15 June 2012

Three Goals for Three Lions!

England had a spectacular win against Sweden today in Group D action of the Euro 2012.  Olympic Stadium in Kiev was the venue for the exciting match.  The Blue-Yellow is guaranteed to finish in the bottom two of Group D.  To see all the goals in England's 3-2 win, click here for ESPN's GameCast page.  I found delightful physics in all three goals.
  • Andrew Carroll opened scoring in the match in the 23rd minute.  Steven Gerrard's cross was amazing!  From about 36 meters (39 yards) down the right side of the pitch, Gerrard sent a perfect cross to Carroll, who was about 11 meters (12 yards) from the center of the goal.  Go to the one-minute mark of the short video showing the goal.  Carroll is in the air in slow motion executing a wonderful header.  Once off the ground, Carroll's angular momentum is conserved.  Note how his head whips to his left while his right arm swings behind his back.  Those two rotations are in opposite directions.  Carroll's left leg rotates toward the right side of his body.  All of those rotations are such that Carroll's angular momentum in the air matches the angular momentum he had when he left the ground.  Watch Carroll while in the air!  He is poetry in motion after receiving Gerrard's wondrous cross.
  • Theo Walcott drew England even in the 64th minute, just about five minutes after Sweden had taken a 2-1 lead.  About 24 meters (26 yards) out, Walcott send a scorching shot through a crowd of players.  Go to the 43-second point in the video for the slow-motion replay.  Watch the flight of the Adidas Tango 12 ball.  The is a component of spin that is counterclockwise (as seen from above).  There is also a topspin component to the ball's spin.  That topspin component helps the ball dip into the goal.  Walcott had to kick the ball high enough to clear the wall of defenders, and he needed just enough topspin for the ball to have a downward deflection from the Magnus force.  A great kick!
  • The winner for England was simply mind-boggling.  In the 78th minute, Theo Walcott fired the ball from the right side of the box and connected with Danny Welbeck.  Go to the 55-second point in the video for slow motion of Welbeck's goal.  You will see Welbeck spinning clockwise (as seen from above) as he receives the ball on the heel of his right boot.  Welbeck's back was to the goal!  His rotation continued after he kicked the ball so that he could witness his winning goal.  Imagine the incredible control and balance needed to do what Welbeck did.  Though he fell to the pitch after rotating toward the goal, he was in complete control as the ball reached his right heel.  Stability physics tells us that strong cores are needed to maintain balance and control during top athletic competition.  Keep doing those sit-ups!
England will be back in Donetsk next Tuesday to take on Ukraine.  Lots more football and physics to be seen!

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