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How are shuttlecocks made?

shuttlecocks production of badminton birdies

The shuttlecock is arguably the most important part of badminton. If they are not made correctly it changes the whole game. Could you imagine if every shuttle you picked up flew differently? Or if the shuttle wouldn’t fly cork first? It would be chaos!

That is why a lot of effort goes into manufacturing near identical shuttles. China is the number one producer of shuttlecocks globally, which makes sense as they account for 76% of the world’s goose and duck meat. This gives them plenty of supply of feathers and cheap labor! In addition, the manufacturing process is automated with human quality control. This allows shuttlecock manufacturers to produce shuttles with great consistency.

Elsewhere, in India for example, several manufacturers mostly rely on producing badminton birdies almost entirely by hand. See this article about handmade shuttles.

We already know from our previous articles in the shuttle series that feather shuttles comprise a feather skirt and cork base. This is the most basic component. How do you keep the feathers in the cork? How do they make sure the shuttle flies correctly? What is the testing process like?

Luckily Design Insider was allowed inside a shuttle factory to show us how it’s done.

How badminton shuttlecocks are made

More shuttlecock information for badminton enthusiasts like you

Paris Olympics Badminton Draw is here!

The Olympic Badminton Draw has been done! This is the moment that players have been waiting for. Now the Olympic badminton players know who they will face at the Olympic games.

The final step before the Olympic Games officially starts on July 26th. The draw took place in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on July 12th. It comprised the Men’s and Women’s singles, Women’s, and mixed doubles but did not include the Men’s doubles draw.

*A reminder that in the draw players from the same nation are separated in the group stage to avoid conflicts of interest and make the draw more fair.

The first draw, the Mixed Doubles Olympic draw!

The Mixed doubles comprises 4 groups of 4 pairs. The top two pairs of each group will qualify for the knockout stages! Who do you have your money on?

Olympics Mixed Doubles Draw

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What about the Women’s doubles Olympic draw?

The Women’s doubles at the Olympics includes 4 groups of 4 pairs with the top two pairs of each group progressing to the Quarter finals knockouts. Who do you think will cause the upset of the group stage?

Olympics Women's doubles draw.

NEW ARTICLE! Discover the Olympic journey of Anne and Kerry XU the identical twin sisters competing for the USA!

Women’s singles Olympic draw for Paris 2024

The Olympic badminton women’s singles comprises 39 competitors from 34 countries! These competitors are split into 13 groups with one player progressing from each of the groups. Due to the odd number of groups (13), 3 players will receive a bye in the first knockout round. This will be the winner of Group A, Group E, and Group P.


💡 Badminton Speak is on a mission to be the number 1 online badminton media destination. Broadcasting the opinions and stories of the badminton community while promoting the players, culture, competitions, and people of our incredible sport!

Men’s Singles Olympic draw for Paris 2024!

The Men’s Singles comprises 41 competitors from 36 countries! A great variety of countries are represented in both Men’s and Women’s singles which will hopefully give us some exciting games and tense moments!

The draw has 13 groups, all with 3 competitors except two which have 4 competitors. This means 3 competitors will have a bye in the first knockout round. The lucky qualifier from Group A, Group E, and Group P. Will there be any upsets? Which seed do you think won’t progress?

We have more Olympic badminton content coming to our YouTube channel. Go subscribe! https://www.youtube.com/@badmintonspeak

Badminton in Paris Olympic draw live stream

You can find the original live stream of the Olympic badminton draw by the BWF here:

What is a shuttlecock?

What is a shuttlecock?

The shuttlecock is the most iconic part of badminton and is globally recognised as the symbol of our sport. Even so, many people do not know how awesome shuttlecocks are! So we have created this shuttlecock series to take everyone from shuttlecock novice to shuttlecock master…

So let’s start with the fundamentals!

