The Evolution of the Badminton Racket
The game of badminton can trace its roots back to the ancient civilisations of Europe and Asia. The first incarnation of the game was known as "battledore and shuttlecock," a game that originated more than 2,000 years ago. In the 1600s, this game was being played in Europe with a simple wooden bat.
It was only after the mid-1850s that anything resembling the modern badminton racket was used. Since then, the modern badminton racket has continued to evolve.
The first badminton rackets were built around a simple wooden frame. These rackets were neither lightweight nor flexible. As the game grew in popularity and professional competition emerged, players began to use lighter steel or aluminium rackets. The creation of carbon fibres in the late 1950s revolutionised racket sports in general. Modern carbon fibre composite badminton rackets offer both strength and flexibility at very low weights. Carbon fibre rackets also transfer kinetic energy efficiently, allowing for great power and control.
The evolution of racket strings has been one of the key developments in badminton racket technology. The first rackets were made using tightly strung animal gut strings. While natural gut strings are still used in the market today, nylon strings are now a more popular option. Technological advances have made nylon strings both versatile and cheap. A wide variety of different nylon strings are now available to cater for the needs and preferences of individual players.
Oval-shaped racket heads have been used since the modern game was developed. While the oval head is still the most commonly used design today, modern developments have seen the introduction of a variety of new racket head shapes. Isometric, diamond and teardrop racket heads have been developed for a variety of reasons; aerodynamic considerations, racket "feel" and string length options have been the driving factors.
The racket handle and racket grip are important for both performance and comfort. The first badminton rackets often had bare wooden handles. Cloth or other simple materials would sometimes be wrapped around the handle for comfort reasons rather than increased performance. Professional players, however, soon found that they needed greater grip as well as comfort. Modern synthetic materials have seen great improvements within racket handle technology. Modern elastic grips offer comfort while providing a non-slip surface as well as moisture absorption.
The Badminton World Federation has a number of laws and regulation regarding racket construction. Any new developments, therefore, have to be made with these laws firmly in mind. According to BWF laws, a racket cannot be more than 680 millimetres in length or 230 millimetres in width. Detailed rules also apply to the racket strings; these must be uniform, within a specific size range and spread out evenly across the frame.