Adidas is a big name in sports, but a small name in badminton. You may have heard of some rackets and shoes they had awhile ago, but that never really went anywhere. Now they’re back and they’re entering the market in a big way. A few months ago I went to Hong Kong and met up with the head of Adidas Badminton (a former pro player from England name Matt) and he introduced me to the new racket lines they are rolling out.
Matt was even gracious enough to send me a racket so I could try it out for myself! I promised I would write a review and finally, after using the racket for a few months, here it is. I should say that I’m not at all a racket expert and only know what I like and don’t like, so I’m sure I’m gonna get all the terms messed up. That being said he sent me the Wucht P8 and I had it strung with Lining #1 strings at 27 pounds. (My normal.) Also, just for the record I told him that despite the free racket I would write my own unbiased opinion and he assured me that’s exactly what he wanted.
First off, it looks good! It was also the first thing everyone who saw it said. It’s not a subtle looker, it’s a good looker and it knows it. The gold, red and black coloring is classy and and there are small details (like a raised Adidas logo at the bottom of the handle) that just add to its “coolness”. I passed this racket around to a lot of people to get their opinion and the first thing anyone said was, “Wow, looks great!” The second thing they said was, “feels strong,” due to its sturdy feeling.
Adidas had five racket lines, and the Wucht line is for heavy hitters who want power. I’m a power hungry girl and this racket is as hungry as I am. I usually play with light/evenly balanced racket, but this is tough and head heavy. It’s made for strong singles players and as a double player honestly, sometimes I found it to be a little too much. According to the marketing, the racket has expander grommets to increase the string bed which opens up the sweet spot. So you can hit a smash with a little less precision and still get as much (or more) power than other rackets. For delicate front of the net stuff I didn’t notice a difference or a change in my style, so it can hit the light shots just as well.
It’s a head heavy, stiff racket and can handle strings tension of up to 32 pounds. The Wucht P8 is the heaviest hitter of their Wucht line and each one (they go from Wucht P1 to the Wucht P8) have different weights, stiffness, and string tension capabilities.
So what’s it like to play with? Well, to me, this racket feels like a tank. I can literally both see and feel the difference when I play with it. In terms of my clears, they go much higher and further. Does it make my smashes faster? Maybe? That’s a little harder to measure without some sort of speed tester but it *feels* like it does. My partner Azhi used this racket a lot and felt the same way. He noticed a difference in the speed of his hits as well as an added depth to his clears and lifts.
I’m naturally an aggressive, heavy hitter player so this racket appeals to me. When I played the women’s competition I originally wanted to be really careful because I wasn’t feeling good and I thought I should play carefully. So I used my normal racket. But we were losing and my last game I just said “fuck it,” grabbed this racket and unleashed my inner beast (well, the beast with a flu). I decided to just use strength against the female players and it actually worked. It was the game I played the best.
But this racket demands strength to give strength, and if I don’t have strength in me, I just hit duds. All the benefits feel like they work against me if my arms is tired. The rackets weight can slows me down and when you hit a weak shot there is no added speed. Like last week I played three days in a row. The first day I used this racket most of the night with success. The second day I did training with my lighter racket, then switched to this one for a few games, and when my timing began to feel off I switched back to my lighter one. The third day my body was tired, and my arm muscles sore from training, and I tried half a game with this racket and failed miserably. So I ran off and grabbed my other one and my playing improved. I’m a girl though, so perhaps it is not the same with guys as it is for me.
I haven’t tried any of their other Adidas racket lines, but I really like this one and I know Adidas put a lot of work into it so I can guess the other lines have advantages. They have 5 lines: power (Wucht), speed (Überschall), accuracy (Kalkül), female players (Stilistin) and beginners (Spieler). (They’re German words so excuse all the umlauts.)
I’m not gonna get all bent out of shape about the woman’s’ line, but I can’t let it pass without comment. Rackets are gender neutral and I think introducing a separate line “for the ladies” isn’t exactly progressive on their part. Also, the women’s racket, and all their marketing for it, is pink. Come on guys, really? This is the 21st century. You can do better than that.
Adidas is also filling out their badminton shoes and clothing lines, something I am looking forward to. When Matt and I were talking he mentioned how ugly badminton clothing and shoes are. I could not agree more! It’s kinda a pet peeve of mine in badminton. Like, how is it gonna be a cooler sport if people are running around in the ugliest of ugly clothes? Obviously Adidas is in a good position to make good looking clothes and shoes, but it’s a hard battle to fight when everyone is making things one way and you want to change that. Fingers crossed they can get the Adidas aesthetic into the badminton clothing world but we’ll have to wait and see.
I feel like this fledgling Adidas line needs our support. After talking with Matt (who himself was in the top 50 in the world in men’s singles a decade ago so he knows and loves the sport) Adidas seems to be doing the right thing. And the badminton world is so small. Having another competitor, a major competitor that can compete with the big boys, can only result in more quality and options for us. I am not a person that cares about brands and I don’t like clothes with company logos splashed across it. Also, if they made crap I would just say that and not want to support them. But this racket is made with quality and so I’m willing to promote a big brand here just because I want more companies involved in badminton. (I want more small companies too, for the record.)
So, where do you buy Adidas stuff? You can’t just walk into a store in a mall and expect to see the rackets or shoes there. I don’t quite get the corporate structure and where this brand fits into the larger business, but right now you can only get it through distributors. Adidas badminton has a facebook page with distributor information, but aside from Canada and New Zealand they only have Asian distributors. There is a website called Racket Force in Hong Kong that sells the rackets and ships all over the world so it is still possible to get. (I’ve never used them myself but I asked around and heard good things about them.)
So don’t be scared or worried about the new Adidas badminton line. They aren’t a big name in badminton yet but they could be if the badminton community embraces them. I recommend this racket (my honest opinion) especially if you like power and are a heavy hitter like me. If you prefer speed or accuracy I would give their other rackets a try. (You can check out the reviews on Badminton Central about the other kinds of rackets).
The badminton world needs to get bigger and this is a step in the right direction.