He shoots! He scores!

It may look like magic, but three research groups have employed MSC.Software Corp’s MSC Patran to work out exactly how footballers like David Beckham bend a football around a defensive wall during freekicks.

Dr. Takeshi Asai of the Yamagata University’s Sports Science Laboratory used MSC.Patran to model the stress and deformation of the foot and ball as the player strikes the ball.

This simulation, combined with the computational fluid dynamics research done by Fluent and wind tunnel and trajectory modelling done by the Dr. Matt Carré of the University of Sheffield Sports Engineering Research Group, allowed the research teams to determine the actual physics governing free kicks in football.

As the player strikes the ball, the drag and force experienced by the ball strongly influences its trajectory, especially if the ball is spinning.

When a player attempts to induce a shot that bends, a reaction called Magnus Force causes an imbalance of pressure to occur. This imbalance can be so pronounced at the end of a ball’s flight that the sideways ‘spin’ force and ‘drag’ force causes the ball to alter its trajectory.

‘The computer modelling techniques my group has developed with MSC.Patran will help us design better football boots in the near term and explain how a football player’s foot deforms as it interacts with the ball,’ said Dr. Takeshi Asai.

‘We believe that our research into the underlying physics of footballs is crucial to helping us explain more about free-kicks than ever before,’ said Dr. Matt Carré from the University of Sheffield Sports Engineering Research Group. ‘The work we are doing will lead to insights that can be applied to making better footballs.’