Essay on the Psychology Behind Home Advantage in Sports

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Boston College
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A crowd is sometimes likely to put undue psychological pressure on an individual. This aspect is at times portrayed in the mass media. In the article Home advantage in Soccer which can be found at, Steven Zheng writes on how an English soccer team, Manchester United faced a Turkish team, Galatasaray, in the European elite club competition, the Champions League. The game was held in Turkey in 1993. The English team was the superior team, and it was a big favorite in the match. Despite the superiority of the English team, it could only manage a draw in the game, and it was eliminated from the competition in a result that shocked many people in the soccer world. Zheng attributes the poor results of the English club to the hostile atmosphere provided by the fans in Istanbul. From the article, Welcome to Hell and RIP Manchester banners greeted Manchester Uniteds players as they arrived in Istanbul to face Galatasaray. The article further clarifies that Manchester United was eliminated, simultaneously shocking soccer fans throughout the world and displaying the power of home advantage. (Zheng). With a crowds' pressure, a referee becomes anxious, loses self-confidence and tends to be biased towards the home team.

Home advantage is an abstract psychological concept that describes the advantage of a home team over its opponents (Hackman). According to the Hackman, a home crowd cheers every move by the home players and this elevates their performance. However, the article determines that the crowd pressure has the main effect on the man who is supposed to be impartial; the referee. Although the referee is supposed to be impartial, the home crowd pressures him to support the home team. The article also attributes the home advantage to climates which may be unfavorable to the way players perform.

From Zhengs article, it is vivid that despite the numerous advantages accrued to the home team due to the favorable climate, it is clear that the major cause of home advantage in sports is the crowds. This is very true. The crowd usually has a major influence on psychological and behavioral states of referees, athletes, and coaches, and this may affect their mood, anxiety levels, self-confidence, and efficacy. The location of a game may affect tactics utilized by a coach. Pressure from a favorable crowd encourages the coach to be more offensive in the gameplay. In sports that have a high degree of subjectivity in the evaluation, referees are likely to favor the home teams due to the effect on them by the home crowd. Home crowds tend to increase the anxiety of the referee while reducing their self-confidence. Most athletes competing at home usually have lower anxiety levels and greater self-confidence when compared to their peers who are competing away from home.

In sports, there is a tendency for home teams to outshine rivals. This is attributed to both favorable climate and a friendly crowd. A home crowd can affect the behavioral and psychological states of the players from sides, coaches as well as the referees. The home teams are motivated, and this improves their self-confidence. Therefore, home advantage is a psychological concept in sports that offers an advantage to home teams.

Works Cited

Hackman, J R. Leading Teams: Setting the Stage for Great Performances. Boston, Mass: Harvard Business School Press, 2002. Print.

Zheng, Steven. "Home advantage in soccer | The People, Ideas, And Things (PIT) Journal. N.p., 2015. Web. 31 Oct. 2017.

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