Sunday, September 25, 2016

Bend It Like Beckham

Throughout almost every type of sport, the ability to purposely curve the ball's trajectory is absolutely vital. Mariano Rivera became the greatest closer of all time thanks to his devastating usage of a pitch called the cutter, while across the pond, David Beckham shocked the world enough to create the saying "Bend It like Beckham". With one kick of the ball in the World Cup qualifying, David Beckham scored the "Goal that Shook the World", knocked Greece out of the qualification, and sent England to the 2002 World Cup. Apart from the hours and hours of physical preparation, training, ball work, and shooting practice, the physics that impacted the ball and made the event possible exist in every day activities and occurrences.

The striking of the ball involves an elastic collision between the ball and the players foot. The kinetic energy of the moving foot is conserved and transferred into the ball, resulting in the ball picking up speed and moving forward. Beckham's unique free kick involves an incredible amount of spin and bend on the ball which allows him to move the ball around the wall and away from the goalie. This involves the Magnus Effect and the force of friction.

Once airborne, the ball acts like a projectile and follows kinematic behavior. Therefore, the initial work done by the player, the force applied over a distance to move the foot, the conservation of kinetic energy in the strike of the ball, the various forces acting on the ball to give it direction and spin, and the kinematics of the ball all lead to an incredible entertaining spectacle that transcends country lines and bonds cultures.

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