Why Does a Soccer Ball Curve

Why Does a Soccer Ball Curve?

Published date: May 28, 2019

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We have all been stunned at times by the way the best soccer players are able to get the ball to curve. Bending a soccer ball certainly isn’t easy but it is a skill that can be learned through endless hours of practice.

You may wonder how this is possible. We have seen top players such as Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, and David Beckham all do it. Back in 1997, Brazilian Roberto Carlos scored one of the most incredible goals in history with an outrageously curved free kick against France. So it can be done but what are the reasons for this?

The Basics

How the ball flies largely depends upon the angle and speed at which the player’s boot hits it. If you hit the ball right in the middle and with your foot following through in a perfectly straight line then it won’t spin or curve at all.

In theory, if you kick a ball off-center then you will apply spin to it. The exact spot where you hit it and the amount of force applied will determine how much spin the ball has on it. It is this spin that then causes the ball to curve while it is flying through the air.

A spinning ball curves because of something known as the Magnus effect. This is a scientific theory that tells us how a spinning object moves through the air or through a liquid. As the air passes over the spinning ball, the flow is affected by the movement of the ball which in turn causes the ball to change its flight path.

This is a proven scientific method, so it is something that can be done by anyone. The curved shots that you see players make aren’t just a result of them getting lucky. This is the result of them following the principles that we have just seen.

The good news is that it shows us that it is something that can be learned by anyone. By carrying out the steps that are noted below you can make any soccer ball curve just like the pros.

How to Achieve a Curved Soccer Shot

Mastering this art certainly isn’t easy. The professional players that you can see pull off this trick have spent years honing their skills. However, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t give it a try.

In fact, it proves that you can do it too if you keep working on it. No one is born with this skill, as even the top players need to learn it and then practice over and over again. If you are ready to put in the time and effort then you too can get it right over time.

The following steps will allow you to practice this skill until you get it right.

  • Run up to ball from the side. A right-footer should run up from the left and a left-footer from the right. An angle of 90 degrees is sometimes mentioned as being perfect. This angle can vary but the key is in getting an angled approach of some sort.
  • Hit the ball with the inside of your boot. It is important that you don’t strike it perfectly in the middle, as this will just send it flying in a straight line. You need to make contact off-center to achieve the curved flight that you have in mind.
  • Hit near the bottom of the ball. If you want it to curve to the right then you need to make contact on the left-hand side. On the other hand, to make it curve to the left then you need to strike the ball on the right-hand side.
  • The amount of power that you apply is also a factor in how much spin you achieve. A harder kick will generally result in more spin and a bigger curve. This is something that you will only get a feel for after trying it numerous times with different levels of power.
  • Keep practicing until you feel confident that you can achieve the desired amount of curve. Lots of players can curve the ball but relatively few achieve the high level of control that lets them do so at will.


There are some solid scientific reasons why soccer balls curve. This means that learning how to carry this out is far from impossible. However, it does require a lot of practice to be able to do so in a controlled manner.

Once you understand the way in which this works, it is a question of doing it over and over again.