In the search for the best badminton racket for doubles, I recently dusted off my old friend, a smashing-prone racket that I didn’t feel skilled enough to take advantage of earlier in my badminton “career”.
I wanted to compare it against my standard, more lightweight, and flexible racket in order to figure out what’ll work best for me in preparation for an upcoming tournament.
That led me to research a whole bunch of rackets to narrow down if I already had the best fit for me or if I should consider “befriending” (aka buying and learning) a new one.
I figured it would make sense to put my research on the blog if anyone else out there is also looking for a new racket.
To be honest with you, the research was overwhelming as there are so many rackets available, and except for a few overarching categories, they all seem awfully similar. Each brand has a few different racket series within the overarching categories of power, speed, and control.
It’s tricky to compare rackets between the same series from different brands with each other, such as rackets prone to power from Yonex against power prone rackets from Victor or Li-Ning.
All brands work to improve the technology in the same areas of the racket such as the frame, shaft, and heart of the racket (the bit that connects the shaft and frame), but they name their technology differently.
It’s often different between the entry level and high-end rackets within the same brand and it’s challenging to understand and compare as it’s covered up in market-y language. It almost feels as if we need to be a racket engineer in order to translate it into English.
Anyway, enough about me blabbering about how confusing it is to find the right racket. I’m sure you’re already aware of that and that’s why you’re here.
I’m neither a pro player or a racket engineer, so before diving into each of the rackets that intrigued me, allow me to give a couple of pointers as to what I looked for so you can see if these items are relevant for you as well.
If we don’t look for the same stuff when judging the best badminton doubles racket then what’s the point, right?
The key ingredients in the best badminton doubles racket
I’ve noticed that there’s a clear difference between singles and doubles games and whether you prefer to play the front or rear court, which translates back to the racket.
Doubles tend to be higher paced, more prone to fast drives across the net, and forcing the opponent to make errors. The serve, return of serve, and keeping the attack also often have a bigger impact on the points than in singles where footwork and stamina are said to make the difference.
In terms of rackets, that translates into players often wanting a lighter and faster racket compared to singles. There, Axelsen, for example, uses the sledgehammer of an Astrox 100ZZ in the heavier 3U weight class, which is built for his steep powerful smash. Some players like Hiroyuki Endo use that same racket in doubles, so it’s not impossible.
It tends to be easier to block or lift smashes in doubles because you’re two players covering the sides of the court, so sequences of lift-smash-lift-smash are common, whereas in singles it’s more common to finish the rally by hammering it in the ground with a well-placed smash.
For many of us, a relatively lightweight racket in the 4U weight class tends to be a good fit for the fast duels around the mid-court. We’ll need to switch between different grips quickly and move the racket around near our body to cover flat shots across the net or drops when defending.
These types of shots tend to come fast with little reaction time, which makes it challenging to react if you’re running around with a heavy sledgehammer. Doubles also offer many opportunities to win points through intercepting shots by pushing the shuttle back earlier than otherwise expected and catching the opponent off guard. Which, again, requires speed.
Another key component is how technically skilled you are and how much assistance you’d like from the racket. A flexible racket will be great for beginners as it’ll be more forgiving if you don’t hit the shuttle with good technical skill and timing, whereas a stiffer racket can produce more power but will punish you if your technique isn’t good enough to tame the beast.
The key point here is that the best badminton racket for doubles tends to be one in the lighter weight class (e.g. 4U) as the first consideration.
With that in mind, a head heavy or evenly balanced racket tends to produce the best power in the rear court whereas a head light racket tends to provide better performance around the front court. With many new combinations and technology, it isn’t that straightforward but it’s an easy rule of thumb as a general sense of direction.
Finally, you’d probably like a flexible shaft if you’re a beginner or someone who’s returning to playing badminton after many years away from the court and want to brush up on your skills.
Whereas if you’re an advanced player, you’ll likely prefer a stiff shaft or as an intermediate player like me at the time of writing this, somewhere in between.
Okay, enough hoo-ha. Let’s get down to business and look at some rackets!
The best badminton racket for doubles: your four best options
Instead of a long list of potential rackets that you can research until the end of time, I’ve narrowed everything down to four rackets–just four–to get you moving. I’ve also included a few alternatives where it made sense.
The first thing to look at is the four categories based on the type of gameplay we tend to see in doubles games: a general all-arounder, one for front court play, one for rear court power, and one for fast defensive play.
Here’s the breakdown of the best badminton racket for doubles:
- Best all-arounder: Victor Thruster F Enhanced Edition
- Best for front court play: Yonex Astrox 88S (Pro)
- Best rear court smasher: Yonex Astrox 88D (Pro)
- Best for speedy drives, interception, and defense: Yonex Nanoflare 800
The best all-around racket: Victor Thruster F Enhanced Edition
The Victor Thruster F Enhanced Edition has a stiff shaft which means it lends itself best to intermediate level players or better.
