They say that the first time you go to a professional live badminton event, you’ll be surprised how powerful the smash sounds compared to the TV or Youtube. But even through the screen, it makes me curious about the best badminton racket for smashing.
Lately, the crew and I have been playing our weekly games at a smaller venue than we used to, and when someone hits a power slammer, everyone can hear it.
It sounds magical and something just feels right. When you’ve felt how good it feels to hit a clean smash with a heavy racket — like hitting a nail perfectly with a hammer — it’s hard to go back to anything with less power.
The smash is the single most artistic move we all wanna pull off when everyone is looking. It’s iconic and so much easier with the right racket.
Traditionally, it’s been easiest with head heavy rackets and that is still the case as we can transfer more power and momentum from the swing onto the shuttle.
A lightweight and nimble racket can be head heavy and still super fast, but the opposite, a head light racket no matter how heavy, makes it difficult to send a power rocket through the air.
Getting the best badminton racket for smashing – is that all we need?
Packing a smash with power requires good technique and positioning behind the shuttle so you almost “run” into it. A power racket helps a lot, especially if you’re a beginner or intermediate and haven’t drilled in the technical skills yet.
Power rackets are also good for a special kind of block. The one where you just need to put your racket on the shuttle and feed off of your opponent’s smash to generate enough power to just whip it over the net in order to win a point or earn a lift.
By the way, when I mention ‘power racket’, I’m talking about the classic head heavy, sledgehammer-y beast type of racket that is traditionally known for taking smash prone players into heaven.
Now, the downside with these bad boys tends to be fatigue in the shoulder if you smash a lot and aren’t strong, as the rackets tend to be heavier.
The alternative would appear to be to adjust to head light or lightweight badminton rackets or do strength training to build endurance in your shoulder and avoid fatigue.
The downside to adjusting to a different type of racket is that they don’t pack the same raw power in the head, which means you can’t transfer as much momentum into the shuttle. Instead, you’ll need to adjust your technique and add more body weight into the smash to generate power.
Against the right opponent, you might get away with only focusing on your smash in singles games but it’ll be hard to justify during doubles games, as you’ll cover the front court at times, too. With decent technique, it’s not that hard to block a smash if your opponent is well positioned and it’ll be easy for them to get creative and play to your weaknesses if you’re a one-trick pony.
That means that the suggestions in this mini-guide aren’t only based on which racket is the most powerful as measured on just one scale (raw power). If we were to do that, the classic Yonex Voltric Z Force II would probably take the cake.
I’ll break down the best badminton rackets for smash into two categories: for those playing singles games where a smash more often wins the rally, and for those playing doubles games where we’ll often have sequences of smash-lift-smash-lift before winning the rally.
You might find that for singles smashing, you’ll prefer a 3U weight class, whereas 4U tends to fit doubles better as the gameplay is faster.
The best badminton racket for smashing in singles games
Let’s dig into these five sexy contenders for your singles matches!
1. Yonex Voltric Z Force II: the old school bandit (with more raw power than most can handle)
It’s interesting how, when this racket came out so many years ago it felt faster than its previous generation but now, it feels almost bulky and less smooth than the newer generation.
The improvement in racket technology and change in gameplay goes a long way.
You’ll likely find this racket the hardest to play with among this selection as it is challenging to tame when you’re under pressure (which should happen regularly if you’re paired up fairly/correctly against opponents).
This is a stiff-feeling bad boy throughout the entire racket, so you’ll need good technique to handle it but if you’re able to, it has epic raw power (and probably the most you’ll find in any racket) and a crisp feeling when you hit it.
There isn’t much to say about this racket as it can feel quite one-sided compared to many of the new school rackets we’ll look at in a minute. In an isolated scenario, such as during smash training, this racket will likely give you the most power.
2. Victor Thruster Ryuga 1: Lee Zii Jia’s weapon of choice
This racket isn’t for the faint of heart as it requires good strength and technique in order to avoid feeling tired in the shoulder.
It’s reported to be stiff and comparable with a sledgehammer full of power. Its handle is unusually short, which can help with the swing in your smash.
This racket isn’t for beginners but if you can make it work, it’ll be good for blocks where you can feed off of the opponent’s power to block like Lee Zii Jia likes to do too.
3. Li-Ning Tectonic 9: the swiss knife-like hammer
Next, we have the Li-Ning Tectonic 9, which is also a head heavy singles-based racket that appears to compete directly against the Yonex Astrox 99 Pro with similar quality.
Its shots are reported to feel solid with lots of hold as the shuttle touches the racket (meaning it feels as if you have a lot of power to tap into). It’s good for power based counter attack with lifts being terrific, and with a stiffer shaft and racket face that can help with stability.
However, it can feel slower in fast flat exchanges as there’s a lot of weight around the head. You might struggle if you’re late to the shuttle but even so, backhand clears were reportedly nice and easy to time.
4. Yonex Astrox 99 Pro: the middle of the road choice for the indecisive player
The Yonex Astrox 99 Pro is a racket somewhere in the middle in terms of handling and easiness to play with compared to the other rackets on this list.
