FanDuel - WFBC

September 02, 2010

Science Confirms Amazing 1997 Free Kick: The incredible curving 115-foot free kick by Brazil's Roberto Carlos against France in 1997 was not a fluke, scientists have determined in an experiment involving tiny plastic balls and a slingshot. "People often noticed that Carlos' free kick had been shot from a remarkably long distance, we show in our paper that this is not a coincidence, but a necessary condition for generating a spiral trajectory," said researchers Christophe Clanet and David Quere.

posted by rcade to soccer at 04:40 PM - 11 comments

So my understanding is they say a spherical object kicked hard enough and far enough will spiral (like something flowing down a sink). You don't see it more often because the ground ends the spiral before it happens in most cases.

So if I kicked a ball off the top of the grand canyon, would it spiral much like they're describing, since the ground doesn't come into play?

BTW - none of this sounds groundbreaking..many golfers and pitchers over the past several hundred years should be very familiar with the concept these French scientist's PROVED.

posted by bdaddy at 06:48 PM on September 02

I didn't read the article very carefully because I kept going back to the top and replaying that clip, again and again. Breathtaking, every time.

posted by Hugh Janus at 07:03 PM on September 02

That free kick was a curse on him and Brazil for the rest of his career, though, as he tried again and again to replicate it. There's a difference between "not a fluke" and "barely repeatable".

posted by etagloh at 07:35 PM on September 02

There's a difference between "not a fluke" and "barely repeatable".

A couple of weeks after that free kick, and playing for Real Madrid, Roberto Carlos used the outside of his left foot to directly score from a corner on the 'wrong' side.

/Can't access youtube from work, but the video must be out there somewhere.

posted by owlhouse at 11:04 PM on September 02

No fluke...Carlos is ridiculously talented. Here's the goal to which I think owlhouse refers:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dwRYYeEk5Eg

posted by Obleeze at 12:17 PM on September 03

he supposedly did it several times in his career...he also MISSED several of them as well.

posted by bdaddy at 12:18 PM on September 03

Weird music selection, poor video quality, but a top 10 of Carlos kicks.

I would love to see what he would have done with the 2010 World Cup ball (if given a few days of practice).

posted by grum@work at 12:57 PM on September 03

I consider that kick to be one of the greatest single achievements in athletics that I've ever seen. It's physics, instinct, skill and vision in motion. It's physical poetry.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 02:37 PM on September 03

I agree, Weedy. I just came back to this thread, mostly to watch the free kick a few more times. It's like a dream.

posted by Hugh Janus at 05:43 PM on September 03

While i like that free kick, i don't see why anyone who plays the sport would be that amazed... I can do the same type of kick at any moment. Its just knowing how to kick the ball...

posted by StarFucker at 08:57 PM on September 03

Is that a line from some comedy movie and I'm not getting the reference? Because I laughed. It's a funny thing to say...

posted by Hugh Janus at 08:30 AM on September 04

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