# The Physics Behind a Curveball - The Magnus Effect | Summary and Q&A

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July 1, 2014
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Physics Girl
The Physics Behind a Curveball - The Magnus Effect

## TL;DR

Learn how the spin and airflow around a soccer ball can make it curve during a shot, known as the Magnus effect.

## Key Insights

• β½ The curved trajectory of a soccer ball during a shot is a result of the Magnus effect and the airflow around it.
• π Spin applied to the ball determines the direction of the curve, with inside and outside foot placement making the ball curve left or right.
• π¬ Backspin on the ball can make it curve upwards when kicked.
• β½ The Magnus effect allows for various types of shots in soccer, including bending the ball or creating a knuckleball.
• π¬ Airflow is essential for the ball to curve, as air pressure differences push the ball in the opposite direction of the airflow.
• π¦ The Magnus effect in soccer works similarly to Newton's third law of motion.
• β½ Bending shots in soccer require skill and understanding of the physics behind them.

## Transcript

[SQUEAKING] [POP] We were at this event the other day. Yes! Yeah! Woo! And I saw a guy kick a ball. MEN: Goal! I was distraught over the curved trajectory of the ball. MEN: Goal! How do they do that? And since you can't get good at soccer using physics-- MAN: Oops. --I'd better consult a friend. Kyle! [WHOOSH] Kyle, I wanna to be able to bend it. O... Read More

### Q: How does spin on a soccer ball cause it to curve?

When a player kicks the ball with spin, the airflow around the ball is affected. The side of the ball moving in the same direction as the spin is deflected, causing the ball to curve in that direction.

### Q: Can the Magnus effect be used to create different types of shots?

Yes, players can use the inside or outside of their foot to make the ball spin in different directions, allowing them to curve the ball left or right. They can also apply backspin to send the ball up into the air.

### Q: Is the airflow around the ball crucial for curving the shot?

Absolutely. Without air flowing across the ball, it would not be possible to generate the necessary pressure differences and achieve the curved trajectory. This is why the technique wouldn't work in a vacuum.

### Q: What is a knuckleball shot in soccer?

A knuckleball shot refers to a shot with no spin on the ball. It creates turbulence and unpredictable movement, making it challenging for goalkeepers to anticipate where the ball will go.

## Summary & Key Takeaways

• The curved trajectory of a soccer ball during a shot is not magic, but rather the result of physics, specifically the Magnus effect.

• By kicking the ball with the inside or outside of their foot, and adding spin, players can make the ball curve left or right.

• The airflow around the ball creates a net flow of air, pushing the ball in the opposite direction, similar to Newton's third law.