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Sports Eng (2012) 15:6171 DOI 10.



Badminton shuttlecock aerodynamics: synthesizing experiment and theory

Chak Man Chan Jenn Stroud Rossmann

Published online: 7 February 2012 International Sports Engineering Association 2012

Abstract In this study, the ight performance of four models of shuttlecocks, two with feather skirts and two with plastic, is investigated. The aerodynamic forces of each shuttlecock at varying air speed and angle of attack are measured in a subsonic wind tunnel. Empirical correlations derived from these data are then incorporated into an adaptive, shuttlecock-specic numerical trajectory simulation. These simulated trajectories are in good agreement with experimental results, with average and maximum errors of 2.5 and 9.1% in vertical distance travelled. The aerodynamically adaptive trajectory model is used to analyse four common types of badminton shot: serve, net, smash and high clear. From these simulations, it is found that the trajectory paths of the higher quality plastic shuttlecock most closely mimic those of the feather shuttlecock of same speed grade. Results of both aerodynamic testing and trajectory simulation provide quantitative support for players preference for the feel and responsiveness of feather shuttlecocks. It is also observed that plastic shuttlecocks y faster than do feather shuttlecocks under smash shots, a behaviour explained by a reduction of drag due to skirt deformation observed in wind tunnel experiments at high ight velocity. The results of the study highlight the inuence of shuttlecock design and material on shuttlecock ight. Keywords Badminton Shuttlecock Aerodynamics Simulation Trajectory

1 Introduction The shuttlecock soars upward In a parabola of whiteness, Turns, And sinks to a perfect arc. In these lines from her 1916 poem a Roxbury Garden [1], Amy Lawrence Lowell describes the trajectory of a badminton shuttlecock. Whether the arc of its ight is in fact perfect can depend on player ability and shuttlecock material; it is certain, however, that both players and shuttlecock manufacturers believe the arc to be perfectible. Badminton is a racket sport played by two opposing players or two opposing pairs in a rectangular (13.4 by 6.10 m) court, across a net. Since its ancient beginnings, the game of badminton has evolved: the net was added in British colonial India; badminton rackets are now more commonly made from carbon bre or titanium than from wood; and the ability to manufacture synthetic plastic shuttlecocks since the 1950s has broadened access to the sport. Both the dynamics of the racket [2] and the ight of the shuttlecock [3] are of interest to both players and equipment designers. The current study is concerned with shuttlecock trajectory prediction, and with the differences between feather and plastic shuttlecocks. The goal of this study is to understand the aerodynamics of each type of shuttlecock, and to use experimental measurements to create aerodynamically accurate models for the trajectories associated with several common shots. Modern shuttlecocks are available in two primary types, feather and plastic. Both are available in distinct speed grades. The skirt of a feather shuttlecock is made by hand: sixteen feather pieces are cut, trimmed to a uniform shape, then sewn together and glued to a hemispherical cork

C. M. Chan J. S. Rossmann (&) Mechanical Engineering Department, Lafayette College, Easton, PA 18042, USA e-mail: rossmanj@lafayette.edu


C. M. Chan, J. S. Rossmann

nose. The skirt of a plastic shuttlecock is moulded to shape and then glued to the nose. Four representative shuttlecocks are shown in Fig. 1. Although these two types of shuttlecocks have similar weight and appearance, synthetic shuttlecocks have slightly different ight speeds and trajectory paths than feather shuttlecocks. The quest of plastic shuttlecock manufacturers to mimic the ight performance of feather shuttlecocks has been long and never yet entirely successful [3]; and while synthetics are both less expensive and more durable, they are judged by experienced players to be inferior to feather shuttlecocks [4, 5]. The shuttlecock is aerodynamically stable because of its conical shape. Regardless of initial orientation, it will turn to y cork rst, and remain in this orientation. This transient stabilization process is similar to that observed in dandelion seeds. However, shuttlecocks have also been observed to wobble and drift [3]. The shuttlecock has been the subject of limited previous study. An inuential comparison of the ight quality of several feather and plastic shuttlecocks determined the aerodynamic drag and lift coefcients of those shuttlecocks using wind tunnel and gravity-assisted water tunnel experiments [3]. This important study was, however, limited to shuttlecocks produced by a single manufacturer. A very recent aerodynamic study of the shuttlecock focused only on the determination of drag coefcients [6]. Shuttlecock moments of inertia and damping coefcients have been experimentally determined and incorporated into trajectory simulations [7], while trajectories have also been simulated using simpler models, without consideration of the specic aerodynamic properties of the shuttlecock [8]. Previous researchers have obtained the terminal velocity of a feather shuttlecock using electronic timing gates [9], and of a plastic shuttlecock by means of a radar gun [10]. Despite the differences in methods and in shuttlecock material, their results were in close agreement; the terminal velocity was found to be 6.80 and 6.71 m/s, respectively. This suggests that the aerodynamic properties of feather and plastic shuttlecocks are comparable to each other; the current work will investigate this assumption. Relative to most sport balls [11], the ight of a badminton shuttlecock is unique. Following the transient

