One of the pieces of equipment given due attention by the Badminton World Federation (BWF) is the shuttlecock. For many, this attention seems excessive, especially for an object designed to be hit. Nonetheless, without the BWF’s weight and dimension specifications, everything from the shuttlecock’s flight to its trajectory potential gets thrown off.
A plastic shuttlecock must weigh anywhere from 4.74 to 5.50 grams. This gives a median weight of 5.12 grams. As you may have calculated, 5.50 grams is 16% heavier than 4.74 grams, which can make for a totally different feel and gameplay. The allowed range is a margin of error given by the BWF due to the differences in the specific gravity and materials of different shuttlecocks used for tournaments depending on the environmental conditions.
The shuttlecock’s materials and dimensions affect the weight of this pivotal piece of badminton equipment. As you’ll see, the badminton shuttlecock’s dimensions along with its weight need to comply with BWF specifications.
Let’s dive deep into the details behind the shuttlecock’s weight and size!
What Is the Length of a Plastic Shuttlecock?
Let’s kick off the discussion with length. The BWF has rules about how long a shuttlecock needs to be for it to be tournament-eligible.
The median shuttlecock length is 66 mm long but the BWF allows for shuttlecocks to be between 62 mm and 70 mm long. The measurement of the badminton shuttlecock is from the tip of the base or the cork nose to the tip of the feathers – or the plastic skirt in the case of plastic shuttlecocks.
If there is some variation, it’ll likely be due to the feathers’ grade or type. However, this is the case for feathered shuttlecocks and not plastic ones.
What Is the Length of a Plastic Shuttlecock’s Feather?
While a plastic shuttlecock doesn’t have literal feathers, the “feather” of the shuttlecock is the part of the shuttlecock that extends from the base. It makes up the majority of the length of a badminton shuttlecock.
The plastic feather/skirt must be 62 mm to 70 mm in length. Part of the feather’s length digs into the base. In the case of some plastic shuttlecocks, the feather envelopes and overlaps part of the base. Without the base, the plastic feather/skirt would be 37 mm to 45 mm long.
For these reasons, the plastic shuttlecock’s feather comprises much of the entire shuttlecock’s length.
What Is the Diameter of a Plastic Shuttlecock?
The shuttlecock is cylindrical but has a conical structure. For this reason, the diameter of both sides of the shuttlecock will differ from each other. In particular, the tip of the base will have a different diameter from the tip of the shuttlecock’s feather.
The shuttlecock’s base should be 25 mm to 28 mm in diameter. As well, the BWF requires that the base has a rounded tip. As for the feather/skirt, its diameter at the tip should be 58 mm to 68 mm. It needs to “lie on a circle”, according to the BWF’s equipment rules.
Variation in diameter does occur when it comes to plastic and feathered shuttlecocks. However, when it comes to the base, the diameters for both types of shuttlecocks are the same, as per the equipment regulations of the BWF.
What Is the Diameter of a Shuttlecock’s Cork Base?
The base of the shuttlecock is the tip that receives the impact of the racket. Despite being the heaviest part of the shuttlecock, it’s the smallest part.
The cork base of a shuttlecock needs to be at least 25 mm in diameter. At most, the cork base’s diameter can be 28 mm. Whether the weight of the base is on the lower or higher end, the flight of the shuttlecock should be within acceptable BWF ranges.
As mentioned earlier, you’ll find the same diameters in both plastic and feathered shuttlecocks.
How Many Feathers Does a Plastic Shuttlecock Have?
Whenever you think of a shuttlecock, you’ll come up with an image of a cork base with feathers extending from it. This is a feathered shuttlecock, one of two types of shuttlecocks regulated by the BWF. According to the BWF’s equipment rules, a feathered shuttlecock has 16 feathers.
The same can’t be said of the other kind of shuttlecock — the plastic shuttlecock. According to the BWF’s regulations on shuttlecocks, a plastic or non-feathered shuttlecock shouldn’t have feathers. It’s usually a single continuous sheet of synthetic material that wraps around the bottom half of a shuttlecock’s base.
Synthetic materials, like nylon for plastic shuttlecocks, are currently in use. Regardless of the synthetic material, the non-feathered or plastic shuttlecock needs to have the same flight as its feathered counterpart.
What Is the Weight of a Plastic Shuttlecock?
The BWF has rules for the diameter and length of a plastic shuttlecock to ensure the right flight characteristics. After all, nobody wants to play a game of badminton using a shuttlecock that’s either too light or too heavy. Everything from the shuttlecock’s length to the diameters of its base and feather goes into the weight.
The BWF requires shuttlecocks — both non-feathered and feathered — to weigh 4.74 to 5.50 grams. The weight of a plastic shuttlecock can be 10% from this range. Of course, this is only because synthetic materials can differ in their properties and compositions.
How Does the Weight Differ Between a Plastic and Feathered Shuttlecock?
The flight characteristics of a shuttlecock are important for a game of badminton to flow smoothly. The weight ensures that the shuttlecock makes it to the other side of the court and back. The ideal flight path is a must, whether the shuttlecock is feathered or otherwise.
This is why you’re not going to see much difference between the weight of plastic and feathered shuttlecocks. The BWF’s descriptions for the standard shuttlecock weight ranges are uniform for both types of shuttlecocks.
Regardless of the type of shuttlecock, the weight is tested via a speed test. The BWF conducts speed tests by striking the shuttlecock and measuring where it lands. A badminton shuttlecock with the right weight lands just before the back boundary — 990 mm before the line, to be exact.
Key Takeaway: The Weight Makes All the Difference
The weight of a plastic badminton shuttlecock needs to be within a certain range to ensure the flow of a game. Without shuttlecock weights being in the right range, games can be too fast or too boring.
So, the next time you watch or play a game, know that it all happens because of the plastic shuttlecock’s weight.
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