5 tips to take your play-by-play from good to great

Play-by-play broadcasters all have access to information about fundamentals – time and score, ball location, etc. What sets apart great broadcasters is discovering and implementing advice that isn’t available to the masses. A great way to do that is to ask industry pros to critique your work.

Many sportscasters have shared with me critiques they have received from some of the top play-by-play broadcasters in the industry. Today, I want to share them with you.

Here are 5 tips to take your play-by-play from good to great:
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Advice for broadcasting a new sport

In the last three years, I’ve been fortunate enough to pick up play-by-play for three brand new sports (volleyball, soccer and distance running – a half-marathon). I used different approaches for all three.
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Want to sound like Scully and Emrick?

Early in my play-by-play career I was reviewing one of my recent basketball broadcasts. What I heard made me cringe. Every time the ball was passed, I said “over to.” “Jones, over to Smith, back to Jones, over to Cameron.”

It drove…me…nuts.

vocabulary

I knew I had to find a way to make my play-by-play non-repetitive. I needed to find new ways to describe plays – to vary my vocabulary.
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14 ways to keep your audience engaged in a blowout

Blowouts. For play-by-play broadcasters, they are as fun as a root canal.

broadcast blowouts

When the game gets lopsided is when you rely most on your prep. Normally, you use only about 15% of the material you have prepared for a given broadcast. In a blowout is when you will use a lot more than that.
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Two quick tips for improving your delivery

A broadcaster who is doing play-by-play for high school sports was told by a mentor to work on his pacing and energy. He asked me how to go about doing that.

improving delivery

If you have ever been told that you need to work on your delivery and/or your energy, here are two quick tips for you.Read More

Dick Enberg’s accidental lesson will help you

A while back I was going through some old stories I had kept from the newspaper. I came across a wonderful piece of advice for TV play-by-play broadcasters from Jim Nantz. It is from John Maffei’s column in the February 1, 2013, edition of U-T San Diego.

TV play-by-play captions

Nantz said the late Dick Enberg – longtime network announcer and former Padres TV voice – taught him a valuable lesson.Read More

Doing this will immediately make your broadcasts better

No good. No good. No good.

This is a phrase that many play-by-play broadcasters use repeatedly on a missed shot in basketball. “Over to” is another that you will often hear when the ball is passed between players.

pbp vocab

Varying your PBP vocabulary is important for all broadcasters. It makes for a more entertaining and intelligent broadcast.
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5 tips to ensure you are welcome in the locker room

When I was covering San Diego Chargers and San Diego State Aztecs football in the early 90s, I would escort a female reporter friend of mine into the locker rooms. She would hold my elbow, keep her head down, and ask me to lead her to the players she wanted to talk to. Whether it was for religious or personal beliefs, this was part of her locker room etiquette.

locker room

For the most part, the etiquette inside the locker room is the same as on the outside.Read More

Good tips for great sideline reporting

Sideline reporters do not easily impress me. Many of them don’t provide anything that the guys in the booth can’t provide.

sideline reporting

However, two radio sideline reporters have stood out to me over the years for their ability to offer insights that can’t come from the booth – Jordan Moore at USC and Matt Walters of Kansas State. (Full disclosure – Matt has been a friend of mine for 26 years).

I spoke to Jordan and Matt about how they approach their jobs in a way that distinguishes themselves. They agree that they are responsible for bringing two things to the table.
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