The Astrox 99 Pro has been out for some time now and we are excited to give our review on the racket here. The racket has been known to deliver powerful smashes as a head-heavy racket, and the new Pro series version has been custom made with the help of Kento Momota.
The Astrox 99 Pro comes with a power assist bumper and we can definitely feel the difference. The head of the racket is significantly heavier and just as stiff, so we know the racket can pack a punch. Clears and smashes feel powerful and it is not too difficult to generate any additional power. Particularly when you are in a good position, full jump smashes and punch clears feel much more effective than before.
Similar to before, we still have some minor concerns about the general controlling play of the racket. When you are late to some shots, it does still feel hard to control due to the head-heavy nature of the racket -- particularly if it is a drive shot that has already passed your body.
Additionally, playing a constant flat game (sometimes in doubles) may seem a little tough unless you have extremely strong forearms and quick reflexes. Same situation when retrieving smashes, it can be hard to move the heavier racket to the right spot in time.
A somewhat contradictory point to the previous section is a larger sweet spot which leads to "easier" control of the shuttle. With a larger sweet spot, we feel like the shots bounce more naturally off of the racket and make it easier to hit consistent shots. This benefits players who want to play a controlling game style before attacking, just like Momota does. Simple long back drops, net drops, and a rally game style come easier with this racket and the new and improved sweet spot.
The control we talk about in this section is how easy it is to hit the shot after we can already get the racket in the right position, whereas the control in the previous section talks more about how we need to maneuver the racket into the right position, which is tougher with a heavier racket.
Overall, we still really like the Astrox 99 Pro and it is definitely a beneficial racket for players who like to play an offensive game. We also see many benefits for players who like to rally and then attack (such as Momota). There are still some drawbacks when trying to play defensive or flat games, but it comes with the territory of head heavy rackets.
If you're an offensive player or you are just interested in giving this racket a try, you can pick up one of these right here on Badminton Warehouse: https://www.badmintonwarehouse.com/collections/yonex-badminton-rackets/products/yonex-astrox-99-pro-badminton-racket