How Does Weather Affect Betting Lines?

Dean McHugh
24 August 2023
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When you’re carefully weighing up how to bet, there are lots of factors to consider. But one of the most volatile and unpredictable elements is the weather – and its impact on sports betting can be very significant.

Not all sports will be equally impacted by the weather, and they may be affected in different ways. Below, we’ll take a look at the different ways that weather can affect betting lines and the factors that you should consider.

The Impact Of Weather On Sport: an Overview

At one point or another, most sports fans have suffered the irritation of a game being postponed or cancelled due to bad weather. Rain and snow are the biggest culprits, with extreme conditions making it impossible to continue with a fixture.

However, the weather has a far greater impact on sports, and consequently betting lines, than just preventing games from going ahead. Weather conditions can impair the participants’ performance and alter the likely outcome by changing the physical environment.

Rain and snow continue to be big climatic conditions which influence sport, but they’re not the only ones. Hot and sunny weather can be difficult for athletes to endure, while low-light conditions can affect accuracy in ball sports.

A sub-par performance, increased likelihood of injuries, difficulty in travelling to away games – all of these could influence betting lines.

The subject of weather and how it influences sport performance and outcomes is complex, and we’ll dive into greater detail next.

What Sports Are the Most Heavily Affected by the Weather?

Not all sports are affected so severely by the weather, and different weather affects different sports in varying ways.

Indoor Sports

It would be tempting to assume that it’s only outdoor sports that are affected by environmental conditions, but that’s not the case.

Clearly, indoor sports are far less exposed to weather conditions and don’t need to worry about problems such as a waterlogged pitch. However, even though the temperature of an indoor court or pitch can be controlled with heating or air conditioning, the overall air quality can still be different.

For example, on a hot day, there may be high humidity levels in the air. An efficient air-con unit will reduce the air temperature and remove some of the humidity, but not all. This could mean that the participants have to compete in conditions that are more humid than usual, resulting in lower stamina and probably a suboptimal performance. Humid air can also affect some equipment. For example, shuttlecocks are affected by air humidity and move differently depending on the conditions.

And it’s not even just the participants who the weather may impact. If there is a lot of rain or snow, it may be difficult for spectators to reach the event, particularly if they’re travelling from further away. This could accentuate the home advantage, giving the home team a boost and slashing their odds of a win.

Outdoor Sports

Of course, outdoor sports are even more exposed to the effects of the weather, and countless different environmental conditions can have an impact.

Some of the outdoor sports which are affected by the weather include:

  • Tennis
  • Football
  • Golf
  • Horse racing
  • Motorsports
  • Baseball
  • Cricket
  • American football
  • Rugby
  • Sailing, yachting, kayaking, and watersports
  • Biathlon, triathlon, and long-distance running
  • Skiing and winter sports

Other outdoor sports, such as athletics and cycling, aren’t quite as significantly affected as the other sports listed here but will still be impacted by the weather.

How The Weather Affects Sports

Each sport has different exposure to the weather and may not react in the same way to changes in the conditions. Let’s take a closer look at each environmental element in turn.

High Temperature

High temperatures can be very difficult for athletes in many different sports and can impair performance and impact the outcome.

The human body doesn’t tolerate heat particularly well, and high temperatures can cause dehydration and increase muscle fatigue. An increased core temperature decreases stamina, with muscle energy stores used up more rapidly and less oxygenated blood reaching the limbs.

Although athletes can try to hydrate themselves while competing, it doesn’t compensate for the fluids lost. Even the most scientifically balanced energy drinks can’t replace fluids and electrolytes as quickly as they’re lost when the core body temperature is raised.

Sports which require a prolonged performance will be more susceptible to the effect of hot weather on the human body, e.g. football, tennis, and long-distance running. Large animals such as horses also struggle with the heat, making equine events much less predictable.

Some disciplines, such as motorsport, can be even more difficult when it’s hot as it’s not so easy to cool down. Formula 1 is a very demanding sport, with hot and stuffy cockpits and suffocating helmets. Raising the visor on the helmet only lets in more warm air and carries the risk of dust, grit or debris flying into the driver’s eyes – something that could prove to be catastrophic.

