Though not in the same league as football, there is no doubt that badminton is a popular sport in Singapore. This can be attested by the many community centres and sports halls that are fully booked during weekends and in the evenings, as the more modest dimension of the badminton court allows it to be enjoyed by young and old alike.
Team Singapore athelete Fu Mingtian (foreground) in action on the badminton court.
Remember when you were younger and playing badminton in school with a wooden racket? Technology has advanced a lot since then, and many top-end rackets offer an isometric frame for a larger sweet spot, and are also made entirely – including the handle – of advanced materials such as high modulus graphite carbon fibre or titanium alloy.
So just how light is a modern racket, and what is the lightest badminton racket in the world?
Advantages of a light racket
Before answering that question, let’s take a look at some of the advantages of a light badminton racket. Proponents usually cite how a lighter racket is better for defence since it allows for greater control and faster repositioning, as well as more controlled smashes over a heavier one.
Moreover, most of the weight has been removed from areas such as the handle and shaft in a modern racket, which means that badminton players have the advantage of a lighter racket with the same swing weight and power as heavier rackets in the past.
If you are interested in getting the lightest badminton racket that money can buy, then a search of available rackets shows that the Karakal BN-60 badminton racket
weighs in at just 60 grams when unstrung. Coming in at a close second would be the Apacs Feather Weight 200 at 69 grams.
Do note that the weight distribution (head heavy or head light) does make a big difference, and it is also understood that a stringed racket (+3 grams) with a towel overgrip (+15 grams) can substantially change the overall heft.
Is a light racket really the best?
While owning the lightest badminton racket in the world may buy you some bragging rights, the suitability of a racket is really about one’s style of play and preferences. Specifically, there are many other factors for an ideal racket, which ranges from aspects such as shaft stiffness, string tension, and balance point. The balance point of the racket is the point where the racket will balance on your finger; a high balance point gives racket a heavier feel for power and lower balance points afford a lighter feel for control.
It is perhaps with this recognition that Yonex has eschewed the weight-race and instead designed a comprehensive product line that focuses on important variables such as power, control, and being head-heavy and head-light, as you can see from this graph here. Indeed, the lightest Yonex racket appears to be Nanoray 10 at 80 grams.
So though it is evident that technology has allowed rackets to be made extremely lightweight, it is hardly the final say in sports performance or enjoyment. In some ways, selecting the right racket is a trial-and-error process, and players would be well served to choose their racket based on unique variables such as strength, swing speed and playing style