Home Court Advantage...

Added on by Arturo Gutierrez.

Why does it matter? No really, should it at all? Consider the decisions you make during a basketball game; do you ever consider the venue you are in, the fans cheering, the color of the paint on the floor indication who the home team is? I ask this because for some reason the stats tell us that home teams fair much better than teams on the road. Yet, the attributes associated with being a home team, don't supercede the attributes associated with performance during a game; shooting, dribbling, sprinting, vision, aren't effected when you jump from Solutions Arean in Salt Lake City to Chesapeake Enery Arena in Oklahoma City. 

Still we see some differences in team and individual performance when teams play at home vs away. And according to Tobias Moskowitz from a 2011 Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, some differences in performance seen can be attributed to decisions made by referees (more free throws, favorable calls for home teams, etc). While that is true, there are other stats like rebounds attained, steals made that really aren't associated by outside factors like officiating and fan participation, and yet we see that players rebound more and steal more when they play at home.


So this is my beef, as a coach, would I accept varied performance from a player of mine depending on home or away games played? Basketball for the most part is a sequential game. There may be some occasions when a player may play chicken with another; faking a move, deciding to take or not take a charge. But the majority of the activity that occurs in a basketball game is in reaction to the action of an opponent. It's cut and dry. So again, why would home court ever matter if it is not an integral variable in the decisions a player makes, or the actions they may take? Home court is not involved in the game, and neither are fans. 


The answer may lie in behavioral decision making analysis of players. I recognize data and analytics are a trend (rightly so) right now in sports. But I would like to see the next generation of coaches, players and GMs focus on psychological aspects of performace.  I think it would help teams move further away from emphasis on the home court as variable of performance, and players could potentially move away from believing their performance depends on outside factors. Which it should never be. It makes little, if any, logical sense. 


-arturo gutierrez