🧠 Do you know that not all shuttlecocks are the same? There are shuttlecocks for high and low altitudes, shuttlecocks for hot and cold climates, even shuttlecocks for dry and humid conditions. Not to mention the newest change to the shuttlecock, special outdoor shuttlecocks!

Two shuttlecocks side by side. See the flared feather skirt and narrow cork base.

After reading this article series you will have all the information to be the know-it-all at your club!

Shuttlecock Fundamentals

The badminton shuttlecock, also known as a Shuttle, Birdie, Volant, or Ball, is the object hit between two people playing badminton. The Shuttle is characterised by two parts, the base (or head), and the skirt.

The shuttle is the only sports object designed to slow down once hit instead of speed up. This is done via the skirt of the shuttlecock flaring wider than the base (the part players hit). This increases drag from wind resistance. The cone shape is designed to hold in the air longer and slow down quickly.

The cone shape makes the shuttle fly in a very stable and predictable way making it easier to judge the flight of the shuttle. The unique shape enables the shuttle to fly base first making it much easier to hit. This is important for playing consistent and repeatable shots. The shape also slows the shuttle down giving players more time to react and ensuring the shuttle drops steeply when reaching the rear of the court.

Do you have any more questions about the design of the shuttlecock? Leave us a comment!

Which shuttlecock should I use?

How to choose a shuttlecock for badminton?

There are many different types of shuttlecocks ranging from different materials, and different grades even for different conditions. The many options can make it very confusing to know which shuttles to choose. So this is our full breakdown of the different types of shuttles and how you can choose the right shuttlecock for you!

First up: Shuttlecock Material

The first big difference in shuttlecocks is the material used. This is generally split into 3 categories: Feather, Hybrid, and Synthetics.

Synthetic Shuttlecocks

Synthetic Shuttlecocks are the most popular type of shuttle for beginners and recreational players. They are characterised by a synthetic material, normally nylon, to create the skirt of the shuttlecock. This is molded into a netting or webbed shape. These shuttles are durable and last for multiple games without any damage which is especially useful for players learning the sport.

🧠 Did you know? Synthetic shuttlecocks need to use a netting style with holes as Nylon is a heavy material. If the skirt was solid with no holes it would be too heavy and drop too quickly. So tiny holes are added to the skirt to allow air to pass through making the trajectory more similar to a traditional feather shuttle.

What are the pros and cons of the Synthetic shuttles?

Pros

  • Synthetic shuttles are generally much cheaper.
  • They are more durable and difficult to break. You can play multiple matches with the same shuttlecock.

Cons

  • Synthetic shuttles are slower and require more effort to hit with power.
  • It is much harder to play more technical shots like slices.
  • They are less stable and predictable making it harder to play precise shots.

Who should use synthetic shuttles? This type of shuttle is very effective for players who are learning. Players that use fundamental badminton shots, clears, smashes, drop shots, net shots, drives, and block defense. It’s also a great option for players who play recreationally with friends and don’t want to spend too much money.

Feather Shuttlecocks

Feather Shuttlecocks are the traditional shuttles used since the very start of the sport (Check out our article on the history of the shuttlecock). They are characterised by 16 feathers from a goose or duck.

Feather shuttlecocks use processed feathers from birds to create the skirt of the shuttle. The ‘quill’ of the feather is inserted and glued to the base of the shuttle. These types of shuttlecocks are used at the competitive and professional levels of badminton in every country.

🧠 Did you know!? (Is it true?) Feather shuttlecocks only use feathers from the left wing of the bird… why? Aerodynamics! The feathers from the left wing of the bird are said to fly more consistently and spin in the same way due to the contours and curvature of the feathers. According to Satoshi Yuza, a Yonex promotion manager.

You can see how a feather shuttlecock is made in our article ‘how shuttlecocks are made’.

It is generally understood that the goose feathers are the premium version of the feather shuttle with duck and chicken feathers being less durable and generally lower quality. Some lower quality or grade shuttles use feathers from all over the bird and then form them into the shape of a left-wing feather. These feather shuttles do not fly as well and are generally less durable.

