Q: What is meant by racket shaft stiffness and what does it mean for my game?
A: Well, quite simply the stiffness of the racket shaft refers to how easily the shaft flexes (the flexibility).
Q: Which is better, a racket shaft that is more flexible or less flexible?
A: It depends! The general rule is that if you are a newer player you want a shaft that is more flexible, and an advanced player will benefit from one that is stiffer, but another consideration is physical strength.
Q: So how does the racket shaft stiffness affect performance?
A: It takes a certain amount of swing speed (angular velocity) for the shaft of the racket to flex. If you rotate the racket slowly the shaft won’t bend. If you swing the racket quickly the shaft and head will flex backwards and recoil on impact of the shuttle when the racket slows down. This flex and recoil translate greater shuttle velocity, so your clears can go further, and your smashes can be faster.
Q: What is right for me? Flexible or stiff?
A: If you are a beginner or a newer player your swing speed is likely to be slower. Therefore, your likely to benefit from a more flexible type shaft so that you can get more out of your swing. Even if you are physically strong, if you are a newer player your swing speed is likely to be slower, that’s because a skilled player will use their forearm, wrist, and a backswing to generate much of the speed. Beginners are more likely to use a basic translational swing that carries little swing speed. Another consideration is that a less experienced player is more likely to miss the sweet spot (center of the strings), with a stiff shaft this can create a more jarring vibration.
An advanced player however has a high swing speed and an accurate hit. The stiff shaft provides more resistance and a faster snap back (recoil) when flexed, which won’t be a problem for an advanced player. Note that an advanced player will also potentially suffer from a shaft that is too flexible, this is for a couple of reasons. One is that on defense when you are returning a high velocity shuttle you need a quick and short stroke, if your shaft is too flexible the delay in the recoil will cause inaccuracy. Second, a flexible shaft may negatively affect the steepness (angle) of your shot when you are trying to perform a shot that is both steep and fast. Here, the delay in recoil will push the shuttle flatter when your using high swing speed; note that this is referring to angle not shuttlecock velocity.
Q: What are some examples of rackets with a flexible shaft and stiff shaft respectively.
A: HL has a large selection of performance products that offer the best in quality and value, designed to meet the needs of players from beginner to professional. Here are some examples:
Flexible Shaft Rackets:
HL Phoenix Pink
HL V20 Python
Stiff Shaft Rackets:
HL PT 85
HL PT 75
HL V60 Python