Sports betting strategies: Guide to the home-team advantage

Sports betting strategies: Guide to the home-team advantage

There’s no place like home. It was the magical refrain that took Dorothy back to Kansas, and it’s a sentiment we all hold dear, right alongside ‘home is where the heart is’ and ‘the holiday was nice, but it’s good to be home’. From the well-worn dent in your favourite couch that fits your butt like a glove, to the tricky toilet handle that needs jiggling, you know your own home better than any place on earth, and, for most people, it’s the one place where you feel safe and comfortable. So why should sports teams be any different?

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This is one of the best-known phrases in sports, one that even never-bettors are familiar with. Regular sports fans who have never wagered a cent on a game will still be familiar with the home-team advantage and will hold it up like a talisman: the reason why their team is definitely going to win this time.

To put it simply, the home-team advantage is the advantage that a sporting team enjoys when the match they are playing is hosted at their home sporting grounds. The Blue Bulls at Loftus, Manchester United at Old Trafford, the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium – every team has a home, and the advantage is real, and it’s powerful.

Yes. That is all.

Okay, that’s not all, all, but there is a proven and distinct advantage to playing at your home grounds. The specifics can vary between types of sports, and even different teams within the same sport. There are many factors that play into the home-team advantage, some physical, and some psychological. Let’s take a look at a few.

Comfort of the familiar

Have you ever walked around your house in the middle of the night in the dark? How easy was it for you to navigate around without falling over furniture? We’d bet it was at most challenging, not impossible – maybe even easy. Now, do the same in an unfamiliar house and you’re falling all over the place. This may be extreme – there aren’t exactly ottomans and dog beds littering the grounds at Newlands – and games take place either during daylight or under powerful lights. But the principle remains the same. Playing a game in your home stadium, where you know every millimetre of the grounds, every weird divot in the soil, every little spot where the wind tends to bluster harder, brings the comfort of the familiar and the confidence that comes with it.

Playing to the crowd

Games played at home are more likely to attract a bigger crowd of home-team supporters to the stadium. Odds are the home crowd will outnumber the visiting team’s supporters – often by a significant amount. Sports players thrive on that support. It gives them confidence in themselves and their fanbase; it provides an incentive to win and please the home crowd, netting themselves praise and adulation; and the adrenaline provided by the cheering can keep a team pushing forward in the face of challenges.

The benefit of rest

Travel is tiring – even short trips can take it out of you – and many sports teams are making anything but short trips; sometimes, they’re flying halfway around the world to participate in an event, and it can be utterly exhausting. If they don’t have time to fully rest and recover, this can have a serious impact on their game performance.

Climate changes

We may not be aware of it, but each human is acclimatised to their own environment. For people living in Toronto, that means snowy winters, while people in Cape Town just get rain all winter. But of course, those two winters aren’t happening at the same time! Even within the same country, we have different climate zones, and teams are used to their own local climate. Bring the Sharks from balmy 25℃ Durban to a desiccated and biting 15℃ Pretoria, just a single hour’s flight away, and watch them turn bluer than a Bull. Take the Bulls down to Cape Town where it’s not just cold, but raining all. the. time, and you have rugby players-turned-mud-skiers. There’s rarely enough time for players to rest thoroughly, never mind becoming acclimated.

It’s quite easy to calculate home-team advantage. Simply calculate the percentage of home games won and compare it to the percentage of away games won, and you have your advantage.

Bookmakers have sophisticated methods of tracking performance and calculating odds that take into account these advantages, as well as myriad other factors that could influence the outcome. When it comes to home-team advantage, this can actually negatively influence your potential winnings. The greater the home team’s calculated advantage, the more the odds will reflect that, leading to lower potential wins.

There are, nevertheless, ways to bet that help you win big. From using the Zig-Zag theory to decide which team to bet on, to various betting systems that tell you how much to bet and when, there are strategies and systems that can help you place the best bets for the best possible outcomes.

There is no single factor that can guarantee you will make the right bet and win. Sports betting is layered and complex, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be mastered. Our library is continuously growing with articles and guides to help you become a better bettor.