Rarely, if ever, do you hear the term \’home-field disadvantage\’. The simple fact is that teams do better when they play at home. This is true at the youth level as well as at the professional level. Less travel time and familiarity with the home field always helps. Home games also draw friendlier spectators.
Besides these reasons, there are additional steps a coach (or League) can take to make the home field even more advantageous.
- If your team is a morning team, schedule your games in the morning.
- If stamina is a problem, schedule games on a smaller field. If conditioning is a strength, play on a larger field.
- If your team has good ball control or plays well on a wet field, schedule games in the morning when there may be dew or frost on the field. Strong-footed players and a good goalie would be another reason to play on a wet field.
Know the \’Elements\’
- Know if your locale has variable winds. Do you get afternoons wind when the land warms up? If so, know when the winds kick in. It is always preferable to play or go with the wind.
- Know the position of the sun relative to the field. It is easier to play when the sun is not in your players\’ eyes.
- Know the area\’s moisture tendencies. For example, if there is dew, how quickly does the field dry? Tailor the line-up in order to take many shots when the grass is wet.
- Know the weather forecast. Is it going to rain? Will the field be wet? Is it going to be cold in which case it may take the players a while to warm up? Is it going to be hot in which case by the second half, one team is going to be tired?
While scheduling the times for games can be controlled to a large degree, taking advantage of the elements is much less predictable. After all, it comes down to which team wins the coin toss. If you win, great! If the other team wins, hope the other coach has not done his/her homework.
Don\’t forget to tell the captains which side to defend in the first half should your team win the coin toss.
There are few tricks you can try as a coach to help increase your chances of getting the preferred side even if your team loses the coin toss:
- Arrive early.
- Warm up the team on the half you want to defend in the first half.
- Set up your bench on the half you want to defend in the first half.
What tends to happen is that if the other team wins the coin toss, they will elect to defend the side they are already on.
Countering the Opponent\’s Home-Field Advantage
Make sure you do your \’element\’ research. Also use the tricks listed above. You may also be interested in reading my post entitled, \’Coin Toss Alternatives\’. Since the away team traditionally calls the coin toss, some experts hypothesize that this action is not a 50-50 proposition. Knowing the position of the coin prior to the toss could increase your team\’s chance of calling the toss correctly.