Physical Factors

Factors Impacting on Performance

Answer tip: when writing your answers for factors impacting on performance, you want to gain some real depth so consider the impact it initially had on you before considering the impact it then had on the game. The impact on the game could be an impact on a teammate, the opposition or the play within the game.

Answer examples KEY:
Statement of sub-factor, situation and whether positive or negative
Impact on me/performer/our team
Impact on game/teammate/opposition

The Physical factor can be divided into three different sections: fitness, skills and tactics. Each section contains a number of different sub-factors that can positively and negatively impact performance.

Let’s start by considering those sub-factors under the fitness umbrella. Each of these sub-factors relate to different components of fitness and some can interact with other factors.


Definition: the ability to change direction quickly whilst remaining balanced and in control of your movements. Agility is required across a host of different sports; in invasion games, changes of direction can be used to create and exploit space whilst in racquet sports a change of direction may be required to chase down a variety of different shots.
Case study: consider Lionel Messi. Messi is well known for being able to quickly change direction whilst maintaining his balance. In the video below, he demonstrates his ability to ‘tie defenders in knots’ as he faked to go one way to create space, unbalance the defender, then quickly change direction to exploit the space he created. This has often lead to him driving on to score and/or assist others.

Positive example: ‘Having high agility levels in rugby was great when playing on the wing. When I was carrying the ball, I was able to fake to go one way to put my opponent off balance then quickly change direction to exploit the space I created. This lead to me getting past defender and driving into space to score a try.’

Negative example: ‘Having poor agility hindered my performance in tennis. After returning my opponents shot to the back left of the court, I was not able to quickly change direction and reach their next shot in to the back right of the court. This lead to me being unable to chase down his shot and losing the rally.’


Definition: the ability of the heart and lungs to keep supplying oxygenated blood to the working muscles and delay the onset of lactic acid. A performer’s CRE levels can determine how much energy they have in the latter stages of performances and can also effect how fresh the mind is in these latter moments.
Case study: consider Chelsea midfielder N’Golo Kante. He has aptly been described as the ‘heart and lungs’ of the Chelsea midfield due to his ability to maintain high energy levels throughout his whole performance. Not only does this help him fulfill his midfield roles and responsibilities, it also enables him to maintain a high skill level, concentrate and anticipate opposition moves and make correct decisions.

Positive example 1: ‘Having high levels of CRE means I can last the whole of my performance without tiring. In basketball, this means I can keep up with my teammates when making a fast break in the last minutes. This can lead to me giving my teammate with the ball one extra passing option to create an overload and an scoring opportunity.’
Positive example 2: ‘Having high CRE levels can also help me maintain a high skill level in the final minutes of matches. In tennis, I will still feel fresh enough when serving at match point to generate enough power and maintain maximum accuracy because my mind is still fresh enough to focus completely on my sub-routines. This lead to my serve hitting the corner of the service box and bouncing away from my opponent for an ace.’

Negative example 1: ‘Having low CRE levels will negatively impact my performance in football. In the last minutes, my mind will also become tired and I may start making poor decisions as I am too tired to think clearly. This can mean that when in a 2vs1, I might be too tired to look up and notice my teammate. This can lead to me taking the ball myself and getting tackled.’
Negative example 2: ‘Not having good CRE levels will negatively impact my performance when playing doubles in badminton. As a result of being tired, I may lose motivation and start to give up. This can mean that I won’t have the energy and/or put in the effort to cover the back of the court when my partner is at the front. This can lead to me not having the energy to chase shots down and losing easy points as I give up.’


Definition: the range of motion across a joint. Having good flexibility can again positively impact performers across a range of different sports. Having good flexibility across the shoulders can supplement the power created in an overhead clear in badminton whilst having high levels of flexibility across the hips can determine how much power the kicker can get in their conversion in rugby.
Case study: consider Rory McIlory. The Northern Irishman has been commended in recent years for his work in the gym to improve his physical condition. In the video below, it is clear to see that one aspect that has come under particular scrutiny was his shoulder flexibility. As can be seen, McIlroy is able to take the club face back, and also follow through a greater range of motion due to the flexibility in his shoulders. This allows him to gain more power in his drives and therefore achieve a greater distance which can lead to him doing well on long par 5’s.

