Do Colorado athletes have an advantage playing at altitude?

From team sports to individual competitions, nearly all athletes who train at altitude gain advantages, studies show.

Athletes seek out high-altitude training to limit available oxygen so their bodies will feel a boost when competing at sea level. That’s one benefit provided by the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, at 6,350 feet of elevation.

A December 2018 study by researchers and an NFL data analyst found Denver professional sports teams had an outsize home field advantage compared to their competition.

The Denver Nuggets and Utah Jazz posted the first and second best home-court advantages in the NBA while the Colorado Rockies and Denver Broncos were also found to have distinct home-field advantages, the study found.

But not everyone has an advantage. While baseball hitters see their balls fly farther, pitchers have a rougher time keeping balls in the park and throwing curve balls that rely on denser air. 

This fact brief is responsive to conversations such as this one.

The Colorado Sun partners with Gigafact to produce fact briefs — bite-size fact-checks of trending claims. Read our methodology to learn how we check claims.

Let us know what you want fact-checked by submitting a tip! Please note that claims that are partially true or false cannot be checked. In addition, we are unable to check claims for which there are no credible, available sources to verify or dispute them.


“How often does the best team win? A unified approach to understanding randomness in North American sport,” Project Euclid, December 2018. Source link.

“Effect of altitude training on the aerobic capacity of athletes: A systematic review and meta-analysis,” National Library of Medicine, September 2023. Source link.

“Want to train at the Olympic Training Center?,” USA Swimming News, Jan. 16, 2019. Source link.

“Meteorology: Understanding the Atmosphere,” University of Wisconsin, accessed May 2024. Source link.

Type of Story: Fact-Check

Checks a specific statement or set of statements asserted as fact.

Justin George is a 1995 graduate of Columbine High School. He has worked as a reporter at six news organizations including the Boulder Daily Camera, the Baltimore Sun and the Washington Post. Email him at [email protected]
More by Justin George