Why Do They Call It a Birdie In Badminton?

We play Badminton every day, and we use lots of birdies along the line. You may wonder, “Why is it called a “birdie?” You’re not alone. Scores of people want to know the origin of the word “birdie” and why it’s so popular with badminton. So, in this article, we’ll tell you why and virtually all that you need to know about the Birdie.

So why is it called birdie in badminton? It is called a birdie because the ball, which is more like a cork and smacked around with a racquet, has feathers held down into a base. In addition to the feather and cork design, it looked like a cone with the feathers — both natural and synthetic – shooting out at the anterior end. And while it is smacked about, it gives an impression of a bird in flight.

The unique configuration of the birdie gives it stability while in the air. Its design — which optimizes speed – inspired the creation of SpacecraftOne in the USA.

badminton birdie

The Duke of Beaufort and others who introduced the game to the western world would chuckle at the new noun used to define the game. All thanks to them, the old reality of the game transformed that passion into a modern competitive sport, enjoyed by thousands all over the world.

Birdie? Say That Again!

You, like me, have probably wondered where and how on earth does a birdie find relevance in badminton where the ball doesn’t even touch the ground; unlike golf, where the birdie is commonplace and the golf ball, of course, is smacked around on the green turf.

The birdie which is also called a shuttle, bird, birdie or a shuttlecock, is struck in midair by two or more players. You can play alone too! Just like any sport with a goal to keep the ball in the air, it is not particularly evident how “birdie” substituted for “shuttlecock” and when.

At the Rio Olympics of 2016, thousands of shuttlecock made by Yonex were used at the event. To think that each one was made from a unique Portuguese base material and 16 freshly plucked feathers from the Chinese geese are perhaps, unbelievable.  But it’s true.

Some people have said the feathers around the base is reminiscent of a bird. Others concluded that its wheezing motion to and fro like a shuttle is why it’s called a birdie. Whatever you choose to call it, the birdie literally keeps you on your toes while being cascaded in different colors.

Birdie Colors

Playing your favorite badminton sport while hitting the birdie to effect means that you are well aware of the environment. The obvious reality that a birdie or shuttle comes in different shades means that your color preferences could spell doom or success and reduce or increase your chances of winning in a competitive set.

Your surroundings play a huge role in determining how the birdie travels when struck and how much of the birdie you see during a set.

Types Of Birdies

feather vs plastic

Shuttles are either feathers or synthetics. When you want to choose a shuttle, you should consider both possibilities. Generally, feather shuttles are used by professionals – or those who feel like badminton stars, playing the game religiously.

Feather birdies

These birdies are usually white. In some cases – depending on the brand – the cork holding the feathers often has a different color. It has created confusion a lot of times where people think the feather birdies are not entirely white.

The feathers are not usually white as other colors can be reproduced through dying.

Merits of feather shuttles

  • Spins faster where you can smack it under inconvenient and tight areas.
  • As a result of its angular dimension, it flips better where you exercise the freedom to take decisive net shots and quick serves.
  • It is lighter.
  • When in the air, it’s movement is smoother, and impact is more solid.
  • It has a sleek-crisp feeling against the racket, which allows you to take swift chops and net slices.

However, feather shuttles are prone to damage and require constant replacement.

Plastic Birdies

As far as it goes, plastic shuttles have satisfied a massive market of teeming badminton faithful. Everyone cannot have the expensive goose-feather shuttlecock; hence, you can opt for this type with its unique features.

Plastic birdies are synthetics – based on the materials used. But that’s not the edge to it. You can choose from plastic and nylon birdies. Keep in mind though that your choice affects the game experience in court.

The best brands out there that can cater to your needs are Mais 2000 and Ashaway Bird 2. These brands offer the best standard relative to others – in my personal opinion. You can always check other products and see what they offer.

Merits Of Plastic Birdies

  • Quite durable where you do not have to be concerned about constant hard-smack against the wall or racket.
  • The fact that it is readily available means that you can have several – both plastic and nylon – and test your wits.
  • The speed can be tailored to your preferences without putting a hole in your pocket.
  • It is heavier – an advantage for a greenhorn – who are just learning the basics of badminton and has not adjusted to the intensity of the game.
  • It is suitable for people – old and young – to burn some calories and just have a good time.

However, you may be unlucky to find what you are looking for because lower-quality plastic birdies exist too. And it can be really frustrating – to be honest. Please note that the quality of the polymer or material – around the cork and skirt – determines the shelf life of your shuttle and how much speed you can play with. So, if you choose to go for plastic birdies, it is recommended that you invest in more durable ones. Though, they may be pricier.

What Are The Dominant Colors?

For synthetic birdies particularly, there are three generic colors in competitive sport — blue, green, and red. These colors signify both speed and weight variances.

It does not take anything away from your fun. It all depends on your preference and what you find comfortable. For popular brands, there is a consensus or standard as far as colors are concerned. Blue is the slowest, green is the middle ground, and Red is the fastest.

