17 tips for rocking your 2017 Jim Nantz Award reel

If you plan on applying for the 2017 Jim Nantz Award and STAA All-America program honoring the nation’s most outstanding collegiate sportscasters, start thinking now about what’s going to make you stand out.

Jim Nantz Award

Every year, the same errors in broadcasting fundamentals cause many applicants to not rank as high as they might have hoped. The broadcasts you do this Fall and Winter will help you win the award in the Spring.
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3 steps to surviving a solo football broadcast

The first time I had to broadcast a football game by myself was 1989, McPherson (KS) High School versus Ark City. For a reason I don’t remember, my regular analyst was unavailable that night. What I do remember is what I felt.

Sheer. Terror.

football broadcast

At that point, my football broadcast experience was limited to a handful of games. Carrying a two-hour broadcast by myself seemed impossible. I was as nervous as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs. As it turns out, the things I learned that night carried me though the rest of my football play-by-play career.
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7 tips for broadcasting a new sport

I will be broadcasting lacrosse for the first time next week. I’ve never broadcasted lacrosse before. Any advice?

I got the nod for some Division I field hockey play-by-play and I’m coming up on my first game soon. Any advice?

broadcasting new sport like lacrosse

These are the kinds of questions I receive often from play-by-play broadcasters who are getting ready to call a particular sport for the first time. It is wise say yes to the work because it might open new doors, but if you’ve never broadcast the sport before, how to you go about sounding your best?
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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.


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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How to get unstuck and write your own career map

The confidence that comes with shooting at a stationary target is a wonderful thing.

When I was a kid, my friends and I would see how many shots we could hit with our eyes closed from various spots on the basketball court. Rarely did the shots ever go in, even though we might shoot 50% from those same spots with our eyes open.

make a map shooting baskets

The play-by-play job market can be the same way – like you’re taking shots in the dark. When I was working in McPherson, KS, I applied for play-by-play jobs ranging from the Kentucky Wildcats to the Wichita Wranglers.

I never heard back.
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Basketball PBP tips from a casual fan

Ah, March Madness. The one month of the year when the world of basketball is accessible and fun for everyone, even the most casual of fans who haven’t paid attention since…well, since last March.

basketball tips casual fan

As a basketball play-by-play voice, making your broadcast accessible and interesting to the super fans is easy. But how are you at capturing the attention of the casual fan?

For the last few months I’ve been randomly dropping in to listen to the basketball broadcasts of STAA members. I started to hear patterns. Patterns that yielded four keys to improve your basketball PBP for all fans.
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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.

1. Read children’s books

One great way to hone your delivery, especially your inflections, is to read children’s books out loud. They are written in short, simple sentences with lots of adjectives – just like your play-by-play should be.

Harold and the Purple Crayon is a great one for this purpose. Read the books with the same animation you would use if reading aloud to a child. You’ll develop a feel for pacing, pausing and emphasis that will work for you on air as well.

2. Let your enjoyment show

Some broadcasters struggle to sound excited without being over the top.

The best way to increase your energy is to let your love for sports and your love for broadcasting come out in your delivery. When someone gives you a surprise gift, you use a different voice than you would if you were telling someone that their dog died. Some broadcasters get too caught up in trying to sound “professional.”

Screw professional. Sound personable. And smile when you speak. You can hear a smile on the air.

Two ways to improve your baseball play-by-play

It may only be February, but for all the voices of our national pastime who are motivated to make their broadcasts great, now is the time to begin preparing for the long baseball season.

baseball play-by-play

After I read The Baseball Thesaurus by Jesse Goldberg-Strassler in 2013, I wished it was 1992 again and I was back on the air doing American Legion baseball in McPherson, KS.

Here are two things you can work on now that will improve your baseball play-by-play:
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SCP 15: How to prep for a basketball tournament – with Jay Sanderson

jay sandersonA challenging circumstance that most basketball play-by-play broadcasters will face at one time or another is having to broadcast many games over the course of a two or three day tournament.

Last year, Montana State University Voice Jay Sanderson did 13 games in four days at the Big Sky Conference tournament.

In this podcast, Jay shares advice for how to be your best come tournament time.

Listen to the Audio

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