You’ve probably already seen some of the best badminton racket brands like Carlton, Babolat, FZ Forza, Wilson, Apacs, and Ashaway.
You might have stumbled upon the odd player who uses one of these brands as they sponsor just a few players on the international circuit if anyone at all. Two examples, at the time of writing this, are FZ Forza sponsoring H.K. Vittinghus and Mizuno sponsoring H.S. Prannoy in the men’s singles category.
But these niche brands don’t rival the three most popular brands of the sport: Yonex from Japan, Victor from Taiwan, and LiNing from China.
They produce high-quality rackets, but their price sometimes reflects that they’re far better branded than any other producers, especially when you look at the advanced rackets that professional players use.
To mention a few:
- Professional players that use Yonex badminton rackets: Viktor Axelsen, Kento Momota, and Carolina Marin
- Professional players who use Victor badminton rackets: Tai Tzu Ying, Gregory Mairs, Jenny Moore, and Anders Antonsen
- Professional players who use Li Ning badminton rackets: Chen Long, Anthony Sinisuka Ginting, and P.V. Sindhu
The big question is; which badminton brand is best for you? Can you tell by looking at their quality? Pricing? Their popularity among the pro players? A combination of the above?
First, let’s break the badminton brands down into two categories targeting two players; the players who want performance and play regularly, and those who play in the garden at a picnic.
If you are looking for “picnic rackets”, almost any brand will do as the rackets tend to be built around durability, as long as you don’t get a high-end model. On the other hand, if you want the best badminton brand for performance, you can’t go wrong with Yonex, LiNing, or Victor.
Some players feel that Yonex is best because it’s the most dominant brand, while others will argue that it’s overpriced and you just pay for the brand rather than the quality, making Victor or LiNing better.
But you can’t really say that one brand is better than another… Unless you ask the good folks on reddit.
If you’re simply looking to make a quick decision, there you have it. High-five your dog, scroll down to the next chapter, and move on with your life.
But if you want to dive deeper, I have an idea or two.
The downside to picking a good badminton brand based on surveys is that they tend to show general consensus among a large group of people, many of whom might select a brand simply because they are aware that it exists. We have no clue about the quality of the answer and whether they have first-hand experience with the brand’s products.
An alternative is to pick based on what the pros play with. The badminton brands know this and throw lots of money at them to play with their gear.
The irony is that the pros only get to pick their gear from brands they are sponsored by. If they could choose between all available gear on the market, they might prefer a different brand. We’ll never know.
It works on the surface but doesn’t really make sense if you think about it.
Say you’re an intermediate player. In an ideal world, you’d get all the best rackets for intermediate players and systematically test them out yourself in order to figure out which brand of badminton racket you prefer the most. An expensive and long-winded project if you ask me.
If you have a specific racket in sight, the best alternative is to see if you’re lucky enough to have a friend who plays with that racket, hear their thoughts, and perhaps even borrow their racket for a game.
The truth is you just won’t know which badminton racket brand is best for you until you play but it sucks to buy a new racket only to discover that it’s not quite right for you.
The best brand recommendations (a breakdown of the brands)
I’m not going to leave you hanging with a non-answer but it won’t be as good as trying out the rackets for yourself.
Having bought a bunch of gear for testing, I have noticed a difference between whether you are looking for the best-performing product and if you’re looking for a product that provides good value for money and is affordable.
With high-end products like rackets and shoes, the established brands are competing to stay ahead and with their existing, long-term, R&D is, therefore, more likely to produce the best products.
Just look at this graphic of Yonex’s new cool research and development facilities. They are apparently expanding their R&D facilities to include more testing space.
The secret to finding good value for money
Avis, the car rental company, famously made an advertising campaign that highlighted how they were the second biggest company in their space, so they’d try harder.
Those who argue that basically any brand but Yonex is better value for money might have a point, but how can we tell?
If you’re looking for the best badminton brand in terms of value for money, a better bet might be one of the lesser-known brands like Decathlon’s Perfly brand.
I know this might come as a surprise.
What is “best” tends to be fluid in the world of business as brands evolve their strategies and new ones enter the market.
For us players, that means we might get a good deal by taking a chance on a new badminton brand wanting to enter the market and capture market share. At that early stage, they tend to compensate for not being well-trusted by offering more or better technical specs to impress us.
For example, Decathlon has made a decent budget badminton shoe and racket for their relative price points. Compared with a Yonex budget shoe in the same range, I had a better experience with the Perfly shoe in terms of durability and overall performance.