Given that there is a vast market for badminton accessories, you will find a wider assortment of colors.

However, as a general standard, almost all badminton players today – both professional and aspiring professionals – use the white-colored birdie.

Shuttlecock Colors Affect Performance

Depending on what you like, colors can hamper or improve your game.

For instance, a yellow shuttlecock — the synthetic type with rubber feathers — is a wrong choice when you’re playing outdoors; it tends to get lost in the light and may hinder you from enjoying your badminton session.

While yellow, black, and white shuttlecocks may not be quite useful for playing outdoors, they are quite different indoors. Against the walls, the Birdie’s movement is extraordinary. It’s like switching to a different theme where you feel a splurge as your birdie strikes the surface of the wall.

How Can I Enhance My Game With Colorful Birdies?

You can play with birdies of different colors for proper effect, especially against walls designed with sodium lights. This experience is best felt in special gyms and indoor facilities.

If you are wondering how to do all these because you struggle with playing with different shades since they all look the same to you; it’s perhaps helpful to ask a colleague to choose colorful birdies for you.

After that, you can play around with them and discover the ones you’re more comfortable with.

While a range of birdie colors exist in the market, it is pertinent that you understand the design behind them.

Colors are just a fraction of the whole package. From a higher perspective, birdies are designed to optimize your training — as a professional and amateur — and improve your concentration, which is quite impossible without speed.

Birdie Speed

Birdies clock speeds up to 90.0 m/s (201mph) with a precise whack from a racquet. In the year 2013, Tan Boon Heong and Lee Chong Wei, both from Malaysia, broke the Guinness World Record for fastest birdie hit at  306.3 mph (493 kph) and  283.3 mph (456 kph) respectively.

Putting it in perspective, we are talking about the lightning speed that leaves a Eurostar train — clocking a measly 83.3 m/s (186.4mph) — in its trails. While these statistics contributed to why a shuttle is called a birdie, some people want birdies that can go much faster.

I Have Speed But Need More

In addition to the out-of-this-world speed potential, the shape of your shuttle adds to the mystery of the birdie.

The fact is, the shape allows it to remain steady while soaring — what physicists call aerodynamics — in the air.

Perhaps, you’d be surprised to know that the attachment of 16 goose feathers to a cork weighing between 4.74 and 5.50 grams could render it as a huge projectile potential that leaves a train trailing behind. This might sound ridiculous, but it’s true.

How Can I Identify The Velocity Measurement Of A Birdie?

You really have to know your manufacturer’s rating for your birdie. When heading to the store to pick a shuttle, have it in mind that there are only two standards; the manufacturer’s speed standard and everybody else’s.

Can I Tweak My Birdie For More Speed?

Usually, Yonex has some speed statistics on the ground for their shuttlecock, but you can still stretch the limits when you do something called tipping.

In simple terms, you cut or trim the edges of the feathers, reducing it to some centimeters.

Less weight means more speed.

Make sure the feathers are the real deal, not a synthetic imitation.

Do I Have To Wait For The Right Weather?

If you desire to conduct an independent experiment to test the speed of your shuttle, first, ensure that you are aware of the weather conditions in your area.

As I mentioned earlier, your environment plays a huge role in determining the speed of your birdies. But it’s nothing serious.

Keep in mind that lighter shuttles or birdies are designed for places where there are higher elevations.

You do not have to climb a 200ft. Mountain to test the speed variance of your birdie relative to the ground. A little adventure does not hurt if you try.

But that is cheesy when you can hit heavier shuttles in more convenience. Heavier birdies travel faster in humid climates — try West Africa — with close sea levels. Again, you really do not need to travel miles and cross seas to find the best weather conditions for enjoying a game.

Testing A Birdie For Speed

It is expedient that you know the relevance of something as arbitrary as whether to your game on the court, whether indoors and outdoors.

On the court, a practical way to test the speed of your birdie is to use a quick underhand strike where the force of the racquet propels your birdie, landing it at the back-boundary line.

Remember that a birdie with correct speed lands not less than 1.9ft. (0.5m) and a little beyond 3.3ft. (1m) at the back-boundary line on the other side.

Another important criterion is the temperature. When the room temperature is just right, no one can stop your momentum in the court.


The game of badminton is built for speed. It requires quick feet and a sturdy wrist to strike and sway the happy birdie tin different directions.

While athletes focus more on posture and smash routines, they rarely appreciate the ingenuity that the shuttlecock has brought to the game.

Badminton is a fitness sport that allows you to sharpen your physical and mental endurance. All thanks to the idea behind the game.

Aamir Khan said and I quote, “badminton is like ballet dancing. It requires a lot of control, strength, mind play, and measured movement.” Therefore, the challenge is wrapped around the idea that the birdie must keep soaring.


Hey! I’m Steven. I've been playing badminton for over 10 years and working as an assistant badminton coach for kids. This website is created to share my passion and knowledge of badminton as well as discuss relevant and useful topics in the world of badminton.

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