gyroscopic re-orienting that begins each ight, the shuttlecock travels in a highly skewed rather than a nearsymmetric parabolic path. It has a relatively faster initial velocity upon impact and experiences a much higher deceleration than most of the other sport projectiles [26, 11]. Measurements of shuttlecock speed during various strokes by elite badminton players concluded that smash strokes have the highest initial velocities, up to three times faster than the clear and drop strokes [12]. Analysis of the biomechanics of badminton players has demonstrated that upper arm extension and wrist exion combine to accelerate the shuttlecock at racket impact [13]. A common phenomenon affecting the ight of sports projectiles is the Magnus effect. The Magnus effect is responsible for lateral and sometimes lifting forces on objects spinning about an axis not aligned with ight, resulting in curving or rising trajectories. The Magnus effect is perhaps most apparent in the ight of pitched baseballs, whose trajectory outcomes, such as curve balls and knuckle balls, depend on the orientation, spin, and speed of the pitched ball [14]. The Magnus effect may be the cause of the phenomenon of shuttlecock drifting, reported to be noticed by players particularly with the feather shuttlecock during high clear [3]. The current work will evaluate the possibility that the Magnus effect inuences the ight of shuttlecocks. The primary objectives of the current study are to develop an understanding of the aerodynamic properties of various shuttlecock types and of the responses of different shuttlecock constructions to aerodynamic loading; and to integrate empirical aerodynamic responses into a computational simulation of shuttlecock ight. Greater knowledge of shuttlecock aerodynamics and trajectory prediction has the potential to help players at all skill levels, and also may assist shuttlecock designers in ensuring more consistent ight behaviours.

2 Methods Four models of shuttlecocks, as shown in Fig. 1, were chosen for this study. They include: (1) a feather shuttlecock (Boer 77); (2) a feather shuttlecock of lower speed

Fig. 1 Badminton shuttlecocks investigated, from left to right: Boer 77, Tailai 76, Yonex 77 and Caldor 77

Badminton shuttlecock aerodynamics: synthesizing experiment and theory Table 1 The dimensions and mass of the four shuttlecock models Boer 77 Skirt diameter (m) Weight (g) 0.066 0.002 5.0 0.1 Tailai 76 0.069 0.003 5.2 0.1 Yonex 77 0.067 0.002 4.9 0.1 Caldor 77


0.067 0.002 5.0 0.1

Results reported are the average and standard deviation values obtained from six examples of each shuttlecock type

grade (Tailai 76); (3) a higher manufacturing quality plastic shuttlecock (Yonex 77); and (4) a lower manufacturing quality plastic shuttlecock (Caldor 77). These models were chosen to represent a broad range of shuttlecock variety for analysis. The mean values for the widest skirt diameter and mass for each model, and the scatter associated with each measurement are presented in Table 1. The small variation in measurements suggests that all shuttlecocks may be described by the nominal dimensions of a 6.7 cm skirt diameter and 5 g mass. 2.1 Wind tunnel experiments The aerodynamic properties of these shuttlecocks were determined by experimentation in an Aerolab subsonic wind tunnel. The airow was characterized by the nondimensional parameter known as the Reynolds number, Re: Re qVd l 1
Fig. 2 Shuttlecock mounted on sting balance, with directions of axial force, vertical force and pitching moment and the measurement of angle of attack with respect to the sting indicated

