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Shuttlecocks, also known as birdies, are an essential part of badminton. As the “ball” of the sport, its flight, speed, and durability are essential to a player’s experience with the sport. To get the best gameplay experience, you should pick the right shuttlecock that will fit your goals – and we’re here to help you get the best shuttlecock for your needs and price point.
Note that this post dives specifically into Yonex’s synthetic shuttlecocks. If you’re looking for more information regarding feathered shuttlecock, check out our post: The Complete Guide to Yonex Badminton Shuttlecocks (Feathered). If you want to know the differences between them, take a look at our comparison between them in Which Shuttlecock is Better: Feathered or Synthetic (Plastic)?.
What is a Synthetic Shuttlecock?
A synthetic shuttlecock simply refers to a shuttlecock that is made of artificial or man-made materials. Synthetic shuttlecocks are the counterparts to feathered shuttles, which are made of natural feathers from the left wings of ducks or geese.
Synthetic shuttlecocks can be split into 2 main components – the base and the skirt. The base of the shuttlecock is typically made of natural cork with a thin outer layer of leather. The skirt of a synthetic shuttlecock is made of plastic material, most notably nylon and is typically a single, continuous piece – as opposed to the 16 individual feathers used in a feathered shuttlecock – to replace the skirt.
Properties of Shuttlecocks
Every shuttlecock can be rated in several different properties that determine what sort of characteristics it will have. These are speed, durability, consistency and flight. We’ll go over what each of these mean and why they matter.
Speed – the speed of a shuttlecock determines how fast and far a shuttlecock will move if struck at the same power. A shuttlecock that has a higher speed flies farther than a shuttlecock with a lower speed. While faster shuttlecocks may benefit players who may not yet have the proper hitting technique or strength, the speed of shuttlecock should more consider the playing conditions of your badminton gym – namely, the temperature and altitude. The speed of a synthetic shuttlecock is determined by the weight as well as the material used to create the skirt.
While a feathered shuttlecock used in professional play must have a weight between 4.75 and 5.50 grams, the weight of synthetic shuttlecocks are afforded a 10 percent variation due to the variations in materials used. However, synthetic shuttlecocks are more commonly found in recreational play and not found in high level tournament play.
Unlike the numbers Yonex uses to indicate the speed of feathered shuttlecock, the speeds for their synthetic MAVIS shuttlecocks are represented in colors. Take a look at this table to see which speeds each color corresponds to and what the recommended speed is for the temperature:
|Temperature (°C)||22 – 33||12 – 23||0 – 13|
|Temperature (°F)||71.6 – 91.4||53.6 – 73.4||32 – 55.4|
Shuttlecocks come in a variety of speeds because the temperature of the gym affects how fast the shuttlecock moves. The colder the temperature, the slower the shuttlecock moves due to the denser air causing greater resistance. Conversely, the warmer the temperature, the faster the shuttlecock moves due to a lesser dense air.
If you live in a location that falls outside of the temperature ranges in the table above, we would recommend buying the color cap closest to the temperature. Pick the green cap if your local badminton gym temperatures would exceed 33 °C (91.4 °F) and a red cap if the temperatures dip below 0 °C (32 °F).
Durability– the durability of a shuttlecock indicates how long the shuttlecock is considered playable. A shuttlecock’s flight deteriorates as the shuttlecock’s material is naturally worn down through play. With synthetic shuttlecocks, this is usually seen with breakage in the skirt material, detachment of the skirt from the base, or a worn out cork. The time it takes for deformation to occur is largely affected by the quality of the material (both in the skirt and cork) and how the shuttlecock is built. The better the material and build of a shuttlecock, the longer it lasts.
