Types of Shuttlecocks in Badminton

A badminton shuttlecock, commonly called a bird/birdie is one of the most important equipment in badminton. It is a projectile used by players to hit back and forth with the help of a racket over the net. Moreover, it is conical in shape with feathers embedded into a cork base. A cork provides weight to the shuttle so that it be played back and forth for longer rallies. In this article, I will explain the types of badminton shuttlecocks and which shuttlecock you should use depending on various factors. 

Types of Badminton Shuttlecocks

There are three types of shuttlecocks in badminton 

  • Feather 
  • Nylon
  • AirShuttle 

Feather Shuttlecock

As the name suggests, these shuttles are made from a feather that can either be of goose or duck.

Duck: These are made from the feathers of a duck and to maintain the consistency of the shuttle, all feathers are taken from the left-wing of the duck. 

Goose: Just like duck feathers, goose feathers are taken from its left-wing to maintain quality. These are more durable than duck feathers. 

 They are used by intermediate and advance/professional level players. Moreover, they are not used by beginner-level players as the feather shuttles are brittle and break easily. 

Click on the image to buy the best feather shuttles

Nylon Shuttlecock

Nylon shuttlecocks are made from nylon(plastic) and are widely used by beginner and recreational level players. They are highly durable and are widely used by players indoor and outdoor. However, always hold these shuttles from the cork as the nylon part is not as rigid so it can get damaged. 


The Badminton World Federation conceptualized a whole new shuttle especially for AirBadminton which is called the AirShuttle. These are designed for outdoor badminton. They are very different from the usual shuttles and it is designed in such a way so that air can fly through the shuttle for consistent flight even in windy situations.



How to make a feather shuttle last longer? 

  • To make your shuttles last longer, you can place them in a humidifier/moist sponge for about 3-4 hours. This will increase the longevity of the feathers. 
  • Another thing you can do is dip the tip of the feathers in water for some time and then play with it. Remember not to put the moist sponge or water at the cork end as this can damage the shuttle. 
  • Keep the shuttles in a humid environment. If this is not possible make sure you close the shuttle tubes immediately after use and store them in an environment where the temperature is kept relatively low so that moisture does not leave it due to higher temperatures. 
  • Buy a Humidome. This should be kept and the end of the shuttlebox and it humidifies the shuttles. 

Difference between Feather and Plastic Badminton Shuttlecocks

A plastic shuttlecock is made with an even plastic skirt material which is a continuous piece of material. This design leads to lesser acceleration when hit due to higher deformation of the skirt. Later, the shuttle experiences slower deceleration because of the smaller drag effect. 

Unlike a plastic shuttle, the feather shuttler is made up of 16 feathers and as the feathers do not deform immediately, the shuttle will experience faster acceleration and deceleration resulting in a steeper drop of the shuttle. 

Difference between feather and plastic shuttle

Take a look at the key differences between a feather and a plastic shuttle. 

Feather Shuttles Plastic Shuttles
Composition: It is made up of Duck/Goose FeathersThey are made of Nylon/Plastic
Flight: They take high initial speed once the shuttle is hit. As more drag is imparted on a feather shuttle, it experiences a faster deceleration resulting in a sharper drop.Lesser acceleration and deceleration as compared to feather shuttles.
Clears: With the help of a feather shuttle, players can hit higher clears at the back of the opponent’s court with a lower risk of it crossing the backline, given a steeper drop at the end of its flight. It rises up in the air and falls straight to the ground.A plastic shuttle has more risk of going beyond the backline as it has slower deceleration causing a flatter drop at the end of its flight.
Lift: A lift travels higher and falls steeper to the ground when hit with a feather shuttle.It takes more power to hit a lift with a nylon shuttle due to its flatter shuttle trajectory.
Jump Smash: It’s easier to hit a jump smash with a feather shuttle as it travels on a steeper trajectory.It’s difficult to hit a jump smash with a nylon shuttle as it travels flatter.
Drops: Given the faster deceleration of the shuttlecock, players can deliver drops closer to the net with the help of a feather shuttle.A plastic shuttle will travel at a flatter angle resulting in a drop a little far from the net.
Durability: Less DurableMore Durable
Control: A feather shuttle offers better control as there is less deformation of the shuttle at each shot.With deformation more in a plastic shuttle, the time required for its skirt to return to its natural state is longer, resulting in lesser control.
Cost: Expensive Cheaper
Difference between Feather and Plastic Shuttles

What badminton shuttlecock is used in the Olympics?

Yonex Aerosensa is the official shuttle used in major international tournaments including the Olympics. 

However, in other tournaments, the tournament sponsor like Victor, Li-Yining, or Yonex provides the shuttles. Recently, the BWF agreed upon using plastic shuttles for International tournaments to increase sustainability. However, the choice of usage is in the hands of the tournament organizers. 

What Shuttlecock should I Choose?

You should choose a shuttlecock depending upon the following factors-

  • Your playing level: Beginners and recreational players can use plastic shuttles. Intermediate to advance level players should use feather shuttles. 
  • Price and durability: If you are looking for durable and cheaper options, then nylon shuttles are a better choice for you.

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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