Over the years I have written articles and recorded a video on testing badminton shuttlecock speeds. It’s a major frustration of mine that club players on average still play with incorrect speed shuttles. More about that and why it’s bad later…
Recently, I was asked to test a brand of shuttles. The reason I am asked to test shuttles is because very few club officials or players know how to test correctly. The shuttle tube price was around £15.00 and I could understand why some clubs were happy to play with them.
It’s was quite a good shuttle BUT…
I’m sure you agree that all leisure halls or venues are different. Shuttle speed in one venue can be completely different to another. Expecting one speed of shuttle to cover the various locations is asking a lot. Additionally, venues change depending on the weather. Some play faster due to the heating, others are unaffected and some play considerably slower.
Knowing your hall is important when buying shuttles for a club. Depending on the variation in temperature and shuttle speed, some clubs can get away with buying only one speed of shuttle. Others are not so fortunate and require two speeds.
Some club treasurers will argue that they cannot afford two speeds of shuttle. Club budgets are already stretched and costs are rising every year. Whilst I understand the problems in clubs, with venues costs and shuttle prices, sometimes the answer is simple. Occasionally, the answer is to do what is required to retain existing members and build the membership.
Shuttlecock purchase in clubs is important.
Of course, you can’t expect to please all of the players, but a club treasurer can ensure quality shuttles are available that provide great value for money. However, shuttles are usually purchased based on price per tube with the caveat that there must be a certain degree of quality.
I understand why price per tube appears to be the best buy. But, I have proved over the years that it can also be a false economy.
A few years I undertook a badminton shuttlecock speeds testing exercise with a club, testing their usual shuttles against two other brands. They played in a three court hall.
I asked the club to place a tube of shuttles next to the court with each court having a different brand. Once the shuttle was no longer fit to play with, the players were asked to leave it next to the tube. There was a mix of players from county standard to intermediate and they all played on each court throughout the night.
At the end of the club session, I asked the treasurer to count the number of shuttles used per court. The results surprised the treasurer and committee.
Over the hour played, the club had used:
- 10 existing brand shuttles @ £15 per tube
- 5 brand A shuttles @£16.50 per tube
- 3 brand B shuttles @£18.50 per tube
(Note: this was undertaken a few years ago and shuttle prices have increased.)
If we calculate the price per shuttle, this equates to…
- Existing brand £1.25 per shuttle
- Brand A £1.38 per shuttle
- Brand B £1.55 per shuttle
In the test, the cost of using:
- The existing branded shuttle was £12.50
- Brand A was £6.90
- Brand B was £4.65
Yes, these are true figures!
It’s easy to see that if this usage was to continue, then significant savings could be made in a season by switching brand. Let’s say that the saving on using brand B was 50% per night. The club would therefore purchase less shuttles in a season and at a lower over cost. The value of these shuttles is therefore significantly better than both the other two brands.
Whenever you buy a tube of shuttles, I encourage you to test the entire tube before playing.
With all of the tests I have carried out, there have been very few brands where consistency in speed has been good. If, when testing, there are a range of speeds, or shuttles that fly with a wobble, you have paid for a tube with less than 12 good shuttles. This increases the price per shuttle, especially if some are deemed unfit to play with, especially for matches. This needs to be carefully monitored and if the results are similar, then I suggest you seek another brand of shuttle.
When I recently tested this brand of shuttles, you will see from the photo below that differences in speed. This photo has not been set up and genuinely this is where the shuttlecocks landed.
From the test, it is clear that there are only three shuttles that meet BWF speed requirements, landing close to the doubles service line. A high percentage of players would deem these shuttles too fast.
The next layer of shuttles, landed short of the doubles service line. These four shuttles would most likely be considered fit to play when in fact, they do NOT meet BWF regulations on speed.
I reckon, the high percentage of club players would use all of these shuttles, even the ones that fell considerably short of the required legal limit. And, that is the problem… the standard of acceptability has reached an all time low and is spoiling the game.
Why Is This So Bad?
To play with shuttles that fall outside of legal limits for badminton shuttlecock speeds, allows players to de-skill the game.
If it’s difficult to lift the shuttle out from the forecourt or any area on court, we are reducing the feel and control required at the highest level. Whilst you may argue that you have no intention of playing at this level, my point is that you are kidding yourself.
A slower shuttle is hard to smash to the floor. Doesn’t this make your defence appear stronger, when in fact you have reduced the power from your opponent. Why do this? Why not face the challenge of your opponent being able to hit with power and you learn to retrieve this big smashes? Isn’t that what the game is about, again learning to control the shuttle?
With so much information available to players and officials, I see no reason why clubs and players cannot become more educated and enjoy this game so much more. There can be huge savings to be made by selecting the correct shuttles for your venue. Remember, test and do not be swayed by cost per tube pricing. Look at value for money instead and you may find considerable savings can be made on your highest overhead in a club, shuttle purchase.
I challenge all players and clubs to become more selective in the shuttles they buy.
Test every shuttle in a batch to see the variation in flight and speeds, and start demanding more from your shuttles. Don’t be fooled by ludicrous offers because they are usually too good to be true and result in poor shuttles which you burn through in little time.
Become a savvy buyer and tester and hopefully you can enjoy cheaper and better badminton.
Here is my video version of this article, which also covers the badminton shuttlecock rules when it comes to speed testing.
My older shuttle articles: