How Long Does A Shuttlecock Last?

A shuttlecock, also prominently called a bird/birdie, is used in the sport of badminton. There are two types of shuttlecocks-feather and synthetic. However, in professional matches, only feather shuttles are permitted while synthetic shuttles are good for non-professional players for everyday practice. 

So how long does a shuttlecock last on average? Well, the longevity of a feather shuttlecock totally depends on whether you are a professional or beginner player and also on your style of play which can be aggressive or defensive.

Usually for professional players, a shuttlecock can last for 1-2 games, and sometimes it can break in one powerful shot as well. In professional matches, you might have observed players taking new shuttles after almost one or two rallies. Differently, the level of aggression is comparatively lesser in beginner-level matches due to which their shuttles can last for 5-6 games.

A feather shuttlecock is made up of feathers that are embedded into a rounded cork. The shuttlecock is conical in shape which makes it extremely aerodynamically stable.

The price of a feather shuttlecock tube varies from brand to brand but it is usually expensive. Moreover, if even one feather breaks, the entire shuttle gets damages and you cannot use it again. So, in this article, I will guide you as to how to make your shuttlecock last longer. 

Factors that affect the durability of shuttles:

Well, many factors can affect the durability of your shuttles. 

  • Humidity level

The humidity level is a major factor that affects the durability of a feather shuttlecock. Dry conditions during winters make the feather shuttles brittle due to which they can break down easily. Whereas, during summers when the humidity is high, shuttles tend to not break easily. Below I have explained how to increase the durability of the shuttle under dry conditions. 

  • Quality of shots 

Advanced and professional players are quite used to the proper technique of hitting the shuttlecock due to which it does not break easily. However, beginner players tend to use up more shuttles as they are not very much accustomed to the proper technique. 

  • Choice of quality of shuttle 

Some players tend to change the shuttle even though if only one feather is broken. However, some players use the shuttle until many feathers have detached from the base. So it depends upon you how long you are comfortable in using the shuttle. Try to sustain with it till the shuttlecock finally gives up. 

  • Playing Style 

The two playing styles in badminton are- aggressive and defensive. An aggressive style player will use more smashes and heavy shots which will reduce the life of the shuttle. Sometimes, a shuttle breaks down even in one hard smash. However, players with a defensive style of play can make the shuttle last longer as they don’t force powerful shots on the shuttle. 

How to increase the life of a shuttlecock?

So here comes the main question as to how to increase the life of the shuttlecock. Many players get exhausted financially buying shuttle tubes again and again. However, here are some tips that will help you to increase the durability of the shuttle so that you can use them longer. 

  • Steam Treatment 

Like I told you earlier that in dry conditions, the shuttle tends to get brittle due to which it breaks faster. In such conditions, a steam treatment will help to increase the durability of the shuttle. Steaming helps to fill moisture into the feathers of the shuttle which helps the shuttle last longer. Remember to only steam the shuttles that you will use in your next training and not all of them as the moisture diminishes over time. 

For the steam treatment, you need to boil water in a kettle and while the water is being boiled, remove the lids of your shuttlecock tube and hold the tube directly above the kettle to allow the tube to capture the steam. The shuttles should point downwards while capturing the steam and once the steam emerges on top, then close the lids of the shuttle tube. 

Oversteaming can lead to irreplaceable damage to the cork of the shuttle so don’t steam the shuttle tube for too long. 

Modifying the speed of the shuttle 

Well, modifying the speed of the shuttle is not commonly permitted in professional matches. However, in your practice and recreational play, you can alter the speed of the shuttle by checking its normal speed first.

If the shuttle is too fast, you need to tip the feathers of the shuttle outward to make it slow. So first you can tip every fourth feather and then check the speed again. If it is yet fast, then you can go on to proceed to tip every second feather of the shuttle. 

Caution: This is an irreversible process, so be very careful while doing it. 

Differently, if your shuttlecock is too fast, you need to do the opposite. You will first tip every 4th feather of your shuttle inwards and if the shuttle is yet slow you can tip every second feather to make it faster. 

Purchase a humid cap 

This is an expensive option as you need to buy a humid cap also known as Humidome and replace it with the original cap of the shuttle tube. As the name suggests, it keeps the shuttles humid with the help of beads that are integrated into the cap. Keep the cap in clean and distilled water for at least two hours and the beads will absorb the water. With this, place the cap and the beads will maintain the humidity level for a couple of months. 

Additional Tips 

  • Do not store the shuttles under dry conditions as the heat can dry out the shuttle. This makes it brittle due to which the feathers can break easily.
  • During play, always take care to align the feathers of the shuttle properly after every shot. 
  • Whenever you observe a damaged feather, remember to pluck it out immediately as such feathers can affect the flight pattern of the shuttle. 
  • Another remedy to increase the life span of the shuttle is to keep them in your bathroom while taking a hot shower bath. The humidity level of shuttles would increase due to this. 
  • Use damaged shuttles for exercises as the shuttle precision 
  • does not matter at that time. 
  • Use good quality shuttlecocks. According to me, Yonex and LiNing provide the best quality shuttles. However, Yonex shuttles are predominantly used in professional matches due to their superior quality so go ahead by buying a good Yonex shuttlecock tube. 
  • Many professional clubs have a humid cupboard where they store the shuttles. Well, this is an expensive option and can be used only if you are dealing with a good amount of shuttles. 
  • If you forget to steam, you can dip the tips of your shuttlecock in water before practice to make them last longer.

Final Thoughts 

The main idea to keep your shuttlecock to last long is to maintain the humidity level of it and not use them while they are dry. Dryness will make them brittle and your shuttles will break easily due to it. 

Therefore, take care of shuttlecocks and use all the mentioned tips in this article to sustain your shuttles for a considerable time. Moreover, use good quality shuttlecocks as the quality also plays an important role in your matches. 

Don’t get afraid due to the cost of the shuttles. Instead, use them smartly and make the best use of them by increasing the lifespan as this will indirectly save your money. 

Anushree Burad

Qualified as an MBA in Sports Management. A Sports fanatic and a passionate badminton player. My passion for sports drove me to foray into sports writing. This is my attempt at translating my thoughts into words. Looking forward to contributing to Sports through my writing.

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