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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.
What is a Shuttlecock?
A shuttlecock consists of 16 feathers – typically from a goose or duck – either all from the left wing or all from the right wing but never intermixed to ensure consistent flight. The feathers are processed to have the same shape and color and are inserted into a cork, which acts as the base of the shuttlecock. Yonex corks are made purely of natural cork with no other material sandwiched between it – which other brands may do to lower costs at the expense of decreasing the shuttlecock’s durability.
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 shuttle will move if struck at the same power. A shuttlecock that has a higher speed will fly farther than a shuttlecock with a lower speed. The speed of a shuttlecock is determined by the weight as well as the feather quality of the shuttlecock. A shuttlecock’s weight can only be between 4.75 and 5.50 grams. The heavier the shuttlecock is, the faster it will move when struck.
The speed of a shuttlecock is indicated by a number. The number used can differ between brands and older/newer systems Take a look at this table to see what each number means:
|Very Slow||Slow||Average||Fast||Very Fast|
In the old system, shuttlecocks were ranked from 48 to 52, which indicates how many grams the shuttlecock weighs (48 would mean 4.8 grams). In the new system, the shuttlecocks were ranked from 75 to 79, which indicates how many grains the shuttlecock weighs and is more precise than the old system (75 grains = 4.860 grams). In Yonex’s system, they simply rate the shuttlecocks from 1 to 5, where 1 is the slowest and 5 is the fastest.
Shuttlecocks come in a variety of speeds because the temperature of the gym will affect how fast the shuttlecock will move. The colder the temperature, the slower the shuttlecock will move. This means that if you want to play a game of a certain pace, then you should choose a shuttlecock that accommodates your playing condition. For example, if you are playing in an environment at 20 degrees Celsius, a fast speed shuttlecock will feel similar to an average speed shuttlecock that was played in an environment between 22 and 28 degrees Celsius.
Take a look at this table to determine what shuttle speed you should get depending on the temperature of your badminton gym:
|Very Slow||Slow||Average||Fast||Very Fast|
|Temperature (°C)||33 or higher||27 – 33||22 – 28||17 -23||17 or lower|
|Temperature (°F)||91.4 or higher||80.6 – 91.4||71.6 – 82.4||62.6 – 73.4||62.6 or lower|
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. This can be caused by broken or missing shafts, misshapen feathers, or a worn out cork. The time it takes for these to occur is largely affected by the quality of the material (both feathers and cork) and how the shuttlecock is built. The better the material and build of a shuttlecock, the longer it will last.
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. 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)
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 comparison to the “ball” of other sports. Upon contact with a racket, the shuttlecock will be repulsed and fly cork-first in the direction dictated 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 much steeper than its rise. This behavior is welcomed by advanced players who are able to clear or lift the shuttlecock high to the back of the court without it leaving the boundaries of the court. Higher grade shuttlecocks tend to exhibit more resistance (drag) at greater speeds, allowing it to fly at a steeper angle near the end of its flight.
- Rotation (spin) – rotation, also called spin, measures how fast a shuttlecock turns while in the air. Due to the nature of a shuttlecock’s feather overlay, the shuttlecock will naturally rotate clockwise in the air and thus the shuttlecock naturally drifts 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 Shuttlecock Last Longer?
Shuttlecocks are consumable products, meaning that they are a one time use product. However, there are tricks to get a longer life span out of any shuttlecock than it normally would. The easiest and most effective way to get more value out of a shuttlecock is to steam it. We detail the exact process of what to do and more in our post How Do You Make Your Shuttlecock Last Longer. Check it out if you want to get more bang for your buck.
Yonex provides 2 major lines of feathered shuttlecocks – Aerosensa (AS) and Aeroclub (ACB). They are typically sold in tubes containing 12 shuttlecocks.
