The fourth part of our series on handicapping techniques will look at trend-based handicapping, which gets a bit of mixed reviews from handicappers. Some like them, others ignore them, while others will use them if they happen to go along with the play they like to begin with.

There is really no correct way to use trends and it’s up to each individual bettor to determine whether or not it’s meaningful when a team has seen 11 of its last 14 games going over the total or not. The one advantage for using trends is that you may be able to catch a team going on a winning or losing streak early on, just as you may catch a run of overs or unders, but it’s just as likely that you’ll notice the trend when it’s closer to the tail end of a run than it is the beginning.

One of the biggest drawbacks, particularly for those who use trends for college sports, is that the players who made some of those trends are no longer with the team, so it makes more sense to pay attention to the coach. Coaches who beat up weak opponents at one school will likely do it at a new school if they have the roster to accomplish that.

Baseball: Baseball does attract its share of trend betters because the number of statistics can be overwhelming at times. Some bettors like to hop on the hot team or fade the cold team and will use the most recent trends, such as a team winning six of its last seven or dropping five of its last six.

Basketball: Basketball will also get its share of trend followers, many times in totals, where bettors like to tag along once a team sees four or five straight overs or unders. A team’s performance at home or away is another area trend players can be visible. A team losing six of seven as a road underdog may go largely unnoticed by most bettors if the team is doing well at home and has a 12-game ATS record fairly close to .500.

College trends are a bit trickier due to players coming and going, so it’s definitely worth looking at coaching tendencies if you’re going to pay attention to college basketball trends.

Football: Trends are frequently discussed in football and are given credence by a fair number of bettors, particularly in the NFL, where teams can dominate other teams or have an exceptionally good or poor division record, etc. It makes sense that football would be the one sport where they were used the most, as you can’t get the statistical sample size you can in the other sports.

College coaches can definitely have certain traits regardless of where they are so after a coaching chance, look more at what the coach did in his previous job than what his new team did before he arrived. Again, you have to decide which are worth paying attention to or which are likely the result of random occurrences that will happen with all sports.

Hockey: Trends aren’t typically given a whole lot of play in hockey, but they can be of some use, particularly when teams show larger-than-normal disparities for home and away performances or games within their own division. Some teams will also fare particularly well or do poorly when playing the opposing conference due to the makeup of their team and the slightly different styles of play.