What Does It Mean to Flank Someone? Get the Scoop Here!

Are you familiar with the phrase “to flank someone”? If not, don’t worry – you’re not alone. This phrase is not commonly used in everyday language, but you may have heard it in a military or sports context. Flanking is not just about positioning, but a tactical action that can have a great impact on the outcome of a situation. Keep reading to learn what it means to flank someone and everything else you need to know.

The Definition of Flanking

The word flank comes from the Latin word “flancus”, which means “side”. Flanking means attacking or moving around the side of an enemy or opponent. It is a tactic that is often used in military battles or sports to gain an advantage over the adversary.

Military Flanking

In military terms, flanking refers to the maneuver of attacking the enemy from one or both sides of their position. It is used to achieve greater control of the battlefield, limit the enemy’s movement, and make them vulnerable to attack. A flanking maneuver can also be used to cut off the enemy’s supply line and render their position useless.

Sometimes a flanking maneuver can be a circular movement to attack the enemy from behind. This is known as encirclement, and it is often used to trap enemy troops and cut off their escape routes. A successful flanking operation can break the enemy’s morale and cause them to retreat.

Sports Flanking

Flanking is also used in some sports, such as football and basketball. In these sports, flanking is a tactic of moving the ball or the players around the opponent’s position. It is used to gain a better field position, create scoring opportunities and surprise the opponent by attacking from an unexpected angle. Flanking is usually used by the team with possession of the ball, but it can also be used in defending to stop the other team from attacking.

Examples of Flanking

Flanking in History

Flanking has been used in many famous battles throughout history. One example is the Battle of Cannae in 216 BC, where Hannibal used flanking maneuvers to defeat the larger Roman army. In the battle of Stalingrad during World War II, the Soviet army used encirclement and flanking to trap the German army and ultimately win the battle.

Flanking in Sports

In sports, flanking is often used in football. For example, a running back can use a flanking maneuver by running around the side of the opposing team’s defensive line. This tactic is often used to gain a better field position and create scoring opportunities. Similarly, in basketball, a player can use a flanking maneuver by running around an opponent’s defense to get to the basket.

Flanking as a Strategy

Flanking can be a powerful strategy in many situations. In military battles, a flanking maneuver is often used to gain a tactical advantage over the enemy. In sports, flanking can be used to create scoring opportunities and gain control of the field. However, flanking can also be risky if it is not executed correctly. A failed flanking maneuver can expose your own troops to attack or leave your team vulnerable to counter-attacks from the opponent.

Flanking vs. Ambushing

Flanking is often confused with ambushing, but they are not the same thing. Ambushing is a surprise attack against an unsuspecting enemy from a concealed position. Flanking, on the other hand, is an attack that is launched from the side of the enemy or opponent. While they are both tactical maneuvers, ambushing is more about surprise, while flanking is more about positioning and strategy.


Flanking is a tactic that can be used in both military battles and sports. It involves attacking or moving around the side of the enemy or opponent to gain an advantage. Flanking can be a powerful strategy, but it also comes with risks. It is important to know when to use it and how to execute it correctly.


  • Q: Is flanking legal in sports?
  • A: Yes, flanking is a legal tactic in most sports as long as it does not involve physical contact with the opponent.
  • Q: Can flanking be done by a single person?
  • A: Yes, flanking can be done by a single person, but it is more effective when done by a group.
  • Q: Is flanking always aggressive?
  • A: Not always. Flanking can also be used defensively to protect a position or create a barrier against the opponent.
  • Q: Can flanking be used in business or politics?
  • A: Yes, flanking can also be used in business or politics to gain an advantage over competitors or opponents.
  • Q: Why is flanking important in military battles?
  • A: Flanking is important in military battles because it can help to limit the enemy’s mobility and make them vulnerable to attack. It can also be used to surround the enemy and cut off their supply lines.


  • https://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/flanking.html
  • https://www.militaryfactory.com/dictionary/military-terms-defined.asp?term_id=2455
  • https://www.sports-courts.com/blog/the-art-of-flanking-in-sports

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