In June 2009 I wrote an article on shuttles, discussing brands and some of the frustrations badminton players experience with shuttles.
I’ve also written articles on shuttles testing and shuttle speeds, even recording a video to demonstrate how to test the speed of a shuttle. (click on words in bold to open up previous article / video)
Whilst these articles are a few years old, I thought it may be useful to write another article on shuttles, so I decided to review my top 3 shuttles from the numerous tests I undertook in 2012 and 2013. I usually test a range of shuttles from cheapest to the more expensive.
How Do I Test Shuttlecocks?
There are a number of key indicators when testing to determine the qualities of a shuttle. Here’s the process I use…
1) Remove all the shuttles from the tube and test each shuttle. This initial test tells me whether I have a true dozen to use or whether there are faulty shuttles in the tube that may be fine for training but wouldn’t be good enough for a league match. You’d be surprised how many brands I test where there are 8 or 9 good shuttles in a tube! This is important to note because you are paying for 12 good shuttles.
Consider this. If I am paying say, £16 per tube then each shuttle costs £1.33. If there are 8 good shuttles then the cost is really £2 per shuttle. The rest I may use, but some are best thrown away. Usually training shuttles are the used shuttles from matches.
If I am paying £2 per shuttle, grossed to a full tube, this will equate to £24 per tube. The top priced shuttles cost less than this. Club shuttle buyers please take note. Only by testing this way will you know whether you get value for money with your existing shuttles. If you are only getting 8/9 good shuttles in a tube, then it is cheaper to purchase more expensive shuttles where you actually get 12 good shuttles. Most clubs do not take this into consideration and purchase on headline price.
2) With my original test I also make sure that each shuttle is flying the same distance. Those shuttles that are a lot faster or slower should be removed from the batch as bad shuttles. They also should not be used in a match because they are the wrong speed. Again, this determines that I have less than the dozen I paid for.
If all the shuttles fly well and at the correct speed, then they have passed the first test, as they are fit for a match. They have also demonstrated consistency and good flight characteristics.
3) The next stage for me is to use the shuttles in coaching or games. This determines the endurance of the shuttle, gives me valuable information in respect of how they fail (e.g. through a feather falling out, folding etc) and the other flight characteristics from high lifts to the rear court watching the spin and drop. Finally there is the important feel on the racket. How does the shuttle feel? Is it solid, hollow, light or heavy?
These tests have proved so valuable in determining whether a shuttle is good value for money. No doubt some would argue my tests are slightly flawed because I don’t have multiple tubes of shuttles to really determine consistency and if I had 8 good shuttles is this just a bad tube? It’s a fair point but my answer is that I shouldn’t have so many shuttles fail under test 1.
Here’s my Top 3 Feather Shuttlecocks
Before I name my top 3 shuttlecocks from 2013 and tell you why I selected them, let’s remember that my benchmark of a good shuttlecock is Yonex Aerosena 40 or 50. These are the shuttles I have historically used for the last 20 years. It wouldn’t be fair with some of the cheaper shuttles to directly compare to these well-known shuttles, however, I think we can all agree that any tube of shuttles costing over £15 should at least get relatively close in terms of quality.
Overall consistency is good, flight is good although the shuttle could do with strengthening a little to improve endurance. Price is £15.50 – £18.95 per dozen depending on quantity ordered. Unless you order 25+ dozen you pay more for this shuttle. At £15.50 they are good value for money.
If you are one of my international readers, I’m sure there are plenty of good brands that are not available in UK. It’s a shame I don’t have access to these shuttles too. Maybe you can comment on my forum to provide other readers with your experience of these shuttles.
My Favourite And The Shuttle I Now Recommend
Regular readers to my blog will remember the big news from me last year was changing sponsor from Yonex to Victor. Because of this, I’ve had the opportunity to test and assess two of the Victor shuttles, which I have found extremely good as I reported earlier. Sceptics are bound to say that I am “duty bound” to promote Victor products and therefore this article is written more as an advertisement for Victor. However, in all of my reviews, coaching articles, forum posts I have NEVER showed bias, otherwise the reviews are worthless and my blog a complete waste of time.
Additionally, those who really know me will confirm that my blog belongs to me and I am the only decision-maker with regard to what I say. My sponsor does not own my blog and has no influence on the content. The only reference I make to my sponsor is by way of free promotion. Victor therefore has exactly the same rights as those I granted to Yonex.
In previous years when I tested Victor shuttles I found them to be slow, mainly because the halls I coach in tend to require a faster shuttle – a speed 79.
Victor does not advertise selling speed 79 shuttles because up to last year, they did not manufacture them. Such was their willingness to work with me, coupled with my decision that I would not change sponsor without having correct speed shuttles, they agreed to manufacture Gold Champion shuttlecocks in speed 79. This was a major turning point in my season. At the moment, as far as I know, I am the only person in Europe holding speed 79 Gold Champion shuttlecocks. However, they can be ordered from your online retailer by phone as they are available for purchase.
Since September, I have received both speed 78 and speed 79 Gold Champion shuttles. I have used them in my personal coaching and coaching weekends. Putting my sponsorship aside (I hear you sceptics), I can honestly say Victor Gold Champion shuttlecocks have performed as well as my old Aerosensa 40’s – and that says a lot! There are many occasions where they have outperformed Aerosensa 40’s.
I now recommend Victor Gold Champion shuttles because they have proved over time to be a very reliable shuttle demonstrating all of the characteristics of a really great shuttle. For me there is a slightly different feel compared to Yonex, however I have found that the feathers stay intact longer and therefore I now see these shuttles lasting longer than AS 40’s but still flying beautifully. I have always had 100% confidence in Yonex shuttles, especially the higher grades. Finally, I can extend the same confidence with Victor Gold Champion shuttles.
Would I be saying this if I wasn’t sponsored by Victor? Without the speed 79 to test, I wouldn’t have been in a position to compare. Also, I wouldn’t have taken the decision to leave Yonex without an alternative correct speed and quality shuttle to coach with. To me, they are more important than rackets, etc because this is the equipment on a court that makes the difference. I can coach with any racket, but if the shuttles are poor, then the coaching experience is tainted.
The current price of Yonex Aerosensa shuttles is around £18.70 per dozen. I’ve already stated that Victor Gold Champion shuttlecock retails at £16.40. For this quality, at this price I think I’m on to a winner!
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