In a country like India where cricketers are worshipped as demigods, the game of cricket undeniably reigns supreme above all. While the contest between the bat and ball has struck a chord with Indians, it has left other sports like football and badminton lurking in the shadows, robbing them of their rightful recognition.
But, the present-day scenario is no longer the same. Today, while cricket continues to dominate, other sports like football and badminton have finally begun to break the shackles in popularity. On one hand, where the advent of Indian Super League (ISL) has given the Indian football fans something to cheer for, the ever-growing stature of Saina Nehwal and PV Sindhu has made us reignite our love for shuttlecocks.
In the age where sports have become an integral part of our go-to fitness regime, badminton has established itself as one of the most convenient and cost-effective options. Unlike cricket and even football, the game of badminton is short, exciting and it doesn't punch a big hole in your pocket for the necessary types of equipment.
But, despite its feasibility, buying the right badminton equipment can often be challenging, especially when it comes to picking a racket. Whether you're an average Joe playing in your backyard or a prolific professional looking to turn heads on the national circuit, badminton rackets eventually play a pivotal role in deciding your fate on the court.
From ever-confusing shapes, complicated sizes to perplexed strings, picking the right badminton racket for yourself is far from a walk in the park. And, while relying on the cunning salesman will only leave you penniless, we've narrowed down a list of five best badminton rackets to save you the horror.
Yonex Nanoray 900
Founded by Minoru Yoneyama in 1946, Yonex has undoubtedly established itself as the biggest brand in badminton. Amongst its wide variety of badminton rackets, Nanoray 900 is arguably the one that screams success. A successor to Nanospeed 9900, the NR900 is composed of a totally new frame that suppresses the angle of the shuttlecock for a completely new angle to flay the powerful smashes.
The light frame allows for an easy flowing swing speed without having to thump the shuttle hard. For those who rely on drop shots in their game, the NR900 provides plenty of speed with less feel on the impact. But, this gem of a racket really shines on the flat drives where a player can enjoy great power and speed from a relatively little swing. And, if that's not appealing enough, the fact that Saina Nehwal uses NR900 as her go-to weapon to slay her opponents surely makes this racket a must-buy for badminton enthusiasts.
Price: Rs 13,429
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Yonex Voltric Z-Force II
If Saina brought Indian badminton to the international scene, then PV Sindhu is undeniably the shuttler who's building on the legacy. The 22-year-old has become the new poster girl of Indian badminton especially after her silver-medal finish in the 2016 Rio Olympics. While acquiring Sindhu's impeccable skills might be more than a challenge, you can surely get your hands on her weapon of mass destruction - Yonex Voltric Z-Force II.
A successor to Voltric Z-Force, this beast of a racket -launched in 2014 - is a popular choice amongst many international stars.
This is a head-heavy racket that comes with distinguishing features - a unique smaller head, the thinnest shaft in Yonex history, more aerodynamic and tungsten-infused grommet strips.
Compared to other rackets, Voltric Z-Force II has a sweet spot placed slightly higher for more speed. The thinner shaft is noticeably efficient and combined with the new aerodynamic headwork, this racket really packs a punch. The smashes are powerful and accurate, while fast exchanges are easier without the early onset of muscle fatigue. For the defensive players, Z-Force II's easy maneuverability will allow them to get their racket into place faster to return the shuttle.
Price: Rs 10,480
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Yonex Duora Z-Strike
A force of nature on the court and a smiling beauty off it, Carolina Marin has established herself as one of the most exciting talents on the badminton circuit. With her fiery, never-say-die attitude, the Spaniard has notched up numerous records at a young age. If the competitive skill-set gives Marin an edge over others, her racket - Yonex Duora Z-Strike - further ensures a favorable result for the champion shuttler.
An evenly-balanced racket with extra stiff frame and slim shaft, Duora Z-Strike follows the Z-Force II with a compact head. Surprisingly, there is more lateral movement with this frame rather than the usual Yonex 'solid-as-a-rock' specification. The clears are perfect and drop shots seem accurate with more balanced net play alongside controlled smashes.
There are no mishit issues with the compact head and barely any evidence of fatigue - thanks to its dual-frame technology. Defensively, Duora Z-Strike might not have a super-fast frame, but it is indeed a solid performer. An offensive racket specially made to boost power, speed, and control - giving players a tactical upper hand on the court, Duora Z-Strike is an outright winner.
Price: Rs 11,999
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VICTOR Jetspeed S10
Just like Yonex, VICTOR is another popular brand that has excelled in producing badminton equipment. Amongst its ever-increasing range of products, the Jetspeed series - which replaced its popular Bravesword range - has given international badminton some of the best rackets over the years. And, Jetspeed S10 is arguably the best amongst the lot.
After the early Jetspeeds failed to find suitors, the launch of S10 in 2015 rapidly became a racket of choice by numerous international stars including India's Ashwini Ponnappa. The racket boasts a thinner shaft with Shark skin technology and a slightly smaller head.
Despite its even-balanced offering, S10 oozes power too. The shots off this beast are so quick that you almost have to reign in the racket a little to maintain control. The swing speed makes the clip returns simple with very little movement. Slice returns are also quick and the beauty with S10 is the extra power of the wrist it allows for the players to generate in their shots. And, if you want to replicate Lee Chong Wei's thunderous smashes, then S10 is your best bet.
Price: Rs 14,500
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Li-Ning Woods N90 II
An arch-rival to Yonex, Li-Ning has slowly yet gradually established itself as one of the prominent brands in international badminton. And, with its popular 'N' series, the Chinese manufacturer has taken the art of making badminton rackets to a whole new level. With the rackets made from military grade carbon fibre, Li-Ning's 'N' series quickly become a popular choice amongst badminton stars.
Amongst the popular series, one racket that stands a cut above the rest is Woods N90 II. This racket packs a punch with a great degree of power. With little torque on offer, the consistency in the hit is pretty good - thanks to the quality of construction.
Being a head-heavy racket, the N90 II also offers great control and feel.
When it comes to smashes and defensive work, the racket seems to do the job. The only drawback appears to be its maneuverability and you need strong wrists to see this racket work its magic. This is the same racket that was used by Lin Dan when he became World Champion in 2009, 2011 and 2013.
Price: Rs 14,500
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