Pitchers at the University of Florida used to swim as a regular part of their training. It’s well documented how Tom House, the old pitching guru, used to have his pitchers throw footballs to improve their throwing motion.
Baseball has long been a sport that is conducive to unusual training methods. The same goes for baseball broadcasters.
Here are nine uncommon tips for baseball play-by-play broadcasters.
1. Develop a time and score habit
You know it’s important to give time and score regularly. The key is to develop a habit for doing it. Maybe you do it with each new batter. In fact you SHOULD do it with each new batter. But also write it in big red letters somewhere where you will see it throughout your broadcast — on your scorebook or on the window of the broadcast booth between you and the field.
2. Pinpoint the ball
Don’t just say the ball is grounded to second. Say it’s grounded to the second baseman moving to his right, three steps from the bag. Or say that a fly ball to left is caught five feet in front of the warning track instead of settling for, “Fly ball to left.”
3. Don’t scream
Convey exciting moments by increasing your energy, not your volume.
4. Be quiet
Embrace dead air. If you sometimes lay out for two or three seconds between pitches, it mirrors the casual environment around the game and within a stadium. Your listeners ears will appreciate those moments of silence.
5. Be a story teller
Baseball is a storyteller’s medium. Have some great stories to sprinkle throughout your broadcasts. Here are three books that are full of stories you can use throughout the season.
- Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader Takes a Swing at Baseball. The entire Uncle John series is a great addition to any bathroom library.
- Baseball Legends and Lore by David Cataneo. I highly recommend it.
- The Baseball Thesaurus by Jesse Goldberg-Strassler.
6. Hang around the batting cage
You’ll get great stories that your audience isn’t getting online or anywhere else.
7. Reduce “swung on”
You don’t have to say “swung on” every time the ball is put into play. Instead it could be, “The 2-1 pitch. Grounded to third.”
This is admittedly a debatable point. Some broadcasters insist on swung on. My belief is it isn’t mandatory. Do what works for you.
8. Build rapport with your analyst
Rapport building is best done off mike. Spend time together away from the broadcast — go to lunch, go to dinner, play catch. However you do it, get to know your analyst. That comfort will carry over to the broadcast.
9. Record it yourself
Don’t rely on someone back at the station to record your broadcast. Record it on site straight out of your mixer. That way you know you’ll have it and it’s going to be pristine audio quality.
These nine not-so-common tips will pay immediate dividends for your baseball play-by-play career.