A badminton racket is the tool of the game, used to strike the shuttlecock back to the opponent's side in hopes they will not be able to get to it in time. A high energy sport as are most racket sports, leaving less time for reaction. Rackets have varied weight and balance, these being the things to consider when buying one along with the price range.
A bit about badminton
Developed in British India from the older simpler game called 'battledore and shuttlecock', badminton today is played at the Summer Olympics and other international stages. Players use rackets to hit the shuttlecock to the opponent's side in hopes their placement will be difficult to reach and the opponent will miss it. The game is played on all surfaces when played for leisure, at the competition level it is usually played on wooden courts.
Badminton racket weight and balance
The basic things to consider are the weight, balance, string tension and shaft flexibility. The racket weight has a rating system, denoted by a "U", the higher the number the lighter the racket is. 4U rackets weigh 80-84g, 3U rackets are 85-89g, 2U rackets come in at 90-94g and the 1U ones are 95-100g. Lighter rackets mean you will have the ability to change stances faster and be more mobile. In singles, people prefer heavier rackets so they can ensure more stability. The balance of a badminton racket has 3 variations, it is either head heavy, head light or even balanced. The head heavy ones work if you like playing a powerful game from the rear of the court and like rallies. The head light ones are easier to swing in cases of doubles where there are more chances of picking up smashes. This kind of badminton racket is easier to manoeuver, reducing reaction time. A good choice if you are going to be closer to the net. If you would rather rely on your own power to control the racket an even balance one works well. Letting you decide how to use it at what time.
The string tension and handgrip
String tension is usually according to areas as well, as the temperature can affect strings. Due to this in warmer areas, the strings are tighter as the heat makes them expand. Generally, the strings should sink 1mm when a hand is pushed against them, this is ideal for most players. Handgrips are either kind of like a towel in texture or the plainer synthetic grips. The towel grips are good at absorbing sweat, but also gather bacteria so might need changes more often. The synthetic grips are a more neat grip, but with the lack of sweat absorption can be somewhat annoying.
Shaft flexibility and build material
The shaft flexibility also affects play, to put it simply the more flexible shaft works better if your hits aren't explosive. Serious players with better technique and explosive arm strength benefit more from stiffer shafts. Rackets today are often made of carbon-fibre, which has great strength to weight ratio. Also better transfer of kinetic energy. Cheaper rackets are still made of metals like steel, these are heavier and thus harder to manoeuvre.
The well-known badminton racket brands are Yonex, Li-Nig, Babolat, Wilson, Ashaway and Adidas. The top-rated rackets are mostly from Yonex, a favourite amongst elite players as well. In price the rackets do vary a lot, as the models keep coming and better materials cost more.