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Dr Ken Bray
Dr Bray's book is translated into eight languages
Listen to the podcast of this lecture
Listen to the podcast of this lecture

Press Release - 01 October 2007

Free lecture: the science of the swerving free kick

Football fans can find out how to ‘bend it like Beckham’ in a free public lecture at the University of Bath on Wednesday 10 October.

Dr Ken Bray, from the Sport & Exercise Science group in the University’s School for Health, will reveal the science behind the swerving free kick, using scientific videos and match footage.

“Free kicks are amongst the most explosive, yet beautiful facets of football,” said Dr Bray. “We tend to think of them as modern developments but their evolution goes right back to the 1890s and the work of a Scottish scientist who first unlocked the secrets of the flight of a spinning ball.

“I’ll briefly trace this history and interpret it in terms of modern aerodynamics. Video clips will demonstrate how elite players separate into ‘sidespin’ or ‘topspin’ kickers and I’ll show historic footage of the ‘donkey kick’, a bizarre technique developed in the 1970s and subsequently banned by football’s conservative officialdom.”

The talk will conclude with some observations on the inconsistent behaviour of modern footballs. “Goalkeepers are not among life’s optimists,” said Dr Bray, “but there may just be something in their complaints about modern high-tech footballs that often swerve unpredictably in flight.”

Dr Bray is author of the popular science book How to score – science and the beautiful game, and copies will be available on the night.

Admission for the lecture is free and people can just turn up on the evening. Free parking is available in the West Car Park. The lecture runs from 5.15pm until 6.15pm in the lecture hall in 8 West 1.1 on the Claverton campus.

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