Thursday, March 13, 2014

Science of soccer ball aerodynamics

Deadspin has a great preview of the World Cup soccer ball, the Brazuca, and an analysis of whether the ball will swerve as much as the versions used in 2006 and 2010. Basically, knuckleball-like flight happens when the ball is under high drag, which occurs at low speeds.  In any soccer ball, the seams disturb the air flow and diminish drag,  making the ball's flight straight (its trajectory can be bent by spinning the ball). The South Africa World Cup ball, the Jabulani, had reduced seam depth, and therefore could "knuckle," exhibiting erratic behaviors due to high-drag flight, [YouTube] at much higher speeds than normal play balls would. The verdict on the Brazilian Brazuca ball is that its aerodynamics are likely to be to be much more like conventional balls. The blog entry has charts and imaging to make the case! Still can't wait.


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