Positive example: ‘Having high levels of flexibility helped me when performing in goal at hockey. When shots were placed into the corners, I was able to get down low in to difficult positions due to the flexibility in my hips and knees. This helped me reach shots in the corners and make important saves for my team.’

Negative example: ‘Having poor levels of flexibility in my shoulders negatively impacted my performance of the overhead clear in badminton. As I did not have a great range of motion across the shoulder joint, I could not take my arm back that far and could not generate much power in my overhead clear. This lead to my shot landing at the front of the net and helped my opponent hitting an easy smash to win the rally.’


Definition: the ability of a muscle, or certain group of muscles, to perform the same action over and over again without fatiguing.
Case study: consider Serena Williams. The American is capable of sustaining long rallies as her deltoids, biceps and triceps can continuously contract when playing a range of shots without tiring. In the video below, consider the score in the match and think about how many shots Williams has previously made using the aforementioned muscles. In this 38 shot rally, she is constantly able to return shots with power and depth to put her opponent under pressure to win the point.

Positive example: ‘Having high levels of muscular endurance helped me fulfil my role and responsibilities as a lifter in lineouts at rugby. Having good muscular endurance in my upper leg muscles and my arms helped me continuously squat down and lift my jumper over and over again. This lead to our jumper continuously being able to get higher than the opposition jumper, securing the ball and playing it to our scrum half to start a new attack.’
Negative example: ‘Having low levels of muscular endurance hindered my performance when blocking in volleyball. Having poor muscular endurance meant that as the game went on, my quadriceps and hamstrings started to tire due to the repeated jumping required for spiking and blocking at the net. This meant that in the latter stages, I was not able to jump high enough when trying to block as my muscles were tired and my opponents spike went over my hands and bounced into the court to win the opposition a point.’

Definition: a combination of speed and strength or more specifically, using your muscles to explosively perform an action to gain speed and/or height.
Case study: consider NBA superstar, LeBron James. The American is able to use his leg muscles to explosively jump higher than the opposition. This additional height helps him ‘tower over’ the basket when performing slam dunks and also helps him jump higher than the opposition to reach rebounds above them. Watch the video to see how the power in his quadriceps, hamstrings and calves helps elevate his jumps.

Positive example: ‘Having lots of power aided my 1-off performance in swimming. When performing a tumble turn, I was able to powerfully kick off the wall. This lead to me explosively coming off the wall and covering more ground quickly. This meant I moved ahead of my opponent going into the final length and went on to win.’

Negative example: ‘Lacking power in my legs stopped me from performing well when going for a header in football. When my teammate put the cross in, I did not generate any power in my legs when squatting down to jump. This meant my jump did not gain any height and I was easily beaten to the ball by the defender who jumped higher than me.’

Definition: the period between a stimulus identification and a response. Quick reactions are key across a host of sporting events from the start of the gun in the 100m to an ice hockey attacker reacting to a rebound off the goalkeeper. Such reactions can often lead to the difference between winning and losing.
Case study: consider Manchester United goalkeeper David De Gea. The Spaniard is well known for his quick reactions to close range shots and this ability has often lead to him being called the ‘best goalkeeper in the world on 1vs1 situations.’ Watch the video below and observe how quickly De Gea moves different body parts to block the ball; sometimes from close range and others via a deflection.

Positive example: ‘Having good reactions helped me when performing as a Goal Shoot in netball. When a rebound came back down, I was quicker at responding to the rebound than the opposition and managed to get to the loose ball first. This then lead to me having an another shot and scoring for my team.’

