The best badminton rackets as popularized by the pros

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Last Updated on May 11, 2023 by Aske

Even the best badminton rackets don’t make up for practicing your skills but it is one of the easiest wins you can get if your budget allows.

You obviously can’t play like Kento Momota just by getting his racket but if you’re playing with the wrong one and correct course, you’ll have a lot more fun and it’ll do wonders for your game. 

Such was it when I found one that truly suited me well. Despite it being an attacking-based racket, I ended up scoring a ton of points during defense as it complimented my weakness.

That journey started as I got curious about the world’s best badminton rackets only to discover the special kind of hell it is to find the right fit for me.

There are at least a hundred different rackets available out there, many with similar specs. It feels as if you have to be a racket engineer to understand the difference.

When researching online, articles like this one, suggesting which badminton rackets are best can help narrow down the field but it only gets you so far. Intellectually understanding how each racket is different is one thing, but the feeling we get when playing with it is a whole other world.

The experience at most offline stores isn’t much better. You can hold the racket and swing it around, but you can’t play-test it to see if it’s a good fit for you in a real game.

It feels as if you’re expected to fork out hundreds of dollars almost blindly. If you’re lucky, you’ll discover a friend who has that exact racket and is willing to let you try it out. It’s not exactly ideal. It’s almost as if we have to adapt to the racket, rather than getting a racket that fits us well.

The big issue when it comes to getting a good badminton racket recommendation is something I refer to as “player-racket fit” and it’s hard to perfect. 

Unless you have access to play test a ton of rackets on court, the secret is not to get stuck looking for the perfect racket model but getting in the right direction – 85% of the way. 

For example, if you love power, it’ll be hard for anyone to know your game intimately enough to tell whether you’ll love Yonex’s Astrox 100, 99 or 88D more as they carry very similar specs, but picking any one of them will likely get you most of the way as opposed to getting a speed-based racket like Yonex’s Nanoflare 800.

I bet that you’re here to look at some rackets, so let me show you what’s good first and you can use the table of contents to find more pointers on picking a racket if you’d like. Alternatively, head over to this mini-guide on how to choose a badminton racket if you’re interested in something more in-depth.

If you’re a beginner, you might prefer this guide on the best rackets for beginners, and if you’re intermediate, this guide on the best rackets for intermediate players.

The best badminton rackets as used by the pros

Hey reader, a quick interruption...

I’m experimenting partnering with webshops that sell badminton gear, like Amazon. I’ll include links to buy the gear I review and if you do, they’ll pay me a small commission. That doesn’t change your price and you’ll get more play-tested gear as a result but I thought it was fair to let you know.

I appreciate your support,
Aske

If you want more power

1. The top singles players’ weapon of choice: Yonex Astrox 100ZZ

2. A popular doubles smash racket: Yonex Astrox 88D Pro

3. The rising singles player’s racket: Victor Thruster Ryuga 2

If you want faster swing speed to hit consecutive shots like a machine gun

4. The popular speedy doubles racket: Yonex Nanoflare 800

5. The doubles front court maestro: Yonex Astrox 88S Pro

If you want to be more precise (or don’t want a racket that’s too specialized in one area)

6. The surprisingly popular racket of the stars: Yonex Astrox 77 Pro

7. The popular mix doubles racket: Victor Thruster F Enhanced Edition

The best badminton rackets by player-racket fit and playing style

Instead of asking yourself “which badminton rackets are best?” I like to tweak the question to ”what makes the best badminton racket?”

To me, the answer is the one that best solves your problems on court, although not all problems can be solved by a racket. For example, a racket can help you hit the backline if you struggle but it can’t help you move faster around the court.

I’ve noticed three important items where a racket can help:

  • If you want more power
  • If you want faster swing speed to hit consecutive shots like a machine gun
  • If you want to be more precise (or don’t want a racket that’s too specialized in one area)

In my experience, the biggest win can be gained for people who struggle with power but it comes down to preference. 

There are also indirect ways a racket can help you such as if you want to change a habit of smashing too much and add more variety in your play. Then you could get a head light racket to force yourself to play a variety of shots, but I won’t be considering those here.

Rackets by playing style

best badminton racket - playing style matrix

The best badminton rackets in the world

1. The top singles players’ weapon of choice: Yonex Astrox 100ZZ

This is the current world #1 in men’s singles, Viktor Axelsen’s preferred racket.

In fact, it’s also the racket used by Akane Yamaguchi, the #1 in women’s single, along with Takuro Hoki (#4 in MD), Lakshya Sen (#23 in MS), and Chen Qing Chen (#1 in WD).

