Whether you have it or you don't, it is tough to deny the existence of home court advantage in basketball.
We just saw it in the first game of the NBA Eastern Conference Finals - we see it in grade school hoops; home court advantage helps in our sport.
Whether your fanbase is big or small, there is something to be said for the extra adrenaline that comes from preforming in front of your fans. Nothing builds confidence quite like a crowd going crazy when you hit a shot. The intensity really does seem to ramp up when the crowd chants "DEFENSE" as you prepare to make a stop.
Even if the parents/biggest fans travel well on the road, the crowd is almost never quite like it is when you play in your team's home gym.
The kind of energy brought on by playing on your home court is one that players must learn to harness. The extra energy and adrenaline is a great thing, but playing the right way and remaining focused on your own strengths are still what will pull you through.
For every home team, there is an away squad.
Okay, okay, this is pretty obvious. Still, it is worth pointing out that focus is important at home, but even more important on the road.
When you travel to another team's gym, they will get all of the above benefits. When the home team is on a role and all of the energy in the gym shifts to them, it can be intimidating as a visiting player.
Many of the same tips that apply at home still apply on the road. Laser focus on your role and your strengths become even more important. Road teams can get the same adrenaline, but in different ways. There is nothing quite like quieting a raucous crowd with a big block or by draining a timely three-ball.
Keeping your head up and focusing on the task at hand can be tough in a hostile gym, but it is often the key to stealing a win on the road.
No home team?
This time of year in particular, AAU games, various Summer tournaments, etc. means that both teams are playing in unfamiliar territory.
In a way, this produces some very pure basketball. No home court advantage means that there is a level playing field. Little crowd noise means that you can hear a few shouting coaches, every bounce of the ball, and sneakers squeaking as players drive all over the court.
Sweat and skill determines such games, meaning it is a great time to test your mettle.