National Lacrosse League: Is Home Field Advantage A Thing?

Posted on Jan 22 2013 - 7:11pm by Jim Flannery

John Grant Jr. (24) and the Mammoth went on to win this game on the road. (Photo: calgaryroughnecks.com)

In Week 3 action in the National Lacrosse League, all four home teams lost. That makes home teams a combined 3-7 for the 2013 season.

In 2012, home teams in the NLL were only a combined two games above .500 on the 72-game schedule and only managed that by having a strong final month.

Usually in sports, having home field means a significant advantage. In Major League Baseball, between 2006-2010, home teams had a .551 winning percentage. In the NFL, between 2002-2010 home teams had an even better .572 winning percentage.

So what’s going on in lacrosse?

Home teams in lacrosse enjoy most of the same perks as they might for any other sport; familiar venue in a familiar city and friendly crowds. But they don’t seem to be as big a factor.

There are a number of reasons for this.

Often the financial reality of playing lacrosse means that players hold down regular jobs in their home towns as well, which means flying in to games on weekends. The advantage of being at home in your own bed and properly rested is no longer a factor as a result.

Crowds are typically smaller than might be seen for NBA or NHL games, causing them to have less of an impact from a noise standpoint. Add in the fact that all NLL venues play music non-stop during game action and the crowd noise becomes even less of a factor.

There really aren’t any unique stadium factors to speak of—arenas have standardized size and shape now, so being able to play the caroms or deal with a particularly small surface isn’t an issue.

So in many respects, every game is at a neutral location in many respects and this seems to have a significant impact on results.

But just to further muddy things, the home team has now won five straight Champion’s Cups, so maybe home field advantage still means something come playoff time….

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Jim has been a sports junkie for as far back as he can remember. Over the years, he has been in the stands for virtually every sport he has ever had access to, including hockey, football, soccer, basketball, curling, stock car racing, volleyball, netball, badminton, lacrosse, and probably a few more as well. Jim has been coaching high school-age baseball for a quarter century, is a competitive curler in the winter, and would spend every other waking moment watching or writing about sports if he could.

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