Why Eliminating “ing” Will Immediately Improve Your Play-by-Play

If you’re listening to play-by-play, what sounds better? “Jones passing; Smith running,” or “Jones passes; Smith runs”?

For me and for most listeners of play-by-play, “passes” and “runs” is preferable.

I never knew why until a sportscaster, who was working on his master’s degree, studied it and explained it to me.

Complete the actions you describe

In English grammar, “passing” and “running” are passive present tense verbs, while “passes” and “runs” are active present tense. If you’ve followed STAA for any length of time, you’ve regularly heard me preach to use the active present tense in your play-by-play.

Here’s why it works.

An “ing” verb, called a gerund, signifies the start of an action. But it’s open-ended – there’s no end to that action.

“Chelesnik passing left” signifies that the motion of passing has started, but it doesn’t indicate the completion of that motion.

On the other hand, “Chelesnik passes left” communicates that the pass starts and finishes. It’s not a continuous action.

That is why eliminating “ing” and instead emphasizing the active present tense will make your play-by-play sound better.

Join the discussion...

You must be logged in to post a comment.


Previous post:
Next post: