When playing badminton with feathered shuttles, one of the biggest problems is how little they last. Because of this, the expenses for shuttles end up being one of the highest expenses for a badminton club or player. In addition to that, in today’s world, the sustainability cost of having such low lasting projectiles cannot be overlooked.
Even though it is true that alternatives are now starting to appear and that the Badminton World Federation has approved the use of synthetic feathered shuttles for international competitions from 2021, natural feathered shuttles are still a big part of the market for now. Therefore, I have created this guide where I have collected all the information I have been able to find regarding how to increase the durability of the shuttles.
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What impacts the durability of a shuttle?
There are basically four items that can have a meaningful impact on the duration of the shuttle:
Feathered shuttles are very fragile elements. Changes in the atmospheric conditions have an impact on how long the last. Dry feathers become brittle and break much faster than slightly humid ones.
Therefore, using feathered shuttles in dry conditions will reduce their life span.
Quality of the shots
Believe it or not, the quality of the shots has a big impact on the durability of the shuttles. Advanced players that know how to hit the shuttle properly will see much higher durability than beginners. Beginners tend to hit the shuttle worse and this reduces the durability of it.
Pickiness on the quality of the shuttle
The last item that has a big impact on how durable a shuttle can be is how picky you are with the shuttle quality. What do I mean by that? Some people want to change the shuttle after one feather is slightly damaged, whereas other people will not change the shuttle until several feathers have detached from the base.
How much damage you can sustain in your shuttles before you change will have an impact on how long they last (quite obvious this one, I know).
Depending on the playing style of the players, the shuttle will last more or less. Offensive play, because of its aggressiveness, has a bigger toll on the life of the shuttles. Moreover, other shots such as slicing are more demanding and will shorten the life of the shuttle.
So, all the rest being equal, two defensive players will manage to make a shuttle last longer than two offensive players.
How to increase the durability of a shuttle?
Now that we have talked about what items affect the durability of the shuttlecocks, let’s have a look at how we can improve it.
We are going to focus on the humidity parameter in order to increase the durability of the shuttle.
I consider the playing style and the quality of the shots to be fixed parameters. This wouldn’t be a very good post if all I did was to tell you to play more defensively or improve the quality of your shots in order to make the shuttles last longer.
As far as the pickiness, this hardly needs explanation. The only thing I would say is that you can consider using slightly damaged shuttles for exercises where the shuttle precision is not very important. In my old club, we use to have huge buckets of used shuttles and we would use these any time we would do drills.
Now back to the humidity. As I briefly mentioned before, dry environments have a big impact on the durability of the shuttles. If the shuttle becomes dry, that makes it brittle, which makes it break much faster. The solution is very simple. Just find a way to dampen your shuttles so that they are not dry when you play.
In the following section, we will have a look at the four solutions I have found that can help you humidify the shuttles so they last longer.
How can I humidify the shuttles to make them last longer?
There are several options for humidifying the shuttles. Even though this is best suited for cold or dry environments, it will not hurt in other climates as well. I cannot vouch for any of the following because I have always played in humid environments where this wasn’t needed. However, I have heard other players talk about them both in person and online.
Solution 01 – Boil some water in the kettle
The first option is to use a normal kettle as the “steam engine”. This procedure needs to be done either a few hours before going to play badminton or also the previous day.
- Boil some water in the kettle
- Once the water has reached boiling temperature, open the lid of the kettle to let the steam go out
- Open both caps of the badminton shuttle tube and place it with the cork side up on top of the kettle so the steam goes through the tube for 30-60 seconds
- Put the cap back on. If you want to maximize the benefits, add a plastic foil to the tube before closing the tab. This will seal the cap better and let less humidity go out from the tube
By doing this steps, the steam will humidify the shuttles and they will last more while playing. Even though this system is quite extended, it is my least favorite. This is because it requires a lot of work and the likelihood of you forgetting to do it is quite high.
Solution 02 – Take them out from the tube and place them in the shower room when having a shower
I have seen this system being used in Denmark. In this case, you are basically using the shower room of the sports hall as a humidifier.
Whenever the team goes to have a shower, someone needs to take out the shuttles from the tube and place them on a shelf or countertop within the shower area. In order for this to work, all the windows and doors need to be closed so that the steam stays in the room.
Once the shower time is finished, you can place the shuttles back into the tubes, with the option of placing the plastic foil as I explained in the first solution in order to make the shuttles stay humid longer.
Solution 03 – Buy a special cap that keeps your shuttles humid
This solution is quite nice but it is more expensive than the first two. You can basically buy a special cap that helps keep the shuttles humid. So you basically substitute the original cap of the shuttle tube for this and you are good to go. The name is Humidome and it basically keeps the shuttles humid with the help of the beads that are integrated into a cap.
To make it work, just add the product into clean and distilled water for a minimum of 4 hours so the beads absorb the water. Then replace the cap that comes with the tube for this cap. The beads will keep the optimal humidity level for a few months. You can find the product, price, and the full description in Amazon following this link.
The reviews are mixed but I think that bearing in mind the price of the product and the potential of saving in new shuttles, it is definitely worth a try.
Its main advantage is that you do not need to worry about taking care of the shuttles. You put the cap and you are good to go for a few months.
The biggest problem I see to this option is that you will need to have quite a few caps in order to cover a good batch of tubes. However, once you have that bought, you can basically reuse the same caps for new tubes.
Solution 04 – Use a humid cupboard
The last solution is the solution that is used in more professional settings. The humid is designed so that the humidity level is kept at a high level. With it, the shuttles do not dry and become brittle. This is the most expensive option and only recommended for professional badminton clubs. So, if you have a badminton club and use a lot of shuttles, it might be worth considering as an option.
Feathered shuttlecock recommendation
If you are looking at buying feathered shuttlecocks that have a good balance between price and durability, my recommendation is to use the Yonex Aerosensa line. I have mostly used the Yonex Aerosensa AS 20, as it is a good compromise between quality and price. You can click here to buy the Yonex Aerosensa AS 20 on Amazon.
And with this, we have arrived at the end of this post. Do you use any other solution that I have not listed above? Do you have any doubts about the solutions explained? Then let me know in the comments below!
If you want to learn a bit more about the shuttle, be sure to check my Badminton Shuttle guide, where I explain everything there is to know about the badminton shuttle.