Which badminton racket brand is best for beginners?
Every brand constantly puts out new rackets with new designs that sound cool, but are hard to understand in plain English.
You’ll typically find descriptions that go something like this…
Built-in T-joints, revolutionary materials harvested from meteorites, and NASA-researched nanotechnology adapting the racket like you’re Doctor Octavius from Spider-Man.
Joking aside – each of the “big three” has several racket brands within their stable. The three most common categories are speed, control (or all-around), and attacking rackets, and many of the brands compete within these categories. For example:
- Yonex’s Astrox series
- Victor’s Thruster series
- LiNing’s Axforce series
- Victor’s Auraspeed series
- Yonex’s Nanoflare series
- LiNing’s BladeX series
Control or all-around rackets
- LiNing’s Aeronaut series
- Victor’s DriveX series
- Yonex’s Arcsaber series
When you’re looking for the best brand for beginner rackets, it can be hard to understand the differences among all the options.
Typically, it’s recommended to decide on the racket based on your playing style as many players love attacking, smashing, and using power.
Beginner rackets are just one line of products within these brands. I’ve written a roundup article where I explore the best beginner badminton rackets but to give you a general lay of the land, you’re likely looking for a racket with a flexible shaft as it will aid you if your technique and timing when hitting the shuttle aren’t honed in just yet.
When I began playing badminton again, I got a Perfly racket I bought at Decathlon. I liked the racket a lot but I learned that it gave me no reference point when I inevitably got curious about rackets from one of the big three badminton racket brands.
I found it hard to understand how racket reviews compared to my own experience as I had limited experience with different rackets and my reference point was a brand with barely any reviews online (and no friends playing with it).
The tricky thing about selecting a beginner racket if you aren’t totally sure that you want a power-based racket, is that each of the three categories requires a different gameplay to succeed.
I often use the power-based attacking rackets as an example because it’s tangible and easy to understand. Hammer a smash in the ground to win the rally and score a point. It’s simple and straightforward, but it’s also one-sided and generally only works throughout an entire match until you reach the intermediate level.
When you play more skilled opponents, they’ll catch up quickly and adapt to close down that part of your game if they feel you’re too strong.
We talk less about the intricate details of speed- or control-based rackets where you can better put pressure at the net, turn defense into a counterattack or perform a quick interception to surprise your opponents.
They tend to be more focused on different facets of the game and combinations that go beyond just a single stroke. Such as moving the opponent around the court systematically until they are off-balance, before attacking, or frustrating them by sending every single shot back and waiting for them to make a mistake.
I’ve found that it’s challenging to switch from one category of rackets to another. I like rackets with power behind them and I found that when I’ve tested rackets that were faster or control-based, I had to adjust my game quite a bit as I couldn’t take advantage of my usual approach to scoring points.
If you’re selecting one of your first rackets, know that you can switch between racket styles but it’ll require time investment to adjust your game and possibly training to improve other areas of your game like footwork, strategy, and other strokes.
Decoding beginner rackets among tens of rackets from the top badminton racket brands
Many brands, like Victor, don’t make it particularly easy to figure out which rackets are beginner-friendly, although this is getting better.
LiNing uses a scale of nine. Their numbered system ranges from 1-3 for beginners, so their Tectonic 3, for example, is intended for someone considering themselves a three in skill on a nine-scale. I’d Interpret that as an advanced beginner or low-intermediate.
Yonex has begun offering Play and Game versions of their high-end rackets, built for players around the beginner or intermediate level (depending on the specific racket), and tend to be on the budget-friendly side of things.
In my review of the Yonex Astrox 77 Play, I suggested it as an example of a good beginner racket.
But picking the right racket also comes down to availability. Yonex tends to be the most widely available and easy to get in the West, whereas LiNing and Victor offer additional racket series that are mostly only available in Asian countries.
- When we look at the best badminton racket brands, it’s not as simple as just saying that one brand is better than others as they compete in several different equipment categories and subcategories within them
- One major component in your decision is the availability of the gear where you live as Yonex tends to be more available in the West whereas LiNing appears to be more focused on Asia and Victor somewhere in between
- If you’re looking for one of your first beginner rackets, you’ll make your life easier later on by picking a popular brand that’ll give you a reference point when you later get a new racket, rather than an obscure brand no one is familiar with as it’s hard to properly play test rackets before buying them