Articles, Blog

Football physics: The “impossible” free kick – Erez Garty

October 21, 2019

In 1997,
in a game between France and Brazil, a young Brazilian player
named Roberto Carlos set up for a 35 meter free kick. With no direct line to the goal, Carlos decided to attempt
the seemingly impossible. His kick sent the ball flying
wide of the players, but just before going out of bounds,
it hooked to the left and soared into the goal. According to Newton’s first law of motion, an object will move
in the same direction and velocity until a force is applied on it. When Carlos kicked the ball,
he gave it direction and velocity, but what force made the ball swerve and score one of the most magnificent
goals in the history of the sport? The trick was in the spin. Carlos placed his kick
at the lower right corner of the ball, sending it high and to the right,
but also rotating around its axis. The ball started its flight
in an apparently direct route, with air flowing on both sides
and slowing it down. On one side, the air moved in the opposite
direction to the ball’s spin, causing increased pressure, while on the other side, the air moved
in the same direction as the spin, creating an area of lower pressure. That difference made the ball curve
towards the lower pressure zone. This phenomenon is called
the Magnus effect. This type of kick,
often referred to as a banana kick, is attempted regularly, and it is one of the elements
that makes the beautiful game beautiful. But curving the ball
with the precision needed to both bend around the wall
and back into the goal is difficult. Too high and it soars over the goal. Too low and it hits the ground
before curving. Too wide and it never reaches the goal. Not wide enough
and the defenders intercept it. Too slow and it hooks too early,
or not at all. Too fast and it hooks too late. The same physics make it possible to score another
apparently impossible goal, an unassisted corner kick. The Magnus effect was first documented
by Sir Isaac Newton after he noticed it while playing a game
of tennis back in 1670. It also applies to golf balls,
frisbees and baseballs. In every case, the same thing happens. The ball’s spin creates a pressure
differential in the surrounding air flow that curves it
in the direction of the spin. And here’s a question. Could you theoretically
kick a ball hard enough to make it boomerang
all the way around back to you? Sadly, no. Even if the ball didn’t
disintegrate on impact, or hit any obstacles, as the air slowed it, the angle of its deflection
would increase, causing it to spiral into smaller
and smaller circles until finally stopping. And just to get that spiral, you’d have to make the ball spin
over 15 times faster than Carlos’s immortal kick. So good luck with that.


  • Reply Carlos Carlos August 5, 2019 at 8:43 pm

    Roberto Carlos kicked with his left leg

  • Reply 안냥 August 6, 2019 at 3:05 pm


  • Reply koncedalov August 6, 2019 at 3:56 pm

    Actually, it's a wrong explanation of the Magnus effect… According to the explanation in the video, ball would go to opposite side, where relative speed between ball and air is higher (and the pressure is lower, according to Bernulli law). But if you consider the layers of air, rotating with ball because of friction between the ball and air, you'll get the correct picture of pressure distribution, causing a curve trajectory

  • Reply Mustafa Uslu August 7, 2019 at 1:10 pm

    Altyazı cevirmeninin anasını sikiyorum

  • Reply RaresGamingHd 1 August 7, 2019 at 7:09 pm

    In my opinion is just training and luck..

  • Reply Hannah Newstead August 8, 2019 at 4:37 pm

    You should do a video on Australian Rules Football (AFL) it's Australia's national sport and we're crazy about it over here but its almost unheard of overseas. The AFL Grand Final is the highest attended club championship event in the world including the super bowl and the players can run upwards of 20kms per game compared to soccer player's 13km. The game is fascinating and unlike any other sport around the world and it's so crazy that its such an institution in Australia but even American sports fanatics have rarely heard of it.

    Check out the video called "What is AFL? Aussie Rules Explained"

  • Reply German Villarroel August 9, 2019 at 4:32 am

    He just did it again, check his Instagram lol

  • Reply Carlos Torrelio August 9, 2019 at 5:01 am

    His name is Roberto Carlos, his last name is da Silva. Don't call him Carlos, we are not all gringos.