cL 1

FL qV 2 A 2 FD qV 2 A 2

4 5

cD 1

where q and l are the air density and dynamic viscosity, respectively; V is the air speed in the wind tunnel test section; and d is the characteristic length of the object, in this case the shuttlecock diameter. The air properties are dependent on the measured temperature and relative humidity. While these parameters are not controlled in the experiments, they were found to be nearly constant throughout the experimentation. A sting balance used strain gages arranged in two full bridges to measure two dimensions of force and the pitching moment on the shuttlecock, as illustrated in Fig. 2. When the shuttlecock was oriented at an angle of attack a to the ow direction, the following equations were used to convert the measured axial and normal forces to these two components of aerodynamic signicance, the drag force FD and the lift force FL: FD FN sina FA cosa FL FN cosa FA sina 2 3

In these equations A is the projected frontal area of the shuttlecock. Empirical correlations among these parameters were derived from the wind tunnel measurements for each model of shuttlecock, as will be discussed further in Sect. 3.1. A shuttlecock sting xture (Fig. 3) was designed to allow the shuttlecock to rotate freely on the sting. The rotation speed of the shuttlecock was measured with an optical MPJA tachometer and a high-speed video camera (Olympus iSpeed II) operating at 1,000 fps. 2.2 Trajectory simulation Using static and dynamic analysis, the motion of an object when subject to uid ow can be represented with the following set of differential equations: m FD cosh FL sinh 0 x m FD sinh FL cosh mg 0 y     cb dM a 0 It b  da  6 7 8

Both components of force were measured for a range of Reynolds number and angle of attack values, so that the inuence of each variable on lift and drag could be observed. From these forces, lift and drag coefcients were calculated:

where x and y are coordinate vectors of the object, a and b are the angles of attack and travel, respectively, h is the

64 Fig. 3 Schematic of the assembled shuttlecock sting holder, with bearing shaft permitting free shuttlecock rotation

C. M. Chan, J. S. Rossmann

pitching angle, m is the mass of the object, FD and FL are the drag and lift forces, M is the pitching moment of the object, g is the gravitational acceleration constant (9.81 m/s2), and It and c are the transverse mass moment of inertia and damping factor of the object. The coordinate system and force components on the shuttlecock are illustrated in Fig. 4 [7]. Using the aerodynamic correlations determined through wind tunnel testing, ight-dependent lift, drag, and pitching moment were incorporated into this model. As Ref. [7] found little dependence of moment of inertia on Reynolds number, and a slight but inconclusive relationship between damping coefcient and Reynolds number, the current work used a constant transverse moment of inertia of 2.77 9 10-6 kg m2 and damping ratio of 6.8 9 10-4 kg m2/s, representing the literature values for a mid-range Reynolds number and a feather shuttlecock, for trajectory simulation [7]. Numerical integration of Eqs. (68) using the forward Euler method was performed for trajectory prediction. A small time step of 0.001 s was selected to ensure an accurate solution. From user-entered launching speed and angle, the program yielded a two-dimensional simulated shuttlecock trajectory for the user-selected shuttlecock type.

3 Results 3.1 Wind tunnel measurements and aerodynamic correlations In general, the coefcient of drag was found to weakly decrease with increasing Reynolds number, while the coefcient of lift remained constant across the range of Reynolds numbers examined. Representative results for the drag coefcient of the Boer 77 shuttlecock are shown in Fig. 5. The weak inuence of Reynolds number and stronger inuence of angle of attack on the drag coefcient is demonstrated by these data. Previous studies have reported nearly constant drag coefcients, for example cD = 0.48 for a feather shuttlecock over the range of 13,000 \ Re \ 190,000 [3]. The current work, examining different shuttlecocks has found slightly higher values of cD values that decrease with increasing Reynolds number, and appear to converge near 0.480.5 for Re C190,000. In this regime, drag is likely dominated by skin friction. All three parametersthe drag and lift coefcients, and the pitching momentwere found to depend linearly on angle of attack. In Fig. 6, the effect of angle of attack on the lift coefcient is shown for the feather Boer 77 and the

