June 02, 2020
What Home-Field Advantage Mean in Sports Betting
Home-field advantage is one of the most important factors
Home-field advantage is one of the most important factors in sports betting. Every sportsbook clearly outlines which team is the ‘Away’ team and which team is ‘Home’ because there is usually an edge for the one that’s playing in their friendly confines.
If you’ve ever wondered why there is a home-field advantage and how it impacts sports betting, let’s go through some of the main reasons why there is an inherent edge and in which sports it carries the most weight.
Why Does Home Field Provide an Advantage?
One of the biggest advantages of playing at home is that you’re, well, at home. That means that players who are in their own city can possibly see their own families, sleep in their own beds and drive in their own cars to the stadium. There’s a certain level of comfort there.
On the other hand, opponents on the road are forced to stay in hotels and acclimate to a different environment. Opposing fans and teams exacerbate that problem as we’ve heard the story more than a few times when a late-night fire alarm goes off in an opponent’s hotel just to wake them up.
Another big edge for home-field advantage is knowing the stadium. In sports like hockey, that might not be as huge of an edge as all of the rinks are the same. However, baseball stadiums are all different, so if you’re playing at home you know the contour of your field very well.
In football, you might have teams that play outdoors that host warm-weather teams or teams who strictly play indoors during the winter. All of those variables impact the game and the team that’s at home and is more familiar with the stadium benefits.
Crowd noise is also a big factor as it gives a boost to their home team. You’ll often see this with momentum as teams start to make the right moves or play with more confidence, then the crowd starts to roar with support. Professional players really do their best to try and block this out in their heads, but it’s human nature for the emotions to come into play.
There is also the sheer volume of noise to consider. The Seahawks and Chiefs have distinct noise advantages due to the way their stadiums were constructed, which essentially create a cavernous vacuum of noise for the home team. This can cause communication issues for the opponents.
Although referees do their best to be impartial, the data shows otherwise. They nearly always give a slight edge to the home team. That could be partly because they tend to live near the cities where they work in or because the crowd cheers and subliminally pressures them at times. At any rate, refs do give a slight edge to the home team.
Home-Field Advantage by Sport
Not all home-field advantage is made equally as it matters more in some sports than others. In the MLB, a study by FiveThirtyEight revealed that baseball home teams win 54% of the time. Meanwhile, the NHL came in at 55.1%, the NFL 57.1% and the NBA a whopping 59.9%.
The numbers grow even higher in the playoffs as NFL and NBA teams won over 64% of the time in the postseason while the NHL inched up slightly to 55.3% and the MLB climbed to 54.2%.
Coronavirus Impact on Home-Field Advantage
As major sports return from the COVID-19 pandemic, we’re all going to be watching curiously to see how home-field advantage is impacted. Remember, most – if not all – leagues will start off with no fans and we might not see fans back at sporting events until the fall. Some sports like the NBA are not even going to play at home as they’re looking at scheduling games at one, neutral site.
If the teams are playing at home but with no fans, what happens to the edge? Or if they’re playing at a neutral site, is the edge completely gone or is there still an advantage due to the time zone, travel or something else? Or maybe teams that thrived on the road throughout the course of the season will now have the edge since there is no more “home court?” We’ll find out more in the coming months as we start to get back to normal in the sporting world.