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Home » How Many Feathers are There in a Shuttlecock and Why?

How Many Feathers are There in a Shuttlecock and Why?

shuttlecock feathers

Badminton is one of the top racket sports worldwide.

A racket, a shuttlecock, and a net are required in the name of the equipment to play this sport adequately.

The racket used in this sport is much lighter than a tennis racket.

And a shuttlecock, also known as a birdie, is used here in place of a tennis ball.

However, the shuttlecock is either made up of synthetic materials or feathers.

Synthetic materials include nylon and plastic.

But do you know how many and what kind of feathers are indulged in a shuttlecock?

No? So let’s check it out:

Number of feathers indulged in a badminton shuttlecock

feathered shuttlecock

Why do shuttlecock have 16 feathers?

Usually, shuttlecocks used in competitive matches and tournaments have 16 feathers.

Whereas some shuttles also hold 14 feathers, such shuttles are used in friendly matches or for practising.

The basic reason behind a shuttlecock holding 16 feathers is that it determines which several feathers create the best drag, spin, and flight.

And indulging 16 feathers gives you the best results while playing.

Types of Badminton Shuttlecocks

There are usually three types of shuttlecocks used by the players:

  • Feather Shuttlecock
  • Plastic Shuttlecock.
  • Nylon Shuttlecock.

How is a shuttlecock made?


Shuttlecocks are high-drag projectile that holds an open conical shape.

These shuttlecocks are usually made up of goose and duck feathers.

Sometimes these feathers are made up of plastic.

These feathers are embedded around a cork or rubber base.

Here are some measurements of a well-designed shuttlecock that is used for playing:

  • Weight- 4.734 to 5.5 grams (0.167- 0.194 ounces).
  • Feathers- 16.
  • Length of feather- 62- 70 mm.
  • Diameter of cork- 0.98- 1.10 inch.
  • The material used as a cork base- is wood or rubber.

Plastic and nylon shuttlecocks are just made fine with plastic and synthetic materials.

But the feather shuttlecock used by professional players is usually made up of left-wing feathers of the goose.

Remember: The goose feathers are best regarding flexibility, strength, and structure.

Why feathers are used only from the left wing of the goose?

It is so because of aerodynamics, as the left-wing spins clockwise, whereas the right-wing spins counterclockwise.

For a stable flight, shuttlecocks should have feathers that spin clockwise, while the right-wing feathers are undesirable.

Therefore, all shuttlecock feathers use only feathers from the left wing.

Characteristics of a shuttlecock


Here are some characteristics of a well-designed shuttle:


The cork indulged in the shuttle head for competitive tournaments is usually made up of softwood, which generally has a low density. This softwood is wrapped with synthetic PU leather.

But the shuttlecocks used for practising and domestic tournaments hold leather or a rubber cork at their end.

Speed of the shuttle

The shuttle’s speed is affected by factors like moisture, wind, and temperature, which you will read in the next paragraph.

Also, some numbers are indulged on the cover of the tube-like 1, 2, 3, 4, and some grain numbers like 76, 77, 78, and 79.

These numbers indicate that the smaller the number, the lighter and slower the shuttle will travel, and vice versa.

Weight of a shuttle

The weight of a shuttlecock is categorized according to its grain numbers as per:

  • 76/1 number and grains: 4.85- 4.91 grams.
  • 77/2 number and grains: 4.92- 4.97 grams.
  • 78/3 number and grains: 4.98- 5.04 grams.
  • 79/4 number and grains: 5.05- 5.11 grams.

Factors that affect a badminton shuttlecock

factors affecting a shuttlecock

Here are some environmental factors that affect a shuttlecock:

Humidity level

If you play badminton on an indoor court, remember there must be no moisture and humidity in the air.

It is so because humidity increases the shuttlecock’s weight and does not let it fly faster.

The difference is not much, but sometimes it means a lot and can affect your game when you play a professional match or in any competitive tournament.


In simple words: High temperature allows the shuttlecock to increase its speed because high temperature usually expands the volume of the cork indulged on the head of the shuttle.

It causes the outer feathers to bend inwards and vice-versa if the temperature decreases.

So, if the weather is cold, the shuttle might travel slowly.

It would help if you opted for a heavier shuttlecock in this condition to get better results.

Final Words

So you must have known why 16 feathers are indulged in a feathered badminton shuttlecock.

It determines its speed, acceleration, and flight trajectory.

Rather than this, I have also mentioned some factors above that affect the flight of the shuttlecock and will help you to play more effectively on an indoor court.

And in case you face any problems or have any questions in your mind regarding this post, then feel free to ask us or pin it up in the comment section below.

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