What Are the Different Parts of a Shuttlecock?

The shuttlecock is the most special object in badminton. It is what makes badminton unique compared to the other racket sports. In this post, we are going to have a closer look at the badminton projectile, dissecting what are the different parts of a shuttlecock.

So, what are the different parts of a shuttlecock? A shuttlecock is formed by two parts, a base, and a skirt. The base is usually made of cork and the skirt can be made either of natural feathers or of synthetic material.

Let’s have a look now at each specific part and see how they are subdivided.

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What are the different parts of a shuttlecock? The in-depth answer

As I mentioned in the previous section, a shuttlecock has two parts, the base, and the skirt. The base is made of cork and the skirt can be made either of natural feathers or of synthetic material.

A deeper look into the base of the shuttlecock

The base of the shuttlecock is usually made of cork.

The best bases are made of a high-quality and uniform cork base.

In some cases, the base is divided into two parts. The tip of the base is made of soft cork, whereas the top of the base is made of hard cork or synthetic foam.

The bottom of the base is soft because it is where the players hit the shuttle. The elasticity of a soft cork helps with the strokes.

The top of the base is hard because it is where the skirt is fixed and a stronger material is needed there. In addition to that, the top of the base is where the band indicating the speed of the shuttle is glued.

Apart from cork, other materials are also used.

Low quality plastic feathers use foam as a material for the base of the shuttle. In this case, the foam has an empty center and that is where the plastic skirt gets placed.

Other shuttle types, such as the hybrid shuttles, use composite bases. They are basically made of cork but the cork is processed and squashed together.

In most cases, the base is covered with a layer of white leather that gives the tip of the shuttle its known look and feel.

A deeper look into the skirt of the shuttlecock

The skirt of the shuttlecock is made of either natural feathers or synthetic material.

Natural feathers

The natural feathers can have different origins. In general, though, goose feathers are the best option. The highest quality feathers are taken from the left wings of gooses.

These feathers are then fixed to the base, and glue is used to strengthen the connection between the two. In addition to that, the skirt also contains two rows of thread that help to keep all the feathers stable and in position. In these two threads, also glue is used to further stabilize the shuttle.

This video from Design Insider explains the process of manufacturing a shuttle. You can also see the different parts and the material used.

Synthetic skirt

In addition to natural feathers, there is currently a big development going on into synthetic feathers or hybrid shuttles. The Badminton World Federation is pushing for synthetic feathers to be implemented everywhere in order to reduce costs and to become more sustainable.

This will make all brands to switch focus and start creating this new type of shuttles, which look like natural feathered shuttles but use more sustainable materials and last longer.

For non-feathered shuttles, the skirt is made of injection-molded plastic nylon. Depending on the quality of the shuttle, the mold will be slightly different.

What are the main measurements a shuttle needs to have?

Now that we know what are the different parts of a badminton shuttle and what is usually the material of these different parts, it is time to have a closer look at the measurements that the different parts of the shuttle need to have.

In case of the feathered shuttlecocks, these are the main measurements:

  • A shuttle needs to have 16 feathers
  • The feathers need to have a uniform length between 62 mm to 70 mm when measured from the tip to the top of the base.
  • The tips of the feathers need to lie on a circle with a diameter from 58 mm to 68 mm.
  • The feathers need to be fastened firmly with thread or other suitable material.
  • The base needs to be between 25 mm to 28 mm in diameter and rounded on the bottom.
  • The shuttle needs to weigh from 4.74 to 5.50 grams.

In the image below, you can see a summary of the main measurements of the shuttle.

Shuttlecock measurements metric and imperial_v3
Measurements of a badminton birdie

If a non-feathered shuttle is used, the regulations state that a skirt or simulation of feathers in synthetic materials can replace the natural feathers. The other measurements as described above need to be respected, but a variation of up to 10% is acceptable.

What are the different types of shuttles and which one is better is better?

There are basically three types of shuttles, which can be classified as follows:

  • Plastic shuttles
  • Synthetic feathers or hybrid
  • Natural feathers

Let’s have a look each of them a bit more in detail.

Plastic shuttles

As I mentioned in the previous section, plastic shuttles, also known as nylon shuttles, are the type of shuttles with an injection-molded plastic nylon skirt. The material of the base can vary depending on the quality of the shuttle.

Synthetic feathers or hybrid

Synthetic feathered or hybrid shuttles are shuttles whose skirt (or body) is made entirely or partially of synthetic material. The shape is the same as the natural feathered shuttles, but not the material. In this type of shuttle, the base is usually made of cork.

Natural feathers

Natural feathered shuttles have been always the go-to choice for pros. With a base made usually of high quality cork, feathers from specific animals (preferably goose) are attached to it.

Which one is better?

This answer depends on what parameter you are giving more importance to. Personally, I recommend plastic shuttles for beginners. Their durability make them the cheapest option and, because of the learning stage players are at, the different between playing with one or the other is minimal.

For intermediate or advanced players, natural feathers are a no-brainier. They are more expensive but the difference in flight is so big that the change is worth it.

The choice, however, will be getting more difficult in the near future. Because of sustainability and price concerns, the Badminton World Federation is pushing for synthetic feathered shuttles to become the norm. If you think about it, using objects that last for just a few minutes is not a very sustainable practice, so I personally understand this move.

I think that, in the near future, we will see big advancements in the technology of synthetic feathered shuttles and that, in a few years, they will become the best option.

This video from ClubRackets.com explains very well the different types of shuttles, with a slightly more detailed division than the one we used above

Final words

And with this, we have arrived at the end of this post. Do you have any additional doubts about the parts of the badminton shuttle or the materials used? Then let me know in the comments below.

If you want to learn a bit more about the badminton shuttlecock, be sure to check our Badminton Shuttle Guide, where we explain how feathered shuttles are made or how can you make them last longer.

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