Saturday, October 13, 2018

Back to Basics: Correcting your stroke

Having the right stroke for your shots can mean a big difference between a good game and a great one. I've been working on my forehand for the last three sessions and I can really feel the difference when I consciously carry out a proper forehand.

The key is pronation, coming in with your shoulder and leading with the elbow before the wrist comes in to do the trick.

For each shot, you'll want to minimize the swing of the whole arm, and instead concentrate on having each of the three joints being used in quick succession to add more power and control to the shot.

And instead of talking my face blue to explain the intricate coordination of our arms, I found a video online that does the trick.

It features current World #1 Tai Tsu Ying in a short training session. Notice her first shot and her last, and you'll see how it's supposed to be done.

Monday, October 01, 2018

Badminton Racket Review: Yonex Astrox 99 (AX99)

Hey guys, found out some other site's been taking my article wholesale, so be a sport and bookmark the original site - http://everythinggoeshere.blogspot.sg 

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First Impressions here.

I first caught sight of the Yonex Astrox 99 when Kento Momota used it to dominate the World Championship - a bright orange racket that seems to add a new dimension to his game. There was a certain poise to his movement on the court, and a brightly colored racket sure helped the illusion!

I didn't know what it was at that time, but that racket in his hand checks all my boxes.
So I rang up my regular dealer and was told that I wasn't the first to ask for the racket that day. And you can imagine how I felt from my buddy told me that it was released. We were supposed to go down and have a swing after our Sunday game, but I decided to front-run him and grab it the day before that I can test it on the courts during our 2 hour singles session.

The initials thoughts were captured on the first impressions, and I must say that it got better the more I used it. What seems to be a heavy and loose handling racket is now a sturdy partner in-game that packs a good punch on the attack.

And now with a few extra hours of game play under its belt, I'm ready to give a review.

Note: This is a review of my experience after using the racket for a few sessions. I am by no means a professional player, and so you should take my judgment with a pinch of salt. I welcome comments of any sorts.

Yonex Astrox 99 (AX99) 
Est. Dry Weight: 87g (3U)
Grip Size: G5
Balance: Head Heavy
Stiffness: Listed as stiff, but feels medium flex
Strings: Yonex BG66 Ultimax @ 29lbs

Defense 
Of all the things I enjoy about badminton, I probably enjoy defending the most. That feeling when the opponent attacks you, allowing you a chance to turn the tides or win outright with one properly timed block or counter drive. The Yonex Astrox 99 is one racket that has allowed me to do that time and again on the court - even to the extent of my showing delight when the opponent lies up for a jump smash!

I am comfortable receiving attacks with the racket, it's grace allowing me to address offensive moves with a myriad of defensive options. I've blocked shuttles diagonally to the front to force the run, swerved the body sideways to counter a body shot, blocked high so the shuttle drops straight down from the net, or gave the shuttle a nice top spin to sent it dipping over to the back line.

Although distinctly heavy, the Astrox 99 doesn't feel so when you're up against a barrage of shuttles, instead allowing you to turn the tides more often than not.

Attack
Very similar to the Astrox 88 Skill, the AX99 allows me to throw off very steep smashes with the flick of a wrist. While it took me some time to calibrate the technique needed to perform the smashes, but once that happened I was a kid in a candy store.

The amount of speed and power that comes off the wrist is also translated to the drives that this racket can put out. Shuttles zip from left to right at the slightest command, granting you an awesome time on the court in attack.

The Yonex Astrox 99 is also able to produce on those big jump smashes as well. With the proper set up and technique, you're really able to throw down a grand slam.

Control
Net shots, clears, drop shots, drives, blocks... you're going to be able to do a lot with this racket once you get over the apparent 'looseness' in its swing initially. Because the head of the racket is really heavy, and the shaft coming off as a little mid-flex, the racket may appear to be hard to control at first.

But hang in there and every shot will come off your wrists like magic, whether you're in control or chasing to turn the tide.

Looks
A smoldering orange is contrasted with a glossy black in the rackets color scheme. Take a look at teh picture above and tell me that's not an attractive racket!


Yonex Astrox 99
"Take some time to know this guy."
Defense: 10
Attack: 10
Control: 9
Looks: 10

Monday, September 10, 2018

Badminton Racket First Impressions: Yonex Astrox 99

A few years ago, a young Japanese player came out of nowhere and rattled the international badminton scene. He displayed the cockiness of someone who didn't need to try hard to win, and took to the court with an explosive attitude.

Then, Tago Gate hit and he was sentenced to obscurity for two years.

By the way he hit back, I can only imagine the regret and torment that Kento Momota experienced. He missed an All England. He missed a World Championship. He missed the freakin' Olympics.

And boy did he repent. No one knew what hit em as he claimed scalp after scalp upon his return - with a more than 80% win rate for all the Super Series events he took part in - culminating in his overwhelming World Championship win against Shi Yuqi.

In his hand as he lay the final blow was the Yonex Astrox 99. And I got the chance to try it out today.

My first impression was how heavy it felt compared to the 88S that I am so awestruck with - albeit in 3U compared to my 4U AX88S, the Astrox 99 came off really head heavy, kind of like a wreaking ball.

In fact it felt quite similar to the Voltric Z-Force II that I have, the head not taking a lot of effort to generate power on the down stroke. What the Astrox 99 did possess however was a slightly more flexible shaft. And I think that made a good difference.

