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If you're playing badminton in the summer, or at least in high temperatures (> 25°C/77°F), the speed of the shuttle cock is quite different to that of playing in cold temperatures (16°C/60°F).

Why does the temperature have an effect on the speed of a shuttle cock?

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The most profound effect I can think of, has to do with thermal expansion coefficient of cork. As you can see in this promotional video about the production of feather shuttle cocks, all feather cocks contain a piece of cork.

When the temperature increases, the cork expands in volume, gradually pushing the feather stems (dotted lines) outside. This causes the outside feathers to bend inwards, thus reducing drag, see picture:

enter image description here

The same, only reversed, is happening when the temperature is decreasing. Then the stems are drawn inwards, pushing the feathers outside, thus increasing drag. Other factors that have an influence on the speed of the shuttle are humidity and air pressure that usually coincide with the temperature.

In order to compensate for those differences, feather shuttle cocks come in different speeds and weights. This reference takes both altitude and temperature into account: SPEED

Note: I am not affiliated to the company mentioned in the YouTube video.

  • Good research. To be clear, does the size of the feather cock increase in direct proportion with the piece of cork? Also, does the speed increase directly because of the reduction in drag assisting in the penetration of the feather cock? – user527 Jul 11 '13 at 14:57

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