This year's ball is also less erratic. That's because the ball has more roughness on the surface, which causes a slight amount of turbulence on the surface and reduces drag. A similar principal is at work in a dimpled golf ball, Goff said.
Good penalty kickers, in addition to getting their heads straight, also have mastered the art of spinning a soccer ball while kicking it forward. This counter-clockwise spin (for right footed players) gives the ball a slight arc on its way to the goal -- often confusing the goalkeeper.
"It requires skill," Goff said. "You have to spin the ball just right."
Using spin, the best players can curve the ball right around a wall of players and into the goal. That's because they've harnessed the Magnus force, a principal of physics initially discovered by a 19th century scientist who noticed it while studying the trajectory of Civil War bullets.
When the World Cup opens Thursday afternoon with Brazil taking on Croatia, Goff said he'll be watching.
"These are golden opportunities for scorers," he said about the combination of physical forces in play on the field. "I'm going to be looking at these trajectories quite closely to see what kind of spin and speed they can develop."