Last week I received a box of goodies from Adidas Badminton to review. Among them is a Adidas precision 88 racket.
Adidas is a newcomer to the badminton equipment scene. 2+ years in the planning Adidas is finally ready to reveal their badminton lineup to the world. The Adidas precision series of badminton rackets is characterized by their control capabilities, suitable player who like a precise control game.
There are 3 models in the precision series that is designated as “advanced pro” models, basically these are the cream of the crop of the precision series and have the most technology and advanced materials behind them. The series is led by the precision pro followed by the precision tour. Both of which are moderate light weight (85/83 grams) paired with a medium and flexible shaft.
And then there is the precision 88.
Aesthetic & Design
The precision 88’s graphics design shows a curious departure from the bold and simple lines of the Adidas Badminton DNA, sporting a complex dragon graphics on the shaft and various part of the frame and also some unique bumped at the 3/9 o’clock position which looks like scales.
The precision 88 is rated as a medium stiff singles racket for fast attacking player. The spec weight is 88g +/- 2g with a balance point of 295mm +/- 3mm. both of which are the heaviest in the family by 3g and 8mm respectively.
But why such a different design? As it turns out, the precision 88 was initially designed for the Chinese market, only after it was made into a racket did Adidas realize how good a racket it is and therefore they decided to market it to other regions as well.
As can be seen, the precision 88 is different in many ways, and it is also within the weight and balance point range that I most prefer. That piqued my interests, I am hoping the performance will also be as unique as it looks.
The precision 88 frame has a hexagonal frame cross section which provides aerodynamics that cuts through the air. The sharp leading edge of the frame is interrupted by the aforementioned “scales” that stretches from 2 o’clock all the way to 4 o’clock. Titanium and Zylon inserts are found at strategic position on the frame. The precision 88 uses the standard 76 holes stringing pattern with 3 pair of non-shared holes near 2/10 o’clock position.
A medium stiff straight shaft is used. The cone has what Adidas called “Instinctive Feel Cap” which is basically the Adidas triband extruded from the surfaced of the cone to provide the player’s thumb with more traction.
I strung the precision 88 with my standard test string Ashaway Zymax 62 at a tension of 23×25.3lbs. The stringing process is very straight forward being a standard 76 stringing pattern. As with prototype Adidas rackets i have seen so far there are some rough edges with the grommets but I believe that will be corrected during production.
The precision 88 feels good on dry swings as it falls into the region of head weight that i like. The racket feels moderately heavy but not overly so.
I always start testing a rackets with a series of defensive and offensive drives to get a sense of the racket’s overall feel. the precision 88 give it a slight head heavy feel at 88g and balance of 295mm (my sample copy came in at within spec of 88.85g and 293mm). The feel of the precision 88 is also quite good, the feeling is only slightly dampened which means a lot of feedback comes back to the hand and finger, that’s a good thing. Liveness is also above average, though I think it comes behind the adizero pro and adipower pro that i tried before.
Racket head speed is quite fast, which I attribute to the aerodynamic hexagonal shape of the racket head. There is a detectable amount of dwell time on impact, which I believe is what the racket was designed to do. Spin control and placement on defensive drive is very good. I am able to consistently direct the shuttle to just above net height.
Hitting clear using the precision 88 mostly involve snapping of the wrist and fingers as the racket medium stiff shaft is well tuned for medium hard shots. An extra push will launch the shuttle faster and deeper into the enemy’s territory as a punch clear. However, when hitting harder and harder I start to feel the softness of the shaft.
Which brings us to the smash. For intermediate players, the precision 88 is fairly powerful. Again, the medium stiff shaft is a good match for the average smash speed. However, as one gain more strength they may find the racket to be slightly too soft, lacking the solid and crisp feel of stiffer rackets.
Defense is where the precision 88 really shines. For reasons that I cannot fully explain, I can consistently defend against the strongest of attackers. As long as I am able to direct the racket face to the shuttlecock, it always repel it back with very good directional control as well as very high and deep into the back court. There is some synergy here that brings together the sweetspot size, the flexbility of the racket as well as the balance and speed from the aerodynamic frame. Perhaps the increase in dwell time allows it to store enough energy to bounce the shuttle back, I am not too sure. It got to the point that it is fun just hit everything back deep until my opponent runs out of ideas and makes a mistake.
Net shots and touch shots are also quite excellent, the feeling and feedback while not as crisp as say the adipower pro, I find no problem doing the delicate tumbles or mid court block and pushes during a typical mixed doubles rally.
I don’t feel there is much advantage gained from the Instinctive Feel Cap as it is design with a painted surface. In the midst of an intensive match perspiration from the hand will very quickly drench over the paint surface and make it slippery. Perhaps a rubberized surface will work better but most player I believe will end up just wrapping the grip tape over the cone instead.
No racket are perfect and neither is the precision 88. While i don’t find the damping particularly much, but i do prefer less damped feel of the heavier brother adipower pro. The is a certain lack of crispness in comparison. I cannot exactly pinpoint the reason from my feel alone but i am guess either the shaft design or the lesser quantity of material used.
To summarize, the precision 88 is a very unique looking racket that is excellent for players who prefer a defensive control game. It has decent speed and power too but not excelling at it.
With the addition of the precision series it give players with a control preference a choice in the lineup of Adidas rackets.