All premium shuttles are machine tested (more below) and rated for speed which is mostly a function of feather grain and weight. High elevation or temperature at a competition will increases the speed of the shuttle forcing tournament directors to select a different speed rating of shuttlecock. In less elite competition feathers can be clipped to slow down the speed of the shuttlecock.
From pluck to production takes around a year. The shuttlecocks are not vacuum packed meaning the feathers begin degrading immediately. Yonex inventory turns over every two to three months, while suppliers will normally get rid of cans that are six to nine months old. In Beijing, somewhere between 6 and 18 shuttlecocks might get used in a match. Player will inspect feathers on every point and ask for a replacement if they detect the slightest bend. Can’t be playing with a crooked shuttlecock, now can we?
While we know it’s not science, the longer you spend researching shuttlecocks the more you question the origin of the odd name. Our Japanese friends suggested that the word ‘shuttle’ cam from a textile tool that meant going back and forth. They also proposed the ancient English word ‘scytel’ means ‘flaming arrow’ which combined with ‘cock’ (as in the chicken feathers once used) might make sense. An alternate option we found suggests the Chinese word for arrow sounds similar to shuttlecock but we guess our Japanese friends wouldn’t know that. We urge our readers to help clarify this burning question.
A badminton brawl. You thought we were lying.
While we can’t provide more info on the test machine used by the tightlipped Japanese, there’s a badminton machine developed by Mats Elm worth mentioning. After bagging a spring loaded design, Elms created a machine more than 15 years ago using compressed air. Several iterations later, the machine can feed shuttles all over the court, drop short, smash and even hit lobs. It can fire randomly or based on pre-programmed regimens. The speed of the shot and the interval between shots can also be varied for up to 72 shuttles. While Elm’s doesn’t have a video to share, take a look a look at the rapid fire below and you’ll get the point, and maybe gain a bit of respect for the best in badminton.
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