  • Reply A7M August 9, 2019 at 11:03 am

    I'm pretty sure all of this wasn't going through his mind when he was about to take the kick

  • Reply Andrei Chincesan August 9, 2019 at 1:15 pm

    I can give shoot whit some effect but not like that

  • Reply Anox BH August 9, 2019 at 1:19 pm

    I bet you 5$ that Roberto don't know anything what you have said ib this video

  • Reply amin bango August 9, 2019 at 4:18 pm

    Just one name:
    Andrea Pirlo

  • Reply Patrick Interiano August 10, 2019 at 3:12 am

    The Roberto Carlos goal wasnt a curve ball…but a knuckleball…look at how little the ball spinned…remember, he was known for his POWER…

  • Reply مسلم أعرابي حربي الهلال August 10, 2019 at 6:36 am

    سواها قبل روبيرتو كارلوس
    لاعب الهلال موسى نضاو ضد النصر

  • Reply Vini Ziello August 10, 2019 at 10:28 am

    So Foreigners call it Banana kick, huh? We call it "trivela".

  • Reply عزيزتي ست نافلة August 10, 2019 at 1:08 pm

    its an old kick – was called cut kick

  • Reply taku ima August 10, 2019 at 1:13 pm


  • Reply ASP shadow August 10, 2019 at 3:58 pm

    Knuckle shot

  • Reply Football wizard August 10, 2019 at 4:25 pm


  • Reply Emílio Augusto August 10, 2019 at 7:08 pm

    Here, in Brazil, this kick is named "três dedos" or "three fingers". Bc the three fingers of the feet cause this curve…

  • Reply D4NIE3LS BR12 August 10, 2019 at 8:40 pm

    MUITO bom

  • Reply Jack skellington August 10, 2019 at 8:42 pm

    No one :
    Literally no one:

  • Reply Kaiki Siqueira Moura August 10, 2019 at 9:26 pm

    Por que isso tá nos meus recomendados?

  • Reply sebasgutisala August 11, 2019 at 4:25 pm

    Or use the jabulani soccer/FOOTball of the 2010 fifa world cup

  • Reply Joao Carvalho August 12, 2019 at 1:39 am

    Brasil 🇧🇷!!

  • Reply Arya August 12, 2019 at 2:34 am


  • Reply khushwaj August 12, 2019 at 7:19 am


  • Reply Kurea Taka August 12, 2019 at 7:00 pm

    Scientists is Scientists, they don't know the banana shot is very easy ..

  • Reply KendineMüslüman August 12, 2019 at 7:02 pm

    Ne uğraşıon zıban gitsin 😂😂😂😂

  • Reply Hussain HayDar August 12, 2019 at 7:13 pm

    Great video

  • Reply ahmad asif August 13, 2019 at 12:43 am


  • Reply Tobi T August 13, 2019 at 12:54 am

    Banana kick? Cerra el orto la concha de tu madre. No sabes un choto

  • Reply Bald SnowMAN August 13, 2019 at 2:43 am

    Orospu çocuğu Mihriban altyazini
    yarısi eksik elinin emeğinin amına koyim

  • Reply Sohail Shaikh August 13, 2019 at 10:04 am

    Do one for messi's goal vs Atletico Bilbao 2015 Copa del Rey final

  • Reply TheMapTurtles August 13, 2019 at 11:52 am

    The corner kick is called an Olympic goal

  • Reply Manas Raj August 15, 2019 at 7:42 pm

    Magnus effect

  • Reply Jahid Islam August 17, 2019 at 5:28 pm

    Ok read about magnus effect but in reverse mangnus effect why ball curve to high pressure same as in jasprit bhumrha balling tell me

  • Reply Yaroo Borkowski August 19, 2019 at 9:34 am

    And could You describe bumerang in the same way?

  • Reply Monika August 21, 2019 at 5:32 am

    Most people call it “bending the ball” not a “banana kick”

  • Reply Batı Bayketenci August 21, 2019 at 2:55 pm

    ne taktı ama

  • Reply Bala barani August 22, 2019 at 4:41 pm

    So do with Cricket, as Reverse swing needs the same process. The balls swings on the rough side with the air flow.

  • Reply Sam Zini August 23, 2019 at 6:03 pm

    I have never once heard the act of curling a free kick being referred to as a "banana kick"…

  • Reply suryavalli mannepalli August 26, 2019 at 1:11 pm

    U mad

  • Reply Imran Khan August 27, 2019 at 1:38 pm

    Football physics: Impossible
    Wind: Anything is possible!

