Calculating football drag profiles from simulated trajectories

CHOPPIN, Simon (2013). Calculating football drag profiles from simulated trajectories. Sports Engineering, 16 (3), 189-194.

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Link to published version:: 10.1007/s12283-013-0124-0


As a bluff object, a football experiences high aerodynamic drag when flow is laminar due to early boundary layer separation and a large low-pressure region. The length and depth of a football’s seams can influence the separation point by triggering a turbulent boundary layer at lower Reynolds numbers. Football manufacturers can control a football’s behaviour through careful design and material choice. However, assessing the aerodynamic performance of a football can be a lengthy and expensive process, traditionally requiring the use of a suitable wind tunnel. Measuring the drag force at varying Reynolds numbers gives a full aerodynamic profile which determines how the ball will behave during flight. Some studies have attempted to establish the aerodynamic properties of footballs using recorded trajectories, but these only ascertained average properties rather than a full aerodynamic profile. This paper describes a method which uses a series of recorded trajectories to calculate the full aerodynamic properties of a football. To assess the accuracy and robustness of this method, simulated trajectory data were used to which varying degrees of noise and aerodynamic lift were added. The assessment found that random noise does not affect the accuracy of the methodology significantly. At larger magnitudes, random aerodynamic lift makes the methodology ineffective (equivalent to ball spin >100 rpm). Future work will concentrate on assessing the effectiveness of the methodology using ball trajectories recorded using 3D high-speed video techniques.

Item Type: Article
Research Institute, Centre or Group: Centre for Sports Engineering Research
Identification Number: 10.1007/s12283-013-0124-0
Depositing User: Carole Harris
Date Deposited: 31 Jan 2014 14:44
Last Modified: 31 Jan 2014 14:44

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