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Shuttlecock Versus Birdie – Which One Your Prefer?

Avid players know that not all badminton shuttlecocks are created equal. Traditional feather-style birdies have increasingly given way to nylon synthetic models. But traditionalists insist on real duck or goose feathers for their shuttlecocks.

No matter your preference, you can find the advantage of today’s technology to add speed and accuracy to real birdies.


Synthetic shuttlecocks are especially ideal for casual players. They can offer an inexpensive birdie that plays like the “real” thing. Those popular brands of shuttlecocks include Yonex, Cannon, and Wilson. Most shuttlecocks manufacturers offer convenient and popular 6-packs.

Shuttlecock Versus Birdie

Some people call it a shuttlecock. Others call it a birdie. This unique projectile is central to the game of badminton, and there is a good reason why it has two names.

The name shuttlecock comes from two important aspects of this object. First off, as used in the original version of the game, real shuttlecocks are made with chicken feathers. That is where the “cock” part of the name comes from.

The “shuttle” part of the name comes from the fact that the object is always shuttled back and forth from one side of the court to the other throughout the game. Since some see the name “shuttlecock” as offensive, it is sometimes just called a shuttle.

A birdie is the same thing as a shuttlecock. This name comes from the fact that feathers are used in the making of the projectile. Traditionally, sixteen feathers are included in each birdie. Some of today’s birdies, however, are made with artificial skirts. These are more durable than the traditional feather birdies.

If you are going to play badminton, the choice of a traditional or artificial birdie is yours. Now you know where the names come from.

Shuttlecock Buying Guide

Whether you are new to the game or a long-time enthusiast, this basic shuttlecock buying guide can help you choose the right shuttlecock for your badminton needs.

The shuttlecock is a feathered projectile with special aerodynamic properties. It is hit back and forth by opposing players in the game of badminton.

You can find various shuttlecocks are available on the market. They are made of different materials and with different properties.

Know your options

Shuttlecocks are made from duck feathers, goose feathers, nylon, or plastic. Some are designed to move through the air faster, others for a fine performance and a select few for durability or beginner’s use. Some of the top brands of shuttlecocks include Champion, Head, ProKennex, Victor, and Carlton.

Synthetic advantages

Synthetic badminton shuttlecocks are economical, durable, and recommended for beginning and leisure players. These shuttlecocks are available in speeds ranging from slow to medium to fast. Synthetic types are especially ideal for children since they cost less and last longer.

The Shuttlecocks For Kids brand is an example of a durable nylon and plastic blend shuttlecock. These types of shuttlecocks are inexpensive, tough, and designed specifically for the youngest players.

Synthetic blend shuttlecocks are great for outdoor activities and family recreational gatherings, offering a good flight at a reasonable price.

Fast flight with feathers

High-quality shuttlecocks made from premium duck feathers include brands such as Head Supergrade Tour and Yonex Aerosense 10 (AS-10). These shuttlecocks are ideally suited for competitions, tournaments, clubs, and sparring purposes. They offer high speed and excellent performance for those who take their game seriously.

Consider your budget, needs, and level of badminton expertise when choosing your next shuttlecock. Whether you choose synthetic or feathers, you are bound to find the shuttlecock that is right for your game.

Read also: Badminton Shuttlecocks – Feel Free and be Ready.

Changing the Speed of a Shuttle

What do you do if your shuttles are of the wrong speed–either too fast or too slow for your local conditions during a tournament and you have no time to change your stock?

The shuttles should then be “tipped” so that their speed would be either increased or decreased. Please note I am writing this from the officials’ point of view.

How do you tip?

Well, tip outwards to slow down the speed. Tip inwards to increase the speed.

What exactly do you mean by tip?

Bend the tip of the feathers either inwards or outwards.

What’s the procedure?

There is no standard procedure but trial and error over the years point to the following. If the shuttles are found to be too fast, then begin by tipping only one in four feathers (i.e., four in every 16 feathers) should be tipped outwards in an attempt to slow the shuttle down to an acceptable speed.

If that is still too fast, then one in every two feathers should be tipped if necessary. Please note that the game is for the players, and therefore you must make every effort under the circumstances to modify the shuttles to meet their specifications and for the matches to be conducted.

What is the ‘tipping method’ if you found the shuttles to be too slow? How can a shuttle be speeded up?

If tipping outwards slows down the shuttles, then the reverse, tipping inwards, will speed up the shuttles.

Is there any method to ensure consistency in feather tipping?

You need to ensure the tipping is consistent in terms of

  • Length of the feather to be tipped.
  • To what degree (angle) inwards or outwards to tip.

How many feathers to tip?

In the absence of specific BWF instructions, all the above is a matter of trial and error. However, certain procedures can significantly reduce variations.

The length of the feather tip to be bent could be specified-5.0 mm from the tip is suggested. To ensure absolute consistency, you should use a commercially available broad tweezer with a pincer grip, or the BWF can actually have a standard tweezer for every tournament Umpire to be used in case of an emergency. Please note that the present practice of using the fingers and thumbs can be a rather painful experience at the end of a long day.

It is virtually impossible to ensure that the angles of the bents are similar in each feather. However, a good rule of thumb is bending the feather until the shaft snaps but not until it is broken. The feather so tipped will not return to its former “untipped” position. There is a discernible “crack” that you can feel. Experience shows that this method produces the most consistent angles, whether inwards or outwards.

It is suggested that initially, one (1) in four (4) feathers should be tipped. If these do not produce the desired results, one (1) in two (2) feathers should be tipped.

The bottom line is always to ensure you get the right shuttle speed for your local conditions to avoid this problem.

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