When the Washington State University baseball team traveled to San Diego years ago, a family obligation prevented their broadcaster from making the trip. Two days before the series opener, I was asked to fill-in.
I was torn. A chance to do DI baseball was exhilarating. On the flip side, I worried about my ability to do my best with so little time to prepare.
Here are three tips for preparing for a play-by-play broadcast on short notice.
1. Selective memorization
Instead of trying to memorize entire rosters, first memorize key players. In football, the skill positions or the leading tacklers. In basketball, the starters and the first two guys off the bench for each team.
2. Focus on the team
Team information is easier to find than info about individual players. Focus your effort there.
3. Stories instead of stats
Rely on storylines instead of statistics. It’s good to favor storylines in any broadcast. Stories turn your broadcast from a simple narrative into a compelling story. But when you’ve got little time to prepare and have few, if any stats, don’t stress. It will force you to do what you should already be doing — weaving plots and subplots into your broadcast.
Above all, don’t let stress over lack of prep time overwhelm you. Sometimes a pitcher making an emergency start throws a great game because he didn’t have time to think.