Social 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

Social factors relate to working with, against and in front of others. Here we will consider what these factors are and the positive and negative impacts they have on performance.


Social factors related to ‘working with others’ will predominantly focus on how a team functions, co-operates and supports one another during good and bad times. The ‘All Blacks’ show team unity whilst performing the ‘Haka’ prior to matches.


Definition: team dynamics refers to the ‘chemistry’ within a team; how well do they work together and support one another to achieve a common goal?
Case study: consider Leicester City in the 2015/16 season; they won the premier league despite having a team of ‘low-budget’ players who were 5000/1 long-shots to achieve this. Their unity and desire to put the team ahead of individual gains were key factors in being successful.

Positive example: ‘A team with strong team dynamics will also go above and beyond their own tactical roles and responsibilities to help others. In football, a full back who is up against a skilful opponent will get support from their own winger. This can ensure that they are never facing their direct opponent 1 on 1 and can lead to them combining to limit the opponent’s space. This can therefore lead to them making tackles and prevent crosses coming into their box.’

Negative example: ‘A team that has poor team dynamics however can be very critical of one another and not be supportive. In basketball, a player who has missed a very easy lay-up will therefore be criticised by teammates rather than encouraged. This can lead to arguments breaking out and concentration being lost during important moments in the match.’


Definition: communication can come in many different forms and can indicate how organised a team are. Teams who communicate with each other can be harder to beat and also better functioning as they alert each other to certain elements of the game.’
Case study: consider legendary goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel; he was well known for organising corners by telling his teammates who to mark and ensuring that concentration was not lost. He was also well known to be very informative regarding when to start a counter attack by alerting teammates to opportunities to attack after defending corners.

Positive example: ‘A team that communicates well will have a better chance of being successful as they can be more organised. In zonal defence in handball, a goalkeeper who shouts the direction the team should move in relation to the ball can lead to them being more organised. This can lead to them staying tighter together, reducing spaces in central areas and stopping the opposition from shooting.’

Negative example: ‘Players who do not communicate can not help players in possession of the ball. In hockey, a winger who does not call for the ball despite being in space will never alert their teammate to their position. This can lead to their teammate holding on to the ball for too long, being pressurised and losing possession.’


Definition: teams who co-operate are those who are more likely to provide each other with feedback to help their performance, cover each other on court and support each other on fast breaks.
Case study: Serena and Venus Williams were a very effective doubles pair in tennis as they covered each other on court; if Venus missed a shot at the front of the court, Serena would always be at the back covering her to ensure they stayed in a rally. Not only this, they often complemented each other by helping each other in training to develop their weaknesses.

Positive example: ‘Teammates who co-operate with each other will support each other to help develop their performance in training. In tennis, doubles partners who co-operate with each other will stay behind to help develop a players backhand by feeding the ball to them and then giving them feedback on their performance. This can lead to weaknesses in sub-routines being identified and improved.’

Negative example: ‘Teammates who do not co-operate with each other can lead to unsupportive behaviours. In basketball, a team who is on the fast break may not receive supporting runs from their teammates. This can lead to them not having any passing options in the attacking half and the attack being delayed or breaking down due to a lack of co-operation.’


Definition: performing a certain duty within a team that can impact both your own performance and your fellow teammates. Somebody who performs their own role to a high level can motivate and inspire their teammates to give 100% to their role leading to a more cohesive unit that is hard to beat.
Case study: in the 2015 Ashes series, England cricket captain Alastair Cook played a pivotal role in his sides victory. Throughout the series, Cook motivated and inspired those around him as his determination rubbed off on others. His ability to communicate and instruct others both on and off the field of play helped stimulate others to give 100% in fulfilling their roles and responsibilities.

Positive example: ‘My team captain really inspired me to do well in a recent rugby match. His vocal support and encouragement during the match really motivated me to give 100%. This lead to me focusing completely on my own roles and responsibilities as a winger and also bouncing back from any mistakes I made as I knew I had his confidence.This resulted in my performance being of a high level as I ran in several tries.’

Negative example: ‘Being overly reliant on my coach in tennis negatively impacted my performance. When I found myself a break down and under pressure from an opponent, I was not capable of solving the tactical problems by myself as I had been used to my coach telling me what to do and when. This lead to my levels of fear increasing and me making numerous bad decisions during rallies.’


Definition: an elite athlete who you look up to and try to mirror. A good role model will exhibit numerous positive traits that can help your approach to and performance during competition however a poor one can lead to you picking up the wrong behaviours which can negatively impact your performance.
Case study: consider the boxer Anthony Joshua; he is well known for being disciplined in training, strict with his eating and sleeping patterns whilst also showing respect to opponents before competition in a sport where ‘trash talking’ is profound. This has lead to him being well respected by his peers and being made an ambassador for British sport.

Positive example: ‘Watching my role model, Roger Federer, really helped my performance in tennis. Having saw Federer admit to an umpire that an opponents shot was in despite being called out, I did likewise when something similar happened in a recent match of mine. This lead to me gaining the respect of my opponent and the game being played in a positive and respectful manner.’

Negative example: ‘Selecting the wrong role model in football lead to me picking up some of their negative traits. Having watched my role model dive to win a penalty in football, I tried to do something similar. This lead to me being booked for unsporting behaviour and annoyed my teammates. This resulted in me not being as committed to tackles in the remainder of the match in case I got a second yellow card.’


