In recent years I’ve changed a lot about how I play badminton and I’ve also learnt a lot more about the games and the things that make up the game. One of the things I’ve learnt more about is about strings for badminton racquets. It’s not often talked about as most people never end up changing the strings they use for their racquets because they take their stringers recommendation, which is definitely not a bad thing. I, however, wanted to learn more about the types of strings and which ones were best for me.
As it is with a lot of things to do with equipment and sport in general, the best of something can mostly come down to personal taste and preference. But the three most popular stings in the badminton community are Yonex BG80, Yonex BG65 Ti and Yonex BG66 Ultimax. Let’s have a closer look at what makes these strings the most popular and also some other badminton fan favourites.
So when I set out to learn more about strings and my racquet in general I naturally looked at what the best in the world were using and found this article on Stick Smash that has photos of stringing request sheets from some of the world’s top players like Lin Dan and Lee Chong Wei.
Looking at the list of players and seeing that most of them are using similar strings at similar tensions that there must be a reason for it.
Asking people I know who do stringing for me and other players and have been doing it for years, some longer than I’ve been alive have told me more about strings and how they work with the racquet with tension and elasticity. They weren’t surprised that even the best in the world are using strings that are widely available for all players of all standards. They told me about the three characteristics to look at when picking a string which are:
The string durability
The amount of repulsion the string has
And the feel of the string
So let’s start off now with the first one.
This is as simple as it sounds, different strings are either less or more durable when compared to one another. A strings durability is determined by what it is made of, the tension applied when strung in the racquet but mainly affected by the gauge (the thickness) of the string. The differences between a thick string and a thing string are fractions of millimetres but that’s all it takes to make a string more or less durable.
Nearly all manufacturers of badminton strings work on a scale of one to ten for rating a strings durability. The higher the rating the more durable the string. The measures of gauges range from 0.6mm to 0.7mm and above but I have never seen a gauge higher than 0.7mm.
Durability is important in choosing a racquet string because durability affects the feel of the strings and the shots. Strings with a higher durability are thicker, between 0.68mm to 0.7mm in diameter, and provide a longer lasting string and more value for money for those who don’t need to change their strings too often (more for casual/leisurely players). More durable strings are thicker and because of that they lose a certain amount of accuracy and control when hitting Thinner strings are naturally the opposite, they don’t last as long and are easier to break because of the same force exerted over a smaller surface area.
The best players in the world choose strings that are slightly on the thinner side because they require a great deal of control and precision from their shots. At the same time they don’t want to go through a lot of racquets during practice so they tend to have something in between for durability and accept a little loss of control will be negligible.
For beginners and intermediates, it’s recommended to do the same as the best and get something in between. One of the best examples is Yonex’s BG65 Ti string which a very durable string and at the other end of the spectrum is Yonex’s Aerosonic string which is one of the thinnest strings any company has made and this is the best example of a string with very poor durability but is going to be more accurate due to the reduced contact area with the shuttle.
Choosing strings with the right durability all depends on your abilities as a player and how often you are willing to have your strings replaced. Consistently hitting your shots clean then thinner strings will only make you better but if you’re inconsistent then you’ll be breaking strings too often to repair which can add up money wise as well.
Badminton strings are all made from materials that are elastic. Whether it’s multifilament nylon or some other material they are all made to stretch much like an elastic band. The elasticity of the string is what provides repulsion, as you hit the shuttle the strings stretch under the pressure applied and then they snap back to their original position powering the shuttle away.
Thinner strings are known for having more repulsion power than thicker strings as the force of hitting the shuttle is spread over a smaller surface area which concentrates the force applied. Strings with higher repulsion ratings have to have a trade-off in durability then because they are much thinner so more likely to snap on miss-hitting a shot. The hitting sound with high repulsion is another attribute that improves, the shuttle sounds very crisp when hit right on the sweet spot of the racquet and when you’re able to control the repulsion of the strings you can benefit from greater accuracy with softer shots.
Different strings from different brands all feel very different, it’s hard to find two strings that ever feel like another. Yonex uses a classification of soft, medium and hard feeling strings and the best way to describe it is this; soft strings tend to feel more bouncy and stretchy, they feel like they stretch easier and hard strings feel very solid and rigid without bending much.
Soft strings are better for players who need easier repulsion and power in shots without exerting as much effort into the racquet. Doubles players tend to lean towards strings on the medium to soft side for strings because rallies can be very thick and fast and need to generate more power from shorter movements with the racquet whereas singles players quite like using the harder strings as they have more time between shots to prepare and can get the most out of the smashes where they try to win the rally outright. Soft strings have a downside because they stretch easier under force it means that they don’t hold the tension when restrung as well as harder strings, if not replaced regularly they will slacken naturally.
Hard feeling strings give a good sense of the contact with the shuttle, they feel less bouncy and stiffer so you can feel the shuttles impact a little more through the racquet which provides good feedback for softer touch shots where you need to be very accurate. When hitting harder shots they provide great repulsion with enough force replied but without they can feel very difficult to get much out of, it can feel like hitting with a wooden bat or something. These strings are definitely not the best for beginners when beginners should be focussing on consistent returning of the shuttle before trying to hone accuracy and power.
String tension applies to all strings and racquets, not just this brand or that, the string tension is normally measured in pounds and is a subject often discussed at great lengths. I’ll only touch upon the subject here with how it relates with which strings are best for you but I plan to write another article about stringing tension later on.
Stringing tension matters a great deal when picking your chosen string. If you’re a top level player with good technique and very consistent hitting skills you’ll most likely be stringing at the higher end of the tension range (27-31lbs) you’ll still be able to use thinner strings without having to worry about them breaking constantly but if you’re an intermediate player stringing at the same tension with the same thin strings you’ll find you’ll be breaking more often from mis-hits.
High tension and thin strings are always going to cause the string to break sooner so for a lot of players the choice of string should partly marry up with how tight you have your strings strung. More durable strings would be better for those who want higher tension but also want to have their strings last longer.
A lot of this is down to personal preference, it’s always better to try a wide variety of recommended strings to find which works best for you. What’s best for one person isn’t always best for another, everyone’s different. Every player has different touch, technique and play styles and they should try to find what’s right for them. My personal recommendations as I have tried many string types are the three mentioned at the beginning; Yonex BG80, Yonex BG65 Ti and Yonex BG66 Ultimax are all great strings and if you want a more detailed look at each strings attributes then take a look at the Yonex catalogue under the strings section. If this was helpful or if you know of any other great strings that other people might like that I have not covered please leave a comment below and share the badminton knowledge!
Written by Liam Walsh who lives in Manchester, England. Working as a Software Engineer but moonlighting as a dad, Badminton player/coach and creator of BadmintonsBest.
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