A convincing calculation: ten soccer players ensure excitement

Mar 13, 2006

One ball, two goals and 22 soccer players – and the game can begin. But why are there ten players of one team on the field and no more or less? This is what Metin Tolan, professor for experimental physics at the University of Dortmund (Germany), tries to get to the bottom of in view of the World Cup.

No matter whether it’s the German professional soccer league or a friendly game - the important thing is the excitement. A simple calculation shows that the number of players is of great importance.

A regular field with 7,000 square meters naturally has room for more than 20 players. But when they stand too close together, the ball whirls around like a pinball and the field turns into an amateur soccer field. Here nobody can speak of controlled ball possession anymore. When there is too much distance between the players, the opposite phenomenon can be observed: the adversarial team takes too long to run after the ball and the game can not be gripping.

“The decisive factor is the time a player needs to catch a passed ball and to continue playing and the time the opponent needs to get the ball back”, Metin Tolan explains. The physicist has calculated that each of these reactions takes about three seconds. “The distance between the players is optimal when both sides are more or less equal. Then the game is smooth - and exciting”. And that is exactly the case when, besides the goal keepers, there are 20 players on the field.

Further numbers illustrate the dynamics of the popular sport: With 18 km/h the professionals cover an average of five meters per second on the field. Additionally Tolan found out that a ball can fly faster than the foot that hits it. The elasticity number of the ball gives it even more drive.

Source: Universitaet Dortmund

Explore further: The debut of the antihydrogen beam

Related Stories

Soccer formations analysis suggests home advantage is result of execution

Feb 27, 2014

An automated analysis by Disney Research Pittsburgh of team formations used during an entire season of professional soccer provides further evidence that visiting teams are less successful than home teams because they play ...

Team develops new, inexpensive transparent projection screen (w/ Video)

Jan 21, 2014

Picture the Louvre pyramid: the iconic glass pyramid that serves as main entrance and skylight to the landmark museum. The pyramid is illuminated at night, creating a magical ambience. Imagine strolling next ...

Ultra high-speed camera ball-tracker at Japan lab uses mirrors (w/ video)

Jun 20, 2013

(Phys.org) —Ishikawa Oku Laboratory at the University of Tokyo may help transform how we can see broadcast sports events, where ball tracking reaches new heights of detail and precision. Namely, they are ...

1ms pan-tilt camera system tracks the flying balls (w/ Video)

Jul 15, 2012

(Phys.org) -- University of Japan researchers have worked on a camera system that tracks fast-moving objects in realtime, automatically keeping fast moving objects centered. The system can track fast-moving ...

'Sound of Football' project allows blind to play football (w/ video)

Nov 11, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- In a show of just how far Smartphone technology has come, a new group funded by the Pepsi Refresh Project, has put together various technologies that allow blind people to play football using ...

US soccer robots get new algorithm for RoboCup 2010 (w/ Video)

Jun 15, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- The World Cup is gaining the most attention at the moment from soccer fans around the globe, but next week RoboCup, the annual world championship for soccer robots, gets underway in Singapore. ...

Recommended for you

The debut of the antihydrogen beam

Mar 07, 2014

The standard model of particle physics suggests that matter and antimatter are equal and opposite in every way. Yet the observable Universe is made almost entirely of matter—an asymmetry that remains one ...

Magnetically stimulated flow patterns offer strategy for heat transfer problems

Mar 07, 2014

(Phys.org) —Sandia National Laboratories researchers Jim Martin and Kyle Solis have what Martin calls "a devil of a problem."

Research team discovers unexpected effect of heavy hydrogen in organic solar cells

Mar 07, 2014

(Phys.org) —Photovoltaic spray paint could coat the windows and walls of the future if scientists are successful in developing low-cost, flexible solar cells based on organic polymers. Scientists at the ...

Observed live with X-ray laser: Electricity controls magnetism

Mar 07, 2014

Researchers from ETH Zurich and the Paul Scherrer Institute PSI demonstrate how the magnetic structure can be altered quickly in novel materials. The effect could be used in efficient hard drives of the future.

Squeezing light into metals: Team controls conductivity with inkjet printer

Mar 07, 2014

Using an inexpensive inkjet printer, University of Utah electrical engineers produced microscopic structures that use light in metals to carry information. This new technique, which controls electrical conductivity ...

New therapies targeting cancer, Alzheimer's goal of UH physicist

Mar 06, 2014

Working toward new therapies to target cancer and Alzheimer's, University of Houston (UH) physicist Margaret Cheung strives to understand the physics that govern how ordinary matter becomes life-like. Cheung ...

More news stories

Extraordinary momentum and spin discovered in evanescent light waves

A team of researchers from the RIKEN Center for Emergent Matter Science (CEMS) in Japan has identified unexpected dynamic properties of a type of light wave called evanescent waves. These surprising findings ...

Researchers propose a new way to detect the elusive graviton

(Phys.org) —Among the four fundamental forces of nature, only gravity has not had a basic unit, or quanta, detected. Physicists expect that gravitational force is transmitted by an elementary particle called a graviton, ...

Video: How String Theory scaled up

In August 1984 two physicists arrived at a formula that transformed our understanding of string theory, an achievement now recognised by a major award. Professor Michael Green of the Department of Applied Mathematics and ...

D-Wave chip passes rigorous tests

With cutting-edge technology, sometimes the first step scientists face is just making sure it actually works as intended.

Ultra sensitive detection of radio waves with lasers

Radio waves are used for many measurements and applications, for example, in communication with mobile phones, MRI scans, scientific experiments and cosmic observations. But 'noise' in the detector of the ...

World Wide Web turns 25 years old

Twenty-five years ago, the World Wide Web was just an idea in a technical paper from an obscure, young computer scientist at a European physics lab.

Bitcoin exchange MtGox faced 150,000 attacks per second: report

Bitcoin exchange MtGox faced massive hacker offensives last month, coming under some 150,000 DDoS attacks per second for several days ahead of its spectacular failure, a report said Sunday.

Thefts via public Wi-Fi are grounds for warning

(Phys.org) —If you are basking in the convenience of doing an online bank transfer at a coffee house while spooning the cream off a designer special, consider the tradeoff, which is placing your personal ...

Nigeria seeks to conquer African video games market

It's a common enough scenario in Nigeria and across Africa: how to get rid of pesky mosquitoes whose buzzing disturbs sleep and whose bites can carry malaria and other diseases.

Saving planet goes from video game to real-world craze

It is the peak of the Cold War, a secret agent has launched nuclear weapons and a small team of sleuths has one hour to prevent the end of the world.