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Football physics: The "impossible" free kick - Erez Garty

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  • 20,983 Questions Answered
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Let’s Begin…

In 1997, Brazilian football player Roberto Carlos set up for a 35 meter free kick with no direct line to the goal. Carlos’s shot sent the ball flying wide of the players, but just before going out of bounds it hooked to the left and soared into the net. How did he do it? Erez Garty describes the physics behind one of the most magnificent goals in the history of football.

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Meet The Creators

  • Educator Erez Garty
  • Director Hector Herrera
  • Producer Pazit Cahlon
  • Sound Designer Nick Sewell
  • Narrator Addison Anderson
Additional Resources for you to Explore
As you have seen in the video there is a lot of physics in soccer. The following article describes more physical principles of soccer kicks! Take a look and see more on how physics is part of any and all soccer games! Then, visit Real World Physics Problems to check out more soccer physics! Do you think knowing Physics can help you be a better soccer player?

This video describes how a Banana kick is done. When you watch it, try to think why is every step done. NASA’s: Bending A Soccer Ball may give you more insight into this type of soccer kick. Go outside, find an unoccupied soccer net, and give it a try! Does the soccer ball have anything to do with all this? National Geographic may have your answer in an article about the new Brazuca ball. 

Several articles were written analyzing the physics underlying Brazilian soccer player Roberto Carlos' kick. Read: Carlos ’97 free kick no fluke, say French Physicists and Bend It Like Magnus to find out more. Do you find Roberto Carlos’ kicking ability amazing? Read this article: “Impossible” Soccer Kick Leads to New Physics Equation.

Love soccer? So does the rest of the world! Watch this TED-Ed lesson: Soccer, the world’s favorite game. Find the physics of sports amazing? These TED-Ed lessons can provide more answers to your questions! Gridiron physics: Scalars and vectors, and An athlete uses physics to shatter world records. Where else do you see Physics in your everyday life?

Educator photo by Dan Offer.
Avatar for Martijn Vlamings
What is missing in this story, is that Roberto Carlos always hit the ball directly on the ventil. He turned the ball so the ventil was in the middle and his foot hit the ball on the ventil.
07/07/2015 • 
 3 Responses
 / 3 Updates
Avatar for Christian Love
08/11/2015 • 
 2 Responses
 / 2 Updates
Avatar for Arqam Zahid
i dont get the question 7.Please somebody help me.
09/13/2015 • 
 3 Responses
 / 3 Updates
Avatar for joshua martinez
joshua martinez
10/26/2016 • 
 1 Response
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Avatar for Alyssa Gomez
10/26/2016 • 
 0 Responses
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Avatar for bini yam
06/13/2017 • 
 1 Response
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Avatar for van zuid
van zuid
ewaaa
06/13/2017 • 
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Avatar for Jose Luis Maldonado
Is amazing, is a cross perfect and a beautiful goal, is by weather conditions
09/22/2017 • 
 3 Responses
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Avatar for tyler Schultz
The Magnus effect is incredible and is really an amazing feature of certain occurrences. this feature allows the ball to curve or the item you are using as long as you apply a certain amount of force and spin to the ball. The Magnus effect is incredible and many of these laws of motions are amazing in what they do to our world
11/05/2017 • 
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Avatar for Seth Vise
Seth Vise
Really i don't like the physic, I enter in this article because I think is a soccer topic, but when I rode, it was interesting. Is incredible how the physic influes in that beautiful sport. Maybe can be a advantage for the physicists :v.
05/30/2018 • 
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Avatar for Heber Yael Barcenas Garduño
this video is very interesting because it explain how something like a soccer boll can have so much interesting scientific data to make the perfect shot.
09/16/2018 • 
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Avatar for Anass Essayah
10/25/2018 • 
 1 Response
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Avatar for 안 지훈
ㅁㄴㅁㄴㅁㄴㄴ
09/16/2019 • 
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Avatar for Choi Jia
06/23/2020 • 
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Avatar for Jihoon Chung
Gee, even i love soccer i didn't really know about these fantastic and fabulous phenomenon on a soccer ball. Roberto Carlos would be good on science, and well on sports.
08/03/2020 • 
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Avatar for Ashani English
12/10/2020 • 
 1 Response
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Avatar for AKEEM SIMPSON
The reason he was able to do that is because of the Magnus effect. When an object is spinning the air pressure is not equal on one side of the object so it allows the object to curve
02/08/2021 • 
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Avatar for JUSTIN HILL
02/11/2021 • 
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Avatar for Owen Fallowfield
Roberto carlos is such a baller
06/07/2021 • 
 4 Responses
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Avatar for Duy Bui
if the doesnt swing or curve at all, why is it fly in a zic zac flow?
07/04/2021 • 
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Avatar for 현서 조
07/13/2021 • 
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Avatar for דניאל מלכה
Why when we try to kick a boomerang kick the ball spins in smaller and smaller circles?
04/30/2022 • 
 0 Responses
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Avatar for Y T
Y T
06/01/2022 • 
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About TED-Ed Animations

TED-Ed Animations feature the words and ideas of educators brought to life by professional animators. Are you an educator or animator interested in creating a TED-Ed Animation? Nominate yourself here »

Meet The Creators

  • Educator Erez Garty
  • Director Hector Herrera
  • Producer Pazit Cahlon
  • Sound Designer Nick Sewell
  • Narrator Addison Anderson

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