Shuttlecock Aerodynamics


Badminton is as popular as lawn tennis (where "popular" is defined by the number of adults who play the game). Indeed, the origin of the game, played with a feather shuttlecock, in the mid-19th century is said to pre-date lawn tennis. The invention of the more durable (cheaper!) synthetic shuttlecock in the 1950's gave the game a wider appeal. Yet, manufacturers have still to produce a synthetic shuttlecock that exactly mirrors the flight of the feather shuttlecock during the game of badminton and they have been striving to reach that goal for over 40 years.

This paper describes experiments which were devised to understand the flow regime around a shuttlecock and to accurately determine a data set of aerodynamic coefficients for selected feather and synthetic shuttlecocks. The drag, lift and pitching moment coefficients were measured for a range of Reynolds Numbers (based on maximum skirt diameter) selected to cover most velocities reached in a badminton game; 13,000 < Re < 190,000 (3 m/s to 44 m/s). The results form part of a wider programme of research which examined the differences between feather and synthetic shuttlecocks and ultimately led to a new product.


A.J. Cooke - Department of Engineering, Cambridge University. UK