Fig. 4 Key dimensions of and forces on a shuttlecock in ight with speed V. Adapted from Ref. [3]

Fig. 5 Coefcient of drag (cD) versus Reynolds number (Re) at three angles of attack, for Boer 77 feather shuttlecock

Badminton shuttlecock aerodynamics: synthesizing experiment and theory


median value. The empirically derived cD, cL and M correlations result in median percentage differences of at most 2.48, 2.03 and 1.97%, respectivelydifferences that are within the experimental error. Due to the ability of the shuttlecock to freely rotate on the sting holder designed for this study, the measured lift included lift induced by spin as well as pressure distribution. The variation of shuttlecock spin rate x with ight speeds (Re) was also investigated, and can be seen in Fig. 7. In the context of sports projectiles, spin is often characterized by a nondimensional spin parameter S given by Eq. (12): xr S 12 V A graph of the lift coefcient as a function of spin parameter S is shown in Fig. 8. Comparison data from studies on the lift produced by spinning baseballs [14] and golf balls [16] are also included. The spin rate of feather shuttlecocks was found to increase with Re throughout the experimental ow speed range. However, at sufciently high ow speeds, the angular velocity of the plastic shuttlecocks peaked and dropped off. It is believed that this behaviour is linked to the skirt deformation of the plastic shuttlecocks at high ight speed. Previous wind tunnel studies of non-spinning shuttlecocks observed that the skirts of plastic shuttlecocks deformed more dramatically than feather shuttlecocks at high ight speed [2], with this observation used to explain why drag force decreases more rapidly for plastic shuttlecocks than feather shuttlecocks at increasing ight speeds. High speed (1,000 fps) camera video observations reveal that the skirts of the plastic shuttlecocks deform despite their rotation, while the skirts of feather shuttlecocks maintain their circular geometry. Representative still images from the video recording are shown in Fig. 9.

Fig. 6 Coefcient of lift (cL) versus angle of attack, for Boer 77 feather and Yonex 77 plastic shuttlecocks

synthetic Yonex 77 shuttlecocks; the feather shuttlecock produces higher lift than does the plastic. From the measurements for each shuttlecock type, linear correlations of the forms shown in Eqs. (911) were found, with the shuttlecock-specic coefcients ah derived empirically and shown in Table 2. cD a Re ba c Re d cL e Re f M g Re2 h Re a 9 10 11 are by the the

In Eq. (11), the units of pitching moment M [Newton-meter]. The median percentage difference is computed comparing the differences between actual data and result predicted by each correlation and determining

Table 2 Empirical coefcients ah for each shuttlecock model, to be used in Eqs. (911) relating coefcients of drag (cD) and lift (cL), and pitching moment (M), to Reynolds number (Re) and angle of attack (a)

cD a Re ba c Re d a (9108) Boer 77 Tailai 76 Yonex 77 Caldor 77 cL e Re f e (9102) f (9102) 1.28 1.74 1.17 1.38 Difference (%) 0.96 0.90 -1.10 2.03 -6.35 -6.81 -4.52 -3.67 b (9102) 1.39 1.44 0.97 0.79 c (9106) -1.22 -1.48 -2.36 -2.46 d (9101) 7.56 8.13 8.57 9.42 Difference (%) 0.34 0.37 0.43 2.48

M g Re2 h Re aNm g (91012) 1.80 1.93 1.45 1.48 h (9108) 6.06 0.30 3.03 3.58 Difference (%) 0.53 1.09 0.66 1.97

The median percentage differences between the correlations and the experimentally measured aerodynamic data are also shown

Boer 77 Tailai 76 Yonex 77 Caldor 77

1.28 1.13 0.97 0.92

66 Fig. 7 Spin rate or rotational velocity (x) versus Reynolds number (Re) for different shuttlecock models at zero degree angle of attack

C. M. Chan, J. S. Rossmann

Fig. 8 Lift coefcient versus nondimensional spin parameter for Boer 77 shuttlecock, with comparison data for golf (open circles) and baseballs (lled circles)

