Shuttlecocks are an essential part of badminton and there are many factors that impacts its performance. Firstly. what is a shuttlecock?
A shuttlecock is made up of 16 feathers that come from typically a goose or duck. Feathers are put through numerous chemical processes to ensure they have the same shape,colour and consistent flight. The feathers are then inserted into a natural cork that acts as the base of the shuttle.
There are three main types of shuttlecocks that this guide will clearly explain: Feathers, Nylon and Hybrid
We will start off with feather shuttlecocks as there are the most commonly used by badminton players.
Before making a decision most players will take into account the following factors : Speed, Feather Material, Flight and Durability. As the price of shuttlecocks are pretty expensive, this guide will give you a better insight to choosing the right feathers for your game.
Speed –The speed of the shuttlecock affects the flight and distance travelled by the shuttle when struck with the same force. The speed of the shuttle is influenced by its weight and the quality of the feathers. Generally a shuttlecock weights between 4.75 and 5.60 grams and the heavier the shuttle the faster it will fly.
Generally the speed of the shuttlecock is dictated by a number ( 75-79), with 75 being the slowest and 79 the fastest. Shuttlecocks come in a variety of speed as the surrounding temperature has an impact on their speed. Shuttles tend to fly slower in colder climates and faster in warmer climates. In UK and Europe the popular shuttle speeds are 77 and 78.
Material – Feather shuttles are normally made from ducks or goose. Duck feathers tend to be cheaper and slightly heavier than the more expensive goose feathers.
Durability – Durability of a shuttlecock is very important for most players as it indicates how long a shuttlecock is considered playable. A shuttlecock’s feathers and cork generally deteriorates the longer a game progresses. The time it takes for this to occur depends on a number of factors : quality of the shuttlecock, the length of the rallies, how the shuttlecocks are stored and finally the level of the players involved (frequent mis-hits will break shuttles faster).
Flight – The flight of the shuttlecock is unique in badminton as upon contact with racket, the shuttlecock will be repulsed and fly cork-first in the direction dictated by the player. Higher grade shuttlecock tend to provide a more stable flight trajectory,ensuring players are able to deliver maximum power and control in every shot. Cheaper options which provide less stable flight tends to result in more mis-hits and wayward shots.
Rotation (spin) – Rotation measures how fast a shuttlecock turns in the air. Generally a shuttlecock’s rotation has a direct relationship with drag, thus improving the trajectory of the shuttlecock. Therefore, higher grade shuttlecocks tend to have high rotational spin on its axis.
Increasing Shuttlecocks Lifespan
One simple way to ensure your shuttles last longer during matches is to steam it. This will make the feathers less brittle and more durable during intense rallies. A simple way to steam shuttles at home is to boil a kettle of water and let the steam slowly blow over the shuttlecock’s feathers.
Our Recommended Shuttles :
Tournament Grade: For advanced professional players who demand the highest quality of flight and stability
- Yonex Aerosensa 50 Badminton Shuttlecock
- Victor Master Ace Badminton Shuttlecock
Club Players : Players wanting the best shuttle for club and county level and budget is not an issue
- Yonex Aerosensa 30 Badminton Shuttlecock
- Victor Gold Champion Badminton Shuttlecock
- Babolat No.1 Badminton Shuttlecock
- Topseed Classic Badminton Shuttlecock
Club and Training :Shuttlecocks for clubs on a budget and for club/country training sessions
Nylon (Plastic Shuttles)
The second type of shuttlecock that is commonly used is nylon(plastic) shuttlecocks. These shuttles tend to last much longer than feathers and are generally regarded as a more affordable option. However the downside is nylon shuttlecocks do not provide the same feel and control as a feather shuttle generates and therefore is not widely used amongst professional and advanced players.
Similar to feather shuttlecocks, Nylon shuttles come in variety of speeds; Slow, Medium and Fast. Generally the more popular speed is medium as it provides a balance of trajectory and speed.
Why should i choose Nylon Shuttles?
If your a recreational or social player that is just starting out, then plastic shuttles will be a great option. This will give you time to get used to the game and trying out new strokes while not going broke buying feather shuttlecocks.
Popular Nylon Shuttles
Hybrid shuttlecocks are very new to the industry and as the name suggests, they are a combination of plastic and feathers. They have a 3 in 1 structure : sandwich cork , plastic feather frame and goose/duck feather tips.
These shuttles are designed to be more durable then feathers while at the same time providing a better flight path then nylon shuttlecocks. They generally last for around 3 games before the shuttle deteriorates fully. Hybrid shuttles are growing in popularity as they are an upgrade on plastics, however our view is that they are a significant way off to matching the quality of feather shuttlecocks. We recommend these shuttles for social players wanting a better playing experience and clubs for junior players.
Currently there are very few models out in the market with the popular ones being :