Consistency– the consistency of a shuttlecock indicates how stable a shuttlecock’s performance is when hit in the same way. Ideally, the shuttlecock will land in the same spot every time if hit in the exact same way and power. Factors such as wind resistance and asymmetry in the shuttlecock make it so there is some margin of error between each hit. Consistency is measured by testing how wide of a range the shuttlecocks land in when hit in the same way. For example, in a consistency test, a company will select 10 shuttlecocks from the same tube and strike each with the stroke and power. A shuttlecock is considered more consistent if all shuttlecocks land within a 50 centimeter radius from each other in comparison to a shuttlecock where all shuttlecocks land within a 100 centimeter radius from each other. (picture with birdies when we have access to a gym)
Flight – several properties influence a shuttlecock’s flight, such as trajectory and rotation. Let’s take a look at each property one at a time:
- Trajectory – trajectory is the natural path the shuttlecock takes when in flight. Due to its shape and composition, the shuttlecock’s flight is very different in compared to the flight of the “ball” of other sports. Upon contact with a racket, the shuttlecock will be repulsed and fly cork-first in the direction determined by the badminton player. With the shuttlecock being high-drag by nature, its flight trajectory follows that of a skewed parabola with its fall being steeper than its rise. This phenomenon is witnessed more drastically with feathered shuttlecocks than synthetic shuttlecocks due to its more rigid shape. As such, feathered shuttlecock will experience faster deceleration at the tail end of its flight. The more aerodynamic composition of synthetic shuttles will cause the shuttlecock to fly further, creating a more natural parabola in flight.
- Rotation (spin) – rotation, also called spin, measures how fast a shuttlecock turns while in the air. Yonex’s MAVIS synthetic shuttlecocks are created to resemble as close to a feathered shuttlecock as possible. As such, the rotation of the MAVIS shuttlecocks also display a clockwise direction, which causes the shuttlecock to naturally drift to the right during its flight. The rotation of the shuttlecock has a direct relationship with drag, thus improving the trajectory of the shuttlecock. Therefore, higher grade shuttlecocks tend to have high rotational spin on its axis.
How Can I Make A Synthetic Shuttlecock Last Longer?
Synthetic shuttlecock boast durability above its feathered shuttlecock. The body, or skirt, of a synthetic shuttlecock are not as prone to wear and tear as the highly fragile feathers. To make the most out of your synthetic shuttlecock, we would advise you to focus your attention on proper storage.
What you want to be keep in mind is to avoid storing your synthetic shuttlecock in extreme temperatures. Particularly cold temperatures will harden the skirt material of a synthetic shuttlecock, making it brittle and easier to break. While storing the shuttlecocks in high temperatures may prevent the hardening of the skirt, it may compromise the feeling of the shuttlecock by making the skirt too soft.
One piece of advice for players purchasing synthetic shuttlecocks is to skip steaming them. Contrary to the benefits that steaming a feathered shuttlecock may yield, the longevity of synthetic shuttlecocks will not be increased by this process.
Yonex’s synthetic shuttlecock brand is the MAVIS Nylon line. The tag line for the MAVIS shuttlecocks is that they are the closest alternative you can get to the feel and performance of a feathered shuttlecock. Attributes found in feathered shuttlecocks – such as its unique flight time and pattern – were considered into the design of the MAVIS shuttlecock in hopes of best replicating a feathered shuttlecock.
Each of the products in the MAVIX Nylon line below have bases made of natural cork material. The cork material used in the base of shuttlecock has a direct relationship with its quality – it can impact the shuttlecock’s durability and consistency. While Yonex upholds the quality of the shuttlecock by only using natural cork material, other brands may combine other material along the cork material to decrease manufacturing costs at the expense of durability.
What Yonex is attempting to achieve is to find an economically and environmentally friendly alternative to shuttlecocks constructed from natural feather material. The direction towards replacing feathered shuttlecock with its synthetic counterparts has already been given the greenlight by the Badminton World Federation (BWF) to use in BWF sanctioned tournaments in 2021. Read more about it here.
|Author’s Pick||MAVIS 2000||Learn More|
|Best Value||MAVIS 350||Learn More|
|Best Flight||MAVIS 350, MAVIS 600, MAVIS 2000||Learn More: MAVIS 350, MAVIS 600, MAVIS 2000|
|Best Durability||MAVIS 2000||Learn More|
|Best Consistency||MAVIS 300, MAVIS 350, MAVIS 600, MAVIS 2000||Learn More: MAVIS 300, MAVIS 350, MAVIS 600, MAVIS 2000|
The MAVIS 10 is the entry level product in the MAVIS Nylon shuttlecock line. The MAVIS 10 is slightly less durable than the MAVIS 350, yet displays similar recovery time. Recovery time is the time it takes for the shuttlecock to stabilize after it is hit. You can imagine this as the shuttlecock repositioning to fly towards your opponent’s end of the court.
