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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Training camp for PBP voices

Football teams at all levels are either underway with their football seasons, or about to embark on them. It’s time for them to get ready for their football seasons, and it’s also time for broadcasters to prepare for their play-by-play assignments.

pbp training camp

While you won’t have to physically work as hard as the football players do in training camp, there is some pre-season work that can be done to sharpen the minds of play-by-play broadcasters. I have begun my play-by-play training camp by doing some housekeeping, assembling my tools, and getting some practice reps before the season begins.

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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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Becoming a more versatile PBP broadcaster

I have always thought that old dogs could be taught new tricks, just as well as new dogs. The key to training both is cultivating the desire within them to learn the new tricks.

Yours truly, a relatively old play-by-play dog, learned some new tricks and had a lot of fun doing so during the recently-ended broadcast season at Washington University in St. Louis.


In the 2014-15 broadcasting season at Wash-U, I was thrilled to be given the opportunity to call more games in men’s and women’s soccer, in men’s baseball, and I was given the PBP assignment of women’s softball for the first time. It is a compliment to be entrusted with adding those sports to a PBP list that began as being limited exclusively to football and men’s and women’s basketball.
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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 very quick to add, “I am the guy who was on SportsCenter recently with my call of that dramatic game-winning play.”


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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