Definition: etiquette is a set of ‘unwritten rules’ that performers are expected to abide by to ensure that matches are played in a positive spirit. Doing this will help performers enjoy their participation more and increase respect amongst opponents.
Case study: watch the video of Paolo Di Canio below. In the last minutes of the game with the scored tied at 1-1, Di Canio provided a remarkable example of etiquette that was applauded and respected by players, fans and the media alike.

Positive example: ‘Performers who demonstrate good etiquette whilst competing against others can positively contribute to the playing environment. In tennis, a player who hits a shot that clips the top of the net which changes the direction of the ball to win a point who puts their hand up to apologise is demonstrating good etiquette and sportsmanship. This can lead to their opponent respecting them more and the game being played in a more respectful and friendlier environment.’

Negative example: ‘Performers who do not demonstrate good etiquette can negatively contribute to the playing environment. In football, a team who do not kick the ball out of play despite seeing an opponent lying down injured can anger their opponents. This can lead to arguments breaking out and bad fouls being committed in the remainder of the game.’



Definition: the environment that performances take place in can have a bearing on the performers on the playing area. The impact a crowd can have for example can have different effects on athletes depending on their behaviours in the stands.
Case study: consider the impact the ‘Tartan Army’ had on the performers below. For some players, the noise and support of the crowd could have positively impacted their motivation and determination levels to exceed all expectations but for others this could have weighed them down causing them to get anxious and ‘choke’.

Positive example: ‘ A noisy and supportive crowd can inspire performers to maximise their playing potential. Having supporters cheer you on can really boost your motivation and arousal levels. This can lead to performers giving their all to achieve their roles and responsibilities which can make their team hard to beat and frustrate the opposition.’

Negative example: ‘A crowd that begins to get restless and critical can have a negative impact on players’ performance levels. A crowd that is booing the opposition can distract players’ concentration levels and make them fearful of making a mistake. This can lead to them hiding, not giving their teammates an option and their team losing the ball.’


Definition: it is important to consider the facilities that performers participate in and how much they replicate the environment they will compete in and how far they are from where someone lives. These factors can play a large role in determining how well athletes train and then perform in competitive situations.
Case study: in the 2010/11 season, Tottenham Hotspur played Young Boys of Switzerland in an important Champions League qualifier. The 4g playing surface was to Tottenham’s detriment as they had never previously trained or competed on this surface. Within 30 minutes, they were 3-0 down as they could not get to grips with the bounce of the ball or the way it moved on this surface.

Positive example: ‘My groups newly equipped gym hall impacted positively on our competitive performances. One of the new additions was a sprung loaded floor which mirrored most of our competitive environments. This meant that after practicing here, we were now performing better in competition as we training at the correct speed, power and bounce which lead to us just repeating this in competition rather than having to adapt. This resulted in us feeling more confident and achieving better scores in front of the judges.’

Negative example: ‘The location of my karate facilities negatively impacted my performance. Seeing as this is a minority sport, my closest gym was over 30 miles away from my house. This negatively impacted my training as I often turned up to training tired after long commutes on buses and as a result my technique did not develop as it should have. This lead to flaws in my performance when it came to competitive situations and me losing.’


Look at the above and create a new flow chart that describes two ways in which communication could impact performance in volleyball. (2). Remember to state:

  1. Example within game
  2. Impact communication had on you; what did you do?
  3. Impact on performance; what happened next?




  • Congratulate opponent on good shot.
  • If shot from opponent is wrongly called out then tell umpire it was in.
  • Shake hands with opponent at start and end of game.
  1. Pick one of the examples of etiquette in tennis and explain how this could impact performance. (1).
  2. Can you then think of a different example of etiquette from a team sport and explain how that could impact performance? (1).


Watch the above video and then read the model answer for analyse below. The answer analyses how crowd influence can impact an emotional factor.

‘A crowd that makes a noise when a golfer hits a drive off the tee can hinder their performance. This is because the golfer could be mid swing which means they are following through on their plan when a shout can disrupt this train of thought and lead to them getting angry as someone is deliberately trying to put them off. This can lead to themtherefore hitting the drive incorrectly and this can then effect their next shot as they take get more frustrated, try to take it out on the ball and overhit it meaning they miss the green which can lead to them not making par.’

Can you now analyse how crowd influence can impact either of the following:

  1. Concentration (Mental).
  2. Accuracy (Physical).

Use the above example answer to help you analyse; look how the answer goes to the ‘nitty-gritty’ and breaks the example and impacts right down.



Look at the picture below and then answer the question that follows.


Evaluate how good this team’s dynamics is when a teammate makes a mistake. (1). For a bonus point, evaluate how this could then link into a mental or an emotional factor? (1).


Watch the video below then answer the question that follows:

Explain how social factors impacted performance in this video. You should link your answer to one of mental, emotional or physical factors. (4).

Things to consider:

  1. The question is explain: select the sub-factor, give an example of it being used and then give a reason why it may have had the potential impact(s) on the performer then performance that you provided.
  2. Try to be creative: you do not have to simply give one example of a sub-factor; were there multiple different examples of the same sub-factor occurring? Take each through the 3 step process.
  3. For ‘A’ level pupils: give reasons how one social sub-factor could impact one of the above factors mentioned. Deal with the primary factor (social sub-factor) first; why does that link to the secondary factor? Give a reason for the potential impact this secondary factor could have had on the performer then the performance.