Home Field Advantage

Swing for the Fences. A discussion of Scorecasting: The Hidden Influences behind How Sports Are Played and Games Are Won

What is the source of home field advantage? Is it one of the usual suspects, or an influence of the crowds on referees?

Take any European football league in which all the teams play each other twice in a season, once at home and once away. Add up the total number of home victories and compare it to the total number of away victories. The ratio will be at least 60:40 in favour of the home sides (often it’s more: in the English Premier League home advantage currently runs at around 63 per cent, in Spain’s La Liga it’s 65 and Italy’s Serie A it’s 67). The advantage holds across almost every major sport, though exactly how big it is tends to vary. Fans are so used to this that they take it for granted their team is much more likely to win on its own turf. They also take it for granted that they know why – it’s because the home crowd is cheering the team on. But there is no evidence for this. In fact, despite a fair amount of research in the top sports science journals, there is no conclusive explanation of what makes teams play better at home. This is the real puzzle about home advantage: everyone knows it exists but no one knows why.

2 thoughts on “Home Field Advantage

  1. Psychology – teams feel they are more likely to win at home and they play with a confidence and relaxation due to this fact. Anecdotally, when teams are struggling their home form can really suffer; they feel the extra pressure of expectation and choke – but when playing away the expectation is lifted and the away form improves. Damn _ have just contradicted myself

  2. I think that familiarity with the turf has to be a factor. For instance, I bet that Goaltenders on their own field know better where their goalposts are behind them without looking, as they move around, eyes forward on the ball, keeping the best angle and position.

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