Despite a lackluster performance in the Super Bowl, the Denver Broncos only suffered one loss at home this season. Opponents had the challenge to overcome that’s unique: a reduced-oxygenated atmosphere. Thankfully, the Bronco’s regular conditioning helps them tackle it and actually gives it the edge it needs to establish what’s quite possibly the most effective home team advantage there was in 2013-2014. Here are some ways the Broncos use their high-altitude location to their advantage.
Consistency In Training
Consistent high-altitude training is beneficial for athletes of all sports, but football players, such as the legendary Peyton Manning, Knowshon Moreno, and Wes Welker, all of whom train in this environment, establish a tangible physiological edge over their opponents through a number of factors including:
- The body releases more erythrocytes (red blood cells), which move precious oxygen cells throughout the body. This means that the body will be utilizing the oxygen that’s available at the most efficient rate.
- An increase of the hormone erythropoietin (EPO) by the kidneys, which triggers the release of erythrocytes.
Acclimation Takes Time
Researchers say that athletes are generally about 70-75% acclimated to the high-altitude atmosphere within 7-10 days of conditioning. Full acclimation is achieved after about 15-20 days. Not every team chooses to handle the thin air the same. Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh was advised by his trainers that his players would be impacted less severely if they didn’t spend more than 18 hours in the region prior to the game, operating under the assumption that the full effects of the altitude change aren’t felt immediately.
Still, other coaches approach the situation differently. Some coaching teams strive to arrange for their teams to arrive in Denver as early in the week of the game as possible, aiming for at least three days to become accustomed to the thinner air. Even so, when visiting teams step out onto Denver’s Mile High Stadium field, they have plenty of physical factors to fight against.
The uncertainty surrounding the best way to cope with the less-oxygenated air is perhaps the best card in the Broncos’ hand; there’s just no way to completely acclimate a person’s body to high altitudes within a weeks’ time. The Broncos’ are a formidable force to begin with, but when the thin Rocky Mountain air steals the breath of their visiting opponents, they have the perfect cocktail of circumstances for utter domination on the football field.
They Take The Home Team Advantage On The Road
As it was mentioned previously, regular and consistent training at high altitudes increases the body’s efficiency in moving oxygen throughout the body. This enhanced coping ability the human body deploys doesn’t exactly switch off at lower altitudes either, so you could say the Broncos take their advantage on the road throughout the NFL season.
FAQs.org explains the phenomenon eloquently, stating that “the physiological benefits of high altitude training continue for between one to three months after the return of the athlete to sea-level training conditions.” So naturally the Denver Broncos have an added cardiovascular advantage over their sea-level opponents.
Since their bodies are accustomed to breathing less oxygen, when the Broncos hold the “visitor” spot on game day in cities with more oxygen in their atmosphere, they’re better equipped to run faster and tire slower.
Qualified Medical Attention
All professional athletes should have adequate medical attention on and off the field. And at higher altitudes, it’s imperative that these individuals be proactive with their cardiovascular health. Denver cardiologists on ZocDoc have the specific specialty of treating people in such environments, and they’re ideally suited to treat related conditions and offer support. Rate MD and Vitals are also great resources for finding the right doctor for each case.
Whether you’re a Denver Broncos fan or side with another team in the NFL, you can’t deny the physiological advantage Denver has over their opponents when it comes to high altitude acclimation. Regular conditioning practiced by the team’s management allows them to not only survive mile-high games, but dominate them.