Badminton birdies, or shuttlecocks (sometimes abbreviated to shuttle), are an essential piece of equipment for playing badminton. Without the birdie, there would be no way to earn points in the game. In the game, the birdie is hit with a racket across the net until one team scores by having it fall on their opponent's side of the net.
The birdie is made up of a cork base with 16 feathers that come out of the cork base to form a cone-like shape. Birdies can be made of either real goose or duck feathers or a synthetic "plastic" material that looks similar to real feathers.
In badminton there are many rules related to the birdie. A point can be scored if the birdie lands within the opponent's side of the court or on the line of the court. This is the most frequent way of scoring in a game.
The other way a player can score is if the opponent hits the birdie outside of the court lines, below the net, or through the net. Additionally, if a player hits the birdie twice with their racket before it crosses the net, the other team will earn a point.
There are more rules for how a player correctly serves a birdie as well. It must be served beneath the player's waist and land diagonally across the net in order to be a legal serve.
As for the birdie itself, it should fall between these dimensions in order to be an official birdie: 62 to 70mm long and 4.74 to 5.5 grams.
One common type of birdie is made of actual feathers. These are made with either duck or goose feathers. Duck feathers aren't as durable as goose feathers since duck feathers aren't as thick as a goose's. For this reason, duck feathers are more commonly used in practice sessions.
Goose feathers are more commonly used by professionals in official tournaments. The thick yet lightweight feathers make the shuttlecock more stable in the air. Feather shuttlecocks have different numbers relating to the speed of the shuttlecock. A lower number is slower but is a good option for hot, high altitude climates. A higher number is faster and meant for cold, low altitude climates.
The alternative to using real feathers is to use plastic material for birdies like nylon. A plastic shuttlecock is more durable than feather shuttlecocks so you can use it for longer. These are also a more affordable option since the birdie won't need to be replaced as often.
In the past, shuttlecocks used to be categorized based on their weight with the range from 48 to 52. A birdie that weight 4.9 grams would be categorized as a 49 birdie. However, this method wasn't extremely accurate so the system had to be changed.
The system then changed to categorize birdies off their speed. Nylon or plastic shuttlecocks will use colors that denote the birdies particular speed. Feathered shuttlecocks on the other hand use numbers instead to denote speed and how far the birdie will go. The numbers range from 74 to 79.
A birdie labeled as 74 is a slow speed and should be used in areas that are high altitude. A birdie labeled 79 will be very fast and should be used in places that are cold or very low altitude. You can tell the difference in how far they land by the numbers as well. Every increase in a number represents an increase in the length by 30cm. This means a 75 will go 30cm farther than a 74 shuttlecock.
When trying to decide on which shuttlecock to use, temperature, altitude, and air density all must be considered. If the temperature is hotter where badminton will be played, choose a slower shuttlecock. If altitude is higher, the air density will as a result be lower. This means in high altitude low air density areas, a slower shuttlecock should be preferred. It's important to consider all these factors when choosing a birdie to use.
Goose feather shuttlecocks have higher flight quality compared to the other types of shuttlecocks. This type of birdie will allow the player more control over how the birdie flies so it is considered to perform the best in a game of badminton.
However, you can find great birdies for whatever your needs are from many different places. Most badminton brands produce both feather and plastic birdies so you can choose one that fits your budget and preference.
The Yonex Mavis 350 is a great option for beginners since it is made from Nylon material and very durable. These shuttlecocks will last you a while since they do not break easily. Also, they are quite affordable and come in a pack. This is a great shuttlecock to practice on and learn more about badminton.
Not only is it great for beginners, but it is also high performing so you can keep using this birdie as your skills increase.
The most durable shuttlecocks are usually the nylon or plastic ones. However, some feather shuttlecocks have impressive durability. The Yonex AS-50 is recognized for having great durability for a feather shuttlecock. This shuttlecock is commonly used by professionals and in official badminton tournaments. It is made from goose feathers and is a little pricier than the average shuttlecock. However, it performs well and is a great option for a player looking for a durable feather shuttlecock.
Plastic shuttlecocks are cheaper and more durable than feather shuttlecocks. This makes them ideal for beginners who are learning the sport and often break a lot of birdies in the process.
However, feather shuttlecocks are used by more professional players because of their better flight stability. These birdies work better for more advanced players because the material reacts better to different types of racket swings. On the downside, feather shuttlecocks are less durable and more sensitive to weather conditions.