Home DIS-advantage In Pro Kabaddi League

Authors: Darshan Yandigeri and Arindam Bhadra

Home advantage is a concept that describes the benefit that the home team is said to gain over the visiting team. This concept could well be applied in the Pro Kabaddi League if a team is touring another state; the hosting team is called the home team while the visiting team is called an away team.

In most team sports the home team is considered to have a significant advantage over the away team or visiting team, due to the psychological effects home fans have on the away team or referees, the disadvantage away teams suffer from rigors of travel and weather conditions, various other factors influencing teams directly or indirectly.

For example, the home team wins approximately 53% of the time in Major League Baseball (1991-2002), 55% of the time in the National Hockey League (1998-2003), 57% of the time in the National Football League (2001-2005), and a dramatic 58% of the time in the Indian Premier League (2008-2013).

Similarly, let us explore how big this effect is in the Pro Kabaddi League. 

Table 1: Impact of home leg schedule in the Pro Kabaddi League.


Table 1 disagrees with everything we know about home advantage so far, with visiting teams enjoying a 9% higher win percentage than home teams. So, unlike many other sports, playing at home seems to be a disadvantage in the Pro Kabaddi League.

What could be the reason behind this disadvantage? Before we answer this question, let us look at what some of the famous players and coaches say about home fixtures.

“The main problem in home legs is mental recovery. It is hard to get the previous game out of your system in just one day. If you have lost a game, you keep thinking about it for some time. In such a situation it’s very hard to focus on the preparation of the next game. Hence teams tend to struggle in home legs as there is no time to recover from a bad performance.” – Rohit Kumar, the skipper of Bengaluru Bulls.

“The player’s will to do a bit extra on home turf often leads to continued poor performances as he gets little time to reflect on it, and thus make any improvements.” – Ashan Kumar, ex-Puneri Paltan coach.

Both Rohit and Ashan Kumar highlighted that the lack of rest for home teams leads to little or no recovery time for the upcoming games which affects the home team’s performance

To explain the above statements objectively, let us look at Table 1 more closely, there appears to be a clear disadvantage for home teams during season 5 with home teams winning just 32.4% of the time over visiting teams, as every home team played nearly 6 home games in just 7 days. But a new format in PKL season 7 saw a reduction in the number to 4 home games in 7 days giving more rest to home teams shooting the home team’s win percentage to 43.8%.

So, we can all agree that rest days in the home leg schedule seem to be affecting the performance of both home and visiting teams, but little is understood about the root cause of this phenomenon. Hence, this article explains why we, at SportsKPI, think the rest between games is a potential explanation for this phenomenon. 

Table 2: Jaipur home leg schedule (PKL season 7)


Table 2 shows Jaipur Pink Panthers home leg schedule as an example of a typical PKL home leg schedule for season 7. Every home team was required to play 4 games in a week, with 2 or more days of rest for Saturday i.e. 1st home game, no rest for Sunday, 2-days rest for Wednesday, and 1-day rest for Friday game respectively.

Does the rest between games impact the home team’s performance?

Chart 1. Relation between rest between home games and home team performance


Chart 1 shows that the home team’s win percentage increases as home teams get more rest between games.

Also, home teams win nearly 45% of the time when they have 2 or more days of rest, giving more time to recover for the players. Unfortunately, unlike many other sports, home advantage in the pro kabaddi league is obscured by the tight home leg schedule dropping the home team win% to just 38.1% during back-to-back games, proving that rest is a significant factor in the performance of the home team’s in the Pro Kabaddi League.

It is clear that it is almost impossible to win every single home game. Now you must be wondering that since the schedules are fixed by the league, this information is not enough for a team to improve their chances of winning the next game.

You are right!

This is where we, SportsKPI shift our focus to analyzing the visiting/away teams as well.

Does the rest between games impact the visiting team’s performance too?

Chart 2. Relation between rest between away games and away team performance


Chart 2 shows that rest impacts the visiting team’s performance as well. Their win percentage increases with an increase in rest days but only to a certain point because the optimum recovery time for players is between 3-4 days and any extra days of rest do not make players any fresher, nor does it increase the chance of winning the next game.

Also, visiting teams seem to be the weakest during back-to-back games, winning just 25% of the time against the opponents, while strongest when they have enough time to recover for the next game with their win% shooting up to nearly 52%.

Upon further analysis, we deduced the following key insights:

1. How to win more games?

After all, the underlying goal of every sport is to win as many games as possible.

But a key to increasing the chances of winning more games is by making the best use of your time(rest) and resources(players). Also, unless you know the importance of your next game, it is difficult to win most of them.

As the famous Chinese military strategist Sun Tzu once said, Striking Where the Enemy is Most Vulnerable.

2. When to play your best 7?

Did you know that more than 80% of the Pro Kabaddi matches are being played by every team with the same starting 7? Is it worth overloading your main players every single match only to lose them on the sidelines for 2-3 weeks due to injury? We can use this analysis to ensure that the best players remain well-rested for the most important games.

3. When to play your New Young Players (NYP)?

Did you know that in PKL season 7, NYPs played 3 more games and scored 4 more points per player compared to C-category players?

There has been a constant dilemma among coaches and management about giving a chance to the new young players in the next match.

With our analysis, we ensure that NYPs get more structured game time for their growth and development.

SportsKPI can help you in planning the entire PKL schedule for your team highlighting the importance of each game based on our cutting-edge analysis in the field of Kabaddi. For more detailed analysis and potential evidence, please write to info@sportskpi.com

Photo Credit: PKL Website.

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