In the manufacturing of Yonex’s line of feathered shuttlecocks, high-quality materials are meticulously selected and inspected during a shuttle’s assembly. Even the slightest curvature or difference in weight can affect the quality of a shuttlecock’s flight. The design and production of the Yonex feathered shuttlecocks undergo strict machine factory testing to ensure consistency under various fixed environmental conditions. A machine that is able to execute identical shots at the same speed and rate is used to test a shuttlecock’s flight trajectory, while the same machine can also be used to test the shuttlecock’s consistency.
|Best Flight||AS-40, AS-50|
|Best Consistency||AS-30, AS-40, AS-50|
If you’re interested in other badminton products, I highly recommend checking out our Badminton Equipment Page where we gathered all of our product posts in one easy place for you to access so that you can make an informed decision before any purchase.
The Aerosensa (AS) shuttlecocks are produced with goose feathers and are used by most amateur and professional players in the world. The AS product line contains AS-10, AS-20, AS-30, AS-40, and AS-50 shuttlecocks – with each product incrementally made with higher quality materials with each increase in number.
Aerosensa 10 (AS-10)
The AS-10 is the low end of the AS line in terms of quality and price. The product should mainly be used for training or warm up as its durability is not very good. The AS-10 would be acceptable through club and intermediate play, but is not generally recognized in any level of tournament play.
Aerosensa 20 (AS-20)
Aerosensa 30 (AS-30)
BEST VALUE. The AS-30 is a solid shuttlecock that has slightly better durability and consistency than the AS-20. It is the best AS shuttlecock in terms of value as it is cheaper than the AS-40 and AS-50, while demonstrating similar flight quality and durability. The AS-30 is suitable for local tournament matches.
Aerosensa 40 (AS-40)
The AS-40 is one of Yonex’s top grade shuttlecocks that delivers great consistency and flight. These shuttlecocks offers high durability, only surpassed by the AS-50 within the AS series. Its quality is good enough for state, international and top national tournaments.
Aerosensa 50 (AS-50)
AUTHOR’S PICK. The AS-50 is the premium grade shuttlecock in the Aerosensa line and provides excellent durability and consistency but comes at a high price point. The AS-50, outside of special tournament series, are renown as the best shuttlecock across all of the major badminton brands. Because of its high quality, it is used in many major international tournaments.
The Aeroclub (ACB) shuttlecocks are produced with duck feathers and are not as popular as the Aerosensa product line but are typically cheaper than the Aerosensa shuttlecocks. The ACB line contains ACB-03, ACB-11, ACB-33, ACB-TR, ACB-TM, ACB-TF shuttlecocks.
NOTE: Product descriptions coming soon!
|Yonex||Aerosensa 10 (AS-10)||4.5||3.5||4.5|
|Yonex||Aerosensa 20 (AS-20)||4||4||4.5|
|Yonex||Aerosensa 30 (AS-30)||4.5||4.5||5|
|Yonex||Aerosensa 40 (AS-40)||5||4.5||5|
|Yonex||Aerosensa 50 (AS-50)||5||5||5|
Shuttlecocks are among the most fragile of “balls” used in any sport, making badminton a potentially costly sport. However, as covered in the 7 Unspoken Practices of Badminton Etiquette, it is common courtesy to provide shuttlecocks in an evenly disrupted manner across your badminton group. That is why it is of utmost importance for players to carefully weigh the pros and cons of what each shuttlecock can offer in regards to performance vs. price point.
Now that you are aware of the differences between the differing grades of Yonex’s line of feathered AS shuttlecocks, you can make a more informed decision before purchasing some shuttlecocks.
We urge players to carefully consider their environmental factors before settling on a particular shuttlecock. Their club’s level of play (such as the probability of mishits), temperature and altitude of the badminton gym can all drastically influence how quickly a player may deplete his/her shuttlecock supply. It is common for players to upgrade their shuttlecocks as they develop their skills from beginner to advanced play. Until a player is able to feel the difference between the quality of shuttlecocks, players are recommended to play with shuttlecocks that match their level of play due to monetary considerations, be it feather or synthetic shuttlecocks!
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