A badminton shuttlecock, also called “bird”, “birdie” and “shuttle”, together with 2 rackets and a friend forms the core of this amazing sport, for sure it would be better if you could get a net, too. Choosing a suitable shuttlecock is just as important as picking the right rackets.
With a large number of brands and models in the market, you can find shuttlecocks made with different materials, structure, feather arrangement, and even cork and glue.
As an ex-professional player ranked 30 in the world and a BWF certified Advanced Badminton Coach, I had used probably over half a million shuttlecocks! In this article, we have selected the best badminton shuttlecock for you and will fill you in with some useful information about how to pick the best shuttlecock.
Quick Summary (Best Badminton Shuttlecocks):
Best Finely Made Feather Shuttlecock: YONEX Aerosensa 40 Badminton Shuttlecocks – finely made, international tournaments grade goose feathers shuttlecocks, suitable for advanced players
Best Feather Shuttlecock for Practice: Young(Yang Yang) Professional Badminton Shuttlecock – a great choice for all skill level players who want to practice and play matches with others
Best Feather Shuttlecock for Beginner: KEVENZ 12-Pack Badminton Shuttlecocks – durable, budget-friendly shuttlecocks suitable for beginner players who just started
Best Quality Nylon Shuttlecock: YONEX Mavis 350 Nylon Badminton Shuttlecock – high quality, durable nylon birdies offer close-to-feather feeling and speed
Best Nylon Shuttlecock for Garden Party: ZHENAN 6 Pack LED Badminton Shuttlecocks – must-have items for a great garden party, you want to stay till sunset and night time because of these beautiful birdies!
What is a Badminton Shuttlecock (Bird/ Birdie or Shuttle)?
According to Wikipedia, a shuttlecock or a birdie is a “high-drag projectile used in the sport of badminton. It has an open conical shape formed by feathers (or a synthetic alternative) embedded into a rounded cork (or rubber) base”.
Basic Details about a Badminton Shuttlecock:
Here are some measurement facts of common feather shuttlecocks:
- Weights: around 4.74g – 5.50g (0.167oz – 0.194oz)
- Feather numbers: 16
- Feather lengths: 62mm – 70mm
- Cork diameter: 25 – 28mm (0.98inch – 1.10inch)
- Cork base material: wood or rubber
- Shape: Conical (for offering aerodynamic stability)
If you are interested in knowing more about badminton, you may want to take a look at this article by Li-Ning regarding how a feather badminton shuttlecock is built.
Who Should Buy These:
Basically, all badminton players will need to purchase some shuttlecocks (1 is mostly not enough), however, if you are a serious player who is into competitions and games, you may want to get the feather shuttlecock.
For casual game players who are planning to host a garden party and or just wanna enjoy some good time and workout with family and friends, or simply you may want to play in an outdoor area with some wind, you should look for buying some plastic shuttlecocks.
Best Badminton Shuttlecock – What to Consider?
Feather vs Plastic or Synthetic
Badminton shuttles could be made with different materials, depending on the material used, they could be classified as:
Goose Feathers Badminton Shuttlecocks
Generally speaking, the best badminton shuttles are mostly made with goose feathers and softwood cork. However, you gotta take a look at feathers from which part of a goose was used to make the shuttlecock because that would lead to a huge difference.
The finest quality badminton shuttlecocks used at world-class grade competitions would use feathers taken from the left-wing of a goose. The strength, flexibility, and feather structure of goose feathers are most suitable for making the flying birdies.
Depending on which part of feathers are used, the quality and price of the birdies would be different. Generally speaking, we don’t like a shuttle made with these feathers even they are goose feather:
- Feathers straighten by an external force
- Feathers were dyed to look white
High-quality goose feather badminton birdies are mostly used for competitions because of higher cost and limited supply.
Duck Feathers Badminton Shuttlecocks
Duck feather shuttles are the most common feather birdies, they are less durable than goose feathers, however, price is also much cheaper too because of the much shorter growth period of feathers.
A finely made duck feather shuttlecock is lightweight and could come with great flying aerodynamic stability too.
Synthetic Feather Badminton Shuttlecock
According to Chinadaily, the BWF will accept approved synthetic feather shuttlecocks to be used in official tournaments from the beginning of 2021.” for the environment and economic reasons.
We still have not much information about this type of shuttlecock yet, but I am very looking forward to the development though.
