The Magnus Effect (aka how to bend it like beckham)

magnus effect

Understanding Spin: Practical Physics Lessons and the Magnus Effect

Since the trajectory of the ball is determined by the type of spin you put on it, what you really need to understand is where on the ball to kick with which part of you foot in order to impart the desired spin. But if you wanted to understand the Magnus Effect a bit more, check out the video below (which we’ve done a short summary for below).

  • You generate spin on the ball based on where you kick it (the location on the ball that your foot touches) and the direction of force you apply
  • The ball traveling through the air meets air flow resistance from the other direction
  • Right around the ball, there is air drag circling around it (the ‘spin’)
  • As oncoming air passes the ball, the side moving in the same direction as the spinning air drag will accelerate, following the curve of the ball
  • The air on the other side that is moving against the spinning ball meets opposing air and can’t continue around the ball, so it goes straight
  • This creates a net force of air to one side, forcing the ball to curve to the other side (see: Newton’s Third Law!)



Why use ten words when you can use nine. Made you count!

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