A soccer ball curves when you kick it because
the ball itself is spinning. By spinning,
the ball unevenly deflects the air that’s
traveling around it. To balance that deflected
air, the soccer ball will experience a force that
is perpendicular to the way it’s moving. It is
this perpendicular force that pushes the ball to
make it curve.
This phenomenon is generally called the
Magnus Effect, and it shows up in other
sports, too! A couple examples I can think of are
putting topspin on a tennis serve, or pitching a
curveball in baseball.
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