How Often Are You Allowed To Change The Shuttle in Badminton?

damaged shuttlecock
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Last Updated on 07/09/2023 by Kriss

Have you ever wondered how often you are allowed to change the shuttle during a match?

In badminton, there’s no fixed rule specifying how often you must change the shuttle, but it’s generally replaced when damaged or when its flight becomes erratic. The decision to change the shuttle can be made by the umpire in professional matches, or mutually agreed upon by players in casual games.

Who Decides to Change the Shuttle?

You might think it’s solely the umpire’s job to decide when to change the shuttle, but that’s not entirely true. Here’s how it usually goes down:

  • Umpire’s Call: In professional matches, the umpire has the final say. If a player wants to change the shuttle the umpire needs to agree. Usually, the opponent also agrees, but even if the opponent does not agree – the umpire has the final say.
  • No Umpire?: In casual games without an umpire, it’s a mutual decision between the players or teams.

A surprising fact we found is, that there doesn’t seem to be a rule that describes the scenario where there is no umpire and your opponent just won’t agree to change the shuttle (BWF offical rules). So even if the shuttlecock is damaged, you oppoent could technically still reject the change. Of course this is not a fair behaviour, but you never know. So if you know the official rules for this scenario – feel free to let us know in the comments.

Badminton racket with shuttles around it.
You and your opponent need to agree on a change of the shuttlecock.

When to Change the Shuttle

There’s no strict rule that says you must change the shuttle after X number of rallies or even if it it’s flight path is broken. However, the general guideline is to change it when it’s damaged or when its flight becomes erratic. Here are some signs that you need a new shuttle:

  • Feathers are Broken or Missing: Even one missing feather can alter the shuttle’s flight.
  • Erratic Flight Path: If the shuttle starts to wobble or dip unexpectedly, it’s time for a change.
  • Slower Speed: A worn-out shuttle will lose its speed, affecting the pace of the game.
  • Inconsistency Compared to other Shuttles: If a shuttle is too quick or has a weird flight path compared to the same shuttles from the same manufacturer, it usually means it slipped through quality control. You can also change a perfect-looking shuttle that is not consistent with all the others you’ve used.
Also read: How Is A Real Feather Shuttle Made?

Why Singles Matches See More Shuttle Changes

Have you ever wondered why singles seem to see more shuttle changes than doubles?

Here’s why:

  • Longer Rallies: Singles matches often have longer rallies than doubles, so the shuttle takes more hits.
  • Precision Matters: In singles, each point is often hard-fought, and players rely on the shuttle’s consistent behavior for precise shots. Even a slight change in the shuttle’s flight can make a big difference. So even a slightly bruised shuttle gets exchanged very quickly in professional games.

So a very intense doubles game can also see more shuttle changes than average.


Knowing that you can change the shuttle as often as you want is important. An umpire always as the last say, and if you don’t have one, you and your opponent need to agree on the change of the shuttle.

Happy playing! ????

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