One of the fastest players in the world, Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo is the poster boy of this racquet, but the original endorser is Lee Yong Dae, gold medalist in the 2008 Olympics. He had a lot to input in this racquet, such as strengths, balance and even the colour scheme itself.
While the 88 Dominate delivers smash after smash from the back, the 88 Skill holds all its power in the front court, for quick cut offs, recovery, nets and defence. It’s no slouch in the back either, as it is still a head heavy racquet.
- Slightly head heavy balance – 295mm-300mm balance point from end of racquet
- 3UG5, 3UG4, 4UG5, 4UG4
- Weight(U) – higher number is lighter
- Grip size(G) – higher number is thinner
Yonex Astrox 88 Skill Review
Smashes – 8/10
Even though the racquet is built for the front court, there are very few racquets that “can’t smash” from the back. Even the lightest of racquets, the Nanoray 900 is still able to deliver powerful smashes from the back. The Astrox 88 Skill, while being lighter than its counterpart, is still quite formidable in the rear court.
Smashes are decently powerful, but they aren’t quite as effortless as heavier racquets. Another thing I feel like it is lacking is the solid impact feel. Perhaps it is something to do with the balance of the racquet, but with a little more head weight (such as the 88 Dominate) it would make a world of difference. It could also be the difference between 4U and 3U, as a heavier racquet usually provides better overhead feedback, while lighter racquets excel at the front.
Drop shots – 9.5/10
While the smash is not deadly on the 88 Skill, the drop shot is one of its better features from the back. While providing enough threat from the smash to make sure the opponent does not cheat forward, it is also quick enough to have last minute changes in the swing for deception.
The racquet really does come up effortlessly, as with the 88 Dominate and the Rotational Generator System really makes a difference when playing with older racquets without this technology. I’ve found that I was able to make tighter drop shots, pulling my opponents out of position in order to finish with a smash or another disguised drop shot.
Net area – 10/10
This is truly the area where the racquet shines. Whether you’re starting with a net shot, setting up your partner and then finishing them off, or just getting an offensive cut off shot, the racquet moves before you are aware of it. Lee Yong Dae was a front court specialist, as is Sukamuljo, so it makes a lot of sense that this racquet would enhance their strongest features.
Be warned, however. Just because you are using this racquet, there is no substitute for good reading of the game, and general skill. The racquet will not automatically make you amazing at the front court, just like the 88 Dominate will not make you amazing in the rear court. The racquet merely accentuates certain features of a player.
Defensive shots – 9/10
The racquet is quite a bit faster than the 88 Dominate in the swing department. However, as I was testing the 4U version, there was a severe lack of feedback and feeling when driving back shots. It was almost as if my racquet was being bent backwards due to the force of their smash or drive. Getting behind a smash to lift or block was very simple, however.
The racquet moves where ever you want it to move effortlessly. As earlier with the smash, I feel as though a 3U weight would have benefited any power shots, such as the smash or defensive drive. There is no lack in maneuverability of the racquet.
For the front court specialist, this is the racquet for you. Yonex has truly made it so that a partnership can have defined roles, while not being stagnated into only those roles, as both racquets can play either front or back.
The racquet is very easy to use, but I would try to stay away from a 4U version if possible. The racquet is already quick enough that being lighter is more detrimental than beneficial.
Racquets that are similar include the Bravesword 12, Lee Yong Dae’s old racquet of choice, and the Arcsaber 11, Sukamuljo’s racquet of choice.
Just remember, no racquet will make you a better player. It will provide a small boost to whatever feature you choose the racquet for, but there is no substitution for hard work.