Saturday, July 09, 2022

Choosing the One Racket - my process of elimination

 Hello badminton lovers!

It's been awhile and I must say that I'm having fun being back on the courts and in singles games again. I've found a few new friends with the same interests (and age group), and we're meeting pretty often to get the games on. 

Feeling my game improving (reaction and footwork) and getting to know a few of my (many) remaining rackets is a mighty fine feeling. 

But with age comes the realization that I don't really have enough time to try and master all the rackets I have. So I guess it's finally time for me to seek out one and stick to it for the rest of my games. 

I'm going to need one for singles and one for doubles. I'm going to make sure that the racket plays to my style instead of my having to adapt to suit the weight and temper of the racket. 

It's going to be a process of elimination - I'll try two rackets each time I go out, and keep the better one. This also means that I won't be pitting each racket in a tournament order (because that would take too long.)

The mechanism is simple - I'll give the racket one game to warm up, and then do a singles game with it tournament style (first to two games, 21 points each, 30 extended). The winner will stay, and I'll replace the loser with another one of my other rackets. 

This is my journey in choosing the right racket. Enjoy. 

Match-Up One: Yonex Astrox 100zz versus Li Ning Airstream N55 III

Between the two, the Yonex racket was the hands-down winner. The control of the racket is top notch despite it having a smaller head frame that usually means more mistakes. 

I find myself very at ease with the Yonex Astrox 100zz from the get-go - the clears were confident and accurate, the smashes came off the wrist nice and solid, and the defensive shots were nicely executed without much errors. 

In comparison the head-heavier Airstream N55 provided more power at the price of its accuracy. The momentum from the swings often carried the shuttle a little more than I had intended to, and I found shots straying out of the sides of the court on several occasions. The heavy head also gives the racket a little more power, but also a slight delay when it comes to raising the racket for a good defensive shot. 

Verdict: Yonex Astrox 100zz

Match-Up Two: Yonex Astrox 100zz versus Yonex Astrox 99 Pro

Two rackets used by two of my favorite singles player of the time. Two rackets that I didn't quite get to know and use well. Two rackets that give me very different feel each time I play with them.

The 100zz is coming in strong after the previous match-up where it had a complete victory - the swings and control were just on a different plane than the N55 III. The Astrox 99 Pro seemed like a good racket on paper, but it actual use it seemed to come off short in several areas; not really here nor there. 

The 99 Pro got to start first, being the challenger. What came off really well was the control - I managed to hit the corners really easily, each swing of the racket came with ease and reached the desired spot on the court to really allow me to move the opponent around. I gave the racket a few hard swings to judge the power and its smashes came off quite well too. Net play was convincing and I didn't have much trouble with the soft touches. 

After three matches, the Astrox 100zz came to court. I could feel the difference in swing immediately - the 100zz is lighter to swing and faster to move around with. The smaller head frame affected my accuracy, especially after using the large string bed of the Astrox 99 Pro, and caused me quite a lot of points in unforced errors. The accuracy issue really came across with I attempted to do some backhand clears - 3/4 court at best. Defense wise, the incumbent performed well and allowed me to move the opponent around pretty much as I want to.  

After three games each with the rackets I was undecided. I couldn't identify a clear winner between the two. I decided to switch back to the 99 Pro after the sixth game to see how the large head would affect the gameplay. 

The effect was surprising. I was once able to control the game better, moving the opponent around and placing the shuttle with much better accuracy. I attribute this to the large head frame, but it still didn't put the Yonex Astrox 99 Pro ahead of the 100zz.

I decided to give the two another session - this time I will start with the 100zz. 

Verdict: One more round

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