Badminton World Federation (BWF) has approved the use of synthetic feather shuttlecocks at BWF International sanctioned tournaments of all levels from 2021.
Following this decision, BWF has made it possible for shuttlecock manufacturers to seek approval under the BWF Equipment Approval scheme for versions of their synthetic feather shuttlecocks to be used in international competitions.
The first synthetic shuttlecock approved by BWF has been developed with the technological cooperation of Yonex in an effort to increase sustainability within the sport, BWF stated in a Press statement.
BWF Secretary General Thomas Lund said this announcement is a positive step for the sport. “The vision is to ensure the long-term sustainability of badminton and become less dependent of using natural feathers for shuttlecocks. We heard from some of the elite players involved in the testing of the Yonex synthetic feather shuttlecock that they were able to adjust to the slight variances between the synthetic feather version and the traditional natural feather shuttlecock quite quickly, so that is great news for the performance of the shuttle.
“We are naturally thrilled by the outcome of the project and we look forward to the synthetic feather shuttle evolving even further. A big thank you must go to Yonex for their hard work, innovative thinking and dedication to the cause over the last five years. We believe this leads to greater acceptance and widespread use of synthetic feather shuttlecocks from 2021 and beyond.
“Moreover, we strongly believe that this new synthetic feather shuttlecock product can provide a unique platform for the future growth of badminton and we hope to get strong support from our players and other stakeholders within the badminton community.”
Extensive testing of various prototypes was conducted during the development phase of the project with Yonex, with new synthetic feather shuttles finally being tested at three BWF sanctioned international tournaments last year.
Feedback indicated that the Yonex synthetic feather shuttle was more durable and economical compared to a traditional natural feathered shuttle, whilst at the same time providing a very similar flight and performance.
During the various tests it was discovered that the synthetic feather shuttle could reduce shuttlecock usage up to 25 percent, providing a significant environmental and economic edge for badminton going forward.
Off the back of the testing, the BWF has now granted approval for the synthetic feather shuttlecock to be used in an official capacity at any international BWF sanctioned tournament from the beginning of 2021.
It will be up to the various tournament hosts in cooperation with any brands having an approved synthetic feather shuttlecock available, to decide in which tournaments the new synthetic feather shuttlecock version will be used.
It is to be expected that there will be an implementation period of a number of years before the synthetic feather shuttlecock will be more widely used as the production capacity and general availability of new synthetic products will slowly increase to cover the expected demand.
BWF is also now updating the general technical approval criteria within the Equipment Approval Scheme to ensure that any acceptable technical differences between synthetic and natural feather shuttlecock can be embraced within the approval process.
The most important area is that the flight and playing properties are very similar, while at the same time ensuring that minor technical criteria does not create barriers for the introduction of new synthetic products.