World Cup: Run Your Own CFD Analysis of a Spinning Soccer Ball


With the 2014 World Cup coming to a close, we’ve seen great shots and great saves. However, what is the science behind the curving shot that causes so much commotion and so many great goals. Rescale and Convergent Science teamed up to show how the cloud and computational fluid dynamics (CFD) can help us understand the science behind the spinning of the black and white ball that has so  many of us asking, “How did they do that?”.


REUTERS/Pawel Kopczynski

Convergent Science modeled this phenomenon to show us just what it takes to get the “bending” of the ball in mid-air.  Using their computational fluid dynamic (CFD) product CONVERGE™ , with its fully coupled automated meshing process, they created a spinning soccer ball model. Rescale then ran the model on their on-demand cloud simulation platform, using customized high performance computing (HPC) hardware and the CONVERGE™ CFD software. Rescale and Convergent Science have a technology partnership that allows engineers and scientists to quickly run improved computer-aided engineering (CAE) simulations on demand in the cloud. CONVERGE’s automated meshing technology significantly reduces the time users need to set up simulations, while Rescale’s fully customizable platform allows users to drastically decrease the simulation runtime.

The Analysis

The findings were impressive. Applying the force of the kick to the bottom right or bottom left of the ball creates a lift and spin effect that ultimately causes the ball to move while in mid-air.  Assuming the average kicking velocity of a professional kick being 23 meters per second (55 MPH) a spin of 24 revolutions per second is imposed on the ball, resulting in 10 feet (3 meters) of lateral movement per second.  Figure 1 and Figure 2 show a visualization of the velocities present in such an analysis.

Figure 1: The velocity of a spinning ball creates a vortex that allows the ball to curve.

Figure 2: The vortex of the spinning ball is shown in more detail.

Interested in running your own World Cup soccer ball model? Convergent Science and Rescale make it easy. This model is available to run on Rescale’s cloud simulation platform using CONVERGE CFD software. Simulate a spinning soccer ball today:

About Convergent Science:
Convergent Science, Inc. is a world leader in Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) software and its flagship product, CONVERGE™, is revolutionizing the CFD industry.

CONVERGE™ and its ground-breaking technology removes the user defined mesh and implements an innovative new process that fully couples the automated mesh with the solver at run-time. This process combined with Adaptive Mesh Refinement is shifting the paradigm toward predictive CFD.

To learn more about Convergent Science, visit:
To learn more about CONVERGE, visit:

About Rescale:
Rescale is a secure, cloud-based, on-demand HPC platform that allows engineers and scientists to build, compute, and analyze computationally intensive simulations using industry-leading software. Headquartered in San Francisco, CA, Rescale’s customers include global Fortune 500 companies in the aerospace, automotive, life sciences, and energy sectors.

To learn more about Rescale, visit:

This article was written by Rescale.