Badminton strings and tension are a great icebreaker topic among badminton folk. If you ask around, you’ll find everybody has a different opinion on the best string and tension combo. The major commercial badminton brands provide a guide to the range of strings available, especially Yonex, Victor and Li-Ning. Several blogs from the UK, USA and Malaysia offer a guide to strings by level (beginner, intermediate and advanced). My experience is one of trial and error.
When I used to play tennis I never worried about breaking my strings. Now I break my badminton strings every month or two and I’m confronted by a dilemma: should I use the same tension and string again? Stringing isn’t cheap in Australia, it can cost $15-$30 and I currently play badminton 4 times a week so the costs add up over time.
With regret I had to cut my strings this week. They were expensive (Li Ning No. 3) and since getting it professionally strung in August the tension had fallen so much it was virtually unplayable. It was only the second time I cut my strings. The first time was when I strung with BG65 at 24 lbs in 2015 and it too was unplayable. The shots felt bouncy, uncontrolled and loose. From inspection of the notching patterns, I realised I was hitting outside the sweetspot of the racquet frame to reduce the bounce (to control the shuttle ok, not because I’m a lousy player).
This month I asked my coach what tension would be appropriate, taking into account that I didn’t want to strain my shoulder. My coach told me:
With string and tension it depends on personal preference. I tried 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 30, 32 lbs at the end I gone back to 28 lbs. I’ve cut the strings about 6 to 8 times. Sometimes you have to cut it, but if you use BG66UM they break by themselves.
When he suggested 27 lbs, I was thinking “27 lbs?? My shoulder won’t thank me”. I’ve never gone above 26 lbs (the upper range for intermediate level). I’ve tried racquets at 28 lbs and loved the crispness of my shots, but I found clears a concern and preferred to string around 24 lbs (average hitter). Given that excessively high string tension increases the risk of shoulder injuries, I wasn’t willing to risk my shoulder.
My coach raves about Yonex BG66UM and I like it too. It’s very popular and considered one of the best in the market. It shines in terms of repulsion and makes a terrific ping with smashes. The downside is that it’s not really durable and notching is evident after a few hours of play (stronger guys have snapped theirs during a single session). I personally wouldn’t use BG66UM at higher tensions (27lbs+) because it feels hard and unforgiving to me. Like hitting with a plank of wood. But note, my racquet is moderately stiff and this perhaps contributes to the wooden plank effect.
At 25-26lbs+ I like Li-Ning No. 1 because it feels a little softer without noticeably less control or repulsion. Li-Ning No. 3 performed well at 24lbs but the tension dropped pretty quick and within 2 weeks the shots became too loose. It’s durable for such a thin string (0.61mm) which is both a blessing and a curse.
String colours are also personal preference and you can’t really go wrong by matching the same colour of your strings to your racquet. I take pride in my equipment and I like my colours to be co-ordinated. There’s a wide range of string colours to suit your taste.
Perhaps more important than strings is a player’s ability, speed and power. As my dad tells me, “It’s not the racquet, it’s the player!”