Updated: Oct 4, 2022
Yonex's badminton rackets generally fall into three different categories based on their characteristics: Power, Speed, and Control. The categories serve as useful guidance to the rackets' traits and they make it easier for a player to narrow down his or her racket selections depending on their personal preferences.
An important point to clarify at the outset is that power, speed and control are characteristics that all Yonex rackets have. What differentiates the rackets is the balance between these characteristics, in other words, which characteristic is relatively stronger in a particular racket. For instance, if a racket falls under the Power category, it does not mean that it has absolutely zero speed and control. What it means is, on balance, it has slightly more power compared to the other rackets and so if you are someone who places a greater emphasis on the power of a racket, compared to speed and control, then this is the category of rackets that would suit your needs.
With that in mind, let's take a closer look at the rackets under the different categories!
The Power category is represented by the Astrox and Voltric series, the former being the younger series. A key trait of rackets in this category is that they are head-heavy. Based on Yonex's racket matrix, both series feature head-heavy rackets.
Many people are familiar with the Astrox series because of its popularity amongst professional players in recent tournaments. The latest flagship racket from the Astrox series is the Yonex Astrox 100 ZZ which Viktor Axelsen and Saina Nehwal are using; whilst Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo and Gideon Marcus Fernaldi are using the Astrox 88S and Astrox 88D. Yonex has also recently launched its latest Astrox 88S Pro and Astrox 88D Pro which we have seen players used during this year's All England Tournament.
Another amazing racket series in this category is the Voltric series. The Voltric Z Force II, for instance, is the racket of choice of legendary players like Lee Chong Wei and Lin Dan. Although the series was launched in 2014/15, they can still be found easily in stores which proves their popularity. The Yonex 2021 catalogue features new additions to the series: the Voltric Glanz and the Voltric Flash Boost.
A potential disadvantage of head-heavy rackets is they could be slightly sluggish compared to even-weight or head-light racket models. Hence, you often see manufacturers trying to compensate by making the racket frames slightly smaller, or by making the rackets slightly shorter so that users can have a sharper and faster swing.
In the Speed category, we have the Nanoflare and Nanoray series, between them Nanoflare is the younger series. A key feature of rackets in this category is being head-light, a direct opposite of those in the Power category.
The marketing slogan of the Nanoflare series is "access rapid-fire speed on every shot in a head-light racket built for power", which perfectly sums up its traits. Current models of the Nanoflare series are also extremely popular among the pros as well as amateur players with the Nanoflare 700s and 800s being the stand-out models.
The Nanoray series, on the other hand, is the older generation of head-light racket series which succeeded the Nanospeed models. The Nanoray 800s and 900s are also easily available in stores.
We traditionally believe head-light rackets lack power but with modern materials and advancement in manufacturing technology, I don't think this is the case anymore. Plenty of hard-hitters on the world tour circuit play with head light rackets so I believe it's all down to technique, timing, physical ability and personal preference.
The Control category features the Arcsaber series. A key trait of this series is being even-weight so they have a good balance between power and speed.
To be honest, I did not expect the Arcsaber series to survive this long. I remember the Arcsaber 7 was first introduced in 2007 and the Arcsaber 10 was introduced in 2008 shortly before the Beijing Olympics. Taufik Hidayat famously favours the Arcsaber 10 while Liliyana Natsir was a longtime user of the Arcsaber 7. I myself am a lover of the Arcsaber 10 and after switching to head-heavy rackets for a short stint, I am now back to my trusty Arcsaber 10s!
One aspect of the Arcsaber series which stood out to me was its user-friendliness. I find that the rackets in this series "helps" you, such that even if you are not having a good game day, you can still play your shots and the racket will guide the shuttle to where you want it to go. However, I think the series is starting to show its age. In comparison to the current top-end rackets of the Astrox series, such as the Astrox 88S or the Astrox 100ZZ, or even those of the Nanoflare series such as the Nanoflare 800, it is apparent that the Arcsabers don't swing as fast or as smooth.
We then have the Duora series which lays somewhere in between the Power, Speed and Control categories.