Last year, I started playing badminton again after fifteen years away from the game. I couldn’t remember which racket I used to play with so I immediately got curious about the best badminton rackets out there.
Having been back on court for a while and found my rhythm, I’ve been looking for a new racket only to discover the special kind of hell it is to figure out which badminton racket is the best online.
There are hundreds of options available out there, many with similar specs. It feels as if you have to be a racket engineer to understand the difference.
On top of that, not all brands, not even the big three, offer the same amount of material for your research online. Testers and reviewers mention that Yonex tends to be easier to get a hold of than Li-Ning, for example.
Frankly, the experience at most offline stores isn’t better. You can hold the racket and swing it around but you can’t really test them properly to understand if they are a great fit for you in a real game compared to your existing racket. It’s not like you get to bring it to court for a few hours.
It feels as if you’re expected to fork out hundreds of dollars almost blindly, with just general information about the racket and its category. If you’re lucky, you’ll find a few meaningful online test reviews, but with no real knowledge of whether it’s a fit for you. Not exactly ideal.
It’s like we have to adapt to the racket, rather than getting a racket that perfectly fits us unless we are willing to keep buying rackets until we’ve been through all of them.
Tips for dealing with the poor experience online when looking for the best badminton rackets
Instead, we have to accept that we can’t learn about all rackets out there (there are hundreds), and nor should we want to. It’ll be an endless research project we’ll never finish. Instead, a good way to narrow down the list is to pick one among those with the most and best in-depth reviews online with play-testing, etc. as they allow you to make a reasonably good, educated guess.
At the same time, it helps to change our mindset to buy with the intention to demo and accept that we won’t get it right 100% of the time. I know it sucks but the only alternative is blind luck.
To make your life easier, I’d love to give you a recommendation for the best badminton rackets out there but as you can imagine that comes with its own challenges. There are so many different playing styles and most rackets are made with certain traits in mind, so there isn’t just one best racket winning all the professional matches.
Instead, I’ve taken a different approach and attempted to narrow the list as much as possible, so you just have to select a few essential items to find a racket that fits you. It’ll cut through the noise and get you 80% of the way there. But remember that this guide isn’t intended for high-level players as they typically know their preferences in detail already.
You’ll simply pick an overall part of the game that you find exciting among from a list of three. That’ll offer you one or two options from a few badminton racket brands.
The next step is to tweak a few things based on whether you prefer playing singles or doubles and based on your budget and skill level. I’ll walk you through those as we get there.
It’s as simple as that and you don’t need to know what head heavy rackets or lightweight rackets are along with other technical details. If you’re interested, though, head over to this mini-guide on how to choose a badminton racket.
The best badminton rackets based on how you play
Let’s get started. The three overarching game attributes are attacking/smashing, speed, and all-around rackets.
Your first step is to select the attribute you’re the most excited about and check out the rackets within that category to find the one that you think sounds the best.
- The smasher/attacker
- Astrox 100ZZ
- Astrox 88D Pro
- Victor Thruster Ryuga 2
- The speedsters
- Nanoflare 800
- Astrox 88S Pro
- Victor Auraspeed 90K
- The all-around (if you don’t know your preferences)
- Astrox 77
- Victor Thruster F
Simple enough, right?
Let’s dive into each of these rackets. Feel free to scroll down and skip the other racket categories.
The smasher/attacker rackets
1. Yonex Astrox 100 ZZ
The current world #1 in men’s singles, Viktor Axelsen’s preferred racket. It’s a killing machine on the court if you’re into attacking and smashing.
There are older rackets with more raw power but they are difficult to use unless in those rare cases where everything is positioned for the perfect smash.
Instead, this racket packs almost as much power but is reported to be much smoother throughout the entire game, especially when you’re under pressure.
- CKYew – Best Yonex power racket
- Astrox 100ZZ vs Tour and Game
- Axelsen’s own review of 100ZZ and ZX
- Volant 100ZZ and ZX
2. Yonex Astrox 88D Pro
Compared to the average racket, this is a smashing and attack prone one but within that specific category, it’s on the lighter and smoother end simply because so many similar models only focus on heavy and raw power.
Instead, the Astrox 88D handles like a dream as you slice through the air making it much faster than your typical attacking racket, which would often have similarities to a sledgehammer.
This racket is reported to be particularly easy to play with for a smash-friendly attacking racket.
- Volant Badminton
- CK Yew – Yonex Astrox 88D Pro, Tour, Game
- CKYew – Yonex Astrox 88S Pro vs Astrox 88D Pro
- Paul Stewart
3. Victor Thruster Ryuga 2
Victor’s Thruster Ryuga II (2) is an amateur-friendly version of Malaysia star Lee Zii Jia’s preferred racket.
It packs a heavy smash but feels softer than its previous edition, the Ryuga 1, which makes it more reliable, forgiving if your technique isn’t perfect, and ultimately, easier to play with for most of us.
- CKYew’s review of the original Ryuga 1 (if you’re curious)
1. Yonex Nanoflare 800
Yonex’s Nanoflare 800 is their flagship racket when it comes to speed, and speedy it is.
The shaft is unusually slim so it slices through the air and you’ll be better prepared to counter smashes or handle fast drive shots.