Nylon or Synthetic Badminton Shuttlecock
Nylon or Synthetic Shuttles, also called plastic shuttlecocks, are widely used for casual players. Compared to feather shuttles, plastic birdies are heavy, durable, and cheap. In fact, if you are planning to play badminton with your friends just on the lawn outside of your door stairs, these plastic shuttles would be your perfect choice though!
Honestly, I love to play my rainbow color LED shuttlecocks at Sunset time with my friends because they are just so beautiful with that red and orange sky.
However, if you are planning to drill into this sport a bit more, it is better to get some feather badminton shuttles since they are much better for serious practicing.
For the finest feather shuttles for formal competition use, the cork is made with softwood, wrapped with PU leather.
To lower the cost, some companies may use polyurethane between corks, when the polyurethane disintegrated, the cork became misshapen and easy to break.
An interesting fact regarding the cork of badminton shuttlecock is that used champagne cork is preferred than a used wine cork in terms of production of a shuttle’s cork. To learn more, you can check out this article by Yonex.
Shuttle Speed means how far the distance of the shuttlecock could reach. Normally, we would consider a shuttle that can fly a longer distance as a “shuttlecock with faster shuttle speed”, vice versa, a shuttle that is more difficult to fly a shorter distance would be considered as a “shuttlecock with slower speed”.
How will you know the shuttle speed of a shuttlecock?
Normally you will find these numbers on the cover of the tube: 76, 77, 78, 79 (Grain) and 1, 2, 3, 4. The smaller the number, the lighter and slower the shuttlecock is; the higher the number, the heavier and faster the shuttlecock is.
A Weight and Speed Chart of Badminton Shuttlecock:
- 76 grains/ 1: 4.85g to 4.91g: suitable for 27 °C or above, or highland area
- 77 grains/ 2: 4.92g to 4.97g: suitable for 22 °C – 27°C, highland to sea level area
- 78 grains/ 3: 4.98g to 5.04g, suitable for 18°C – 22°C, sea-level area
- 79 grains/ 4: 5.05g to 5.11g, suitable for 18°C or below, sea level to below sea level area
Factors Affecting Shuttle Speed of a Birdie
Other than the weight of the shuttlecock, the air density of the venue will also affect the speed of a birdie.
There are 2 equations we found very useful in explaining the effect of air density towards shuttle speed:
- The drag equation: Friction = 0.5 (mass density of fluid) (flow velocity of badminton) (flow velocity of badminton) (drag coefficient) (reference area)
- Ideal Gas Law: (Pressure) (volume) = (amount of substance) (ideal gas constant) (temperature)
Conditions that will slow down a shuttlecock: High density, high pressure, low temperature
Conditions that will accelerate a shuttlecock: Low density, low pressure, high temperature
One of the important factors determining whether we should use a faster or slower shuttle is humidity. When the humidity increases, the badminton will absorb more moisture from the surroundings and hence increase the weight of the shuttle.
Because of a heavier mass, birdie will fly faster, and hence cause changes in the flying path and distance, which results in affecting the players’ performance.
According to a Chinese article by kknews, the weight and flying distance of the same badminton would increase for around 0.065 grams (while the weight of badminton is just around 5 gram) and 0.2 meters (the length of a badminton court is only 13.4 meters). For an advanced level badminton player, this 0.2 meters difference means everything!
When temperature increases, the air density will decrease and hence cause less friction to the birdies, the shuttle speed will increase so we need to use a shuttlecock that’s lighter to balance it.
When we are playing in a cold area, the air density will increase and cause more friction to the birdies, the shuttle speed will decrease so we need to use a heavier shuttlecock.
Other than air density, the cork (head of the shuttlecock) will expand when the temperature increase, which causes the feather tips to move slightly inward and hence reduce the drag and friction of the birdies, the shuttles will fly faster in this case so we need to balance it by choosing a slower and lighter shuttlecock.
When we are playing at a high altitude area, the air density will decrease and so the shuttle speed of the birdies will increase, hence we need to use a lighter and slower shuttlecock, and vice versa.
Generally speaking, the air density on the mountain is lower than sea level, hence we need to use a
Just a brief summary of factors affecting the shuttle speed:
- When you are playing at a cold, dry, sea level area, pick a faster shuttlecock which is heavier in weight
- When you are playing at a hot, wet, mountain area, pick a slower shuttlecock that is lighter in weight.
