The development of the AirShuttle has been a five-year project in collaboration with the Institute for Sports Research (ISR) at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore.
It all started with a vision to develop a new outdoor shuttlecock with increased resistance to wind, to allow people to have a more positive experience of badminton outdoors.
The main considerations were that it must be played with the same rackets and have good flight performance, spin response and durability.
In 2014, we signed a Memorandum of Understanding with ISR aimed at developing performance criteria and design parameters. Later that year, we signed a second MoU to commence development of the prototype shuttlecocks for testing.
The basic criteria agreed were:
- The shuttlecocks must have similar trajectory, acoustics and play feel to that of a traditional indoor shuttle.
- Similar flight properties with limited influence from humidity variations.
- Minimal impact from side and axial wind.
- Needed to be able to be played in winds up to 12 kmph.
- The shuttlecocks be durable and cost-effective.
During the period 2015-18, over 30 prototypes were developed and subject to rigorous testing.
A preferred design was confirmed in early 2018 and prototypes were then tested in independent studies by the University of Alicante and the Universiti of Malaya as part of the pilot programme, using groups of players from beginner level through to Olympic-level athletes.
Results from this testing were analysed and patents posted for the key design elements.
In March 2020, BWF introduced the shuttlecock to the global market.
Tests showed that the characteristics of the AirShuttle make net shots very difficult to control, therefore, the net area has been taken out by marking a 2m dead zone, this will encourage strokes away from the net and to facilitate rally situations.
The player must not step inside the dead zone to hit the AirShuttle; after the hit, the player can step or land inside the dead zone.
AirBadminton can be played in Singles (with one player per side), Doubles (with two players per side) and Triples (with three players per side).
In Triples players are not allowed to hit two consecutive returns. The player must allow another member of the team to take the next return. This rule creates more movement and increases the strategic element of the game.
Triples is a new fast-paced and exciting play event where good strategy and communication is key between teammates.
In any game, the right to serve shall pass consecutively, from the initial server who started the game; to any player of the receiving side; to one of the partners of the initial server; to any of the other two players of the receiving side; to the third partner of the initial server; to the third player of the receiving side; to the initial server and so on.
After the service is returned, in a rally, the AirShuttle may be hit by any player of the serving side and either player of the receiving side alternately, until the AirShuttle ceases to be in play.
Players from both sides must not hit two consecutive returns.
Following considerable testing, piloting and data collection, the proposed playing court is a rectangle measuring 16m x 6m meters for doubles and triples, and 16m x 5m for singles; surrounded by a free zone, which is a minimum of 1m on all sides.
The length of the court is slightly longer than the 13.4m indoor badminton court, this is due to the fact that the AirBadminton court has a 2m dead zone at the front of the court in order to incentivize rallies away from the net area, which will lead to better AirShuttle flight performance.
The new court’s dimensions ensure that the AirShuttle will stay in play longer and rallies will be more entertaining.
The posts shall be placed on the doubles & triples side lines irrespective of whether singles, doubles, or triples is being played.
- When playing on grass and hard surfaces courts, posts shall be 1.55m in height from the surface of the court.
- For sand surface, the posts shall be 1.5m in height and the top of the net from the surface should be 1.45m at the center of the court.
Research showed that by lowering the net to 1.45m, errors were reduced and rallies were extended.
AirBadminton is designed to be played on hard, grass and sand surfaces in parks, gardens, streets, playgrounds and beaches around the world.
It is important that all playing surfaces are levelled and uniform as possible, free of rocks, holes and anything else which can represent risk to players.
Synthetic flooring may also be used as an alternative to concrete and asphalt.
The lines should be 4-5cm in width and contrast sharply to the color of the surface. For sand and natural grass surfaces, boundary lines should be ribbons made of resistant material.
- A bungee cord should be attached to each corner and connected to a buried anchor disk.
- The bungee will provide the tension necessary to keep the boundaries in place while giving them flexibility to minimise the chance of injury should a player catch their foot under the line.
For concrete and asphalt surfaces, boundary lines should be a tape made of a resistant material that sticks firmly to the ground or they can be marked/painted directly on the surface.
AirBadminton has been designed to be played with the same traditional rackets. However, based on the outdoor elements involved during the game it is recommended that players use a lower tension (between 8-9kg / 17.5-20lbs) and a thicker string when playing AirBadminton.