Does a home disadvantage ever exist?

Desmond McEwan, Matt Hoffmann

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Throughout this book, evidence of a home advantage (HA) has been discussed across a range of sports, competitive levels, timeframes, and geographical regions. Indeed, the bulk of the extant research on the HA effect suggests that, overall, there is a benefit to competing at home versus away venues. Nonetheless, sport enthusiasts could likely point to several instances where home teams tend to perform worse than away teams. Are these merely examples of the adage that “the exception proves the rule” and simply part of the natural ebbs and flows of competition? Or, are there truly situations in sport whereby the advantage of competing at home disappears or even reverses to a home disadvantage? In this chapter, we attempt to dissect this area of research within the home (dis) advantage literature. We begin by highlighting the foundational work of Baumeister and Steinhilber, which proposed—-and appeared to provide initial evidence of—a home disadvantage. We then review the research that has been conducted since their initial work testing this phenomenon. Finally, we provide a series of considerations for future research that could help advance this area of study. To be clear, our goal in this chapter is not to convince readers that a HA in sport does not exist—such a contention would ignore the decades of evidence demonstrating that athletes and sport teams tend to perform better at their home venue. Instead, we aim to delve into the nuance that appears to exist in this home (dis) advantage effect.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHome Advantage in Sport
Subtitle of host publicationCauses and the Effect on Performance
EditorsMiguel Gomez-Ruano, Richard Pollard, Carlos Lago-Penas
Number of pages13
ISBN (Electronic)9781000462050
ISBN (Print)9780367533298
Publication statusPublished - 28 Oct 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)


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