Curl (association football)

Curl or bend in association football is spin on the ball which will make it change direction, called a 'screw shot' in the 19th century. When kicking the ball, the inside of the foot is often used to curl the ball, but this can also be done by using the outside of the foot. Similar to curl, the ball can also swerve in the air, without the spin on the ball which makes the ball curl.[1][2]

David Beckham (centre) scoring with a bending free kick in 2007. The ball is struck with the inside of his right foot, with his body leaning to the left to generate extra curl on the ball.

Curling or bending the ball is especially evident from free kicks, shots from outside the penalty area and crosses. Differences between balls can also affect the amount of swerve and curl: traditional leather footballs were too heavy to curl without great effort, whereas the lighter modern footballs curl with a lower effort threshold. As a general rule, the lighter and smoother the ball the more deviation there is.