  • Reply Saad Ahmed August 27, 2019 at 3:21 pm

    You can just say the wind helped him

  • Reply Alex Denisov August 28, 2019 at 7:06 am

    Too elementary

  • Reply conny yluthfi August 28, 2019 at 12:13 pm

    you should try to play super shoot soccer on ps1

  • Reply Daniel Kevin August 28, 2019 at 2:37 pm

    Wait I swear Carlos did score from a corner when he was playing in turkey or something. I can't remember but he had curved it from deep in the corner and score too

  • Reply PurpleSoHigh August 28, 2019 at 4:32 pm

    There was wind coming from the right of the stadium, that helped him too.

  • Reply 一花推しはch登録必須 August 28, 2019 at 4:58 pm


  • Reply The Joker August 28, 2019 at 6:31 pm

    Also make a video on reverse swing of cricket ball

  • Reply Yoni Hernandez August 29, 2019 at 5:14 am

    No it never has nor never will be called a banana kick. LOL

  • Reply Sidharth Singh August 29, 2019 at 8:37 am

    Its not just the magnus effect.. its also the air pressure inside the ball which moves to the right of the ball at the point of contact with the boot. While the ball is approaching the goal, the air pressure inside the ball shifts from high pressure area to low pressure, creating a movement towards the left. Goodnight.

  • Reply T K August 29, 2019 at 11:04 pm


  • Reply LyonFr August 30, 2019 at 11:14 am

    Physics: bla bla bla.
    Juninho: hold my beer.

  • Reply ahmed osama August 30, 2019 at 8:35 pm


  • Reply Football Machine August 30, 2019 at 9:00 pm

    This is educational mom!

  • Reply LeoEdu oliveira August 31, 2019 at 3:20 am

    E ele conseguiu fazer isso sem ter qualquer estudo de física, e meio que improvisado…é um gênio do futebol

  • Reply LeoEdu oliveira August 31, 2019 at 3:33 am

    3:07 hahaha boa tentativa mesmo porque aquela bola que o Roberto Carlos chutou atingiu mais de 100km/h e é o OITAVO CHUTE A GOL MAIS FORTE DE TODOS OS TEMPOS

    tipo,de todos os jogadores que existiram,aquele é oitavo mais forte

  • Reply XacbertdeBarbeira August 31, 2019 at 1:04 pm

    What you're missing out on is that the reason why this goal was so sensational was not the curled shot itself. This had been done for decades already. The reason was that the ball didn't fly a regular, steady curl, i. e. from the moment of the kick to the goal, but changed its direction extremely late, and almost in the opposite direction of where it seemed to be curling. Also, curling a ball that was hit as hard as this was something that hadn't been done before. Good video on curves and rotation though!

  • Reply Chelu August 31, 2019 at 4:03 pm

    Who the fuk calls it banana shot

  • Reply Adolf Hitler From Wii Kill Jews August 31, 2019 at 4:52 pm

    Banana kick?😂 it’s called a trivela mate

  • Reply izzojunior August 31, 2019 at 6:20 pm

    People forget that R. Carlos scored a bunch of blinders… there was the one that was almost from the corner flag… Give him a Nobel peace prize 👏🏿👏🏿👏🏿😂

  • Reply MARVEL_ GUNSFX September 1, 2019 at 6:05 am

    It’s not a banana kick stop making things up

  • Reply Richard RSR September 1, 2019 at 7:43 am

    Yall making a video about a guy, that just took a shot and scored "randomly".

  • Reply Digu Casillas September 1, 2019 at 3:04 pm

    So kicking 15x faster than Roberto Carlos

    Calling Superman …..
    Superman :- sorry call Flash

  • Reply Mr Turtle JR 8 September 1, 2019 at 10:36 pm

    Long Story Short, He shot a travella

  • Reply MEME NYCTO September 1, 2019 at 11:18 pm

    It’s called trivela

  • Reply Arthur Guerra Jabour September 2, 2019 at 12:01 am


  • Reply Beowulf _ September 2, 2019 at 7:27 am

    Pls explain Faiz Subri's free kick that won him puskas award

  • Reply Johnson Lee September 2, 2019 at 8:50 am

    You can’t deny
    He was the most inhuman free kick taker of all time

  • Reply KingMK_ September 2, 2019 at 9:13 am

    Bruh… I score corner kicks like quite commonly at school so…. JUST WORK HARD ON CORNERS AND YOU CAN SCORE THEM.

