The late UCLA basketball coach John Wooden is my greatest mentor outside of my Dad. I never met Coach Wooden but he’s had a profound influence on my life, largely through books.
One thing I loved about Coach was how he taught: instruction, demonstration, repetition and correction.
Coach Wooden’s methods will help you improve your sports broadcasting craft.
There are several parts to this. Have teachers and mentors, people who can guide you. But choose them wisely. Only use people who have already been where you’re trying to go.
A fabulous resource you can use for instruction is the best sports broadcasting book ever written, The Art of Sportscasting by Tom Hedrick. It was published in 2000 but is as relevant and helpful today as when it was written.
If you are a play-by-play broadcaster, a third tool to improve your sportscasting craft is the STAA Play-by-Play Pyramid. It’s free. If you don’t already have a copy, just download it from the resources section on the STAA website. There you will also find the STAA Sports Talk Pyramid. If you’re a sports talk host, use that as a means of instruction.
Finally, if you are an STAA member, use the resources on the STAA Member’s site. There is a deep pool of resources to help you improve your sports broadcasting craft.
Remember – instruction should be followed by demonstration. Listen to the people who are at the top of the industry. For play-by-play, I like Kevin Harlan, Kevin Kugler, and John Sadak. They’ll demonstrate how it’s done.
Instruction, demonstration, repetition. That means practice. If you can’t get live reps, go to a game with your audio recorder to practice. If the sport you want to practice isn’t in season, watch video at home, turn down the sound and get your reps that way.
The fourth step of John Wooden’s methods to help you improve your sportscasting craft is correction. Have people critique your work. Get some unbiased ears on your demos so you can get correction and ensure the reps you’re providing yourself are of quality.
Also self-critique. Nobody is going to be as hard on you as you’re going to be on yourself. You’ll hear a lot of little things that bother you that nobody else would notice.
Instruction, demonstration, repetition and correction are The Fab Four for improving your sportscasting.