Maths in Football

Football 1396740 1280

The men's UEFA European Football Championship 2024 kicks off tomorrow (Fri 14 June). Did you know there's lots of maths involved in football?

  • Geometry: In the offside rule, when an attacking player receives a pass whilst in the opposition half, they must have at least two opposition players (including the goalkeeper) between them and the goal. This rule creates a triangular area on the field that players must navigate to stay onside. There's also the shapes on a football, and how they tessellate with each other.
  • Angles: When players pass the ball to each other, the degree of the angle they shoot at determines the distance covered and the time it takes to teach the recipient.
  • Probability: Penalty shootouts in football involve a lot of probability calculations. Players, coaches, and sports data analysts study the probabilities of penalty shots, taking into account factors such as the shooter's success rate, the goalkeeper's tendencies, and historical data on penalty outcomes.

Here's Mark, Sports Science and Data Manger for the Scottish FA, sharing some more of the maths involved in football data during last year's Maths Week:

Football featured quite prominently during last year's Maths in Motion theme. We had various members of staff from St. Johnstone FC, alongside several football coaches from East Renfrewshire Culture & Leisure, sharing how they use maths in their jobs. You can watch the videos via our Maths in the Real World Resource Pack.

The Scottish Mathematical Council created a series of videos including penalty predictors and percentages, facts and figures about Hampden Park, turnstile time trials and more. The videos are available to watch in the Learning Resources section of our website.

Twinkl produced some great Maths in Motion worksheets for us, in collaboration with the Scottish FA, including the maths in goal scoring, penalty shootout data handling, design a symmetrical football kit, and more. You can download them from the Twinkl website.

And, finally, there's our Maths in Motion Sports Quiz, which isn't exclusively about football, but features some football questions in Rounds 1, 2, and 5. The quiz is a fun way to show some of the maths involved in sports, and a great activity to round off the end of term!

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