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Engineers Discover Secrets of Soccer Free Kicks.

Business Editors and Sports Writers

2002 FIFA World Cup

LEBANON, N.H., SHEFFIELD, England, WAVRE, Belgium, and YAMAGATA, Japan--(BUSINESS WIRE)--May 20, 2002--Three collaborating groups of researchers have used wind tunnel testing, computational fluid dynamics (CFD), and other computer simulation techniques to unravel some of the underlying mysteries behind "bending" a soccer ball during kicking, which will be a feature of the upcoming Soccer World Cup in Japan and Korea this year. This technically very difficult "art" of scoring goals from the dead ball "free kick" situation has been perfected by such world class soccer players as Brazil's Roberto Carlos, Germany's Michael Ballack, and England's David Beckham. Inspired to uncover the science behind the "free kick" and the soccer ball's dynamic flight, engineers from the University of Sheffield's Sports Engineering Research Group, Yamagata University's Sports Science Laboratory, and Fluent Benelux have carried out a fundamental scientific and engineering analysis of this exciting part of the "beautiful game."

"We believe that our research into the underlying physics of soccer balls is crucial to helping us explain more about soccer free kicks than ever before," said Dr. Matt Carre from the University of Sheffield Sports Engineering Research Group. He went on, "a combination of wind tunnel experiments, high-speed video camera analysis, trajectory simulations and computer modelling techniques like Computational Fluid Dynamics is a very potent way of explaining what is happening. We think that the work we are doing is giving us a deeper understanding of what makes for ideal soccer ball designs especially the ones that lead to more exciting free kicks. Indeed, we believe that our fundamental approach to the engineering aspects of soccer will lead to insights that can be applied to the training field and in improving the techniques of young soccer players."

Dr. Keith Hanna, Marketing Communications Director at Fluent, echoed these sentiments and commented that, "during every Soccer World Cup, talk inevitably touches on the fabulous free kicks that fool both defenders and goalkeepers alike, because of the way that a soccer ball bends during its flight. In the 1.0 to 1.5 seconds it takes for a soccer free kick to happen, it is clear that a soccer ball experiences some very complex physics. The simulation work we have done with Sheffield and Yamagata Universities has been absolutely fundamental and I believe that it will lead to a range of further studies. It still amazes me that elite soccer players like Beckham and Carlos do what they do in a free kick instantaneously and under immense pressure in critical games. Their brains must be computing some very detailed trajectory calculations in a few seconds purely from instinct and practice. Our computers take a few hours to do the same thing and although we can now better explain the science of what they do, it is still magical to watch!"

About Fluent

Fluent is the world's largest provider of computational fluid dynamics (CFD) software and consulting services. Fluent's software is used for simulation, visualization, and prediction of fluid flow, heat and mass transfer, and chemical reactions. It is a vital part of the computer-aided engineering (CAE) process for companies around the world and in almost every manufacturing industry including aerospace, automotive and process industries. Using Fluent's software, product development, design and research engineers build virtual prototypes and simulate the performance of proposed and existing designs, which helps them to optimize, troubleshoot, scale-up, and retrofit. Use of CFD software reduces time-to-market by reducing the need for costly physical testing and prototyping. Fluent's CFD software has been used extensively in competitive sports ranging from Motor Racing through Olympic Sports to Yacht Racing.

Fluent's corporate headquarters are located in Lebanon, New Hampshire, USA. Fluent's European headquarters are located in Sheffield, England, with local offices in Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, and Sweden. Fluent's Asia Pacific headquarters are located in Tokyo, Japan. Its CFD software is also available around the world through joint ventures, partnerships, and distributors in Korea, Australia, Brazil, China, Taiwan, the Czech Republic, Middle East, and most European countries.

Fluent is a subsidiary of Aavid Thermal Technologies Inc. Additional information on Fluent's products can be obtained on the World Wide Web at www.fluent.com or by e-mailing info@fluent.com. More information on Aavid Thermal Technologies is available at www.aavid.com.

About the University of Sheffield Sports Engineering Research Group

S.E.R.G. is part of the University of Sheffield's Mechanical Engineering Department in England and it was founded by Dr. Steve Haake in 1996. Since then it has grown rapidly to be one of the largest groups of its type in the world. Sports Engineering is a new discipline that applies standard engineering principles and techniques to the research, design and development of external devices used by athletes and sports people to enhance their performance. Sports engineering is closely linked to sports science, which is more concerned with the analysis of the athlete than the equipment, although there is frequent overlap between the two disciplines due to the holistic nature of sports performance. The University of Sheffield's S.E.R.G. has world-class expertise in sports ball and pitch analysis using various experimental and computer modelling techniques and is closely involved with the International Sports Equipment Association (ISEA) and the Sports SET Network.

For additional information on S.E.R.G. and its applied work go to:

http://www.shef.ac.uk/mecheng/sports

http://www.sportsetnet.org.uk/

http://www.sports-engineering.co.uk/

About the Yamagata University Sports Science Lab

The Sports Science Laboratory at Yamagata University was founded by Dr. Takeshi Asai in Japan. Dr. Asai has considerable experience in examining the underlying science of soccer ball kicking and working with boot manufacturers to apply his expertise. The Yamagata group has also carried out extensive modelling work on bone stresses during the kicking of a soccer ball and the biomechanics of soccer players during a game.

For more details about the Yamagata S.S.L. go to:

http://www.e.yamagata-u.ac.jp/~asai/index.html

Website with a video of David Beckham's England versus Greece 2001 Free Kick Goal:

http://www.geocities.com/xbetterman69/videoclip/beck.mpg

Official Soccer World Cup Website:

http://fifaworldcup.yahoo.com/

4th International "Engineering in Sport" Conference Website:

http://www.hei.mei.titech.ac.jp/engsport2002/

FLUENT(R) is a registered trademark of Fluent Inc.

Graphics Available

Graphic images and accompanying captions to support this release can be found on the web at www.fluent.com/about/news/pr/index.htm by following the links to this release. Fluent Inc. grants permission for use of these graphics and their captions in conjunction with any or all of this press release.
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Date:May 21, 2002
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