What are the pros and cons of the feather shuttles?

Pros

  • These shuttles are more sensitive to the player’s shots making them more precise.
  • It is easier to play more technical shots with them.
  • They sound much nicer to hit and easier to tell good vs bad hits.

Cons

  • Feather shuttles are sensitive to how they are hit. They are harder to play with if you don’t have a good technique which also breaks the shuttle faster.
  • Feather shuttles are very fragile and can break after 2-3 points.
  • Feather shuttles can be deformed more easily if stored incorrectly.

Who should use feather shuttles? Technical ability is the biggest factor when deciding to use feather shuttles. Technically good players, capable of playing all types of shots, need ‘feel’ or accurate shuttle flight to play advanced skills such as slices, tumbles or backhand clears. They are for players who are playing competitively and need reliable flight for their shots.

Hybrid Shuttlecocks

Hybrid shuttlecocks are a mix of both synthetic material and natural materials. Different brands create hybrid shuttles in slightly different ways with different formulas. For example, Babolat hybrid shuttles have a traditional cork ‘head’, a synthetic Nylon base, and a feather skirt. Victor hybrid shuttles, on the other hand, are made with carbon fiber, this shuttle has a foam-like synthetic feather skirt with a carbon fiber frame and cork composite base. You need to check each hybrid shuttle to see how it has been created.

🧠 Hybrid shuttles only recently started to be developed and available in badminton. The aim is to make a synthetic shuttle that mimics exactly how a feather shuttle performs. Why? To make a cheaper and higher performing shuttlecock.

The badminton community has been split on their view of hybrid shuttles. The purists of badminton want to keep feather shuttles, the original shuttle, and the highest quality of the shuttles to keep the game high quality.

Many club-level players are eager to find a hybrid shuttle that performs more like a feather but at a cheaper price. Both of these groups currently reject hybrid shuttles and haven’t adopted them into the game on a large scale, however, innovation is continuing with better quality hybrid shuttles coming to market.

What are the pros and cons of hybrid shuttles?

There is not a straight answer to this as every hybrid shuttlecock is very different. If you are looking for the play style of a feather shuttle for the cost of a synthetic then you should try some of the newest hybrid shuttles. If you want to be ahead of the curve you should keep an eye out and try new hybrid shuttles that come out.

We will have a review of some hybrid shuttles coming soon. You should join our mailing list so you are notified when it happens!

Second: The Base

It’s not only the skirt that can be a different material. The base or ‘head’ of the shuttlecock that is hit can also be different materials.

Most bases are made from cork material, however, this is not the full story as you can have composite cork or natural cork. Natural cork is one piece of cork cut to the right size, shape, and weight for each shuttle. This makes the weight consistent and the cork more durable as it is one piece.

Composite cork is a mixture of natural cork and synthetic cork which deteriorates quicker than natural cork as it’s not one piece. The composite is a cheaper option which is used in the budget option shuttles.

The Base cover

You might also see the white covering on shuttles. It’s the same for every type of shuttle, right? No! Again you have options. This is important as it is the only part of the shuttle that contacts the strings of a racket. Traditionally shuttles were covered in different types of leather which combine with the cork and propel the shuttle over the net. We do still see this used today with sheep membrane/skin used for some shuttles. However most shuttle types use a rubber covering for the head of the shuttle, this is a good option as it adds more propulsion to the shuttle as rubber is generally more elastic.

Third: Shuttle grades

Feather shuttles have an added complexity as, unlike hybrid or synthetic shuttles, there are different grades of shuttles. The grade of the shuttle is a way of categorising the quality of shuttles which is why only feather shuttles have this. Feather shuttles can vary massively in their quality due to the feathers and manufacturing whereas hybrids and synthetics can be standardised much more easily.

So what determines shuttle grade?

The main factors that affect shuttle grading are durability, consistency, and flight trajectory.

