Is there any evidence of a home court advantage?

The title pretty much says it all. Is the home court/field advantage a real factor, or is it an illusory correlation?
If it’s real, what sport is most affected by it?

If you consider the latest Mariners/Indians devistating series, you’ll see that the amount of people booing or cheering your play seemed to have a lot of effect on both teams. The announcers also kept talking about it.

IMHO, I think it has the mose effect on baseball if anything, because that’s the only major American sport (baseball, football, hockey, basketball) where you know if people are cheering/booing you, personally, for any length of time.

Minor exception: Basketball during free throws.

Look at the final season records for almost any major sport. 90% of the time a team will have a better record at home than away.


Twenty of the thirty major league baseball teams had better records at home than on the road, according to

One other had an identical record. Two others were very nearly identical, but slightly better on the road. If you want, you can addthe records up and see the difference overall–I believe the home field advantage over time comes out to be something like the home team winning 55% of its games, in baseball that is.

I believe that baseball is actually LESS noticeable than the other major sports, thoiugh I don’t at the moment have a site to prove it…

It makes a major difference in soccer. The rule of thumb is to “win at home and tie on the road”. Teams often play a less offensive lineup when they’re on the road.

Honduras has been the exact opposite in the last round of world cup qualifying. They are awful at home, but win most of their games on the road. They play a quick, counter-attacking style that is much more effective against teams on the attack.

It’s closer to 52%. This year the home field advantage in baseball was larger than it usually is.

On the other hand, home court advantage in basketball is EXTREMELY pronounced. Last year, every team in the NBA played better at home than on the road, and most did so by very wide margins. Many NBA teams has exceptional records at home but were losing teams on the road; Minnesota was 30-11 at home, 17-24 on the road. In hockey, home ice advantage is more prevalent than in baseball, but not nearly as much as in basketball.

What’s interesting is that baseball is the only sport mentioned so far in which there are substantial differences between parks that might confer an advantage. Major league stadiums all have different outfield dimensions and foul territories, and the hitting backgrounds are usually different, so you would think players would perform better in their home parks. Yet baseball’s home field advantasge isn’t very large, relatively speaking. On the other hand, all basketball courts are the same, and yet the NBA’s home court advantage is colossal, maybe the largest of any pro sport anywhere in the world.

Well, according to the NFL Standings as of right now, 18 teams have a winning home record. (for example Denver has a 3-2 over all record and a 2-1 home record, a 1-1 road record.) So, if you just look at pure numbers, it would appear that Home Court Advantage is indeed a factor, maybe even a crucial one depending on the situation.
For example, Oakland has a hard time playing in Denver because of the elevation change (and anybody could experience that.) A team that plays in the Southern US or in domed stadiums might have trouble in Mile High if it’s snowing. Whereas the Broncos are used to those types of things, and can use it to their advantage.
Also, there is a rule (I believe) that a home team will be penalized if the crowd makes too much noice. Ahhh, here it is.

It must be important if the NFL makes up a rule for it.

You could argue that baseball’s homefield advantage is less pronounced than in other sports just because the sample size are largers. After 81 games, things may even out more than the 40-odd games of the NBA and NHL and the 8 games of the NFL season.

Somebody used the ALDS between the M’s and the Indians as an example of Home field advantage. IIRC, the M’s had a better record away than at home. But I think home field advantage is more important in football than any other sport. I mean, when an opposing QB is trying to make an audible call and the fans make the stadium deafening, the QB will take a costly time out. That can be devastating in a close game. I live in Eugene OR, the local team here is the 7 and 0 Oregon Ducks. We have a 23 home game winning streak here at Autzen Stadium. And out of many many duck games that I have been to, last years UCLA and Washington games EASILY take the cake. Those games were louder than anything I have ever heard before. Anyway, I am rambling, now that I think about it, home field advantage can be an advantage or a disadvantage to a team in BAseball. Football fields and basketball courts(mostly) are uniform in dimension. But baseball fields are totally different. This can hurt a team, or help them. I mean, if the Braves( a team known for pitching) played in the late Kingdome (a dome known for its Home Runs), they would suffer as a result of the amount of games at home.
That was very poorly written and I apologize.

In the NFL’s final standings for last season, 21 out of 30 teams had more wins at home than on the road. Four other teams had identical home and road records. Two of the weaker teams, Arizona and San Diego, were winless on the road; no team was winless at home.

Home advantage, as measured by home-away records, is unquestionably lowest in baseball and highest in basketball among major leauge sports. Over the long term, the advantage is about 5% in baseball (that is, for the league as a whole, home teams win 55% of their games, or 5% more than would be expected by chance). IIRC, for basketball the average is roughly 20%, that is, home teams win around 70% of their games. I think football is around 10% and hockey 15%.

The reasons for this are a bit mysterious, since as has been mentioned baseball parks are all different, and teams can theoretically tailor their teams to take advantage of idiosyncracies, while baseketball courts are all the same (at least according to dimensions).

I think there may be two possibilities here: (1) the degree of home field advantage depends on how close the crowd is to the players, - so that crowd’s excitement can be transferred to the players. The crowd is generally far away in baseball and football, and close in basketball and hockey. (2) it depends on how important intense bursts of physical exertion and adrenalin rushes are in the sport. In baseball, a lot depends on intense concentration - both pitching and batting - and less on intense exertion (baserunning and fielding). Having the crowd cheering you may not be that great an advantage in this situation. In basketball, on the other hand, a great deal depends on brief bursts of activity and being keyed up emotionally. I wonder if there is much of a home-court advantage in making free throws?

RickJay, I see you mention a figure of only 52% for baseball. If that’s so, I think it must have fallen over the years. I recall reading an article maybe twenty years ago that gave a figure of around 54-55%.

College Basketball certainly has them in specific instances. Duke’s Cameron Indoor Stadium opened in 1940, and the Blue Devils are 620-138 at home, for a 81.8% winning percentage. And they have not always been good.

To be honest, I was citing that from memory.

I found a few online studies that placed MLB home field advantage at around 53-54%. I think we can safely say it’s a small advantage, but consistent. Still, it’s curiously low, especially when you consider that in baseball, home teams do enjoy a number of objective advantages.

Basketball home field advantage is just off the charts - it turns bad teams into good teams. I can’t explain why except that basketball, at least at a pro level, is a sport where maximum effort, hustle and concentration at all times are imperative to winning; the difference between a good rebounding team and a bad rebounding team is often just that one exerts effort and pays attention to what’s going on, and the other does not. I can see how a home crowd would fire up a basketball team and increase their efforts and hustle. I don’t know about other NBA arenas, but at Toronto Raptors games the fans just go berzerk, and they’re just a few yards away at all times. Baseball, by comparison, is a game of studied concentration and the intelligent application of force; being “fired up” won’t help you.