Negative example: ‘Being slow to react negatively impacted my performance at the net in tennis. When my opponent hit a passing shot, it clipped the top of the net which changed the height of the shot. My reactions were slow and I could not adjust the height of my racquet in time. This lead to the ball going over my racquet and bouncing in at the back of the court.’

Definition: the body’s ability to perform an action in a short space of time. This can be categorised into three different sections:1) Whole body speed where the whole body performs an action quickly after accelerating.2) Limb speed where a body part performs an action quickly.
3) Speed endurance where the whole body performs a sprinting action at the same intensity over a period of time.
Case study 1: Consider Gareth Bale. Bale’s whole body speed enables him to get past defenders as he knocks the ball past them and sprints on to the ball first to drive into the space left behind. He is then capable of using his speed further to get away from the defender and drive through on goal to score.

Positive example: ‘Having good speed helped my performance in netball. When playing as the Centre, I was able to use my speed to accelerate away from my marker into space when my teammate had the ball. Due to this speed, my marker could not keep up with my and I was in space to receive the pass then create a goalscoring opportunity for my Goal Shoot.’

Negative example: ‘Low levels of speed hindered me when playing in defence at football. When the opposition goalkeeper kicked a long ball over my head, I was too slow and could not keep up with attacker. This lead to them getting to the ball first and having a 1 on 1 opportunity.’

Case study 2: consider Amir Khan. The boxer has excellent hand speed which enables him to pierce his opponents guard as they cannot see the punches coming. This enables him to score points with the judges and puts him in a strong position to win on points should the fight go 12 rounds.

Positive example: ‘Having good limb speed helped me as a goalkeeper in football. When the striker hit a shot, I was able to move my arm quickly in the direction of the ball to save it and keep my team in front. This lead to the attacker losing confidence as they realised that the movements of my arms could help me save shots close to my body and put him under pressure when shooting later in the match.’

Negative example: ‘Having poor limb speed negatively impacted my performance in boxing. My punches were often slow which lead to my opponent being able to anticipate my intentions and block my shots. Also, as my arm was slow in returning after throwing a punch, I left space for my opponent to throw counter punches and knock me down.’

Case study 3: consider Andy Murray. Murray’s high levels of speed endurance helps him continuously chase down drop shots and/or lobs from his opponents during rallies. Being able to consistently make these sprints at high speed enables him to reach the ball before it bounces twice in both the first and fifth sets.

Positive example: ‘Having high levels of speed endurance helped me fulfil my role and responsibilities as a Forward in basketball. When playing on the fast break, I was able to continuously make sprints at the same high level of speed to support the ball carrier and fill the lanes. This meant that whether it was at the start or end of the match, I was able to provide them with a passing option with which to create a scoring opportunity.’

Negative example: ‘Having poor speed endurance negatively impacted my performance in basketball. This was obvious when I was struggling to get back into my zone in the later stages of matches as I was not able to sustain the sprint at the same speed as the game went on. This left gaps in our zone that the opposition exploited and scored from as they had an overload on my defence.’


Definition: the amount of force a performer can exert.
Case study: consider Manchester United striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic. The Swede is able to use his upper body strength to hold off defenders to shield the ball. This enables him to create time for his midfielders to get up beside him before playing them in for goalscoring opportunities. His strength also enables him to hold off defenders who are trying to unbalance him when shooting. Holding these defenders off helps maintain possession, stay in control and create space to shoot. This is evident in the first goal below.

Positive example: ‘Having high strength levels aided my performance in the scrum in rugby. Such strength in both my lower and upper body enabled me to exert a greater force than my direct opponent. This lead to me helping my team drive the opposition back and gaining important yards up the pitch. As a result, when we released the ball, we were closer to the opposition’s try line and had a greater chance of scoring.’

Negative example: ‘Not being strong hindered my performance in tennis. When I went to play a backhand, my triceps were not strong enough which meant that I did not generate enough force on the ball. This lead to my shot being weak and not even reaching the net to give away a cheap point to the opponent.’

Now that we have covered a range of different Physical fitness factors, let’s consider some sub-factors that falls under the Physical skills umbrella.