  • Reply emrelos 8 September 2, 2019 at 4:45 pm

    En iyisi ölü yaprak vuruşun sırrı top falso almıyo bü yüzden kendini aymosfere hava boşluğunu bırakıyo çünkü kendi dönüşü yok falso verilmiyo ve top dümdüz dönmeden giderken topun dikişleri hava akımından etkileniyo yani sürtünme oluyo biraz ve top bi anda yön değiştiriyo sapıyo ve buda kalecilerin işini baya zorlaştırıyo ama çalışma gerektiren bi iş ölü yaprak vurmak okadar kolay değil

  • Reply Ярослав Михеев September 2, 2019 at 5:56 pm

    Ну так, то он так. Но именно в гол Карлоса вмешался случай, а именно боковой ветер.

  • Reply Martin Clementz September 2, 2019 at 10:25 pm

    That wasn't his impossible goal. And from a football culture that comes natural whenever you use left or right, there are different ways to kick the ball, what Roberto did in this case is a "tres dedos" (3 fingers shot) meaning hitting the ball with the outside 3 fingers of the foot, causing a high amount of rotation.

  • Reply Diogo Bagagem September 2, 2019 at 10:53 pm

    1:33 não não não, isso não se chama "the magnus effect" mas sim "trivela"

  • Reply Novak Longkovic September 3, 2019 at 7:25 am

    Just admit it, Roberto Carlos is a genius 🙂

  • Reply азиз эргешов September 3, 2019 at 1:24 pm

    хули на английском всё

  • Reply julian fieber September 3, 2019 at 6:26 pm

    2:15 This is oficially called paco

  • Reply Damon_Brawl Stars September 3, 2019 at 8:18 pm

    Now there are 5 year olds doing it.

  • Reply Xtatic September 4, 2019 at 5:38 pm

    nobody ever except for you have referred to that as a banana kick

  • Reply Merveil Meok September 4, 2019 at 8:42 pm

    TED without talking humans.

  • Reply Gabriel Lumintang September 4, 2019 at 10:06 pm

    Yeah. Tell this to bollywood film makers

  • Reply Fan artist Abhi September 5, 2019 at 12:00 pm

    Now explain Cr7 knuckle ball goals….good luck

  • Reply Shreyans Halder September 5, 2019 at 2:26 pm

    Le people before Newton playing football.

    What kind of socerey is this?

  • Reply Zuzka Holanova September 5, 2019 at 7:36 pm

    kicking with your left to the right and waithing for a spin to the left is hard yes

  • Reply Matthew Livingston September 5, 2019 at 8:41 pm

    never heard anybody say "banana kick"

  • Reply Dill Pickle September 5, 2019 at 10:17 pm

    I never knew knuckle balls were so advanced lol

  • Reply Mo'men Essam September 6, 2019 at 1:05 am


  • Reply Mr. Bean and discovery series September 6, 2019 at 7:04 am

    Roberto carlos didn't knew magnus effect to score the goal😅😅😅😅

  • Reply aamir jamal September 7, 2019 at 8:07 pm

    Go watch f2

  • Reply Duy Công Phạm September 10, 2019 at 1:56 pm

    Called the

    Curve Kick

  • Reply Honkpilled Honkkler September 13, 2019 at 7:19 pm

    I didn't even need to watch this video. I knew it was due to air pressures. However, amazing how he was able to figure it out. It's not magic but a brilliant kick.

  • Reply Greg Ο Margaritis September 16, 2019 at 4:31 am

    Incredible physic needed to understand this free cick

  • Reply Blesson Easo Varghese September 17, 2019 at 3:44 am

    But your explanation violates Bernoulli's theorem which states, a higher relative velocity causes lower pressure. Here higher relative velocity is on the right side of the ball, so low pressure must be on the same side and hence the ball should deflect to the Right side.

  • Reply djfunkychicken September 19, 2019 at 2:26 am

    the camera angle and the way it moved with the ball greatly effected the viewers "distorted" ball flight path and curve.
    Another TV channel showed a camera angle seen from behind the goals which clearly shows a much less glamorous view.
    The balls true path was in the bottom corner however the significant deflection off of the post gave the effect of landing almost behind Barthez
    Not to take anything away from the Carlos free kick.. truly one of the greatest shots in football.. with some lucky camera work.

  • Reply patai duragan September 22, 2019 at 2:39 pm

    Only R. Carlos made it, and he wasn't a mathematician.

  • Reply skeet October 4, 2019 at 10:36 am

    Is this a challenge?

  • Reply 8642iLeropettuj October 9, 2019 at 4:10 pm

    This aint football this is soccer.

  • Reply Mix BD October 15, 2019 at 6:43 pm

    but who will explain shoaolin soccer kick?

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