Why do badminton shuttles have 16 springs
In competitions or tournaments, natural shuttlecocks are used in the higher game classes and on an international level. The head is made of cork, the spring wreath usually consists of 16 goose or duck feathers, which are glued into the cork and tied together. They are mainly handmade in Asia and are characterized by special flight characteristics.
Due to the special arrangement of the springs, the approx. 5 g light natural shuttlecock is set in rotation around its longitudinal axis by the air flowing through it during flight, which stabilizes the flight. Nevertheless, it is particularly influenced by the ambient conditions such as temperature, air pressure and humidity. The altitude, speed and thus the range of a long-hit ball can vary greatly in halls at different altitudes.
In order to compensate for such influences, natural shuttlecocks are available in different speeds. Before a game, the players test the speed of the shuttlecocks used by means of the so-called penetration by striking them flat over the net from the back baseline with powerful underhand blows. Balls that land within the field between 53 to 99 cm from the opposite baseline are at the correct speed.
All others are usually sorted out directly at international games, or an attempt is made to influence the speed of the ball by bending the upper tips of the springs slightly outwards or inwards (kinking). The ball offers more or less air resistance and flies accordingly shorter or further. It must be ensured that there are always enough balls of one type available for the duration of the game. This is to avoid that especially weak players use the punching of new balls in the middle of a set as a break.
Natural feathers break relatively easily, especially when blows are improperly executed. Due to the greater wear and tear and the slightly higher cost of natural shuttlecocks, imitations made of plastic have become established in the leisure sector. They are cheaper and more durable, but have different flight characteristics than natural shuttlecocks and offer fewer opportunities for a varied, fast game. If a real shuttlecock falls almost vertically with a clear (long, high ball), the plastic ball still largely follows a parabolic trajectory, which makes it easier to run across wide balls with a plastic ball.
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