Definition: the quality of being precise when executing skills and techniques.
Case study: consider Tottenham Hotspur striker Harry Kane. As a striker, a key responsibility of his tactical role is to finish off chances his teammates create for him. With Kane’s accuracy, he is able to place shots in to different areas of the goal with both feet and also his head. Gaining such accuracy in his skill execution makes it harder for the goalkeeper to save and helps him fulfil his role and responsibilities.

Positive example: ‘Having good accuracy helped me in badminton. During a rally, I was accurately able to select and hit the corners of the court. This moved my opponent around the court and they started to get tired and could not reach my shots due to their placement later in the match.’

Negative example: ‘Having poor accuracy hindered my performance in hockey. When I had possession of the ball, I made an inaccurate pass that went to the opposition rather than my teammates. This lead to my defence being put under pressure and my teammates losing in trust in me as they thought I would continue to give possession away.’


Definition: being able to produce a high level of skill execution over and over again. Consistency is usually linked to the stage of learning a performer is at; those who can perform skills and techniques automatically are more likely to be consistent in accurately executing their skills.
Case study: consider Canadian tennis player Milos Raonic. Raonic is thought to have one of the most dangerous serves in men’s tennis and this largely owes to how consistently he can execute his serves with both power and accuracy. This often leads to him being hard to break and always gives him a chance of winning matches.

Positive example: ‘Having high levels of consistency when playing as a setter helped my volleyball team. This was because I was consistently able to set the ball high and in the correct position for my teammate to spike the ball over the net. This lead to my teammates trusting me as they kept passing me the ball to set my teammates up as we continued to win easy points.’

Negative example: ‘Not being consistent with my serve in tennis often lead to me losing cheap points. Sometimes I would hit excellent serves that were both powerful and accurate however I could not consistently achieve this and committed several double faults. This often lead to me getting broke on my serve and me losing confidence as I found it difficult to get back into the match.’

Definition: trying something novel, unique and/or unexpected when faced with a problem. Such creativity can make your play unpredictable and have a negative impact on your opponents abilities to anticipate your next move.Case study: consider Brazilian superstar, Neymar. Neymar is well known for being creative and using his imagination when dribbling at a defender. Such creativity is often unexpected and can leave defenders off balance and unable to anticipate what he will do next. This can lead to defenders being slow to react as Neymar goes past them and eventually getting frustrated that they cannot get the ball off him and making silly tackles.

Positive example: ‘A player with good creativity can have a positive impact on his teams performance in basketball. When dribbling with the ball, the player may look one away to deceive their opponent into thinking they are playing it that way before playing it to a teammate in the opposite direction. This can lead to their teammate receiving the ball in space as the defender has been fooled into going the wrong direction and giving them time to drive in and execute an effective lay-up.’
Negative example: ‘A player can try to be creative in the wrong areas of the pitch in football and this can backfire on her intentions. The player may attempt a back-heel in their own defensive third to a teammate but make a mess of it and give the ball away. This can lead to the opposition receiving the ball close to their goal and putting their defence under pressure.’


Definition: how determined you are in your attempt to be successful.
Case study: consider 2016 Olympic Gold Medallist, Simone Biles. When competing in gymnastics, Biles puts 100% effort into all aspects of her floor routine which helps it flow smoothly and score points with the judges. Watch how the effort she puts into her run up helps her gain height when completing her floor moves effectively.

Positive example: ‘Putting 100% effort into my completing my floor routine positively impacted my performance in gymnastics. When performing the run up, I gave it my all to build up momentum and gain greater distance in my dive forward roll. This lead to me scoring a higher total with the judges.’

Negative example: ‘Being complacent and not giving 100% effort negatively impacted my performance in gymnastics. This meant that my run up was slow and I did not complete my vault successfully. This lead to me getting injured as my knee caught the vault and being unable to complete the remainder of my routine.’


