There are several key findings of this study, conducted on male inter-university basketball players. It was observed that when players performed at their home playing venue, their level of testosterone was raised and they also won the matches due to an increased score self-confidence. Further, it was also documented in the current study that the cortisol level of players was elevated due to an increased score of physical exertion (perception of effort) cognitive and somatic anxiety, on away ground before and after the match.
The current research found that playing venue affects the player’s pre-match hormonal responses on the home ground as well as on away ground even he did not play his match.
Testosterone, particularly, among males, is an anabolic hormone that influences sports competition by increasing motivation and physical ability to compete . In our findings, the testosterone level was significantly elevated on the home ground and decreased on the away ground. The trend of reduced testosterone levels in players was seen on away playing ground situations in comparison to the testosterone level of the same players on their home ground, it was declined just because of the changing the playing venue. Moreover, this reduced trend of testosterone might harm away from playing venues. The reduced testosterone level might halt the overall performance of game tactics and poor skill execution resulting in losing a match on grounds other than home.
Some studies found no alteration in the hormonal profile of playing at the home venue or away venue [23, 24]. Whereas, some researchers found a significant difference in the hormonal profile of players who are participating in the competition, played at home venue as compared to those players who are playing away from the home ground.
Additionally, it has been documented earlier that the concentration of testosterone hormone increases after winning the competition, either it is in the home ground or away from the home ground .
Cortisol is a catabolic hormone, belonging to the steroid category, has an association with uncontrolled and unstable conditions . It is also called the stress hormone. When any emergency and competitive situations are encountered, it prepares the human body to respond to the stressor stimulus. The challenging conditions and appraisal of threatening are associated with increased cortisol levels that might be due to the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA) responses to both psychological and physical stress from the external environment .
Whenever, any sign of disturbance is observed, HPA response through cortisol biosynthesis acts as an indicator of stress condition . In response to the unstable and stressful conditions, cortisol begins to rise. For example, in a competitive state, a player encounters several psychological stimulators and stressors, perpetuating the rising of cortisol that results in altered glucose level, cardiovascular activation, and anti-inflammatory responses to tackle the overwhelming stress .
In our study, the level of cortisol was significantly elevated on away ground due to an increased level of cognitive anxiety, somatic anxiety, physical exertion, less support of the crowd, referee’s biased decision against visiting team, and traveling fatigue. In the current study, it was observed that level of cortisol was also decreased on the home ground due to the balanced and supportive environment of the playing venue.
It was also observed that athletes who were performing away from their home grounds had felt a high level of cognitive and somatic anxiety . In another investigation of tennis players, somatic anxiety was positively correlated with the concentration of Cortisol . Whereas, in another research, a positive relation was observed between pre and post-fight cortisol levels in Judaists and somatic anxiety. Somatic anxiety, testosterone, and pre-round cortisol in the competition of golf also expressed the same similar trends .
Generally, in sports competitions, variations in behavior and physical expressions are caused by the hormonal changes mediated by the triggering of HPA in response to the externally stimulating factors.
It has been investigated by researchers, the negative relationship between cognitive anxiety and salivary testosterone level was documented on playing venues away from his home venue depicting that when a player is performing, he feels worried, apprehension and nervousness, due to an unfamiliar attitude with the playing venue . Hence, location also influences psychological factors such as the level of state anxiety.
It has been found in another study the score of trait and state anxiety in the final match of the tournament as compared to the semifinal match . About the location of the tournament, these researches indicated that the athletes who were playing in the opponent’s venue had a higher level of somatic and cognitive anxiety as compared to players who were playing on home grounds.
In our findings, we investigated that basketball players felt more somatic and cognitive anxiety, while, playing on away ground before the commencement of the match. Whereas, their self-confidence score was evaluated higher on their home ground before the start of the match.
In our findings, on both home and away from the ground, the players’ physical exertion score was evaluated higher after the match, due to increased levels of cognitive anxiety, somatic anxiety, and elevated cortisol level.
The RPE is one’s sensation about the intense, hard, and vigorous workout. As the pacing strategy changes with the competition, the rate of RPE also changes. During the competition, the score of RPE progression has a linear relationship between the certainty of endpoint and the duration of the competition .
In official basketball matches, high RPE was found when a comparison was made between professional players in simulated competitions . In those competitions, greater RPE was noticed among players because matches were played at higher intensities due to increased physical and psychological demands.