Home Team (Dis)Advantage Patterns in the National Hockey League: Changes Through Increased Emphasis on Individual Performance With the 3-on-3 Overtime Rule

Percept Mot Skills. 2021 Feb;128(1):424-438. doi: 10.1177/0031512520966138. Epub 2020 Oct 21.


Past research examining National Hockey League (professional ice hockey; NHL) data from the 4-on-4 overtime era (seasons between 2005-06 and 2013-14) revealed an inconsistent home team (dis)advantage pattern such that home teams that were superior to their visiting counterparts had slightly greater odds of winning during regulation play compared to overtime (demonstrating home crowd advantages for team performance during regulation); in contrast, home teams experienced lower odds of winning in the shootout period than in overtime regardless of team quality (thereby demonstrating risks for individual choking from home crowd pressures). In this study, we explored the NHL home (dis)advantage pattern during four more recent seasons (2015-16 through 2018-19) in which the league instituted 3-on-3 play during overtime (perhaps increasing individual pressure for athletes competing in the 3-on-3 overtime period). We used archival data from the regular season (N=5,002 games) to compare home teams' odds of winning in regulation (with 5-on-5 skaters per team) to overtime (with 3-on-3) and in the shootout, adjusting for the quality of home and visiting teams. We conducted fixed-effects and multi-level logistic regression modeling. Evenly matched home teams were 1.66 times more likely to win than inferior home teams when games concluded in regulation versus overtime. Superior home teams were 4.24 times more likely to win than inferior home teams when games concluded in regulation rather than overtime. Thus, it is apparently more difficult for superior and evenly matched home teams to win in overtime than during regulation, suggesting that such home teams may be susceptible to choking in overtime. In contrast to the earlier 4-on-4 overtime era, home teams did not have lower odds of winning in the shootout compared to overtime. These results may have implications for NHL coaches' and players' tactical decision-making.

Keywords: behavioral states; choke; coaching; psychological states; supportive audience; team performance.

MeSH terms

  • Athletes
  • Hockey*
  • Humans