Nylon Shuttlecock vs Feather

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The shuttlecock makes one-half of the most important equipment required to play badminton. It is also one of the main reasons why badminton is played indoors. This article will explain more about Nylon Shuttlecock vs Feather.

The light weight of the shuttle makes it more susceptible to environmental elements and even the slightest of winds can alter the course of the birdie. The type of shuttle used can also affect your playing style and overall game.

Nylon Shuttlecock vs. Feather Shuttlecock General Overview

You should consider several factors before deciding on the shuttle that best suits your style and level. Moreover, you cannot definitively say that one type is superior to the other since both nylon and feather birdies have their advantages and disadvantages.

Let me discover the characteristics of nylon and feather shuttlecock, so you determine which kind works best for you.

Nylon shuttlecock on the wood floor

Nylon Shuttlecock

As the name signifies, nylon shuttlecock is made from high-quality nylon or plastic, which is paired with a solid cork head. They are developed with the primary focus on durability and longevity.

Moreover, major shuttlecock manufacturers are focusing on creating quality synthetic shuttles nowadays, which are far superior in quality than their counterparts from a few years ago. Consequently, a well-made nylon shuttle will last many matches without any drastic impairment that will affect their flight or playable integrity.

Despite the many innovations, nylon shuttles still have some limitations that make them unsuitable to be used for professional matches that are highly competitive. Firstly, it is smash resistant. It does not return to its original shape soon enough after being hit for the smash to be returned.

The second limitation is that it is tough to play controlled shots with nylon shuttles, so you cannot predict exactly where your shot will land. Thus, it will be a long while before I see nylon shuttles being used in Olympics

Feather Shuttlecock

Feather shuttlecock is formed from around 16 bird feathers embedded into a cork base. The feathers usually obtain from the wings of either duck or goose. However, the shuttles made with goose feathers are better than the ones made with duck feathers.

The deeming quality of a good feather birdie is its flight properties. To ensure a satisfactory flight trajectory, the feathers used to make a shuttle pluck from either right or left wing. This is mainly because feathers from each wing shapes differently.

It is worth noting that highest quality feather shuttles are usually made with left wing feathers of a goose. These feathers have contours and curvatures that allow the shuttle to rotate and fly consistently. The shuttles are also more aerodynamically stable.

Lower quality shuttles are made using other feathers from goose or duck feathers.

Nylon Shuttlecock vs. Feather Shuttlecock

Apart from the fact that both kinds of shuttles use for playing badminton, they do not have any major similarities. However, they do have many differences in terms of durability, flight trajectory, cost, and control.

Let’s take a look at the dissimilarities in this comparison between nylon shuttlecock vs. nylon shuttlecock.

Feather shuttlecocks on the grass


The differences between the two popular types of shuttlecocks make them poles apart in terms of their functionality.

Following are the key features of each type of bird, along with how they differ from each other:


The durability of a shuttle refers to the duration you can use a shuttle before it starts deteriorating and affecting your game. In non-competitive games, shuttles often use past their durable state. However, if the birdie has an inconsistent flight, wobbles during trajectory, or has a too fast or too slow speed you should discard it.

The material used in the manufacturing of a shuttle determines its durability:

  • Nylon: Amongst the two, the best nylon shuttle is more durable. Its skirt is made from a long continuous material that can withstand wear and tear. Moreover, minor defects do not harm the integrity of the shuttle, retaining its playable state.
  • Feather: A feathered shuttle is more fragile since it is constructed from individual natural feathers. If even one of these feathers damages or breaks, it makes the shuttle unusable. However, there are ways to exceed the lifespan of a feathered shuttle (more on that later).

Flight Trajectory

Shorter flightLonger flight
Fast accelerationLess acceleration
Quick decelerationSteady deceleration

Flight trajectory of a shuttlecock refers to the path it takes as it moves through the air after a player strikes it. There are subtle differences between the flight trajectories of nylon and father shuttles due to their different structures:

  • Nylon: A nylon shuttle has a softer skirt compared to a feather one. It tends to deform more and, consequently, accelerates less when hit.  It also has a steadier deceleration as it descends because of a relatively smaller drag effect. Thus, the trajectory of a nylon shuttle is more symmetric in nature.
  • Feather: A feathered shuttle experiences a faster acceleration when hit since its feathers do not deform as much. It also experiences a faster deceleration due to the higher drag effect. Thus, it travels a smaller distance and falls at a steeper angle.


An intense, professional-level game of badminton requires shot precision. When you are able to control the shuttle, you can execute better shots and ensure that it lands precisely where you want:

  • Nylon: A nylon shuttle offers less control since its cork is heavier and the skirt may not be as uniform as that of a feathered one. Thus, its trajectory is inaccurate.
  • Feather: A feathered shuttle offers much more control as the skirt is uniform and there is less deformation when it is struck. Thus, you can hit drop shots, steep smashes, and high, long clears with more confidence.


There is a slight difference in price between a nylon and feathered shuttle. However, if you take into account the durability of each shuttle, the difference can become quite significant:

  • Nylon: A nylon shuttle is less expensive and lasts longer, making it perfect for beginners and recreational players.
  • Feather: A feathered shuttle is more expensive and needs to be replaced more frequently. Thus, the overall cost becomes too steep.
Colorful nylon shuttlecocks on white background

When to Use Each Shuttlecock

Playing badminton has many advantages. However, you will only be able to excel at your game if you choose the right shuttlecock depending on your level and type of gameplay. After all, you want a bird that helps you improve your game and make the most of your skillset.

  • Nylon: As a beginner and recreational player, you should ideally opt for nylon shuttles. In the beginning, you will mostly focus on your footwork around the court and shot execution. Consequently, you will not be able to utilize the finer qualities of a feathered shuttlecock (discussed above), which justifies its higher price point.
  • Feather: Skilled players usually prefer feathered shuttlecocks because of all the points I discussed above. It provides them with greater control so they can hit shots with acute precision. Moreover, feather ones have maximized flight speed that works well in a competitive environment where each player is trying to score points.

Related Questions

Here are some frequently asked questions about shuttlecocks.

Which Shuttle Is Best for Beginners?

Nylon shuttlecocks are the best for beginners, after all, they are very durable and easy to locate. Therefore, new players won’t have trouble finding or accidentally losing some of them.

On top of that, since nylon shuttlecocks travel farther than feather shuttlecocks, they will be easier for beginners to play.

Which Shuttlecock Is Used in the Olympics?

The shuttlecock that has been used in the Olympics is the Yonex Aerosensa. This one is a feather shuttlecock, after all, it is mandatory for professional matches to have this kind of shuttle.

How Long Does a Feather Shuttlecock Last?

A durable feather shuttlecock generally lasts from one to three games. This is because, if the shuttle loses one feather or breaks in any kind of way, it becomes useless. It also depends on how intensely the athletes play.

Although it is uncommon, if an athlete hits the shuttlecock with great force, it can break, even if it is brand new.


Nylon shuttles are more durable and budget-friendly, with a symmetric flight trajectory. They are more suited for people who are learning the sport or like to play it casually.

On the other hand, feather shuttles are less durable and costly. However, they offer controlled shot placement, amplified acceleration, and sharp drops, making them ideal for professional players.

Nevertheless, you should play the best you can, give your best shot and try to send the shuttle to your opponent’s backcourt.

Tim Frechette is an avid athlete, having played sports like soccer and basketball his entire life. He brings a wealth of athletic knowledge to his writing.