Measurements were also made of the lateral force on the shuttlecock; this force was found to be less than 12%, and usually on the order of 7%, of the drag force, and to equal (within experimental error) the lift force values measured at the same conditions. This suggests that the spinning of the shuttlecock does induce a Magnus effect, which should be investigated further in future studies. The Magnus effect is a likely cause of the phenomenon of shuttlecock drifting, reported to be noticed by players particularly with the feather shuttlecock during high clear [3]. 3.2 Trajectory simulations The simulation program was validated by comparing calculated trajectories with the ight paths of player-launched

shuttlecocks. A high-speed video camera was used to capture the shuttlecock trajectory paths. A grid overlay was applied to the captured video to establish a 2D coordinate system. The captured trajectory videos were then analysed frame-by-frame to record the position history of the shuttlecocks during their ights. The launching velocity and angle for each launch were estimated from averaged video measurements for ten shots of each type; these values were then used as inputs to the trajectory simulation program. The measured and calculated trajectories could then be compared. A visual comparison of the observed and calculated trajectories is made in Fig. 5. The simulated trajectories were compared to measured trajectories based on four aspects: trajectory path, ight time, range and maximum height. It was observed that the simulated and measured trajectories were quite similar. The Yonex 77 and Caldor 77 simulations demonstrated the maximum discrepancy in height and range, respectively, of 4.94 and 9.11%. The difference in ight time for all simulations was limited to at most 3.53%. With these small deviations, it was thus determined that the simulation would predict the trajectories for other launching conditions accurately, and this model was used to predict the ight performance of all four shuttlecocks for game-relevant shot conditions listed in Table 3. 3.2.1 Serving The serve shot is executed in the beginning of a rally, where the shuttlecock is delivered by one player to the opponent. For short serve shots, the serving player begins by holding a shuttlecock around his/her waist area directly in front of the face of the racket. Then, he/she pushes the racket face forward and hits on the shuttlecock gently so

Badminton shuttlecock aerodynamics: synthesizing experiment and theory Fig. 9 High speed camera video snapshots for different shuttlecock models mounted in wind tunnel at a wind speed of about 120 mph. Each snapshot is about 1 s apart. Top (a) Boer 77, feather shuttlecock; second (b) Tailai 76, feather shuttlecock; third (c) Yonex 77, plastic shuttlecock; bottom (d) Caldor 77, plastic shuttlecock. (Frame rate: 1,000 fps)


Table 3 Launching conditions for four common badminton shots. (Adapted from Ref. [4].) Serve Velocity (m/s) Launch angle () Initial height (m) 10.2 26 1 Net shot 7.7 75 0.15 Smash 47 -10 3 High clear 47 36 3

3.2.2 Net shot Net shots are played from the players net area to the opponents net area. A good net shot causes the shuttlecock to barely clear the net and then drop off at a steep angle near the opponents net. The objective of net shots is to force the opponent to return the shot that cannot clear the net or with a weak lift, which allows the player to smash in the subsequent hit. If a net shot is well executed, the shuttlecock may tumble while falling, making it more difcult for the opponent to return the shot. In the simulation, the tumbling effect of the shuttlecock is neglected for model simplication purposes, though the primary characteristics of the net shot are captured. As shown in Fig. 12, the range of a net shot is relatively short, only about 1.151.30 m, as predicted. Key parameters are summarized in Table 5. Similar to short serve shots, the range and maximum height attained by each type of shuttlecock is ordered by their quality; the higher quality feather shuttlecock (Boer 77) has the longest range and highest reach, followed by the higher quality plastic shuttlecock (Yonex 77) and then the lower quality plastic shuttlecock (Caldor 77). It is noted that the ight times of the shuttlecocks also decrease with range in this case. For the 76 speed grade feather shuttlecock (Tailai 76), again, has a shorter range and reach than the 77 speed grade feather and plastic shuttlecocks. 3.2.3 Smash Smash shots are usually executed at the backcourt where the player strikes hard on the shuttlecock with the racket facing down. The goal of a smash shot is to cause the