Its weight balance is even and offers a good blend of speed, power, and control. It’s not a sledgehammer but still has no problem creating power to get you out of trouble with a backhand clear, for example.
It’s reported to be fast and stable for defense with a head shape that is more square than normal and offers a slightly larger sweet spot to make it a little easier to hit a good shot.
It offers little learning curve or adaptation of your technique which makes it highly playable from the start. That’s probably why it’s so popular that its biggest downside seems to be that it’s always out of stock and difficult to get your hands on (that’s also a big problem!)
The best racket for the front court: Yonex Astrox 88S (Pro)
Next, let’s look at rackets that are good for the front of the court. Here the Yonex Astrox 88S stands out and it comes in a few different models depending on your budget.
The weight balance of this bad boy is head heavy, which is contrary to what I mentioned above about those typically being better suited for the rear court.
Naturally, it’s impossible to avoid the rear court during an entire doubles game but even so, it’s reported to be surprisingly fast for a racket based on power. Speed is a bigger part of this racket than what first meets the eye and counterintuitively it lacks raw power at the rear court, especially without decent technique.
Defense, counterattack, drives, lifts, and anything mid- or front-court is great and fast. It’s also user friendly due to the sweet spot feeling bigger, which makes the racket easier to play with compared to a traditional design.
- CKYew – Yonex Astrox 88S Pro vs Astrox 88D Pro
- CKYew – Yonex Astrox 88S Pro vs Tour
- Volant Badminton
As an alternative, there’s the Victor Auraspeed 100X.
It has a slightly head light weight balance along with a slightly stiff shaft and a smooth swing to get those fast drive duels in defense.
It’s reported to make it easy to continue your attack in doubles with a good ability to change shuttle angles, such as on cross court shots.
At the same time, you can still create enough power to play shots that get you or your partner out of trouble without needing hulk-like power despite it being a 4U, head light racket.
The best rear court smasher: Yonex Astrox 88D (Pro)
This racket is the brother of the Yonex Astrox 88S and is better suited for the rear court than the front court in doubles, although it’s not as sledgehammer-like as you might expect.
It comes with a stiff shaft, so it’s not ideal for beginners but it’s been reported to be pretty fast for a head heavy racket. That’s ideal for both flat drives, lifts, and blocks during defense, and it’s been said to be light around the net as well, although not as speedy as the Astrox 88S.
It packs power (more than the 88S) and makes smashing and clearing effortless. At the same time the head speed isn’t bad, which allows for precision in drop shots.
Overall, it could be a good contender as an all-arounder racket to Victor’s Thruster F.
Side note: I noticed some reviews about this racket contradicted each other, which just shows how important it is to try a racket before buying if at all possible. It shows more about the other rackets we are comparing this racket to than it does about the racket itself.
- Volant Badminton
- CK Yew – Yonex Astrox 88D Pro, Tour, Game
- CKYew – Yonex Astrox 88S Pro vs Astrox 88D Pro
- Paul Stewart
The best racket for speedy drives, interception, and defense: Yonex Nanoflare 800
With the Yonex Nanoflare 800, the three keywords are speed, speed, and speed.
Its weight balance is head light but nearly evenly balanced and very easy to play with. It’s recommended as your new best friend for counter attacking, drives, and push shots, and it’s popular among many pro players.
Clears have been reported as effortless while smashes were hollow and exactly what you’d expect from a racket like this: not powerful.
There’s also the even lighter LT version I’ll link to below.
Alternatively, there’s the Victor Auraspeed 90K used by Anders Antonsen.
This user friendly, head light racket is also speedy as hell with an easy swing and a good feel. It’s similar to the Nanoflare with good control and effectiveness when defending and counter attacking.
At the same time clears and drop shots were reportedly easy but smashing will be tricky so you’ll need to adopt your technique if you come from a head heavy racket. This racket might be challenging to tame if you’re a novice as it comes with a stiff shaft.
- Doubles games usually require more speedy rackets in the lighter weight class than singles games
- When it comes to the best badminton racket for doubles, rackets on the head lighter side tend to suit the front court and net play better whereas head heavy rackets tend to be better for the rear court. However, with new combinations in recent years, it isn’t that simple anymore but it’s a good general rule of thumb to simplify things
- The more flexible the racket, the more suitable for beginners it is as it offers more assistance if your technique and timing aren’t perfect yet
It depends on your style but the Yonex Astrox 100ZZ as currently used by Viktor Axelsen is a good contender as the best racket for smashing. Its weight balance is head heavy and it can deliver raw power in your smash. If you can tame it that is – it isn’t intended for beginners due to its extra stiff shaft.
The Astrox 99 can be good for doubles but these days there are similar and more popular rackets out there like the Astrox 88S and 88D depending on your style of play.
Some pro men’s doubles players use the Astrox 100ZZ racket as their preferred racket, often for the rear court to deliver devastating smashes and raw power. It isn’t intended for beginners due it its extra stiff shaft that requires good technique.
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