Why It’s Almost Impossible to Score a Corner Kick Goal in Soccer / Football | WIRED

here's something you probably won't see

at the World Cup you see it's called a

gold Olimpico it's a direct goal scored

off a corner kick see how the ball curbs

pulled off a player needs to kick the

ball from the corner of the field and

bend it into the goal without the

assistance of any other players they're

super rare and when they do happen it's

usually an accident I mean look at this

you're aiming for an opening you can't

even see the only way to do it is to

bend the ball you know like David

Beckham David Beckham swinging it right

it both Olympiakos are almost impossible

to find out what makes them so rare I

kick the ball with an Olympian yes got

some pointers from pro a lot of hip

motion through the ball and talked

soccer ball aerodynamics with a

scientist so as you start changing the

circles the now I haven't really played

soccer since I was a kid so I got some

tips from Brandi Chastain she's a

two-time Olympic gold medalist and World

Cup champion these days she's an

assistant coach for the women's soccer

team at Santa Clara University Brandi

you scored a few goals in your life

right a few once or twice yeah Chastain

scored the game-winning penalty kick

that won the World Cup for the u.s.

women's team in 1999 she showed me the

finer points of bending a corner kick

well first I'll ask you are you left

footed or right footed definitely right

footed then we're on the proper corner

one of the first things to do is figure

out which way the wind is blowing you

you recognize that the wind right the

wind is gonna be pushing into the goal

so it's important that you start the

ball out just outside of the goal so

that the bend will bring it back in and

by Ben do you know what I mean by that I

think you're meaning I need to put some

swerve on the ball yeah you need to put

a little love a little texture easy

enough right

you got some things going for you good

good noises like that got to have a

little umph on it

you got good Bend now we just have to

make sure that we get you in the right

direction okay so my first attempts were

not great just getting the ball out

there was clearly going to be a hurdle

aim right

gonna come back this way oh come back oh

now it's just the ink

we got the distance now we just need

that through Cheston showed me how she

divides the ball into sections so she

can kick it with power and precision the

ball can be split into four quadrants

and basically then manipulated by by

where you hit it so if you hit the ball

straight through the middle it will have

this kind of motion if you hit the ball

underneath it will have this kind of

motion and likewise from one side to the

other will have this kind of curving

motion and now for the tricky part if

you take that and now you create like

the third plane which is you go from one

plane up through another plane now you

not only get the spin but you get the up

and then then down you can basically

take the ball and make it turn whatever

way you want it to depending on the

placement of your foot on contact so the

ball can do all kinds of amazing things

depending on how you strike it so what

do I need to work on well it's not just

you Robby what what you need to work on

it's what all players need to work on is

the the balance between the force that

you put on the ball and the finesse that

you you give it kind of the love that

you give the ball as Chastain says it's

force and finesse but in scientific

terms it's something called the Magnus

effect I've got the ball spinning like

this the Magnus effect says if the air

is flipped off to the side over here the

air that's being pushed this way has to

be pushing the ball in the opposite

direction that's Newton's third law so

if you see a ball coming at you spinning

like this the front part of the ball

tells you which way it's going to want

to move so if it's spinning like this

it's gonna want to move the direction my

fingers show we're basically talking

about the effects of spin it's the same

physics behind a curveball in baseball

or a slice in golf it's even used by

some basketball players without the

Magnus effect there would be no goal

which isn't to say that they're easy to

master I had every advantage when I was

trying the wind was in my favor there

was nobody in the goal box and I had

expert advice on spin from Chastain

maybe it was the ball now I know what

you're thinking this guy just isn't very

good at soccer and yes you are totally

right but the balls design particularly

the number of panels and seams can make

a big difference in the way it flies

scientists at places like MIT and NASA

have actually looked at this and the

issue is something they call roughness

and anyone who remembers the

controversial 2010 World Cup Jabulani

ball it was exactly what I mean the

reason there was controversy over the

java lonnie is when you start reducing

the number of panels on the ball you run

the risk of making it too smooth think

back to the Magnus effect remember how

it whips air in the direction of its

spin that's only true for rough balls

ones with lots of panels and seams but

smooth air balls like the Jabulani they

deflect air less consistently and if the

ball is perfectly smooth you can

actually whip air in the opposite

direction producing a reverse Magnus

effect now spin isn't the only way to

manipulate a ball flight path if you

want it to move unpredictably you can

kick it with little to no spin that's

called a knuckleball just like the one

in baseball Chris we hand a midfielder

for the San Jose Earthquakes showed us

how it's done simply come back and

strike straight through the ball and

hitting it more with your laces rather

than with the inside of your foot is

kind of the best way to hit it you just

kind of let the the seams and the design

of the ball kind of do the magic you're

very little areas are on the side and it

starts to separate with the boundary

layer delaying on the rough side that

means it's going on line moving toward

the rough side so you can get this

wobble happening when the ball has a

little bit of turn and that wobble can

be an advantage

for penalty kicks but back to my quest

to kick the elusive goal Olimpica stain

brought in a ringer to show me a few


this is Kelsey Turnbow she was our WCC

freshman Player of the Year

she also happens to play with our one of

our youth national teams here for the

u.s. technically she's a lefty but she

can do this right footed as well Turnbow

definitely had better form than me I am

better finesse plus she can kick with

both feet she can really bend the ball

towards the goal and her shots went in

after dozens of tries I finally managed

to kick a goal Olimpico myself alright

so it bounced a bit and it was hardly

under game conditions the goal was wide

open so if you see one in a game

remember that the reason they're so rare

is that all the skill and science of

soccer have to come together perfectly

and that's why they're almost impossible

when you look at the elite players they

they have they naturally will factor

those things in because they've done it

multiple times they understand the

elements and they understand the

circumstance and when it is the right

time and when it's not the right time

and if it isn't the right time you'll

absolutely you'll see it you'll you'll

see the outcome because it won't be

closed and when it is the right time

it's a thing of beauty