Badminton, a game that was played in ancient Greece and Egypt, has seen a great deal of change in the years since it was officially adopted by the British in the 1860s. The rackets have changed in shape and composition to help speed up the sport.
Early Badminton Rackets
Modern badminton evolved from a game children played in India called “poona,” which came from a sport called “battledore and shuttlecock.” The object of this non-competitive game was to volley the shuttlecock as long as possible with a paddle called the battledore.
Badminton Racket Frames
The earliest badminton rackets had wooden frames. Players sought to have lighter-weight rackets to increase their speed on the court, and they switched to aluminum frames, and then later used carbon fiber composite materials for even lighter rackets.
Badminton Racket Head Shape
The traditional oval shape of the badminton racket has given way to other shape, such as isometric and diamond, or tear-shaped. The isometric size increases the area of the racket known as the “sweet spot,” which is the area of the strings where the player can deliver the most powerful hit to the shuttlecock.
Badminton Racket Strings
Originally, badminton strings were made from natural animal gut. To improve string tension and also to increase the speed of the game, most players use synthetic materials like nylon which are cheaper and provide the same qualities as the natural strings.
Badminton Racket Grip
The grip on the badminton racket has also moved toward the use of more synthetic materials. Polyurethane and other kinds of toweling grips help the player from losing his hold on the handle and build up its diameter so his hand is comfortable.
Badminton takes its name from Badminton House, a royal manor in the English county of Gloucestershire where it is widely considered the formal birthplace of the racket sport. Although evidence of badminton dates as far back as the ancient Greeks some 2000 years ago, it is now an Olympic sport and played all over the world. Historically, badminton rackets were made from wood, but due to their cumbersome nature and heavy weight, the materials and the shape changed drastically.
The badminton racket frame is normally made from lightweight, man-made metals such as graphite or aluminum. This is because most players believe that the lighter the racket, the more manageable and maneuverable it is. Lightweight rackets are also thought to move more quickly through the air and with more freedom, helping trace and hit fast-moving shuttlecocks. Other players, however, prefer a heavier racket because it provides more power and reduces shock. These rackets of differing weights are not made from different materials; the heavier racket is simply made with more graphite fiber. The standard weight of a badminton racket should be between 2.8oz (80g) and 3.5oz (100g).
Nylon is used to make the strings of a badminton racket. The synthetic material is cheap to produce but strong and long lasting. Nylon string sizes are designated by gauge number. The lower the gauge value, the thicker the string. Thicker nylon strings give control and durability but sacrifice power. Thinner synthetic strings provide power to a player’s shots but are prone to wear, tear and breaking.
Natural Animal Gut
Interestingly, some badminton players still prefer animal gut strings because they give rackets more feel, control and power. They also absorb shock and reduce vibration on the user’s playing arm. Natural animal gut is costly, however, and doesn’t last as long as other synthetic strings.