What is the Weight of a Feathered Shuttlecock?

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Elsewhere, I’ve talked about how much a plastic or non-feathered shuttlecock weighs. I’ve also mentioned briefly that the plastic version is a later iteration of the original badminton shuttlecock — the feathered type. While both types of shuttlecocks are acceptable for a badminton game and tournament, the feathered shuttlecock is superior, and thus the weight of a feathered shuttlecock is important.

The Badminton World Federation’s (BWF) Equipment Certification Standards state that the weight of a shuttlecock must be 4.74 grams to 5.50 grams. Right down the middle, you can consider a weight of about 5.12 grams to be the average weight. Of course, there’ll be some variation, as we’ll get into later on.

We’ve now talked about the weight. Another question you might have is why the weight needs to be within this range and what goes into the weight.

I’ll answer these questions and more, as well as “weigh-in” on any significant differences it may have with its non-feathered cousin.

Let’s go “heavy” on the details, shall we?

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What is the Length of a Feathered Shuttlecock? 

One of the dimensions that play into a feathered shuttlecock’s weight is how long the actual shuttlecock is. The BWF has also stated the acceptable ranges of feathered shuttlecock length.

According to the BWF’s Equipment Certification Standards, any feathered shuttlecock for tournaments needs to be at least 62 mm. At the higher end, a feathered shuttlecock can not be more than 70 mm. The different lengths of some feathers and the range of shuttlecock base measurements can account for the eight-millimeter difference.

A feathered shuttlecock should have a length from
62 mm to 70 mm.

The BWF considers the measurements valid when they’re taken end-to-end. In other words, the length needs to be from the tip of the cork base to the tip of the feathers. As well, there can be no uneven feathers.

For example, if even one feather measures longer or shorter than the others, the length of the shuttlecock cannot be measured. As a result, it cannot pass for tournament play as per the BWF’s shuttlecock dimension standards.

How long should a shuttlecock’s feather be? This brings us to the next section.

What is the Length of a Feathered Shuttlecock’s Feather? 

The length of each feather is also an area given much attention by the BWF. This is to prevent excess variability in feather lengths.

The BWF’s Laws of Badminton state that each feather needs to be 62 mm to 70 mm. If you’re wondering why the length is the same as the overall shuttlecock length, here’s why. Feathered shuttlecocks (as well as non-feathered ones) are designed in such a way that the feather tips dig into the shuttlecock’s base. If you count just the visible part of the feathers, you’ll find that feathers measure about 37 mm to 45 mm.

Length of the Feathered Skirt
The feathers of a feathered shuttlecock should have a length from
62 mm to 70 mm.

The length of the feathers has undergone little to no amendments since 1988. Along with the other measurements of a shuttlecock, the length is standardized to ensure optimal flight, safety, and compliance with the Laws of Badminton.

What is the Diameter of a Feathered Shuttlecock? 

Now let’s talk about the diameter of a shuttlecock. Because of the shuttlecock’s conical shape, the measurements need to be made in two places. We’ll start with the feathers.

The BWF’s Equipment Certification Standards states that the feathers need to be 58 mm to 68 mm in diameter. This means that the median diameter is 63 mm.

Diameter of a Feathered Shuttlecock
The diameter of the feathers should be 58 mm to 68 mm while the CONICAL cork base should be 25 mm to 28 mm.

The feathers need to be equal in measurement, as mentioned earlier. Each one needs to be situated in such a way that they form a circle. Just like the length, the circular placement of the feathers contributes to the shuttlecock’s aerodynamic flight.

What is the Diameter of a Feathered Shuttlecock’s Cork Base?

It isn’t just the diameter of the feathers that receive the attention of the BWF. The diameter of the cork base is also worth standardizing and following.

According to the BWF, the cork base of the shuttlecock needs to measure 25 mm to 28 mm. On average, most cork bases of shuttlecocks will fall within this range, having diameters of 26 mm to 27 mm.

Forming what’s known as the tip of the shuttlecock, the cork base needs to have these measurements to ensure a straight flight path. Of course, a conical tip is just part of the perfect-flight equation.

The other is the number of feathers the shuttlecock needs to have.

How Many Feathers Does a Feathered Shuttlecock Need To Have? 

The number of feathers can also affect how the shuttlecock travels. This is probably why the number has remained the same for years.

Sixteen feathers make up the shuttlecock’s feathered portion. These feathers need to be symmetrical, often embedded into the shuttlecock’s cork base. Since its creation, the feathered shuttlecock consisted of feathers plucked from geese or chickens, according to the National Badminton Museum. However, competitive badminton play is played almost exclusively with geese feathered shuttlecocks. 

Goose Feathers
A feathered shuttlecock is made of goose or chicken (or duck) feathers.

Feathers are lightweight. As you can imagine, it doesn’t quite make up the lion’s share of the feathered shuttlecock’s weight. 

What is the Weight of a Feathered Shuttlecock?

The weight translates directly to how well a shuttlecock travels. More importantly, without the ideal weight in place, hitting the shuttlecock might require more power and a stiffer racket.

A feathered shuttlecock needs to weigh anywhere from 4.74 grams to 5.50 grams. Any lighter, and the shuttlecock might fail the BWF’s trajectory or stability requirement. If a shuttlecock is even just 0.01 grams heavier, the excess weight might negatively affect speed.

Weight of a Feathered Shuttlecock
A feathered shuttlecock should weight +/- 10% of 5.12g.

The weight standards have been in existence since 1988 and have remained unchanged.

How Does the Weight Differ Between a Feathered and Plastic Shuttlecock?

Is there a difference between the weight of the two types of shuttlecocks? By now, you’ll likely have guessed the answer:

There’s no significant difference between the weight of the feathered and plastic shuttlecock. While it’s true that the bases of non-feathered shuttlecocks can vary from feathered ones in specific gravity, the rules of the BWF demand consistency. The weights of both need to be so that the speed, trajectory, and flight are within BWF standards.

Regardless of the shuttlecock, both are subjected to the same flight and speed tests of the BWF. As a result, both need to display the qualities in flight the BWF requires.

The Weight of a Feathered Shuttlecock — Something the BWF Doesn’t Take “Lightly”

The weight carries over to the flow of a badminton game. It’s why rallies are exciting. It’s also what makes smashes and slices extremely impressive.

For what the weight of a shuttlecock brings to a badminton match, it’s no surprise the BWF has standards for it.

Don’t take the weight of a shuttlecock lightly. It’s there for a reason. It’s part of what makes badminton the fastest sport in existence

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