The MAVIS 10 is a great option for players who are looking to practice fundamental shots or who are looking to play in a strictly recreational setting.
|Available Speeds||Slow, Medium|
The MAVIS 300 tends to be faster than the MAVIS 350 despite each of these products being offered in all 3 color caps. The flight quality and durability of the MAVIS 300 are just shy of the MAVIS 350. As the flight of the MAVIS 300 doesn’t measure up to feathered shuttlecocks, intermediate and advanced players can skip this product.
One main drawback of the MAVIS 300 is the lack of feel experienced through various badminton shots. The player is met with a dull hitting sound and minimal feel, which can play a large part in executing accurate and precise shots in badminton.
|Available Speeds||Slow, Medium, Fast|
|Amazon||Medium (White) | Medium (Yellow)|
|Racquet Depot||Fast (White) | Fast (Yellow)|
|Yumo Pro Shop||Slow (Yellow)|
Best Value. The MAVIS 350 is the most popular of Yonex’s MAVIS Nylon shuttlecock line. The resemblance to feathered shuttlecock that the MAVIS 350 is able to achieve makes it a strong pick for training in school clubs and teams. While the feel produced by MAVIS 350s do not mirror tit for tat that of feathered shuttlecock, it is close enough to help players refine their skills without breaking their wallets.
The MAVIS 350 offers great consistency, allowing player to play with confidence. While the MAVIS 350 lies in the middle of the pack of Yonex Nylon shuttlecocks, it displays similar flight quality to that of the top of the line MAVIS 2000.
The MAVIS 350 is a great choice for intermediate players on a budget, or for players who are grinding out drills for practice in an amateur or lower setting.
|Available Speeds||Slow, Medium, Fast|
Medium (White) | Medium (Yellow)
|Yumo Pro Shop||Slow (Yellow)|
The MAVIS 600 and MAVIS 2000 are the 2 products in the MAVIS Nylon line that sports the WING RIB™ technology. The WING RIB design is an innovation that causes the air to flow around the skirt of the shuttlecock, similar to how the wings of an airplane displace air. This design enables the shuttlecock to stabilize faster after impact compared to synthetic shuttlecocks without this technology, thereby further shortening the recovery time to more closely match a feathered shuttlecock.
The MAVIS 600 demonstrates a flight trajectory that is closer to a feathered shuttlecock in comparison to the other Nylon shuttlecocks mentioned in the post.
With a steeper price point, the MAVIS 600 is recommended for more serious players who play often at the intermediate level, but do not wish to splurge on feathered shuttlecocks.
|Available Speeds||Slow, Medium, Fast|
Author’s Pick. The MAVIS 2000 is the shuttlecock that sits at the top of Yonex’s MAVIS Nylon line. In terms of durability and consistency, it reigns supreme against each of the shuttlecocks mentioned prior.
The MAVIS 2000 is the candidate to be used in BWF sanctioned tournaments starting in 2000. While there are still noticeable differences between the feel of a Nylon and feathered shuttlecock, the MAVIS 2000 bridges the gap and offers the closest alternative from the synthetic shuttlecock world. It is claimed to be the synthetic shuttlecock that comes the closest in resemblance to feathered shuttlecock in recovery time and flight trajectory.
The material used in the cork is high quality, which contributes to its high degree of durability.
The MAVIS 2000 is recommended for competitive players of all skill-levels who seek a quality product for its price. State and local tournament organizers can also look towards the MAVIS 2000 as a cost-conscious alternative to feathered shuttlecocks.
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