I’ve play-tested the intermediate version of this racket, the Astrox 100 Game and if that’s anything to go by, it’s a killing machine on the court if you’re into attacking and smashing.

There are older rackets with more raw power, but I understand that they are difficult to use except in those rare cases where everything is positioned for the perfect smash and you’re not under pressure. 

Instead, this racket seemingly packs almost as much power but is reported to be smoother throughout the entire game, especially when you’re under pressure.

2. A popular doubles smash racket: Yonex Astrox 88D Pro

I’m dying to get my hands on this racket. It’s marketed by Yonex as a rear court doubles racket, and popular with doubles players, it is.

The quiet Marcus Gideon with the powerful smash uses this racket (#22 in MD) along with Kim So Yeong and Kong Hee Yong (both #5 in WD). The same goes for Soh Wooi Yik (#3 in MD) and Kunlavut Vitidsarn (#7 in MS).

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 raw power.

I haven’t tested the Astrox 88D as it’s constantly sold out near me but I hear that it handles like a dream as you slice through the air. That makes 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.

3. The rising singles player’s racket: Victor Thruster Ryuga 2

Victor’s Thruster Ryuga II (2) is an amateur-friendly version of Malaysia star Lee Zii Jia’s preferred racket. And yet another racket I struggle to get my hands on to play-test.

Lee Zii Jia used it when it was launched before switching back to his original Thruster Ryuga one. This new edition is popular among players like Kenta Nishimoto (#13 in MS) and Chico Aura Dwi Wardoyo (#19 in MS).

Other players suggest that 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 (if you can find a store that has it in stock, that is).

4. The popular speedy doubles racket: Yonex Nanoflare 800

Yonex’s Nanoflare 800 is their flagship racket when it comes to speed, and speedy it is. It is chosen as the weapon of choice by top players like Chiharu Shida (#2 in WD), Lee Yang (#12 in MD), Jia Yi Fan (#1 in WD), and Thom Gicquel (#6 in XD).

The racket’s unusually slim shaft reportedly slices through the air and you’ll be well-prepared to counter smashes or handle fast drive shots. At the same time, I understand that you’ll still be able to play long clears without problems 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.

5. The doubles front court maestro: Yonex Astrox 88S Pro

Next is the other sibling of the Yonex Astrox 88, the S (instead of the D edition mentioned before). 

It is used by Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo (#22 in MD) who often plays the front court partner to Marcus Gideon), along with Wang Yi Lyu (#4 in XD) and Delphine Delrue (#6 in MD). The latter being an interesting combination as Delrue’s partner Thom Gicquel uses the head light and speedy Yonex Nanoflare 800.

Speaking of the Nanoflare 800, this Astrox 88S Pro is not as lightweight. In fact, it’s more on the powerful side of things but I understand that it’s still very fast for a head heavy racket. 

I suppose we can call it a modern kind as 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.

6. The surprisingly popular racket of the stars: Yonex Astrox 77 Pro

As I was researching this racket, I was surprised to discover just how many top players are using this all-around racket. In fact, it’s the racket used by the most top players relative to how high their ranking is, as far as I can count.

Korean An Se Young (#2 in WS), Chen Yu Fei (#4 in WS), Muhammad Ardianto and Fajar Alfian (both #1 in MD), Huang Ya Qiong (#1 in XD), and Huang Dong Ping (#4 in XD).

It’s counterintuitive as this racket isn’t designed to be amazing in one particular area but rather performs well all around with no clear weaknesses.

The Yonex Astrox 77 Pro technically doesn’t have evenly balanced weight between the handle and racket head but it’s close. I have play-tested the edition intended for beginners, the Astrox 77 Play. It was smooth, so there’s no reason to assume that the high-end Pro model won’t be even smoother, more reliable, faster, and overall easy to play with as well.

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.

7. The popular mix doubles racket: Victor Thruster F Enhanced Edition

Another Victor racket that seems impossible to get my hands on. It’s probably because the top mixed doubles players got all the stock. It’s the preferred racket by Hendra Setiawan (#2 in MD), Goh Soon Huat and Lai Shevon Jemie (both #8 in XD), Lai Pei Jing and Tan Kian Meng (both #16 in XD), Jenny Moore and Gregory Mairs (both #29 in XD) along with Praveen Jordan (#40 in XD).

I understand that it 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.

Like the Astrox 77 Pro above, it seems like 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 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.

Considering how popular these all-around rackets are among doubles players, one could argue that they might be the best badminton rackets in the world.

Takeaways

  • Buying the best badminton racket 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
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