Screaming The Big Plays? Here’s How to Fix It

When I was the play-by-play voice for the old Anaheim Piranhas of the Arena Football League, I had a conversation with my dad. He said, “Jon, I listened to your broadcast last night.”

I prepared myself for a bunch of compliments and superlatives.

Instead, Pop blindsided me.

He said, “You scream on your touchdown calls.”

My first thought was that the Piranhas are the lowest scoring team in the League – of course I get excited when they finally find the end zone! My second thought was that I’m not one of them. I’m not a play-by-play screamer.

I went back and listened to the tape, and you know what?

Pop was right. I was screaming.

Here are three tips for beating the scream as a play-by-play broadcaster.

1. Practice your big play calls with a VU meter

As long as you’re keeping the meter out of the red, you’re not screaming.

2. Check your form

Using a program like Audacity, view the audio waveform on your big play calls. If you’ve got peaks on your waveform, you’re probably entering the scream zone.

3. Practice the 1-through-5 scale

Imagine your play-by-play as the transmission on your car. You’ve got five gears but you drive, and broadcast your play-by-play, mostly in third. On most big plays you go into 4th gear. On super big plays — walk-offs, for example, — you briefly move into 5th.

To find your “gears,” count 1-2-3-4-5 — increasing your energy and enthusiasm at each step. Practice it right now. Later, when you have a VU meter, practice moving through the five increasing levels of volume without going into the red on the VU meter.

Big plays aren’t about changing your voice; they are about changing your energy and choosing the right words.

Practice those three things, and it’ll help you beat the scream.

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