Fundamental aerodynamics of the soccer ball

Many sports involve kicking, smashing, hitting or throwing a ball. However, all playing balls are affected by air or any fluid dynamically. In this study, we compared the aerodynamic coefficients in wind tunnel experiment of fully rotating and non-rotating soccer balls and to clarify their aerodynamic properties titanium chloride visualization method is used to find vortex dynamics of soccer balls in flight

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  1. Wind tunnel tests: This experiment use a low-speed wind tunnel with a six-component balance (maximum wind velocity = 50ms–1; measuring section = 1.6 × 1m; turbulence level = 1.1%). For the measurements of a rotating ball, a full-size model of soccer ball approved by the association was molded using fiber-reinforced plastic (FRP) and with piano wire (diameter=3 mm) on the sides. The ball spin with an air compressor, and through that rotation and revolution are found. The following parameters were calculated from experimental data collected over a range of conditions
  • The wind velocity, which is used to find the speed of the ball.
  • Drag is the force that is acting in the opposite direction to the wind.
  • lift is the force that is acting perpendicular to the wind direction.
  • Based on a frontal view we can calculate the force acting sideways

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  1. Flow visualization: A visualization experiment using titanium tetrachloride was conducted to determine the flow of the soccer ball. The soccer ball was kept in front of a soccer goal, at a distance of 10m, and performed a straight kick with less rotation and also spinning sideways aimed at the goal. Both shots were kicked at the same velocity, to mimic the same conditions as in a soccer game. The experimental procedure was as follows. Each soccer ball was painted using titanium chloride and placed on the determined spot and then kicked towards the goal. As the ball moved towards the goal, the airflow around it was revealed by white smoke produced by the titanium chloride. Photographs were taken using an ultra-speed VTR.
  2. Rotating ball: The drag coefficient (Cd) of a rotating ball was found to increase as the spin parameter increased. The data suggested that the Cd during ball rotation was highly dependent upon the spin parameter. This indicates that as the number of rotations increases, the spin parameter and drag coefficient increases. Assuming that the angular velocity of the ball (ω) is constant, the spin parameter and Cd will decrease as Re increases. however, in the case with a higher revolution ratio, different properties might be shown.


Determination of aerodynamic coefficients of soccer balls a study using a wind tunnel experiment. A visualization experiment is conducted with titanium chloride to elucidate its aerodynamic properties.


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Fundamental aerodynamics of the soccer ball
Skyfi Labs Last Updated: 2021-06-14

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