Definition: the expression of timing during a performance.
Case study: let’s look at the 400m hurdling Olympic gold medallist, Dalilah Muhammad. The American needs to continuously co-ordinate and time her movements in a sequential rhythm to help her maintain a consistent stride length and count whilst taking off on the same foot as she navigates her way over each hurdle. This helps her get into a rhythm that allows her performance to move fluidly and quickly as she races towards the finish line.

Positive example: ‘Having good rhythm in my performance helped my dance be more aesthetically pleasing. Varying the rhythm of my movements helped me put a different emphasis on different movements and sequences. This lead to my performance linking to the different speeds of the music and providing a more complex yet well flowing routine to the audience.’

Negative example: ‘My lack of rhythm negatively impacted my performance in the 400m hurdles on sports day. This meant that my stride count was often out and I was not taking off on the same foot as I could not sequentially co-ordinate my movements. This lead to me losing speed and eventually falling as I clipped the top of the hurdle and being disqualified as I fell into the other lane.’


Definition: the delicacy and comfortability of your control when receiving passes.Case study: consider FC Barcelona legend, Andres Iniesta. The Spaniard is often described as ‘acting like a magnet’ in regards to the ball as his touch often kills the ball dead and keeps it glued to his foot in both tight and open areas. This makes it incredibly hard for opponents to tackle him and increases the trust his teammates have in him as they know they can play a variety of different passes to Iniesta and rely on him to control them with a soft touch.

Positive example: ‘Having good a good touch helped me as an attacker in hockey when my teammate hit a powerful pass up towards me when I was being tightly marked. My control was excellent as I gathered the ball in and used numerous small touches to keep the ball close to my stick despite the pressure of my opponent. This lead to me maintaining possession and alleviating the pressure on my defence.’
Negative example: ‘Having a poor touch negatively impacted my performance when at the net in tennis. When I tried to play a sliced volley, my touch was too heavy and I did not slice under the ball well enough to kill it. This lead to it bouncing mid-court and my opponent having time to reach it and play a winning shot.’
Having considered some of the impacts different sub-factors from the Physical Skills umbrella has on performance, let’s shift our attention to Physical Tactics. Physical Tactics links more to a team effort and takes into consideration variables such as team organisation and empathy in the quest to be successful.


Definition: the ability to slow down elements of a performance in order to gain support from teammates in both defensive and offensive situations.
Case study: consider former England captain, John Terry. When faced with a 1vs1, Terry would often ‘jockey’ his opponent from a distance rather than dive into a tackle. This was always useful as it slowed down the attacker who would wait for Terry to commit. Slowing the attack down then often lead to Terry receiving cover from his defensive teammates who can then crowd out the attack and stop it from progressing.

Positive example: ‘Delaying the opposition helped me gain defensive support in basketball. When I was faced with the opponents executing a fast break, I was the sole defender facing two attackers. I decided to jockey and backtrack rather than commit to approaching the attacker in possession of the ball. This lead to him becoming hesitant and delaying his next move. This meant that I gained time for my teammates to sprint back down the court and support me to turn a 2vs1 against me into 3vs2 in our favour.’

Negative example: ‘Failing to delay my teams attack negatively impacted my teams performance in football. When the ball was played up to me as a striker, I was isolated against 2 defenders with no support. Rather than hold the ball up and shielding it, I tried to be direct which meant that the play kept going forward at pace and did not give my teammates time to support me. I was eventually crowded out and the attacking opportunity was lost.’

Definition: having a player further back from others in both defensive and offensive situations. This depth can lead to having extra cover in defence or an additional passing option to recycle the play and change the angle of an attack.
Case study: Sergio Busquets of Barcelona is often referred to as a ‘Deep Lying Playmaker’. This is because he always provides depths to attacks and an additional ‘backwards passing option’ to more attacking players such as Lionel Messi and Andres Iniesta. When Barcelona attack, Busquets sits deeper than his teammates. When an attack is ‘snuffed out’ down one side, the play often goes back to Busquets who then ‘recycles’ the play by spreading it to the opposite side. This constantly changes the angle of attack, disorganises defences and exploits space from deeper areas.