As you can see in our ‘How shuttlecocks are made article, the feathers used for shuttlecocks are graded and categorised before they are made into shuttles. In this way, the best feathers are made into the best shuttles by combining them with the best bases, with the lower grades of feathers having lower grades of base.

The shuttles are tested again after manufacturing for flight speed and quality. The best quality shuttles should fly very consistently with a near-perfect flight trajectory and arc numerous times. The shuttles will also be more resistant to damage.

So now we know what grades are, it’s simple, right? You would think so but not really. Every brand of shuttle manufacturer has its grading system and categories. So you need to check each badminton brand for their grading system. A good general rule is the most expensive shuttles are the best quality.

RankYonexVictorLi-NingRSLBabolat
TopAerosensa 50Master AceG900UltimateBabolat 1
Aerosensa 40Gold ChampionG800SupremeBabolat 2
Aerosensa 30ServiceG700Classic TourneyBabolat 3
Aerosensa 20Champion No.1G600NO.1 TourneyBabolat 4
Aerosensa 10Gold MaximaG500NO.2 TourneyChallenge
BottomAuroclub TourQueenG60NO.3 Tourney
List of some of the shuttlecock brands and how they categorize the quality of the different shuttlecocks on offer

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Which shuttlecock speed should you choose and what’s the difference?

shuttles

Did you know that the speed of a shuttlecock differs depending on the type or brand of shuttles you are using?

Are you getting frustrated when your perfect drop shots, go into the net every time you change venue? Or maybe your power smash beats everyone on Tuesday but can’t beat anyone on Thursday? Well, there is a simple answer to this!

The answer is: that the conditions (or the shuttles) have changed!

Shuttlecocks are (very) sensitive and can be hugely affected by the air and conditions you play in. On the other hand, if you change the shuttles, they might be at a different speed with a different trajectory!

How the conditions affect shuttlecock speed

As shuttlecocks are designed to be affected by air resistance any change to the air it travels through will affect the shuttle flight. This all comes down to air density which is affected by air pressure, humidity, and temperature. In low air density conditions, the shuttle will speed up as the air is thinner for the shuttle to fly through, high air density will make the shuttle fly slower.

  • Low air density conditions: Hot air temperature, High humidity, and low air pressure (high altitudes).
  • High air density conditions: Cold air temperature, low humidity, and high air pressure (low altitudes).

This is why there are different shuttle speeds so they counteract the air conditions so no matter where you play you get the same experience.

What does this mean for us, the players? It means that depending on your playing conditions the shuttle will fly differently and affect your shots. The solution? Choose the right speed of shuttle for the conditions or tip the shuttles… So you aren’t good one day and bad the next (most of the time) you just need to test your shuttles!

🧠 Did you know? at the start of every tournament, the referee will do shuttle testing on the courts to choose the right shuttle for the matches that day. This can change day to day depending on conditions. When the air is dense, the shuttles fly slower. In those cases, tournament officials choose a faster, or heavier, shuttle to compensate. By contrast, when the air is less dense, competition officials pick a slower, lighter shuttle.

What is your slang for shuttlecock? Is it badminton birdie, ball, featherball, shuttle, or something entirely different? 
Let us know in the comments

How to test a shuttlecock before practice, a match, or a tournament

The BWF has official guidelines on how to test shuttles. The video below has all the details the BWF uses to test shuttles at the events they hold globally. This is our quick breakdown:

  • On most badminton courts there are two notches painted at the rear of one side of the court, one on either side of the rear service line. These are the testing markers.
  • Stand at the back of the court and hit towards the end with the notches.
  • When standing behind the court hit the shuttle underarm to the end with the notches.
  • The shuttle should land between the two notches to be the right speed (Do this with 3-4 shuttles).
  • If the shuttles are short of the notches you need to get faster shuttles or tip the shuttles to be faster.
  • If the shuttles go too far you need slower shuttles or tip them to be slower.