It comes with a bigger sweet spot than most rackets and its head is among the heaviest, which can slow it down. At the same time its soft hitting feel isn’t good if you are looking for a slammer smash (but it’s only soft compared to this group of rackets).
The Astrox 99 Pro probably has more power than the Astrox 88D Pro and may feel almost like an all around style racket within the power segment.
It can feel challenging to extract the raw power if you’re not performing a classic overhead power shot and it might distract you during your game if your playing style doesn’t suit.
5. Yonex Astrox 100 ZZ: the smooth operator
It’s hard to have a list of the best badminton rackets for smashing and not include this one as the current world #1 in men’s singles, Viktor Axelsen, uses it. He loves a steep smash with full power and this racket provides it as Yonex’ flagship model.
It’s popular among doubles players too, although likely in the 4U weight class rather than the heavier 3U.
It’s reportedly easy to play with even though it’s stiff as if it’s a nicer stiffness than we see on other rackets like the Voltric Z force 2 and it has perhaps the hitting feel of the bunch.
It’ll help you do a good job even when you’re out of position and late to the shuttle, meaning that it’s more wholesome than merely focused on the single aspect of raw power. That is especially relevant in doubles as smashing is less likely to secure the point directly and more different types of shots come into play. This racket is definitely a viable candidate in both singles and doubles.
While the 100 ZZ is the high end racket and so stiff that it’s not the best racket for beginners, Yonex also offers more budget (and beginner)-friendly options like the 100 Tour and 100 Game.
- CKYew – Best Yonex power racket
- Astrox 100ZZ vs Tour and Game
- Axelsen’s own review of 100ZZ and ZX
- Volant 100ZZ and ZX
Next, let’s look at badminton rackets for smashing in doubles games.
The best badminton racket for smashing in doubles games
The difference when it comes to the best badminton rackets for a smash in doubles is that we might get stuck at the front court as our partner is occupying our preferred space at the back, waiting for the opportunity to rotate.
We tend to win fewer points directly on smashing in the ground than in singles and thus are often better off with a more dynamic racket. We often need to smash more in order to win the point as there are more people on court to block it.
1. Yonex Astrox 88D Pro: the doubles rear court hammer
Within this category of smashing-prone head heavy-type rackets, this one has perhaps the lightest head (just because the rest are so head heavy, not because it’s light in itself).
It might be the racket that handles the best out of these and is a good fit for doubles, as it’ll also be useful on the front court due to its speed. At the same time, it packs great power but not as much as many of the other rackets in terms of raw power, simply because many of the other ones are so power-focused.
This racket is surprisingly effective for those who don’t play purely attack as its speed gets transferred to the shuttle, which increases its playability.
- Volant Badminton
- CK Yew – Yonex Astrox 88D Pro, Tour, Game
- CKYew – Yonex Astrox 88S Pro vs Astrox 88D Pro
- Paul Stewart
2. Victor Thruster Ryuga 2: The amateur-friendly edition of Lee Zii Jia’s favorite racket
The Victor Ryuga II is a new edition to Lee Zii Jia’s favorite racket and seems to be made with us non-pro players in mind.
It’s reported to feel softer than the Ryuga 1, meaning that it’s easier to play with, more reliable, and more forgiving. That is better suited for doubles games and for us who don’t hit the shuttle with perfect technique every time.
It packs power that is easy to extract with a nice contact feel when you hit the shuttle. Compared to the Ryuga 1 it comes across as feeling more spongy than rock solid and crisp.
3. Li-Ning Axforce 90 Max: the relationship requiring time to develop
The Li-Ning Axforce 90 comes in two different editions: tiger (red) and dragon (blue). They are different, so make sure you don’t mix them up if you’re interested.
The main difference is that the dragon edition is slightly stiffer when it comes to its hitting feeling, even though they are both somewhat soft within the typical smash-category of rackets. It’s relatively forgiving, meaning that it’s easy to play with and can be used by a broad range of players like beginners and intermediate.
It appears to be intended as Li-Ning’s singles-based flagship racket made to compete directly against the Yonex Astrox 100ZZ. It’s head heavy but reportedly doesn’t feel that head heavy, like a sledgehammer would, probably similar to Astrox 88D Pro.
Some players report feeling a meaningful difference in timing and response which seemed to improve after 6-8 hours of play. If you choose this racket, you may find that it requires some time investment to adapt to.
It’s fast and easy to maneuver with clears, lifts and drives being effortless when you’re not under pressure. It’s trickier when your timing is slightly off and you’re out of position or late – this can hurt your precision.
Some players also mentioned it feeling softer and whippy rather than crisp as you might expect for this type of racket. It can come across as slightly hollow on short sharp shots which require well controlled power.
- CKYew (compares the differences between the tiger and dragon editions)
- When it comes to the best badminton racket for smashing, the racket isn’t everything but it goes a long way besides technique and being positioned right
- There’s a meaningful difference between smashing rackets for singles and doubles games as doubles tend to require more speed and have fewer points won directly on a single smash
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