For environmental and economic reasons, for sure we prefer a shuttlecock that is more durable.
The most durable birdies are, for sure plastic or nylon shuttles, hum… right, probably the LED shuttlecock is less durable because there are some electronic parts.
But then when we talked about a feather shuttlecock, other than the feathers, the cork and glue used will also be the keys determining the durability.
We prefer a cork made with softwood than sandwiched softwood and if possible, better to be one with good quality glue.
Flight Stability and Flying Path
Flight Stability means the difference between the actual flying path and the predicted flying path. A good shuttlecock should have very little difference between the actual and predicted one.
Normally, a finely made goose feather shuttlecock (also more expensive) would come with better stability.
The Best Badminton Shuttlecock – Our Top Picks
Best Finely Made Feather Shuttlecock: YONEX Aerosensa 40 Badminton Shuttlecocks
Yonex has always been one of my favorite badminton brands, I love their rackets, footwears, and for sure, their shuttlecocks. The Yonex aerosensa 40 (AS-40) Shuttlecocks are probably one of the very best shuttles used in major international badminton tournaments, very durable, consistent, and with great flying stability.
They are made with premium goose feathers and are probably the noble class in the shuttlecock world.
What We Also Like:
- They can stand the strongest smashing power
- Yonex has carried tests against their feather shuttlecocks and 8% of Yonex shuttles fired down court hit a 25 cm target while other brands only hit a 75 cm target.
What We Don’t Like:
- They are relatively expensive
- It’s made by gooses’ feathers (animal parts)
Best Feather Shuttlecock for Practice: Young(Yang Yang) Professional Badminton Shuttlecock P48 (76)
The Young Professional Badminton Shuttlecock (Intermediate P48 (76)) is a great choice for all level players. Right, I would advise advanced level players to use these for practice, and for intermediate players and beginners, you can use this for competitions or practice (depending on your budget).
What We Also Like:
- You get what you pay for, these shuttlecocks are probably one of the best choices within the same price range
- Very solid built, strong and could tolerate strong smashing power
What We Don’t Like
- Would be great if they come in different shuttle speed
- Again, they are made with goose feathers (animal parts problem again…)
Best Feather Shuttlecock for Beginner: KEVENZ 12-Pack Badminton Shuttlecocks
The Kevenz 12-Pack Badminton Shuttlecocks is a great choice! If you are one of those casual players who have been using plastic shuttlecock and wanna try out the real feather birds, the Kevenz would definitely suit you.
Price is very affordable, actually, I gotta say the quality of these shuttles was way much better than I expected. They are just very durable.
What We Also Liked:
- You can use it in the outdoor area too
What We Don’t Like:
- The flight stability is not that good
- They are still sort of for recreational use, not so suitable for serious game
Best Quality Nylon Shuttlecock: YONEX Mavis 350 Nylon Badminton Shuttlecock
The Yonex Mavis 350 Nylon Badminton Shuttlecock is a high-quality plastic shuttlecock suitable for beginners or casual players. I would consider these birdies as one of the best quality shuttlecocks.
Compared to other nylon shuttles, the Mavis 350 are performing pretty great in terms of offering similar speed and feel to feather shuttles. You can feel they are much quicker and solid than other birdies when you smash and drive.
What We Also Like:
- Very durable, rarely break
- Affordable price, great value option
- Comes in a different color, yellow and white so suitable to play in different conditions
- 3 temperature categories for you to pick, so you can easily pick the best birdies for your condition
What is Not That Nice:
- You may need to purchase different categories and color for different seasons and conditions
- Still, you cant compare it with feather shuttlecocks
Looking for more information regarding Yonex Mavis 350 Shuttles? Do check this article out.
Best Nylon Shuttlecock for Garden Party: ZHENAN 6 Pack LED Badminton Shuttlecocks Lighting Birdies, Pack of 4/5/6
These LED lights shuttlecocks are one of my favorite party items! Super Strong, very durable and they are just beautiful!!! Because of these birdies, I always wait till sunset to start my game with friends and everybody is so stunned!!! (I gotta admit that I have a thing about LED lights shuttlecocks, as you can see that my favorite recreational badminton set also includes LED Shuttlecocks).
This is something when you take it out from your storeroom and everything would be like “wow!!!”
What We Also Liked:
- It’s very easy to turn on and off the lights
- The rainbow colors make it even more fun!
