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The Physics of Soccer

The Physics of Soccer - Introduction

Physics is the branch of science that deals with the physical world and its properties.

Physics use math to explain the behavior of matter as we observe it with the naked eye.

Soccer physics explain why the soccer ball curves, why the ball bounces and how high it bounces as well as how the pressure in the ball affects the bounce or kick of the ball.

To better explain physics in soccer we need to use some of the physics laws such are:

Newton's law of motion, Bernoulli's discoveries about fluid flow, Maxwell's equations of electromagnetics, Einstein's theories of gravitation and relativistic motion, and a lot more complicated formulas and physics laws.

Just kicking the soccer ball relates to the physics of motion, the physic of friction, and even aerodynamics.

Newton's 1st law

The first law of motion is called the Law of Inertia.

It states that “any object at rest, will tend to stay at rest, and any object in motion, will tend to stay in motion unless acted on by an unbalanced force.”

This unbalanced force could be: gravity, wind, or any moving object.

In the physics of soccer unbalanced force is usually the player’s foot.

The player will use muscle in the body to create a force to move the leg and kick the ball.

Because the ball is at rest, it will continue to stay at rest but once kicked, it will keep moving in a straight line without any intent of stopping because of the physics of soccer.

The reason for the ball stopping is because of friction and Earth’s gravitational pull.

Newton's 2nd law

Newton’s second law states that “The change in velocity (acceleration) with which an object moves is directly proportional to the magnitude of the force applied to the object and inversely proportional to the mass of the object.”

Using the physics of soccer this simply means that if the ball has a lot of mass, it will require more force to accelerate and if the ball has little mass, it will require very little force to accelerate when the soccer ball is kicked.

Newton's 3rd law

Newton’s final law of motion states that “for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.”

This literally means that if you kick the soccer ball, it will kick back at you just as hard.

The only reason you don't feel or realize this, is because our legs have more mass, meaning more inertia, which is the resistance to move according to the physics of soccer.


The physics of soccer continue with Momentum.

Momentum is the velocity of object times its mass.

Every time we strike the soccer ball we transfer the momentum to the ball.

Also whenever we receive the soccer ball we use our feet to slow down the momentum of the ball by moving our feet back and resisting the ball slowly so that we have more control of the ball.

Magnus Affect

It is very exciting to see a player score a goal by bending the soccer ball around the players and into the back of the net.

So how are players able to do this?

Physics on a soccer ball is the best way to explain how this happens.

Soccer ball is basically a projectile that is flying through the air because of velocity provided to it by kicking the ball.

Reason for the ball curving is because the player kicks the ball at a certain angle and with certain velocity (power).

Once the ball is kicked and is flying through the air, its really the air that is curving the ball.

The Magnus affect is the reason the ball curves through the air.

Once the ball’s velocity drops the Magnus affect will start to increase.

When a ball spins through fluid matter, it creates a barrier of air, kind of like a force field making the ball travel with just enough speed to cause the soccer ball to curve in the air tricking the goalkeeper as its moving through the air with a curve.

This affect will make the ball travel with just fast enough speed so it curves in the air to trick and beat the goalkeeper :)


Drag occurs when the soccer ball is kicked and it travels through the air pushing through while the air pushes back, thus slowing the soccer ball down according to the physics of soccer.

Drag is the reason that soccer ball doesn't travel in a perfect parabola.

Drag can be dramatically decreased by kicking the soccer ball with a spin and once the ball starts spinning it causes magnus effect which decreases air resistance drastically.


Whenever the soccer ball is kicked on the ground there is always a force parallel, but opposite of the soccer ball according to soccer physics.

This parallel and opposite force is called friction.

Friction is caused when two opposing surfaces make contact with each other.

The electromagnetic forces within each surfaces resist the relative lateral motion of objects, in this case it is the soccer ball and grass.

Friction can also happen when the ball is in the air.

Because air is matter, friction is always present.

Friction is the reason why the soccer ball always slows down.

People sometimes confuse gravity as the force that slows down the soccer ball, but the physics of soccer prove that gravity is really just increasing the friction because it forces the ball down against the ground and when that happens friction occurs.

Friction turns kinetic energy into heat so if you can kick the ball hard enough , the soccer ball can actually catch on fire :D

Projectile Motion

Projectile motion is best shown when the ball is kicked by the soccer player and it reaches its maximum height before it comes back down.

When the ball reaches the very top height, the velocity is equal to zero.

The reason why the ball did not go straight upward when it was kicked but instead comes back down on the ground is because the ball is being pulled down by earth's gravity.

With this knowledge of soccer physics, you can now understand how soccer works and why it works that way.

Use this knowledge to improve your game :)

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soccer shooting/attacking drills

  • Soccer Shooting Drills will help players develop their kicks on the soccer ball. There are different kinds of shooting techniques in soccer. Knowing the right way to kick the ball is crucial to firm and precise shooting.
  • Soccer Shooting Tips to learn the proper shooting technique and positive habits for shooting the soccer ball.
  • Fun Soccer Drills using games with attacking drills through crossing, or shooting.

soccer passing drills

  • Soccer Passing Drills are focused on repetitive passing of the ball, while the player uses the right technique in locking his/her ankle, and making firm contact on the ball.
  • Soccer Passing Tips and Technique for passing the soccer ball with pace and accuracy.
  • Four Squares passing soccer drill.
  • Possession Game for improving passing soccer skills.
  • Back Pedal for lots of passes and movement.
  • Small Sided Games to apply in training and help with young soccer players development passing, quick thinking, dribbling, creativity and decision making.
  • Soccer Practice Drills to help players learn how to move the soccer ball wide, and attack from crosses, and wide areas of the field.
  • Soccer Passing and Receiving Drills to help players get more comfortable on the soccer ball. Players will learn to receive the ball, and move after the pass is complete. 

soccer ball control drills

  • Ball Control Soccer Drills to help players get more familiar with the surface of the ball.
  • Soccer Training Drills to improve players ball control skills. Getting familiar with the soccer ball takes time, consistency and effort.
  • U10 Soccer Training Drills to improve ball handling skills, agility, coordination, and speed.
  • Soccer Drills for Beginner soccer players U8 and U6. These soccer drills can also be adapted to older kids by changing the pace, and adding few skills.
  • Small Sided Games to teach youth soccer players how to play soccer through the game being the Coach. Players will fall in love with the game from simply playing soccer.
  • This Soccer Drill is many kids favorite soccer training drill in practice. The game is the Coach, while players enjoy competitive side of soccer in smaller spaces.
  • First Touch Soccer Drills to help young players work on their passing, receiving, and moving. Smart players, with great ball control, will use their first touch to get out of tight situations, and surrounding defenders.


  • Agility Ladder Drills, also called Speed Ladder Drills, are very important for soccer players to develop agility, and speed.
  • Soccer Agility Drills are used to improve players balance, footwork, and coordination. Change of direction is frequent throughout the game, so being agile, and able to quickly change direction is really important.
  • Soccer Conditioning Drills will build up the players endurance for the WHOLE game. Players usually frown on these soccer drills, as they push them to exhaustion point; but prepare them for the game. Fit player is twice as valuable for any team in a match.
  • Speed Training Drills will push players to build up their explosive speed, tight cornering, and the ability to speed up, and slow down their pace. These drills will build up the players endurance, and shorten the recovery after sprints.