This video shows how to test a shuttlecock correctly

This table shows the different speeds and a good general rule of when to use them. Synthetic and Hybrid shuttles are different only having a slow, middle, or fast shuttle shown by the colour ring on the shuttle (Red = Fast, Blue = Average, Green = Slow).

Shuttle SpeedAltitudeTemperature
75 – Very slowAbove sea levelVery Hot (30+ Degress)
76 – SlowAt Sea levelHot (25 – 30C Degrees)
77 – AverageAt Sea LevelAverage (15 – 25 Degrees)
78 – FastBelow Sea levelCold (0 – 15 Degrees)
79 – Very fastBelow Sea levelVery Cold (Below Zero Degrees)

The secret tipping technique can help fix a wrong shuttle speed

This is a super secret old-school technique used by badminton players to change shuttle speed (and sometimes cheat). If you are at a match and the shuttles are not at the correct speed. What do you do then? You tip the shuttle to make it faster or slower.

How? You need to do this carefully! Take your feather shuttles and bend the tip of the feathers either inside to make it faster or outwards to make it slower. This will increase or decrease the air resistance of the shuttle. You only need a slight change for a big difference. You should only do it with every feather, every 2 feathers, or every 4 feathers to keep the shuttle balanced.

🧠 Players sometimes damage or tip feathers to change the shuttle flight to their advantage either before or during a match. They might also do this to get the shuttle changed when an opponent or umpire doesn’t want to change the shuttle. Watch out!

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Annie Xu and her identical twin sister’s unique Olympic qualification journey

Annie Xu and her twin sister Kerry Xu represent Team USA Badminton. They both ditched badminton in favor of college and jobs. But then something happened… Watch the video to get the complete story

Annie Xu and Kerry Xu talk about their badminton journey

Annie Xu and Kerry Xu decided to follow the dream

The Xu sisters were born in San Jose, California in October 1999. They started playing badminton at the age of 8 and by the age of 12, they were winning USA National titles in badminton.

Talented and hard-working, they were selected for the USA Junior Badminton Team.

While still competing in singles, the Xu’s were paired in doubles. At the Pan Am Junior Championships in 2014 and again in 2015, the twins secured the gold medal.

As seniors, Annie Xu and Kerry Xu competed internationally. They were part of the USA Uber Cup team in 2016 when they were only around 17 years old.

They did reasonably well in that period winning medals in International Series Level tournaments in 2017 and 2018. In 2019 they only played the Silicon Valley International Series, which they won.

Following that they decided to focus on their education and retire from international badminton. After graduation from UC Berkeley (in California), they both got jobs.

But then, in 2022, they started entertaining the idea of getting back into badminton to qualify for the Paris 2024 Olympics.

The Road to the Paris Olympics is long and costly – here’s how you can help Annie and Kerry Xu

It might come as a shock to you 🙂 But most badminton players struggle to make ends meet. This is especially true for up-and-coming players such as the Xu sisters.

Kerry Xu has set up a GoFundMe page. The girls are trying to raise USD 20.000. If you can spare a few dollars, please go and show your support

If you care about the future of badminton, you will understand that we cannot allow financial shortcomings to stand in the way of player development.

What’s more, badminton in the USA truly represents amazing potential for our beloved sport. Making badminton great again in the USA – will help badminton as a whole.

Get more badminton stories you didn’t know you needed

Make sure to subscribe to the Badmintonspeak Newsletter – we do our best to keep you informed and provide information you didn’t even know you needed.

Sponsor appreciation: these organizations made the KFF Singapore Badminton Open possible

badminton sponsorship apprecation and sponsor apprecation

Let’s be honest. In badminton, it is rare to experience sponsor appreciation. Perhaps because we, the fans and followers of badminton, tend to take sponsors for granted. We shouldn’t. Because it is in everyone’s interest to help sponsors benefit from their involvement in badminton.