that the shuttlecock lands behind the serving line on the opponent side while clearing the net. A successful short serve shot forces the opponent to clear the shuttlecock to the servers backcourt, which creates an advantage for the server in planning his/her next move. For a short serve shot, the simulated trajectories show that the higher quality plastic shuttlecock (Yonex 77) closely follows that of the higher quality feather shuttlecock (Boer 77), as seen in Figs. 10, 11. The simulated trajectory curves are nearly indistinguishable from the measured data plotted on the same graph. Key parameters are summarized in Table 4. The range of Yonex 77 is 0.23 m shorter, and this shuttlecock lands 0.01 s earlier than Boer 77. The maximum height travelled for Yonex 77 is 0.02 m lower than that for Boer 77. The lower quality plastic shuttlecock (Caldor 77) does not mimic the feather performance as well as the Yonex 77; its range, reach and landing time are 0.44 m shorter, 0.04 m lower and 0.02 s earlier than Boer 77. It is noted that all shuttlecocks of higher speed grade travel higher and further than the feather shuttlecock of lower speed grade. The Tailai 76 has a range of 0.58 m shorter, a height of 0.06 m and a travel time of 0.2 s shorter than the Boer 77. In all situations, the maximum angle of attack increases as the range of the shuttlecock decreases.


C. M. Chan, J. S. Rossmann

Fig. 10 Comparison between measured and simulated trajectory for each type of shuttlecock Fig. 11 Simulated trajectories for serve shots

Badminton shuttlecock aerodynamics: synthesizing experiment and theory Table 4 Key parameters obtained from trajectory simulation of serve shot Distance (m) Boer 77 (feather) Tailai 76 (feather) Yonex 77 (plastic) Caldor 77 (plastic) 4.20 3.62 3.97 3.76 Height (m) 1.62 1.56 1.60 1.58 Time (s) 0.98 0.96 0.97 0.96 Boer 77 (feather) Tailai 76 (feather) Yonex 77 (plastic) Caldor 77 (plastic)


Table 5 Key parameters obtained from trajectory simulation of net shot Distance (m) 1.30 1.11 1.22 1.16 Height (m) 1.78 1.62 1.71 1.65 Time (s) 1.18 1.14 1.16 1.14

shuttlecock to reach the ground on the opponents side of court as fast as possible while clearing the net. A successful smash shot renders the opponent unable to reach the shuttlecock with the racket in time. The trajectory simulation shows that the trajectory paths for both types of plastic shuttlecock follow closely that of the feather shuttlecock as shown in Fig. 13. Key parameters are summarized in Table 6. The higher quality plastic shuttlecock (Yonex 77) has a slightly longer range than the feather shuttlecock (Boer 77) while the lower quality plastic (Caldor 77) has a slightly shorter range. Unlike the short serve and net shots, the ight time for each shuttlecock of smash shot does not follow its range. In particular, Yonex 77 has the shortest ight time of 0.77 s, followed by Boer 77 and then Caldor 77. The trajectory of the slower speed grade shuttlecock (Tailai 76) is signicantly different from that of the faster speed grades. The Tailai 76 has a range of 2.35 m shorter than Boer 77, yet has a ight time of 0.10 s longer. The longer ight time yet shorter range provides the players opponent with more time to react to a steeper shuttlecock smash, when compared to the faster grade smash shot executed with the same launching condition. 3.2.4 High clear The high clear shot is executed similarly to a smash shot; it has a similar magnitude of launching velocity and angle. However, instead of hitting the shuttlecock with the racket facing downward, the racket faces upward for this hit. The

shuttlecock travels to a high altitude as it reaches the opponent side of the court and then drops at a steep angle. A good high clear shot not only lands the shuttlecock at the near-end boundary of the opponent side of court, making it difcult to determine whether it is out-of-bounds, but also gives the shooting player time to recover and plan his/her next move. The simulated trajectories for the feather shuttlecock (Boer 77) and higher quality plastic shuttlecock (Yonex 77) follow a similar path, as shown in Fig. 14. Key parameters are summarized in Table 7. Their range and reach are differed by 0.15 m and 0.13 m. Also, the landing time of Yonex 77 is 0.06 s slower than Boer 77, which means players have more time to respond to and recover from a high clear shot when a high quality plastic shuttlecock is used. The lower quality plastic (Caldor 77) and slower speed grade feather (Tailai 76) shuttlecocks have signicantly different trajectory paths than the other two shuttlecocks. Their ranges are at least 1 meter shorter than Boer 77 and Yonex 77. In addition, the ight time for Tailai 76 is considerably shorter than Boer 77, of about 0.26 s.

