Which of These Sports Projectiles Has Been Recorded Traveling the Fastest?

November 15, 2023
David Sunnyside

The world of sports can produce incredible feats of speed and precision. Examining the fastest projectiles can give us insight into the physics of motion and help us to understand the potential of a sport to be exciting and competitive. Among the most notable examples of rapid sports projectiles are golf balls, baseballs, tennis balls, hockey pucks and soccer balls.

But which of these has been recorded traveling the fastest? We’ve all seen the incredible speed of a well-hit badminton birdie, but to hit one at 493 kilometers per hour is truly remarkable. This is faster than a golf ball, a Jai Alai pelota and even an All-Ireland Senior Hurling sliotar!

However, this statistic must be qualified. It is not just the initial speed at which a shuttlecock is hit that matters but the distance over which it travels. Compared to other racquet sports projectsiles, the shuttlecock has significantly higher drag due to its feathers and therefore decelerates more rapidly over long distances. For this reason, we cannot claim that badminton is the fastest racquet sport but it certainly has one of the fastest initial speeds. A depiction of battledore and shuttlecock from 1804. Image credit: Library of Congress.

David Sunnyside
Co-founder of Urban Splatter • Digital Marketer • Engineer • Meditator
linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram