In Conversation with: Kenichi Tago and Kumiko Ogura

To understand the importance of using the best shuttlecocks, we spoke to Kenichi Tago, one of Japan’s leading national team members, and Kumiko Ogura, a former Japan national team member and Quarter Finalist at The Beijing Olympics.

KENICHI TAGO

Main point‘The importance of shuttlecock performance and durability for quality practice.’

Why should you consider the quality of the shuttlecocks you use?

Tago: Of course the choice of shuttlecock is important. The stability of the flight and the durability are important. Shuttlecocks that are made by the other companies and used international tournaments are often less durable and stable. Unfortunately, we cannot decide which shuttlecocks are used in tournaments, we just have to adapt to their performance.
Ogura: There are a lot of shuttlecock makers in the world. For me, some makers’ shuttlecocks are too heavy, others are too light. Obviously the shuttlecocks have an effect on my performance. If I use YONEX shuttlecocks, I can hit the shuttlecock accurately. But if I use the others’ shuttlecocks, it’s difficult for me to control them because their flight distance and trajectory are not all that stable. So, the shuttlecocks are vital influence on the quality of my performance.

KENICHI TAGO

How do the shuttlecocks have an effect on your performance?

Ogura: I care about each shuttlecock. If I use poor quality shuttlecocks, they turn round and round in flight when I smash, because their trajectory is not stable.
- What exactly do you mean by ‘turn round and round’?
Ogura: Some makers’ shuttlecocks wobble in flight, so I can’t predict where the shuttlecock will land.
Tago: The reason why the shuttlecock wobbles is because it’s out of balance. The shuttlecock flies unsteadily and its trajectory isn’t stabilized because the balance between the feathers and the cork is poor, and the rotation number of the shuttlecock isn’t constant. There are two challenges in shuttlecock design. One is that its flight distance is too long. The other is that it slows down too easily. A contradiction I know! But that’s where the balance comes in. Whether a shuttle is not affected by air resistance enough or whether it is affected too much. Hopefully I don’t have to use such shuttlecocks in a game because the timing with which I hit the shuttlecock changes by the second and, this being so, the balance of the shuttle then becomes a vital factor.