Vin Scully could have made as much money reading bedtime stories as doing play-by-play. If you’ve never heard the former Dodger great, go online and listen. Note how beautifully he used his voice as an instrument.
It’s the single most difficult aspect of sports broadcasting to master.
These three tips will help you master your voice as an instrument.
1. Use all five gears
This is especially applicable for play-by-play guys. Think of your voice as the transmission on a car. You don’t always drive in one gear. Third gear may be the main gear for your play-by-play, but when the action slows down you can sometimes go lower. Other times on big plays, you want to go to fourth or fifth gear.
2. Practice the 1-2-3-4-5 Scale
This is an exercise you can do right now.
Count from one to five, increasing your energy each time. Find your third gear by counting out one, two, three. Then, find your fourth and fifth — your big and biggest play gears — by noting how you say four and five.
3. Use dramatic pauses
If there is a 50-yard field goal field goal attempt at a football game, you don’t know immediately when toe meets leather if it’s going through. There is a dramatic pause when you’re sitting on the edge of your seat wondering if it’s going to split the uprights. Same with a big 3-point shot in basketball. It’s not, “Shoots. Gooood!” No. It’s in the air, spinning through the air towards the basket for a few moments.
Duplicate the pauses of the football tumbling through the air and the basketball spinning towards the hoop by pausing. Ex: “3-pointer . . . Nails it!”
These tips will hopefully help you master using your voice as an instrument.