Big Bang Fair reveals how to become the perfect footballer

Posted by ap507 at Oct 15, 2016 12:01 AM |
University of Leicester physics students calculate how to take the perfect set piece

Issued by University of Leicester Press Office on 15 October  

Images available here:  

  • Mathematical formula created to celebrate the real world application of maths this World Maths Day (Saturday 15 October)
  • The formula, designed by students at the University of Leicester, calculates the perfect set piece
  • England U-17 international Riva Casley tests the science of sport

To mark World Maths Day, The Big Bang UK Young Scientists & Engineers Fair is showcasing how relevant maths is by giving it real life application in advance of the resumption of Premier League fixtures, including the Champions’ trip to Chelsea (today).

The formula, developed by physics students at the University of Leicester, tested by England under-17 international Riva Casley, calculates how to take the perfect set piece.

Taking into account the size of the ball, the density of the air and the distance from goal, the formula can help footballers know where and how hard to kick the ball to score every time.

The formula demonstrates that the distance a ball bends (D) as a result of the ‘Magnus Force’ is related to the ball's radius (R), the density of air (ρ), the ball's angular velocity (ω), its velocity through the air (v), its mass (m) and the distance travelled by the ball in the direction it was kicked (x).

Jasmine Sandhu, a PhD student from University of Leicester specialising in Physics with Space Science and Technology, said: “This formula may seem complicated, but in reality it is a mathematical expression of what good footballers do every time they line up a free kick or a penalty.

“For instance, if a player standing 15 metres away from the by-line kicked an average football so that it was travelling at a velocity of 35 metres per second and had an angular velocity of 10 revolutions per second, the ball would bend around 5 metres towards the goal.

"This formula can help players become more aware of how they can use spin to bend the ball in a game of football. In addition, this research is also relevant to other sports, such as tennis, which shows that physics definitely gives you the edge!"

Science and maths help improve performance of professional sportspeople, motivate and track progress of amateur athletes and broadcast the highs and lows of competitive sport to a global audience.

Oxford United and England footballer, Riva Casley, said: “There’s more to being a good footballer than kicking a ball – I’m constantly learning about how science can help me perform at a higher level. Looking at how a formula can help improve my understanding of how the ball moves through the air after a free kick has been taken will hopefully help improve my performance.”

The Big Bang Fair gives young people the chance to discover the real-life applications of science and maths, from sport to medicine, from gaming to space travel.

Paul Jackson, Chief Executive of EngineeringUK, commented: “Modern engineering is at the forefront of developments in sports technology. From sports stars to backroom experts, the sporting industry is reliant on science, technology, engineering and maths skills.

“Visitors to The Big Bang Fair will get an insight into the role of science and maths in the world of sport and in almost all areas of UK business. We hope the young people enjoying the hands-on activities and theatre shows will be inspired to continue their studies and use them in their career.

“The Big Bang Fair showcases such careers through lively, interactive activities. I urge parents to bring their children to the NEC, Birmingham to enjoy first hand the fun of the Fair and find out what exciting careers their studies could lead to.”

Dr John Meeson, Assistant Director at the Institute of Mathematics & its Applications, added: "Maths is the language of science. There are many and varied real-life applications of studying maths to an advanced level, from football to nuclear fusion. The Big Bang Fair provides a great opportunity for young people to appreciate all the careers and real life opportunities associated with maths."

The Big Bang UK Young Scientists & Engineers Fair takes place from the 15-18 March 2017 at the NEC in Birmingham. For more information, visit


Notes to editors:

For more information, please contact:

Monica Wilson –

Lucy Witt -

For students who want to combine sport and education, Oxford United Community Trust have launched a pioneering new type of sixth form centre in collaboration with The Oxford Academy.

The “Advance” centre will allow students to learn, explore what they love, find out what they’re passionate about and then excel. All students will study any combination of A-Levels or BTECs while also being able to play football, delivered by Oxford United, or Cricket, delivered by the Oxfordshire Cricket Board, for two hours a day.

For more information, visit


About The Big Bang UK Young Scientists & Engineers Fair

  • The Big Bang UK Young Scientists & Engineers Fair is the largest celebration of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) for young people in the UK. It takes place from 15-18 March 2017 at The NEC, Birmingham, and will celebrate and raise the profile of young people’s achievement in science and engineering and encourage more young people to take part in science, technology, engineering and maths initiatives and consider careers in these areas, with support from their parents and teachers.
  • School groups are invited to visit the first three days of The Big Bang Fair and families on the Saturday, in particular parents and carers of 11-14 year olds. Young people will leave enlightened about how science and engineering feature in everything they wear, eat and do. A number of apprentice, graduate and experienced engineers and scientists will be on hand to quiz and young people will have the opportunity to discover how science and maths can lead to a great career. The Big Bang Fair hosts the finals of the prestigious Big Bang Fair Competition.

About EngineeringUK

EngineeringUK - is an independent organisation that promotes the vital contribution of engineers, engineering and technology in our society. EngineeringUK partners business and industry, government and the wider science and engineering community: producing evidence on the state of engineering, sharing knowledge within engineering and inspiring young people to choose a career in engineering through programmes Tomorrow’s Engineers and The Big Bang.

University of Leicester

The University of Leicester is led by discovery and innovation – an international centre for excellence renowned for research, teaching and broadening access to higher education. The University of Leicester is ranked among the top one per cent of universities in the world by the THE World University Rankings and also among the top 100 leading international universities in the world. It is among the top 25 universities in the Times Higher Education REF Research Power rankings with 75% of research adjudged to be internationally excellent with wide-ranging impacts on society, health, culture, and the environment.

Find out more:

The full paper, ‘How to Bend it Like Beckham’, is available at:

Read a feature explaining the significance of the Physics Special Topics at:

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