4 Discussion A two-dimensional trajectory simulation program based on a mathematical model of shuttlecock dynamics has incorporated empirical aerodynamic, inertial, and damping data. This program has been used to predict the trajectories of four

Fig. 12 Simulated trajectories for net shots

70 Fig. 13 Simulated trajectories for smash shots

C. M. Chan, J. S. Rossmann

Table 6 Key parameters obtained from trajectory simulation of smash shot Distance (m) Boer 77 (feather) Tailai 76 (feather) Yonex 77 (plastic) Caldor 77 (plastic) 8.80 7.94 9.44 8.83 Height (m) 3.00 3.00 3.00 3.00 Time (s) 0.79 0.81 0.77 0.80

distinct shuttlecocks in four distinct game-relevant shot conditions: serve; net; smash and high clear shots. It is observed that the performance, in terms of trajectory path, range, reach and landing time, of the higher quality plastic shuttlecock (Yonex 77) matches the closest to the feather shuttlecock (Boer 77), while the lower quality plastic shuttlecock (Caldor 77) is next. It is also found that the slower speed grade feather shuttlecock (Tailai 76) has a signicantly shorter range than Boer 77, which is best illustrated by their trajectories for smash and high clear shots. This study demonstrated that the use of ow analysis can accurately predict the trajectory path of a shuttlecock. The trajectory simulation techniques explored may provide a useful resource for plastic shuttlecock designers. By measuring and including empirical correlations for a shuttlecocks aerodynamic properties in a trajectory model, designers can assess the ight performance of a proposed plastic shuttlecock design.
Fig. 14 Simulated trajectories for high clear

Experimental measurements of aerodynamic forces were consistent with the limited previous studies [3, 6, 7] of shuttlecock aerodynamics. Drag and lift was found to depend on Reynolds number and shuttlecock orientation as described by angle of attack. Pitching moment was noted to be a restoring force, acting to stabilize the shuttlecock in ight. The spinning of the shuttlecock is also a stabilizing inuence, as has been noted elsewhere [3]. During wind tunnel experimentation, it was observed the skirts of the plastic shuttlecocks deformed signicantly at high air ow velocity. This indicates that a plastic shuttlecock may travel faster after a high speed launching condition, due to the surface area for drag to act on being reduced by this deformation. Indeed, this effect is veried by the simulation program under the smash shot launching condition. The limitation of the current work to two-dimensional trajectories is shown by the comparison of simulated to observed trajectories to be a minimal inuence on the studys accuracy. This limitation will be addressed in future work by the use of computational uid dynamics (CFD) to simulate the ow eld near the shuttlecock, to obtain an understanding of the degree of three-dimensionality of the aerodynamics and thus of shuttlecock ight. Despite this limitation, the computed trajectories were in good agreement with the trajectories of shuttlecocks hit by experienced players.

Badminton shuttlecock aerodynamics: synthesizing experiment and theory Table 7 Key parameters obtained from trajectory simulation of high clear shot Distance (m) Boer 77 (feather) Tailai 76 (feather) Yonex 77 (plastic) Caldor 77 (plastic) 9.75 6.88 9.59 8.71 Height (m) 6.99 5.68 7.12 6.76 Time (s) 2.30 2.04 2.36 2.31


These simulations incorporated experimental aerodynamic data to model the ight of the shuttlecock. Results of the simulations were in good agreement with the trajectories produced by players. The current work will be enhanced by CFD simulations and inclusion of more diverse players for experimental conrmation of trajectory simulations. For the moment, poet Amy Lowell may have the last word: But the shuttlecock Swings slowly into the ice-blue sky, Heaving up on the warm air Like a foam-bubble on a wave, With feathers slanted and sustaining. [1]
Acknowledgments The authors are grateful to Lafayette College Mechanical Engineering Department, which provided support for the completion of this work as the rst authors undergraduate honours thesis. They are particularly indebted to Keith Moon and Harry Folk. Support for instrumentation used in the current study was provided by the National Science Foundation (CTS 0552104).

