Eli5: how does a soccer ball curve when kicked ?


Was watching soccer over the weekend and wondering how the physics work to make that happen?

In: 3


The reason the ball curves is because of something called the “Magnus Effect.” When the ball spins as it’s moving through the air, it creates something like a little tornado around itself. This tornado makes the air around the ball move differently on one side than the other. And because the air is moving differently, it can push the ball to the side.

Think about it like this: if you were spinning a top, and then you put your hand next to it, you’d feel the air moving. The same thing happens with a soccer ball. The spinning makes the air move, and the air can push the ball to the side.

That’s why soccer players can make the ball curve by kicking it in a certain way. By kicking it in a way that makes it spin, they can create that little tornado of air and make the ball go to the side.