Sports Engineering

, Volume 13, Issue 1, pp 47–55 | Cite as

The effect of surface geometry on soccer ball trajectories

Original Article


Two different measurement techniques are used to examine the effect of surface geometry on soccer ball trajectories. Five professional players are observed using high-speed video when taking curling free kicks with four different soccer balls. The input conditions are measured and the average launch velocity and spin are found to be approximately 24 m/s and 106 rad/s. It is found that the players can apply more spin (~50%) on average to one ball, which has a slightly rougher surface than the other balls. The trajectories for the same four balls fired at various velocities and spin rates across a sports hall using a bespoke firing device are captured using high-speed video cameras, and their drag and lift coefficients estimated. Balls with more panels are found to experience a higher lift coefficient. The drag coefficient results show a large amount of scatter, and it is difficult to distinguish between the balls. Using the results in a trajectory prediction programme it is found that increasing the number of panels from 14 to 32 can significantly alter the final position of a 20 m-curling free kick by up to 1 m.


Soccer Sports balls Aerodynamics Trajectory Surface roughness 


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Copyright information

© International Sports Engineering Association 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.ETH Zürich, MLJ24ZürichSwitzerland
  2. 2.Department of Mechanical EngineeringUniversity of SheffieldSheffieldUK

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