It was observed that an experienced player asked to deliver the shuttlecock to a particular location is able to produce a consistent nal position regardless of shuttlecock type, suggesting that the players expertise allows him to adapt and compensate for the increased drag on plastic shuttlecocks. The player may unconsciously adjust the impact force applied on the shuttlecock during the impact. This could indicate that minor performance differences between different types of shuttlecock have more dramatic effects on the trajectories produced by less skilled players. It is recommended that human players of varying skill range be investigated in future studies.

1. Lowell AL (1916) A Roxbury garden. In: Men, Women and Ghosts. The MacMillan Company, New York 2. Kwan M, Cheng CL, Tang WT, Rasmussen J (2010) Measurement of badminton racket deection during a stroke. Sports Eng 12:143153 3. Cooke A (1999) Shuttlecock aerodynamics. Sports Eng 2:8596 4. Cooke A, Mullins J (2007) The ight of the shuttlecock. New Scientist 1916:4042 5. Lambert C (2010) Badmintons lightning charm. Harv Mag 5759 6. Alam F, Chowdhury H, Theppadungporn C, Subic A (2010) Measurements of aerodynamic properties of badminton shuttlecocks. Procedia Eng 2:24872492 7. Cooke A (2002) Computer simulation of shuttlecock trajectories. Sports Eng 5:93105 8. Chen LM, Pan YH, Chen YJ (2009) A study of shuttlecocks trajectory in badminton. J Sports Sci Med 8:657662 9. Peastrel M, Lynch R, Angelo A (1980) Terminal velocity of a shuttlecock in vertical fall. Am J Phys 48(7):511513 10. Post SL, McLachlan J, Lonas T, Dancs J, Knobloch D, Darrow C et al (2009) Aerodynamics of a badminton shuttlecock. In: ASME 2009 International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition. ASME, Lake Buena, pp 16 11. Mehta RD (1985) Aerodynamics of Sport Balls. Annu Rev Inc 17:151189 12. Tsai CL, Huang CF, Jih SC (1997) Biomechanical analysis of four different badminton forehand overhead strokes. Phys Educ J 22:189200 13. Chang SS (2002) Kinematic analysis via three-dimensional cinematography for two types of forehand smash stroke in senior high school badminton players. Masters thesis, National Taiwan Normal University, Taiwan 14. Watts RG, Ferrer R (1987) The lateral force on spinning sphere: aerodynamics of a curveball. Am J Phys 55(1):4044 15. Stevens D (2008) Forum discussion Badmintoncentral.com. Accessed 10 Sept 2010 16. Davies JM (1949) The aerodynamics of golf balls. J Appl Phys 20:821828

5 Conclusions Players report that the rigidity and the feel and sound (bang) of a feather shuttlecock at impact are signicant factors in their preference for feathers [4, 15]. The rigidity of the feather shuttle likely results in its responsiveness to players quick wrist and racket movements. At contact, it does not lose energy to deformation as a more pliant plastic shuttlecock skirt does. Shuttlecock rigidity also affects the sound of impact, and the feather bang is both more satisfying to players than the somewhat dampened sound of a plastic shuttle and a natural consequence of the feathers innate touch. The combined result of these properties for a player is that a feather shuttlecock seems to be more easily controlled than does a plastic. The aerodynamic properties of feather and plastic shuttlecocks also provide support for players preference for feathers: drag is lower on the feather shuttlecocks, and they will thus travel further when hit similarly. The trajectory simulations performed in the current work also indicate that feather shuttlecocks travel further than plastic shuttlecocks of the same speed grade, for all four common shot types. This work has also determined that skirt deformation causes a reduction in drag for plastic shuttlecocks at high speeds. A quantitative study of skirt stiffness would likely be useful in the design of more desirable plastic shuttlecocks. Manufacturers seeking to more closely mimic feather shuttlecocks might seek to reinforce the plastic skirt to make its rigidity better match that of a feather skirt.