“Friendly confines” are very kind to SIU

April 19, 2023

One of the most sacred places for every sports team is their home field.  Even if it’s a hilly field placed in the middle of a cornfield or a massive stadium in the middle of an urban city block, home field has a special place in athlete’s hearts.

It also has one in their minds. According to Julie Partridge, a sport and exercise science psychologist at SIU, playing at home has many psychological benefits.

“You know where everything’s at, it feels comfortable,” she said.


Partridge stresses that comfort and consistency are some of the most important things about playing at home and why athletes feel good doing so.

Every team strives to win in front of its home crowd, but not all are able to. Fortunately for the fans, SIU has done an outstanding job winning at home in the 2022-2023 athletic seasons.

The following numbers come from a sample of six team sports [men’s and women’s basketball, baseball, softball, volleyball and women’s soccer] records at home. To get a fair comparison across several sports, as some schools did not have some sports, win percentage was used to determine who won the most at home.

This was done by counting the number of total home games played [including ties] and the number of wins at home for each sport. The numbers for each sport were then added together to get a total number of home wins and home games. The number of home wins was then divided by the number of home games to derive win percentage.

This exercise was completed for every team in the Missouri Valley Conference, and the results were quite surprising. As of April 12, two of 12 teams won less than 50% of their home games, while another six won under 60% of their home games. An additional three teams checked in at under 70%, leaving just one team who won more than 70% of their home contests.

Drake topped the rankings in win percentage at 77%, but it also did not have baseball [UNI (61.53%) didn’t have baseball and Bradley (42.62%) didn’t have women’s soccer either]. For schools that had every sport measured, SIU was the top finisher, winning an impressive 67.8% of their home games.

Interestingly, the teams with the highest win percentages didn’t necessarily have the best attendance. Though only men’s and women’s basketball had attendance statistics available, the school with the highest total attendance per game was Murray State, who ranked only fifth in winning percentage. Drake, the school with the highest win percentage, finished second in total attendance per game. It was followed by SIU, who finished second in win percentage.


While the home field advantage can make things easier for athletes, Partridge said they need to channel the same feelings at away games.

“We would like for people to be as consistent as possible, no matter where they’re playing,” she said.

Partridge emphasizes emotional control too.

“Even when things are going really well, we want people to have a certain amount of emotional control,” she said.

“It is actually great when you’re playing well and you’re feeling like, ‘Man, I’m on a high right now, and I’m in the zone.’ But the problem is that you can’t really stay there… so when it starts to come down, we don’t want to bottom out either,” she said.

The crowd is a big psychological benefit of playing at home.

“I think for most people, it’s always nice to have fan support. When you look up in the stands and there are people there wanting to see you do well,” Partridge said.

Beyond the athletes enjoying the crowd and playing better at home, many coaches also are appreciative for the home crowd.

Bryan Mullins, the men’s basketball head coach, recognizes and appreciates the impact of the crowd on game day.

After SIU’s February 5 win against Missouri State, Mullins said, “Great atmosphere. Thank you to all the fans, the Dawg Pound and everything… It’s been awesome these last couple games.”

Kelley Bond-White, the women’s head basketball coach, shared a similar sentiment after the Salukis February 23 win against Indiana State.

“It makes a difference. It gives the kids energy, and they love playing in front of their home crowd,” she said.

Though sports are coming to a close for the 2022-23 athletic year, success is still shining through. As of April 14, softball has yet to lose at home, and the baseball team is 12-4 at home, giving Salukis fans plenty to be excited about both in the remainder of this year and heading into the next athletic seasons.


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