So its not surprising to find my biased ass agreeing with him here, but there is another factor (at least in soccer) which is relevant. When Arsenal moved from Highbury to their new state-of-the-art ground, their striker Thierry Henri spoke of his problems of adapting to a new stadium. His problem was that in the old ground he had a lot of visual reference points which told him exactly where he was on the field. If he saw that he was level with the the first column of seats in the far stand, he knew he was exactly 30 yards from goal and therefore within range of a curler into the top corner. When they moved to the Emirates, a lot of his shots were going over the bar or dropping short because he didn't know where he was.
What about local knowledge? Every ground is slightly different, so perhaps teams take advantage of their familiarity with their home environment. Even football pitches vary: some are wider, some are narrower, some are blowy, some are sheltered, some are rough, some are smooth. The differences are most noticeable in baseball, where some teams play at stadiums that suit hitters, and others at stadiums that suit pitchers (it’s a question of size, shape and atmospherics). Yet even in baseball, Moskowitz and Wertheim find it makes no difference. Teams that play in hitter-friendly stadiums do not outhit their opponents by any greater margin than teams that play in pitcher-friendly stadiums. This despite the fact that managers can pack the team with sluggers, sure that they will play at least half their games in advantageous conditions. Knowing what you need to do well in your own yard doesn’t help you do it any better.
It is said by Man U fans who have mastered the power of speech that they know they are going to score the winning goal : its just a question of whether or not the referee will blow for full time before they do. The players don't so much believe as know. Its like the sun rising tomorrow - it is going to happen. This belief, or knowledge, appears to be infectious. Time and again this season opposition teams in strong positions melted away and an understrength Man U won the league a a canter.
Take basketball: when a player is fouled, he (or she) is awarded free throws at the basket from 15 feet. (...) The stats show that away players perform just as well as home players from the free-throw line, despite all the barracking. The same applies to goal-kicking in American football, and penalty shoot-outs in our version. The home side has no better chance of winning at penalties than the away team.
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