A shuttlecock is used in the sport badminton. The shuttlecock center is hit with a badminton racquet over the net, in this fast sport. A shuttlecock is also called a shuttle. Other names for shuttlecock are bird, or birdie, because it can be made with feathers.
Shuttlecocks can be made of many types of materials, including plastic and feathers. It creates a cone shape, and is held together by a round center, usually made of cork or rubber. The cone shape the feathers, or other materials create is called a shuttlecock skirt.
It is harder to hit a feather shuttlecock fast, because there is more drag. They are also less durable than plastic shuttles. Experienced badminton players usually play with feather shuttlecocks, and in competition, badminton is almost always played with feather shuttles. They feel that feather shuttles give them more control, and better play is needed to hit feather shuttles.
In school gyms and amateur/beginner clubs in Europe and North America, plastic shuttlecocks are more often used than feather ones. This is to save feathers, since plastic shuttlecocks do not break easily. Feathers on the feather shuttles bend or break if the player does not hit the cork or rubber center.