Positive example: ‘Providing depth when attacking in basketball aided my team’s attacking play. When my teammate could not find space out wide to drive into the basket, I stayed at the top of the 3 point line to provide depth in attack. This meant that I was an additional passing option and when I received the pass from them, all of the oppositions defence was zonally shifted to that side of the court. I noticed this due to my deep position and was quickly able to ‘switch the play’ to my teammate on the opposite side who had space. With such time, they received my pass and executed an accurate set shot.’

Negative example: ‘Failing to have any depth to our attack when chasing an equaliser in the last minute of a football match left us susceptible to an opposition counter attack. When our attack broke down, we had nobody sitting deep as we gambled on trying to score. This meant nobody was there to delay the opposition who managed to break into space and killed the game off by hitting us on the counter attack.’

Definition: the ability to pierce through opposition defensive lines with one pass or run. The ability to penetrate often requires bravery from the player in possession to take risks in their play and be willing to try a more difficult pass through crowded areas.Case study: consider Manchester United deep lying playmaker, Michael Carrick. Carrick’s vision and long-range passing has turned him into a key figure for United over the years and his absence through injury has often lead to his attacking significance growing. When Carrick receives the ball from deep, he often looks forward to start an attack through packed and well-organised defences. His passing often pierces defensive lines and eliminates 3/4 opposition players from the game as his pass goes through them and removes them from a defensive structure. This then leads to his teammates running at 1 line of defence rather than 2 and making goalscoring chances easier.

Positive example: ‘Being able to penetrate defensive lines helped my team’s attacking play in basketball. This meant that when I had the ball in deep areas, I was able to spot small gaps in the opponents’ zonal structure and play firm, accurate passes to my teammates through these gaps. This lead to the opposition’s defence being pierced and my teammate receiving the ball in a 1vs1 situation closer to the basket.’

Negative example: ‘Having a static team who stuck to their positions in football lead to us failing to penetrate a well-organised defensive structure. As my teammates were rigid, I could not pick out passing options through the defensive lines and I started to panic as I did not have the bravery to attempt such passes. This meant I kept playing safe as we moved the ball from side to side without gaining any attacking ground. This lead to us eventually losing patience and attempting unrealistic shots from distance and failing to score.’

Definition: the ability to recognise, utilise and exploit strengths and weaknesses in regards to your own and opponents’ performances. These strengths and weaknesses can be considered from 2 different discourses:
1) Personal
2) Team

Case study 1: personal strengths and weaknesses are often considered in individual sports and/or in 1vs1 situations in team sports. Let’s consider Roger Federer’s ability to switch to a serve and volley tactic. Federer knows that his strengths include his touch at the net, his ability to anticipate opponents shots and his own height to reach lobs which therefore leads to him occasionally deploying the serve and volley tactic. This is often successful as he is then able to sprint into the net, pressurise his opponent, read their shots and ‘kill them’ with accurate volleys using an array of different spins. Watch the video below to see this further.

Positive example 1: ‘Knowing both my own and my opponents’ strengths and weaknesses aided my performance in badminton. Knowing that my overhead clear was a strength and that my opponent did not have enough power in their shots lead to me consistently deploying this shot during our match. This lead to me continuously playing the shuttle to the back of the court and moving into the net to smash their weak return. This helped me win numerous rallies and lead to my opponent giving up as they lost motivation and confidence.’

Negative example 1: ‘Not considering my own weaknesses and not knowing enough about my opponent lead to me having a bad defensive game in football. When faced with a quick winger, I did not consider the fact that I lacked pace and continued to play high against them. This meant that the opposition spotted this ‘mis-match’ and kept playing the ball in behind me as the winger beat me for pace every time to keep providing goalscoring opportunities for his team.’