The shaft made it a little more possible to transfer energy from one swing to another, lending to the AX99 a little more flexibility and speed in momentum than the VTFZ2. Sharp whips from the wrist were also full of power and a sudden acceleration with a great angle from the back court.

While the backhand did suffer compared to the 4U speed master that is the Astrox 88 Skill, the AX99 didn't fare too badly. Soft blocks and net shots were also satisfactory.

One particular shot that I found hard to make were the backhand drop shots. The weight of the racket head doesn't make for soft shots where you'll need to hold it up for an extended period of time.

Apart from that the racket performs suitably well for me not to condemn it like the AX77.

Stay tuned for the review!

Saturday, September 08, 2018

Badminton Racket Review: Yonex Astrox 88 Skill (AX88S)

Hey guys, found out some other site's been taking my article wholesale, so be a sport and bookmark the original site - http://everythinggoeshere.blogspot.sg 

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First Impressions here.

There's a bit of Kevin in all of us, and with the Yonex Astrox 88 Skill, we get a chance to take one step closer to playing a fast and furious game of badminton.

Because the Astrox 77 didn't make that much of an impact on me, the thought of starting on the 88 didn't really appeal to me. The racket didn't really contain any new technology except the slightly increased length, and the frame shape reminded me of the first generation isometric rackets that Yonex introduced back in the 80s.

So when the time came to try it (honestly I can't really stand not buying a new racket for too long) I was pleasantly surprised by the level of game that this racket allowed me to play at. The racket is really quick, a large portion due to the shorter racket handle that it's equipped with.

I came on the court blazing, and after a prolonged period of testing and playing (and also due to tardiness), I present to you the review of the Yonex Astrox 88 Skill in 4U.

Note: This is a review of my experience after using the racket for a few sessions. I am by no means a professional player, and so you should take my judgment with a pinch of salt. I welcome comments of any sorts. 

Yonex Astrox 88 Skill (AX88S) 
Est. Dry Weight: 84g (4U)
Grip Size: G5
Balance: Head Heavy
Stiffness: Stiff
Strings: Yonex BG66 Ultimax @ 29lbs

Defense
There are only a few rackets that feel as good on the defense as this guy. The Astrox 88S grants you complete control of the defensive shots, and with plenty of time to boot. The speed at which you can approach the defensive shot allows you to practically turn the racket head in any direction that fits your skill level.

Counter drives are a pleasure to throw off, and blocks to the net come off with finesse. Even my weak lifts are given a little more distance.

Attack
You'd expect a 4U racket performing fairly in this category, and you'd be somewhat correct. While the racket won't fare as well as the usual culprits like the Voltrix, you will get a satisfactory amount of power coming off the racket. Especially so when you're pulling off a quick smash from the wrist.

One particular shot that has a lot of power and speed with this racket is the forehand drive. Whipping the shuttle from my right diagonally across the entire court happens to be one of my favorite shots, and this racket makes it so addictive to pull off.

And when you combine the power with the level of control this racket gives, the Yonex Astrox 88 Skill is one force to be reckoned with.

Control
This has to be the main highlight of theracket - extreme control. The Yonex Astrox 88 Skill allowed me to hit every corner of the court with ease, be it forehand or backhand, lift or clear, smash or drive.

Placement and control at the net were also out of this world. I struggle to think of any racket that feels as much as an extension of my hand as the AX88S does. With this racket in my control, I'm quite confident to try any funny shots my wacky brain can come up with.

Looks
The racket is paired with the Yonex Astrox 88 Dominate, with the two coming off in complementary colors or red and green. The Skill variation has a green head and red shaft. Overall not the best I've seen, but the pairing looks cool if your doubles partner has the other one.


Yonex Astrox 88 Skill
"Try anything."
Defense: 10
Attack: 8
Control: 10
Looks: 7


Monday, April 30, 2018

Badminton Racket First Impressions: Yonex Astrox 88 Dominate

Following the great experience using the Yonex Astrox 88 Skill, a buddy of mine decided to have a go at its twin, the Astrox 88 Dominate.

The racket comes with a premise of harder smashes in a lethal combination of power and angle, endorsed by the second half of the world number pair - Marcus Fernaldi Gideon.

I also decided to suggest a string pairing with the racket, and we got it strung with the Yonex BG66 Ultimax at 31lbs tension. Part of the experiment was also to test if attacking rackets should be strung at much higher tension than normal (I usually get mine strung at 27lbs).

What we got was a very nice sound when smashing. The higher tension was very forceful on the attack, especially on my jump smashes. What suffered was the backhands however, as the tighter strings couldn't supplement my weaker swing. It also took me awhile to get used to the tight net shots since the shuttle didn't bounce off the string bed as well.

But on to the racket!

While the AS88S excelled at defense and intercepting, the AS88D presented a good downward push and forceful drives. While the two rackets performed comparatively in speed, I immediately noticed that the Yonex Astrox 88 Dominate felt a little heavier on the defense. It took a little more effort to lift the racket head following a smash defense.

Compensating for that is an extremely heavy downward swing. Long swingers will be very happy with this racket, its weight transferring very well from overhead to the hips.

Overall I was as satisfied with the Dominate as I was with the Skill - the two rackets offer very high rates of defense and offence, differing very slightly for those players with higher technical expertise.

The racket used for the testing as a 4UG5 Yonex Astrox 88 Dominate with overgrip wrapped over the cone. This reduced the head heaviness and made it considerably quicker to handle. When we removed the grip over the cone, the racket gained significant head weight, and we're looking to have that tested next week.

Stay tuned for the review!