You’ll still be able to play long clears but you might find it a challenge to get a power smash going, as is common for this style of racket.
It’s easy to play with which means that there’s little adoption time if you’re switching from a different racket. That also comes in handy when you’re having an off day.
There’s also the even lighter LT option I’ll link to below.
2. Yonex Astrox 88S Pro
Next is the other sibling of the Yonex Astrox 88, the S (instead of the D edition mentioned before).
It’s not as lightweight as the Nanoflare 800, and actually, it’s more on the powerful side of things but it’s surprisingly fast considering that.
Speed is a critical part of this racket and if you’re looking for one with more power than your usual fast and speedy ones, this might be a good fit. That not only makes it good for rear court action like clears but also defensive work like drives and lifts.
- CKYew – Yonex Astrox 88S Pro vs Astrox 88D Pro
- CKYew – Yonex Astrox 88S Pro vs Tour
- Volant Badminton
3. Victor Auraspeed 90K
The Auraspeed 90K is reportedly an underrated racket. It’ll feel slightly slower than the ultra-fast Nanoflare 800 but it’s user-friendly and fun to play with due to the great feeling you get when hitting with it.
Switching to defensive shots during an intense rally is effortless and everything around the front- and mid-court is good.
The rear court is a bit more challenging as you might expect with this type of racket, except for clears and drops. You’ll likely have to adjust your technique slightly to deliver serious power compared to the attacking-style rackets you and I looked at earlier.
The all-around rackets
1. Yonex Astrox 77 Pro
The Yonex Astrox 77 Pro technically doesn’t have evenly balanced weight between the handle and racket head but it’s reported to feel very close. It’s reliable, it’s fast, it’s smooth and generally easy to play with.
It’s a racket that isn’t made to be amazing in one particular area but rather above average all around. This racket is a good fit if you aren’t sure which particular area of the game you’d like the racket to help you with.
2. Victor Thruster F Enhanced Edition
This racket offers a good balance between speed, power, and precision in your shots. It’s not the most powerful racket, and it’s also not the fastest or most precise.
Like the Astrox 77 above, it’s a great fit for almost any area of the game without having a sharp focus on anyone in particular. For example, you’ll have no problem hitting clears while at the same time being fast during your fast drive duels.
The biggest downside to this racket is that it’s often sold out, so it might be challenging to get a hold of.
Tweaks to your racket (some badminton racket brands make it easier than others)
Now that you’ve selected a racket, you’re well on your way to finding a good badminton racket for you. The next step is to select whether you like to play singles or doubles games more. You might like both and don’t know what you prefer. That’s fine.
In general, you’ll likely prefer the racket’s weight class to be 3U (heavier) if you play singles whereas you’d probably prefer the 4U (lighter) weight class if you play doubles or haven’t played in years. Many women also prefer that weight class or the even lighter weight class called 5U.
Once you’ve picked your weight class, it’s time to pick your budget and skill level. This is where things get complicated as most brands don’t appear to have a clear system with budget-friendly editions of the top tier rackets we see the pros use.
Only Yonex has developed a clear and easy-to-follow system within some of the rackets you’ve just looked at. If you choose a racket from another brand above, have a look at the accompanying reviews I gathered to get a better sense of whether it fits your skill level. Alternatively, have a look through my other guides on the best rackets for beginners and the best rackets for intermediate players.
If you prefer to keep things hella simple, go back, pick a Yonex racket, and move on to the final step below.
Budget and skill level
If you choose a Yonex racket, some models come in different versions based on budget and skill level.
You then have to decide if your budget is in the $50-$100 range or above $100, and if you’re a beginner, intermediate, or advanced player.
Their Play rackets tend to be the most affordable and beginner friendly editions of the rackets above but aren’t available for all racket models. Meanwhile, the Game and Tour editions hover somewhere in the middle, and the Pro is the best and priciest racket that requires the best technique.
You might’ve chosen that you are an attacking interested player and found the Yonex Astrox 88D Pro most attractive.
You might feel that you play doubles the most, which would put you in the 4U weight class, and that you’re an intermediate player with a budget in the $50-$100 range.
That means the Yonex 88D Game 4U racket might be among the best badminton rackets for you.
Now, the racket strings and their tension is more important than you might think. Some rackets come unstrung because most players prefer to get them changed from the standard factory option anyway.
Finding the string you’ll love the most is a whole other beast that I won’t get into now but many shops offer to select for you based on three price ranges (cheap, mid-range, and high-end). You’ll likely be good with the mid-range option for now unless you already know your preferences.
The key here is to check if it comes unstrung before you buy it online (the product page will almost always highlight this) and then add on that the store restrings the racket for you before shipping it to you. You’ll be glad you did.
Takeaways when looking for the best badminton rackets online
- Buying the best badminton racket for you online is a special kind of hell as there are what feels like a million different options and it’s challenging to figure out which one best suits you without testing them against your existing one
- Buying in a store isn’t much better as you get to hold the racket but that doesn’t tell you much about how it truly plays against your existing one when it comes down to brass tacks
- It’s hard to tell many of the rackets apart but you’ll be 80% of the way to picking a good racket by using a simple process that can be boiled down to selecting your favorite game attribute, badminton game category, budget, and skill level
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