I'm glad I stumbled on this thread. I've been meaning to start a thread like this for years. My experience has been very similar to the original post. I have accumulated approximately 30-40 rackets in the past 5-6 years since I began to play. Changing rackets usually affected my play for a few months and I wondered if my case is a common phenomenon. I feel like I haven't developed in the last few years and I wonder if it's from age, lack of play or racket change.
When I started playing in 3rd and 4th year of my undergrad I used 1 racket (MP 99) and focused mainly on training. I was fortunate enough to have friends on the varsity team and they were willing to teach me from the basics. During this time I was mostly a singles player and utilized long, slow rallies and power play to win points. The MP 99 was perfect for my needs. As I started playing more and more doubles I began to want a faster and stiffer racket. I got the NS8000 and developed more of a fast-paced game. I moved around the court a lot and relied on defense drives and net kills to get most of my points. My partner was blessed with a canon for an arm and camped at the back line most of the time.
The partnership was great until we graduated and moved on. I enrolled in graduate studies, which had a negative impact on my playing time but positive impact on my wallet. I lost my regular partner and started to play at local clubs, which contained a wide range of skills and I had to play a wider range of positions. My skill level quickly dropped and since I stropped training I blamed the equipment and started experimenting. AT900 P/T, NS9000, MP100, Ti-10(s), Arc 8DX just to name a few. I had one racket for singles, doubles and mixed.
I played at the same level until I met my girlfriend (now wife). Took a break from badminton for about 10 months and slowly got back into with my wife together as a way of exercising. I started focusing more on mixed doubles as I was teaching my wife how to play. We started like Ma Jin/Zheng Bo with me using the AT700 at the back hammering away at the opponent. My wife developed a midcourt to backcourt control game and now we play more like Zhang Nan/Zhao Yunlei. I currently use MX80 and BS LYD at the back and try to set her up as much as I can.
Over these years I've accumulated 15 playing rackets and 15 collection rackets (Ti 10 1st/2nd, AT700 Gen 1, LN N50 Gen 1, MP 99, MP 100 etc.). The accumulation started after the NS8000 and my skill level has definitely been plateaued if not dropped. While I contribute some of this to my changing rackets but I do think the lack of training and changing style had something to do with it. I will also add that buying into advertisement and review also played a huge role in what I bought and how many.
I believe that professional players or semi-pros could adapt to any racket and still improve/adjust their game. However, for most players the change would have some negative impacts. Constantly changing rackets would require constant adaptation to the swing weight, timing and technique, which won't help improve the game much. I'm sorry for the long post but I hope my 2 cents (or 20 bucks) provides some insight to how a racket change is natural/necessary but it comes with consequences. Retraining will be necessary to achieve the same level or to improve.
Heh. Interesting thread. Recently one of my competition rackets broke in a match, and I didn't want to spend the money on more of the same model (and as of now, actually can't ). First I went back to the model I used before (BS09), but then the strings broke and I was too lazy to re-string my own rackets. Next, I went to my BS10. Once the strings on them broke, I went on to my LI Ning rackets....and noticed problems. The Li Ning I can play with comfortably are more flexible than my other usual rackets, and while that improved certain parts of the game slightly (smashes and defence, mainly) it caused a loss of control in other aspects (high lifts and and sideways placement of the smash). Took me a week to get somewhat used to the N70, but still couldn't smash at more than 60% and place it accurately, but the rest was pretty well-controlled.
Then - the strings broke. And despite the N50II being relatively close to the N70 in flexibility and speed, I couldn't put more than ~50% into a smash without risking it going out.
Now I'm stuck re-stringing all my Braveswords at once since we have a club match on Sunday....not looking forward to my sore fingers and back!!
To summarize - I think changing between really similar models that you play with often is not detrimental to your development (I can switch freely between the BS09, 10 and 12 and take only 3-4 rallies to get used to the different flex and timing).
Switching to something noticeably different, however, will put a stop to your skills' development until you get used to it (excluding footwork and tactical understanding of the game, obviously).
So, for anyone who still has the ambition and potential to actually improve and compete, I would not recommend switching rackets more often than once a season and always keep 3 of the same model and string setup.