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Badminton Shuttlecocks

The badminton shuttlecock (also called shuttle or birdie) is the projectile that is used in badminton. The shuttle makes badminton special and different from the rest of racket sports, where usually a ball is used as a projectile.

The shuttlecock is formed by feathers (or a synthetic alternative) that are attached to a rounded cork base. These feathers form an open conical shape which is aerodynamically stable. No matter the initial orientation, the shuttle will always fly with the cork base first.

There are 3 types of Badminton shuttlecocks. Feather Shuttlecocks, Plastic/Synthetic Shuttlecocks and Hybrid Shuttlecocks.

Feather Shuttlecock

Feather Shuttlecocks

  • Generally used by intermediate to professional level players.

  • Easier to control than nylon shuttles - net spin and slice can also be achieved

  • Made from duck or goose feathers, with goose favoured by elite players.

  • Good to excellent shuttle flight.

  • Not recommended for beginners as poor technique and timing can break the feathers quickly.

  • Low durability in comparison to nylon shuttles

  • In order to help durability it's recommended they're stored in a generally humid environment, so that the feather don't get brittle and dry, leading to quicker breakage 

Plastic Shuttlecock

Plastic Shuttlecocks

  • Used mainly by beginner, recreational and lower-level club players.

  • Plastic shuttlecocks are made from nylon material

  • Fast flight - plastic shuttles generally decelerate slower than feathers, usually resulting in a faster paced game with less control or touch play.

  • Fantastic durability. Plastic shuttles last for a long time, sometimes up to 100 games before wearing out 

  • There are several different speeds indicated by colour. For more info click here

Hybrid Shuttlecock

Hybrid Shuttlecocks

  • A combination of plastic and feather.

  • A more recent development 

  • The end feathers are duck/goose feathers, whilst the frame of the shuttle is synthetic.

  • Longer durability than conventional feathers.

  • Cheaper than most full feather shuttlecocks due to lower manufacturing costs.

  • Inferior flight path and control when compared to a high grade full-feather shuttlecock

Badminton Shuttlecock Speeds

Badminton shuttlecocks are classified into speed categories of 75-79. The smaller the number, the slower the shuttlecock flies. Speeds 75 are 76 are less common, especially in the UK and the rest of Europe.

The speed of a badminton shuttlecock is affected by 3 factors:

  1. Temperature

  2. Altitude

  3. Humidity of the Environment 

The result of this means that depending upon where you are in the world, the speed of the shuttle is significantly affected.

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