Guide to Badminton Strings
Composite technologies achievable with tennis strings are not practical in badminton because the strings are much thinner. There is simply not enough diameter available to adequately bond another material to the string's core. Badminton strings therefore come in one of two varieties:
|Monofilament||Monofilament cores tend to be quite stiff when used in a thin string, which explains why monofilament strings are now uncommon in badminton. Monofilament strings are still popular in tennis, however, where this stiffness can be desirable.
Example: Luxilon Spin Force
|Multifilament||Multifilament cores are less stiff than monofilament cores of the same material. This translates into sustained string performance for better shuttle control.
Example: Yonex BG 65 / Ashway ZyMax 65
A higher tension will give you more control over the direction the shuttle takes off your stringbed.
A lower tension will give greater power, but with less control.
|Very Loose Tension (16-21 Ibs)||For beginners or players with little experience, low string tensions are recommended as this will propel the shuttlecock further, providing good power even when it is mis-hit. Inexperienced players are unlikely to have developed good wrist action yet, which makes it considerably harder to use a high-tension racket.|
|Loose to Medium Tension (22-24 Ibs)||Intermediate players with more powerful swings, but who still require both power and control in their game, should have a stiffer stringbed for the improvement in control it provides.|
|Medium Tension (25-27 Ibs)||For advanced players, power may no longer be a problem as it is now an inherent characteristic of their game. Tactics and placement are now more important, requiring maximum control from the racket and therefore a higher string tension.|
|High Tension (28-30+ Ibs)||Players at an elite or professional level have an optimum control of their shots and can play with increased accuracy, and therefore can play with incredibly high tension strings.|
Plastic shuttles, although more cost effective than feather shuttles, require more effort in clearing the shuttle to the back of the court and can also be a cause of tennis elbow. Users of plastic shuttles should consider lowering their tension by 1 or 2 lbs in order to compensate and reduce vibration.
String Gauge (Thickness)
Badminton strings are generally available in one of three gauges, or thicknesses: 20, 21 and 22 gauge.
Thicker strings (20 gauge) are more durable, hold tension longer, offer greater control but are stiffer.
Thinner strings (22 gauge) tend to be less durable, but are bouncier and stretch back further on impact with the shuttle. This trampoline effect generates more power.
What do the Professional Players Use?
|Lee Chong Wei||Yonex BG 66 Force @ 30 lbs|
|Lin Dan||Yonex BG 80 @ 32 lbs (mains) / 31 lbs (crosses)|
|Chris Adcock||Yonex BG 66 Ultimax @ 31 lbs|
|P. V. Sindhu||Yonex BG 80 @ 30 lbs|
|Viktor Axelsen||Yonex BG AB (Aerobite) @ 34 lbs|
|Akane Yamaguchi||Yonex BG 66 Ultimax @ 27lbs|
How to Choose Your String Specifications
In badminton, virtually every shot is within a player's reach unless you can force him or her to the baseline. In order to do that, you need powerful strokes to overcome the aerodynamic drag of the shuttlecock. A lack of power is simply a setup for your opponent's smash. Power is therefore a prerequisite for high-level play.
Players should adjust their string specifications to suit their skill level. It is advisable that all beginners and intermediates use a racket with low tension strings, before gradually increasing by 1lb increments as they master shot techniques and start to develop a strong wrist action.
Beginners should typically opt for a heavier gauge (20/21) multifilament string for durability. More developed players who are committed to the game and are willing to restring more frequently should opt for a thinner multifilament (21). Advanced players may choose an even thinner string (21/22).
At the same tension, a thinner string is stretched more than a thick one, so the thin string behaves as if it's tighter. If you've been playing with 20 gauge string and you switch to thinner, 21 gauge to obtain more power, you'll probably have to reduce the tension slightly. Otherwise, the thinner string would feel too tight, and you'd actually sacrifice power, as compared to the thicker string.
The best performance string manufacturers are Ashaway and Yonex, but these are also the most expensive.
For any recommendations on the perfect string and tension, it is always worth speaking with your local professional stringer.