Case study 2: let’s consider 2015/16 Premier League winners, Leicester City. At the start of the season, Leicester were one of the favourites for relegation yet somehow managed to win the league. A large part of this was down to the idenitifcation of their own strengths and ruthlessly exploiting them regardless of the criticism of their style of play. With them being slow in defence and fast in attack, Leicester decided to sit deep and allow teams to come on to them. With their height in defence, they were happy for teams to put crosses into the box as they knew they could win headers. With teams coming on to them, Leicester then used their speed in attack to exploit the gaps left by the opposition to score numerous counter attacking goals. Watch the video below and look at how Leicester played to two different types of strengths; in goals 1 and 3, they scored by taking advantage of their height by sending big men up for corners and free kicks then used the aforementioned pace to score their second goal on the counter attack.

Positive example 2: ‘Being aware of my teams strengths in basketball allowed us to successfully deploy the fast break on numerous occasions. With the speed of our two forwards, we continuously got into our zonal defensive structure quickly and let teams come on to us. As soon as we regained possession, we quickly exploited our speed by passing to our forwards to continuously hit the opposition on the break over and over again.’

Negative example 2: ‘Not being aware of the oppositions strengths lead to our team using the wrong defensive structure in football. We decided to sit deep and defend our own penalty box. Despite being organised however, we did not take into account the accuracy of our opponents’ long-range shooting. Sitting deep therefore lead to the opponents having time to line up shots and score on several occasions from distance as we failed to pressurise them with the wrong tactics.’

Definition: this is similar to depth as it is about providing further passing options in attack and cover in defence.Case study: let’s consider the defensive structure of Atletico Madrid. The Spanish underdogs constantly overachieve in both La Liga and the Champions League due to their defensive structure and organisation. A large part of that owes to the support they provide in such situations. When playing a 4-4-1-1 formation, Atletico sit very narrow and compact the central areas of the pitch. When the ball is played wide by the opposition, Atletico support each other by all shifting to that side together to crowd out the player on the ball. This often leads to Atletico creating 2 or sometimes 3vs1 situations in their defensive favour and forcing mistakes from the opposition. Watch and stick with the video below to see some excellent tactical analysis of these defensive support mechanisms.

Positive example: ‘Providing support to my full back was particularly useful in football when they were faced with a tricky winger. When this winger got the ball, I, as the defensive midfielder, quickly got over to cover my full back to create a 2vs1 in our defensive favour. This meant that even if the winger got past my teammate, I provided an additional barrier to either tackle them or slow them down and force them into mistakes.’

Negative example: ‘Not providing support to my attacking teammates meant our fast break often broke down in basketball. When they were isolated on a fast break, the defence delayed their attack and slowed them down. As I did not make a supporting run, they eventually got crowded out and had to recycle the ball backwards as we lost the impetus of our attack.’

Definition: having a horizontal spread of players across the pitch or court to create space and overloads. Width can be provided through attacking players staying wide or defensive players coming from deep whilst sticking to the touchlines.
Case study: consider Chelsea coach’s, Antonio Conte’s, evolution to the 3-4-3 formation and his use of wing backs, Victor Moses and Marcos Alonso, in attack. Both of these players ‘hug the touchline’ to continuously stretch play horizontally and create space for others inside the pitch. This leads to more ruthless players such as Eden Hazard to drive into space and attack opponents’ back lines. Moses and Alonso also provide overloads out wide which leads to them receiving the ball in space and putting in crosses for their teammates to attack. Again, watch the video below and identify the tactical element of width in Chelsea’s attacks.

Positive example: ‘Having width in attack helped my team in handball. With the wingers staying wide, they stretched the play and made the opposition’s defence spread out to cover their runs. This lead to larger spaces appearing between their players which gave our more central players space and time to execute accurate jump shots at goal.’

Negative example: ‘Not having any width in attack lead to a lot of our attacks breaking down in basketball. This meant that our play became constricted and easy to defend against as we could not find any space. This lead to us being put under more pressure, panicking and giving the ball away as we had less room to operate in.’