’t being used to stop them becoming warped.
Only with the professionalization of the sport did Asian companies start experimenting with materials other than wood. To start with, the shaft and frame were made of light metal, steel, aluminum, and later of carbon-graphite (manmade fiber made from carbonized bitumen). This helped firstly to reduce the weight, and secondly to increase the stability of the whole racket. Today, materials like fiberglass and synthetic fibers (boron, graphite, Kevlar® and Magan Beryllium®) are also used. The materials have a very high resilience and are significantly firmer than steel, but most importantly have greater elasticity. Rackets also no longer consist of separate parts, but the head and shaft of the more expensive rackets are of one-piece construction.
The above materials make the rackets lighter and more flexible. In particular the elastic shaft allows the player to hit the shuttle with more whipping power, allowing him to hit the shuttlecock harder and faster, but the flexibility of the racket head is more of an impediment as it reduces stroke precision. The rule of thumb is: the harder the frame, the more accurate the strokes.
Expensive rackets are characterized by low torsion (torsional rigidity of the shaft). This is measured by to what extent the racket head turns left or right around the longitudinal axis of the shaft. If the player hits the shuttle not with the center but with the edge of the racket, it can be returned equally as well by a racket with low torsion as a shuttle that is hit with the center of a cheaper racket.
Another property of the racket that influences the play quality is balance. There are head and grip-heavy as well as balanced
rackets on the market. Basically, head-heavy
rackets offer greater acceleration in the smash,
while grip-heavy models are better suited to defensive play, as they allow for greater accuracy. Balanced models are a compromise between the above. You can test which category a racket falls into by balancing it on your index finger at the point where the shaft joins the head.
Even the shape of the racket head has been experimented with, as the rules only stipulate a maximum size, i.e. the whole racket frame should not be longer than 68 cm (26.8 inches) and wider than 23 cm (9 inches). As far as the stringing is concerned, the maximum is 28 cm (11 inches) x 22 cm (8.7 inches). The traditional racket head is oval in shape to promote good shuttle acceleration, instead of the drop shaped head of the early days of the sport. An isometric head shape is also common, in which the head is rounded at the top, thus increasing the optimal hitting area, the so-called sweet spot.
Tip 1 Beginners should start off with a more robust racket that is often composed of several parts. A good such beginners’ racket costs around $ 70-90. Stable rackets are particularly recommended for novices if they like playing doubles. Their lack of technical and tactical understanding often leads to accidental racket clashes.
Tip 2 In training and in particular in competition, a player should have at least two rackets with him. These rackets should be used alternately so that they are “broken in” and the player does not have to waste time getting used to them during a match.
Tip 3 The grip diameter can be regulated with grip tape. Players with big hands usually have thick grips, which they create by winding two or three grip tapes on top of each other in order to obtain the desired diameter.
Tip 4 New rackets have grips made of synthetic material or leather. Accomplished players who tend to have sweaty palms wind a non-slip grip tape made of rubber or terry cloth around the original tape. The terry cloth tape becomes worn out after a certain time and must be replaced.
Tip 5 Tournament players should always have a replacement grip tape handy in case it needs to be replaced urgently.
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