At Badmintonspeak we believe that it is our collective responsibility to support the organizations who support the sport of badminton. So let’s start doing that.

Badmintonspeak launch

Do this to show your appreciation for badminton sponsors

Here’s what you can do

  • Learn about the sponsors mentioned below
  • Use the links to learn about the business of the sponsor
  • Recommend one or more of the sponsors via your social media

This sponsor appreciation article relates to the recent KFF Singapore Badminton Open.

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Huge shout-out and thanks to the sponsors of the KFF Singapore Badminton Open

The Super 750 tournament was brilliantly organized by the Singapore Badminton Association. The following organizations were the main sponsors for the KFF Singapore Badminton Open 2024 in Singapore.

Karim Family Foundation – smart philanthropy supporting the Singapore Badminton Open for the second year in a row

The Karim Family Foundation (KFF) is the philanthropic arm of the Karim/Sukwanto family. The foundation is focused on 4 pillars – namely; sports development, arts & culture, mental health, and education.

KFF was the title sponsor of the Singapore Badminton Open in 2023 and 2024.

-> Check out the website of KFF here
-> Why does KFF support sport with philanthropy?
-> Listen to Cindy Karim talk about badminton and philanthropy in this podcast

JK Technology presenting sponsor in Singapore

A long-time supporter of badminton in Singapore, JK Tech is a one-stop IT solution service center in Singapore. Mr. Eugene Ang is the managing director of JK Technology. Listen to his words of encouragement in this video:

JK Technology was one of the main supporters of the Singapore Badminton Open in 2024. The firm has been supporting quite a few badminton-related activities throughout the years.

Whenever an organization shows such great support for the sport of badminton, our badminton community really must reciprocate. That’s part of sponsor appreciation.

Follow JK Tech Singapore on Facebook here

Let’s also appreciate these key badminton sponsors

100 Plus

100 Plus is the category pioneer in isotonic drinks. They are part of the Fraser & Neave group of businesses.

Follow on Instagram
See 100 Plus on Facebook


BWL – Best World Lifestyle

Since 1990, BWL has been developing premium quality products for beauty, health, and wellness.

Follow BWL on Facebook or check out their products on the website.


Badminton sponsor Corum watches

Corum premium watches

Corum has been rafting avant-garde luxury timepieces that represent creative and daring watchmaking since 1955

See more on Instagram
See premium timepieces on the website


A.M. aesthetics Singapore

Medical aesthetic services for Asian skin conditions, A.M Aesthetic provides an authentic and comfortable experience for you.

-> See clinics and treatments on the website
-> Follow on Facebook


Bauerfeind – orthopedic solutions for badminton

Bauerfeind manufactures orthopedic products and is a premium Brand in Orthoses, Compression Socks, Insoles, Footwear, and Measurement Technologies.

-> See orthopedic solutions for badminton players


Eagle Brand – Medicated oils

Best known for its Green Oil, Eagle Brand also offers medicated oils for badminton players.

-> See what’s new on their Facebook page

Badminton muscle rub from Eagle Brand - sponsorship appreciation

Starry Homestead logo badminton appreciation

Starry Homestead – an interior design firm

A leading interior design firm in Singapore, Starry Homestead excels in transforming environments into bespoke sanctuaries of aesthetic elegance and functional finesse.

-> Get inspiration on Instagram


Sponsorship appreciation for these contributing sponsors

In addition to the main sponsors listed above, we would also like to acknowledge the following contributors to the KFF Singapore Badminton Open 2024 tournament:

  • Winbox – sports betting and online gaming in Singapore, Thailand, and Malaysia
  • Foundit – jobs portal (formerly Monster)
  • GAIA Group – Indonesian gourmet and lifestyle group
  • Tote Board Singapore – As a broad-based grantmaking organization, Tote Board contributes towards building an inclusive, resilient, and vibrant community through our grants. Tote Board supports worthy causes in the community.
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