The Lessons of Carli Lloyd


You might have heard—Carli Lloyd scored a hat trick to bring the USA Women’s Soccer Team to victory at the Women’s World Cup on Sunday. I’m not a sports fan and even I am excited about this. For one thing, when a women does something incredibly athletic that the entire world celebrates, that’s a good thing. All those little girls out there who are told daily at a subconscious level that their looks matter more than their skills get a huge dollop of truth: what you do matters more than what you look like.


By Ampatent (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

I’m willing to bet that kids all over the world put it more practice hours on Monday than they have any other day of the year, because suddenly achieving success feels like a tangible goal. They’re not kicking a soccer ball, swinging a tennis racket, or posting the trot because their parents reminded them that they committed to this sport and so, by gum, they’ve got to practice. No, they’re sweaty because practice leads to making amazing goals while the whole world watches in awe and persistence leads to being an integral part of an amazing team.

Know what else is cool? Sports are science with cool uniforms! When Carli Lloyd kicks the ball, she has a plan for it. The soccer ball bends because she makes it bend, through physics. It’s called the Magnus Effect—when the ball spins, air swoops around it. Air going in one direction around the ball moves faster than air on the other side, which increases the pressure on the slower side, so the ball veers towards where there’s less pressure.


Watch a video about the physics of bending soccer balls!


Whether your kids is a sporty kid or a science kid, a girl or a boy, they’re probably pretty excited about what the women’s team accomplished last weekend. You can ride that enthusiasm with impromptu science lessons, reminders that practice is the way to achieve goals, and hints about being a team player. Or you can sit back and let Carli Lloyd do all of that for you, in a far more entertaining way.