Heat doesn’t just affect the body; it also changes the terrain and environment.

For example, in motorsport, the tarmac becomes tacky and softer when it’s hot and wears out tyres more quickly.

Higher temperatures thin the air, allowing balls to travel further. Sports such as baseball, cricket, and golf may see balls which are faster and fly further compared to a cold day.

Grass will naturally turn to the sun, which could flatten the fairway in golf, leading to balls rolling further than expected and into the rough. Parched, dry grass may also run differently, impacting both driving and putting.

Finally, the glare of the sun can be a problem in some sports. During the summer months, the sun may be brighter and shine directly into the eyes of participants. This can affect accuracy in ball sports which rely on throwing and catching. If you’re betting on how many goals will be conceded, sunny and hot weather can have an impact.

Rain and Precipitation

Although sunshine can be difficult for ball sports, when it comes to influencing the accuracy of throwing and catching, it’s hard to find any weather with a greater effect than rain and precipitation.

Wet, cold weather makes ball sports extremely challenging because the ball is slippery and wet, making it hard to grip firmly. This can lead to slips when the ball is thrown, altering the flight and power or an inability to catch the ball in the hands. Water droplets flying off the ball can also obscure vision, causing handling errors.

It’s not just the handling of balls that are adversely affected by rain and precipitation.

Some sports will be paused during poor weather, causing a break in play. If a team is on a hot streak, it can be very disruptive to have to go inside to wait for the worst of the weather to pass. It may provide an advantage for the underdog, as sporadic play may prevent the better team from getting into their stride.

Yet again, motorsports face increased risk as wet weather can decrease visibility and make it difficult to control the car. Spray can be extremely dangerous, and it’s more hazardous to brake heavily in wet conditions.

Wet, snowy and icy weather often coincides with low temperatures, bringing more problems. While excessive heat is bad for the body, it’s also very difficult to perform well in freezing temperatures.

The body has to work much harder to maintain its core temperature in cold conditions. This means that even before a ball is thrown, the athlete’s body has to make more of an effort. The result is lower stamina and less endurance, with muscles that are more prone to injury as it’s harder to keep them warm during periods of inactivity.

Wind

Wind may accompany wet or cold weather, or it may occur on its own. Either way, blowy conditions can be extremely problematic for many sports.

Most sports rely on accuracy in one form or another, and windy weather can make it difficult. Balls can be blown off course, or if players are throwing against the wind, they may struggle with power and distance.

If participants are on the water, heavy winds can make conditions hazardous, with large waves that could capsize the craft.

In some sports, the wind may allow competitors to achieve a better result, such as a javelin throw with a following wind.

You would expect to see some big changes to strategy in windy conditions. For example, in American football, there would be fewer deep passes and field goals. Passing would be shorter and sharper, and the defence may succeed more than in other conditions.

Humidity

Humidity is something that’s often overlooked, as many people just focus on the overall temperature. However, even when it’s cool, it can still be humid, which can take its toll on athletic performance.

When there’s high humidity, the result is likely to be similar to playing in hot temperatures. The body can quickly become dehydrated, and players will become fatigued much more quickly.

The main effect of humidity is on the body and the performance of the individual, and we’ve already covered what this could mean above.

However, high humidity means more water is in the air, and this vapour can affect equipment, such as balls. When there’s humid weather, balls carry more water even though they’re not wringing wet. This makes them slower and more predictable, dulling the speed advantage. Sports or positions that rely on speed, such as spin bowlers in cricket, will find humidity far more challenging than strategies that don’t require fast delivery, e.g. knuckleballs in baseball.

The hardest combination of all is high humidity and high temperature, conditions which are extremely gruelling for sports participation.

Weather and Betting Lines

As we can see from all of the above, the weather has a very profound effect on sports and can change performance in several ways, and not all of them are obvious.

This may mean that players don’t deliver their usual performance, perhaps conceding more goals or, conversely, failing to score.