What We Don’t Like:
- If you smash them too hard, the lights will get knocked off quickly (ok we played with another ex world’s top 10 players… probably that’s one of the reasons?
- It’s more dangerous to play at night when there are not enough lights, my friends twisted their ankles during the game
- The birdies may come with colors different than the photos, I didn’t notice the difference but my sister did
Useful Tips and Information
Storage of Badminton Shuttlecocks
Storing shuttles is just like storing a bag of photo chips, once you open the tube of feather shuttlecocks, try to use them all within a few months. The longer you leave them there, the easier the glue, PU wrapping of the cork, and feathers would be dried out or aged.
We do suggest not to store the badminton for over 6 months, and 12 months is the longest limit. If your shuttlecocks happened to dried out, you can try to steam them or slightly wrap them with a wet sponge.
Shuttle Speed Test
In order to find out the shuttle speed of a bird, you may carry a shuttle speed test before you play to find out the best shuttlecock. Check this video out for more information about how to carry out a shuttle speed test.
Make Sure You are Wearing Proper Footwears
This is very important as once when I was playing with a friend, we were using some “not that good quality shuttlecocks” and quite a bit of them broke. Both of us stepped on the feathers and my friend twisted her ankle while I was perfectly fine. The only difference between us was I was wearing a pair of badminton shoes and socks and she was wearing a pair of running shoes with no socks.
Best Badminton Shuttlecocks (FAQs)
How Do I Choose a Badminton Shuttlecock?
Shuttlecock will fly faster in a high altitude environment because of lower air density, and vice versa, the higher the temperature and humidity it is, the faster the badminton shuttlecock will fly. So make sure you choose according to the environment.
You may want to choose a slow shuttle (green color cap) for mountain and cold area, if you live at the sea level area with hot weather, you may need to pick a fast shuttle (red color cap).
Which Shuttlecock is Better, Feather, or Plastic?
Feather shuttlecock is better for intermediate to professional players who want to practice for matches. Best quality shuttlecocks are made with goose feathers and that could be used for world grade tournaments. Duck feather shuttlecocks are great for practice since they are cheaper.
Plastic Shuttlecocks offer the best durability and are great for beginner and outdoor use. You should pick the shuttlecock according to your ability and preference.
What is the Most Durable Shuttlecock?
Most Durable Shuttlecock:
- YONEX Aerosensa 40 (AS 40) (World tournaments grade shuttles)
- Yonex Mavis 350 Nylon Shuttlecock (Plastic Shuttles)
- Yonex Mavis 2000 Nylon Badminton Shuttlecock (Plastic Shuttles)
What are the Best Shuttles Made of?
The best shuttles would be made with feathers from the left-wing of a goose to provide the best flight performance. The cock of a shuttlecock would be best to be made from champagne cock or a piece of softwood because it improves the durability.
What was Badminton Originally Called?
An ancient game called battledore and shuttlecock, a game similar to badminton could be traced back to 2000 years ago in Greece and Egypt. It used to be a game involving two to multi players hitting the shuttlecock with rackets.
Until the 18 Century, a net was added to the game in British India, because it was very popular in the garrison town of Poona, it was named “Poona”, if you are interested in reading more information, please check this article “Brief History of Badminton”.
What Color is the Fastest Shuttlecock?
Generally speaking, there are 3 types of shuttlecock color cap: Red, Blue, and Green, indicating different speed of the shuttles.
A shuttlecock with a red color cap indicates it is the fastest shuttlecock and is made for cold conditions. The blue color cap shuttlecock falls into the medium speed range and is made for mid conditions. The green color cap shuttlecock indicates it’s a slow shuttlecock and is meant for hot conditions.
Which Shuttle is Best for Outdoors?
The YONEX Mavis 350 Nylon badminton shuttle is the most durable, finely made, and cost-effective birdies, especially for outdoor practice sessions. The YONEX Mavis 350 gives a close-to-feather hitting experience and is very durable. The bright yellow color options make it a great shuttlecock for outdoor environments because you can easily spot it in different light conditions.
Every badminton player plays differently, most serious players play inside, while most recreational players like to play outdoors. Playing with a world-class tournament-grade in a garden party is just a waste.
The most important part of picking the best badminton shuttlecock is to find the birdies suiting your needs and levels. What shuttlecocks do you like? Where do you play and what shuttle speed are you using? Leave us a comment!