The size and weight of the shuttle (or shuttlecock; in the US also called Birdie) are specified in the rulebook (see chapter 20). There are two different types: plastic shuttles or those made of natural goose and duck feathers. While the stringing industry has managed to virtually replace natural products with synthetic ones, this is not the case for shuttles. Only natural shuttles are used in elite badminton, which, although more expensive and less durable than plastic ones, have much better flight qualities.
The manufacturing of natural feather shuttles is extremely labor-intensive, which is why they are only produced in Asia, although the majority of cork bases come from Portugal. The goose feathers are sorted and washed with soap and bleach and dried. Later they are sorted into left and right bending feathers. Only the cutting of the feathers is done by machine. The 16 feathers are put into the cork base by hand and fixed with glue and thread.Before the shuttles are packed by the dozen in cardboard tubes, each one is tested with a machine or by hand for its speed and flight path and classified accordingly. The best shuttles fly in a deep underhand stroke from the back boundary line up to 1-2.5 feet in front of the opposite base line (speed test).
Depending on the manufacturer, there are different designations/names for the shuttle qualities. The following speed data have become internationally accepted: 76 (slow), 77 (medium) and 78 (fast). Most National Badminton Associations have chosen the top shuttles of the three manufacturers Yonex (Aerosena 20), Head (Air Power 70) and Victor (Champion) for the national league and top class tournaments.
The relatively high cost of shuttlecocks makes badminton quite an expensive sport. A tube of a dozen shuttles costs between $ 10 and $ 20, and 4-6 shuttles are used in an intensive game. Pros who change the shuttle as a preventive measure after a hard smash can even go through 30-40 shuttles in one game, as in most cases single feathers break, which completely alters the flight quality of the shuttle.
Unlike natural shuttles, synthetic ones last for one or two whole training sessions, or two or three games. Even if the manufacturers continue to try to convince us that their plastic shuttles have similar flight qualities to goose feather ones, experience on the court indicates otherwise. Plastic shuttles lose speed in the air more quickly. They may need to be hit harder and there is less accuracy, particularly during short net play.
Synthetic shuttles are marketed with three
different speeds: red (fast), blue
(medium) and green (slow). The court
temperature also determines which category should be chosen. The warmer the court temperature, the quicker the shuttle should be.
Tip 1: Over-quick shuttles are slowed down by either every second or every fourth feather being slightly bent outward at the tip. If shuttles are too slow, the feathers should be bent inwards.
Tip 2: Shuttles that have been too long in storage tend to become dry and brittle. By keeping the shuttles separate and briefly steaming them, they can be “refreshed” so that they don’t break so quickly and last longer.
Tip 3: Used tournament shuttles should not just be thrown away, as they can still be used in training. Even completely “bald” shuttles can be used for shuttle machine drills.
Tip 4: Even the empty shuttle tubes can be reused by banging two tubes together to make a noise during competitions. Fans in Asia have long supported their favorites in this way.
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