Coaches and managers may opt for different strategies to try and combat any problems caused by the weather. This may result in a more defensive – or offensive – approach than you might have otherwise expected.

All of this needs to be reflected in the bets that you place. Disregarding the impact of the weather and failing to consider the differences it will make to both the performance and the result is a big mistake.

Some athletes excel in poor conditions, outperforming their peers when the weather is bad. Michael Schumacher, a Formula 1 driver, was the perfect example of this. During the years he raced, he was renowned for how well he could handle wet conditions compared to other drivers, earning him the nickname of The Rain Master.

Understanding how players may perform in different weathers will help you determine how to alter your betting. But before you do this, you first need to find out how the bookies have altered the betting lines due to the weather. If a correction has already been included in the odds, your job is to decide whether it’s sufficient to cover the effect of the weather and to find those bets where you think the bookmaker has got it wrong.

Analysing Historical Data

To succeed in gambling, it’s not just about being able to predict the winning team or guessing the right number of goals scored etc.

Although those things are helpful, what’s also essential is the ability to spot a bet that has value. This means being able to accurately identify what the true probability is and spot when the bookies haven’t got things quite right.

Although bookies use sophisticated algorithms, calculating betting lines is not an exact science. That’s why you’ll find varying odds at different bookmakers because it’s a very subjective calculation.

Weather provides an opportunity to find bigger gaps in the market, looking for those where bets offer true value. The more unpredictable something is, the greater potential it has to cause an upset – which means more money in your pocket. There’s nothing that’s more unpredictable than the weather, so if you do your research, it holds great potential.

Historical data may hold the key to finding these value bets.

In the same way that you should check standard past performance metrics to assess probability, you can check the impact of the weather on results and performance. With multiple factors to consider, it’s not a simple task. Still, knowledge of the sport plus a thorough analysis of the impact of the weather should enable you to calculate the likely outcome.

Using an accurate weather reporting service, such as the Met Office, will help you get up-to-date information that is drawn from cutting-edge technology. Acting quickly could also help you to lock in preferential odds before bookmakers alter their betting lines to reflect upcoming weather conditions.

It’s worth emphasising that weather forecasts aren’t always right, so it can be helpful to check the confidence percentage. Sites like the Met Office provide the probability for its detailed forecasts, which can be instrumental in determining whether to plunge in with a bet or wait.

The more information you have about your chosen sport, the better you’ll be able to use historical weather data. For example, if you know that the coach switches out flair players for those who are more utilitarian in the rain, you can consider the impact this will have on goals scored and potentially the overall result.

Bringing Everything Together

Bookies are adept at altering the odds quickly in a changing market, so you’ll need to be on your game, too, if you want to stay ahead. The benefit you have is that you can become an expert in a single sport, while bookies have to know lots about every single sport in the market.

While they have complex algorithms to do the brunt of the work, they may miss some of the finer nuances. This is particularly the case when it’s a factor that’s as volatile as the weather.

Make sure you know how both teams and players have performed historically in various weather conditions and, where possible, head-to-head results in those conditions. Bookies may not have the time to drill down into the minute detail that you can or to look at all the factors. For example, rain may be predicted at the start of the match, but if the weather is hot and humid and the second half is dry, the result may be very different to a match which is wet throughout.

How will the coach respond when the weather dries up? Will the tactics be altered in response to changing conditions? And even more crucially, how will the players perform? If the first half is overcast and the second half sunny, could one goalkeeper be disadvantaged by a bright glare in his eyes?

Know your statistics, keep tabs on the weather, and understand the different strategies that might be employed, and you could just find that you identify value bets that net you a tidy profit.

Author Dean McHugh

I am a full-time Sports Betting & Casino Content Writer based in the UK. I have years of knowledge, covering a broad range of different sports. If I don’t know about it, it's not worth knowing! My favourite sports are Football, Tennis, Golf, Snooker, Cricket, Boxing and MMA. As you can tell...I love sports! I have a passion for the Casino and iGaming industry, I have worked in and around it for the best part of 20 years.