What divides great PBP voices from good ones?

Is your play-by-play career stuck on the 9th floor of a 10-story building? Maybe you aspire to a major college play-by-play job but you’ve plateaued at Division I-AA. Or maybe you’ve been in minor league baseball for 10 years yet never even interviewed for a Major League job.

nba energy

Your play-by-play might be missing the one thing that distinguishes the great voices from the very good ones:

NBA energy.
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When having your play-by-play on SportsCenter is bad

I once received a call from a college senior who was interested in pursuing a play-by-play career. He told me his name and where he attended college. Then he was quick to add, “I am the guy who was on SportsCenter recently with my call of that dramatic game-winning play.”

sportscenter

Uhhh…dude. Don’t brag about it. You made SportsCenter’s Top 10 not because your call was good, but because you screamed so loud and so long that you sounded like a caricature of a sports broadcaster.

Screaming is not good play-by-play.
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Choose Your Pregame Segments With Money in Mind

pregame-interview
When play-by-play broadcasters ask me what segments their pregame show should include, I tell them to think less about content and more about sponsorable segments. The more money your show can bring in, the more your sales staff will love you and the more job security you will have.

I hosted pre game shows in two markets — McPherson, KS and San Diego, CA. The formula worked equally well in both places.
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This is the truest test of your play-by-play ability

storytelling

A frustrated young play-by-play broadcaster told me that his ability would shine through if only he were provided sufficient resources – statistics, biographical information on players, etc.

I told him that I couldn’t disagree with him more.

Standout athletes excel even under adverse circumstances. Talented play-by-play broadcasters do the same thing.

Working high school and other games where background information is unavailable will reveal your ability as a play-by-play broadcaster. If you are going to execute an engaging broadcast, you are going to have to rely upon the two most basic fundamentals: storytelling and description.

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Consider This Before Your Critics Get Under Your Skin

mobile phone

I couldn’t have worked in sports broadcasting today. My skin is too thin.

Even if 99% of the Internet comments about my talk show or my play-by-play were great, I would dwell on the 1% that wasn’t. I would dwell on it to the point that I would consider tweaking what I was doing to appease the 1%.

Big mistake. Don’t be me. Be realistic. Be mentally strong.
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Off-the-Shelf Questions For Your Postgame Interviews

interview

When I was on ESPN Radio, I used to hate when my producer Jason McBride would pop into my headset and say, “We have so-and-so on from the baseball game. They just won 3-1.”

Great. What am I supposed to ask the guy? I didn’t see the game – I was on the air!

Tired of getting caught unprepared, I put together some standard, off-the-shelf questions. Most of them aren’t very insightful, but at least they can get the interview started. From there, you can spontaneously ask more thoughtful questions based upon the answers you receive.
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5 Bonus Basketball Play-by-Play Tips To Help Make You A Star

Once you have the seven fundamentals of basketball play-by-play down cold, these five bonus tips will help make you a star!

1. Be clear about which team has the ball

This is the most common mistake in basketball play-by-play. There are a lot of changes of possession in basketball. You can’t count on all of your listeners knowing which team has it based only upon the names of the players.

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