Play-By-Play Sportscast Training
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A sportscaster who specializes in play-by-play broadcasts needs to have an excellent mastery of the rules, players, and statistics of a sport, as well as the hand signals officials use to regulate the flow of a game. Some sportscasters provide play-by-play broadcasts for several different teams or sports, from college to professional levels, requiring them to know more than one sport or team well. Some sportscasters, who are often former athletes or established sports personalities, combine two aspects of the job. They act as anchors or co-anchors for sports shows and give some play-by-play commentary.
They may also provide their television or radio audience with statistics and general updates. Sports announcers provide spectators with public address announcements before and during a sports event. For this job, announcers must remain utterly neutral, simply delivering the facts—goals scored, numbers of fouls, or a time-out taken.
Sports announcers may be sportscasters or they may be professional announcers or emcees who make their living recording voice-overs for radio and television commercials and for businesses or stores. Sports announcers usually give the lineups for games, provide player names and numbers during specific times in a contest, make public announcements during timeouts and pauses in play, and generally keep the crowd involved in the event especially in baseball. Baseball announcers may try to rally the crowd or start the crowd singing or doing the wave.
Graduating from high school is an important first step on the road to becoming a sports broadcaster or announcer. While in school, take classes that will allow you to work on your speaking and writing skills. Classes in speech, English, journalism, and foreign languages, such as Spanish and French, will be helpful. You may also find it helpful to take courses in drama and computer science. Educational requirements for sportscasting positions vary depending on the position. Competition for radio and television sports broadcasting positions is especially fierce, so any added edge can make the difference.
However, personality, charisma, and overall on-camera appearance are so important to ratings that station executives often pay closer attention to the taped auditions they receive from prospective sportscasters than to the items on resumes. Prepare for the job by learning a sport inside and out, developing valuable contacts in the field through internships and part-time or volunteer jobs, and earning a degree in journalism or communications. It also should be noted that the industry is finicky and subjective about looks and charisma.
It is not as crucial for sportscasters who deliver playby- play broadcasts for radio stations to have the journalistic skills that a television sportscaster has, although good interviewing skills are essential. Instead, they need excellent verbal skills, a daunting command of the sport or sports that they will be covering, and a familiarity with the competing players, coaches, and team histories. To draw a complete picture for their listeners, sportscasters often reach back into history for an interesting detail or statistic, so a good memory for statistics and trivia involving sports history are helpful.
A nice speaking voice, excellent verbal and interviewing skills, a pleasant appearance, a solid command of sports in general as well as in-depth knowledge of the most popular sports football, basketball, baseball, and hockey , and an outgoing personality are all necessary for a successful career in sportscasting. In addition, you need to have a strong voice, excellent grammar and English usage, and the ability to ad-lib if and when it is necessary.
High school and college students have many opportunities to investigate this career choice, but the most obvious way is to participate in a sport. By learning a sport inside and out, you can gain valuable insight into the movements and techniques that, as a sportscaster, you will be describing. In addition, firsthand experience and a love of the sport itself makes it easier to remember interesting trivia related to the sport and the names and numbers of the pros who play it.
If you do not have the coordination or skill for the sport itself, you can volunteer to help out with the team by shagging balls, running drills, or keeping statistics. The latter is perhaps the best way to learn the percentages and personal athletic histories of athletes. Knowledge about the area you are interested in reporting about is the best tool for success. It is also necessary to be able to express yourself well through the spoken word. Speaking before an audience can be the best practice for speaking before the camera or on a microphone.
Finally, you can hone your sportscasting skills on your own while watching your favorite sports event by turning down the sound on your television and tape-recording your own play-by-play deliveries. Most sports broadcasters work for television networks or radio stations. The large sports networks also employ many broadcasters.
Sports announcers work for professional sports arenas, sports teams, minor league and major league ball teams, colleges, universities, and high schools. Because sports are popular all over the country, there are opportunities everywhere, although the smaller the town the fewer the opportunities. Although an exceptional audition tape might land you an on-camera or on-air job, most sportscasters get their start by writing copy, answering phones, operating cameras or equipment, or assisting the sportscaster with other jobs.
Internships or part-time jobs will give you the opportunity to become comfortable in front of a camera or behind a microphone. Of course, contacts within the industry come in handy.
John Earnhardt adds that knowledge is key as well. Put together an audiotape if you are applying for a radio job or an announcer position or a videotape for television jobs that showcases your abilities. On the tape, give your account of the sports events that took place on a certain day. In the early stages of their careers, sportscasters might advance from a sports copywriter position to become an actual broadcaster. Later in their careers, sportscasters advance by moving to larger and larger markets, beginning with local television stations and advancing to one of the major networks.
Sportscasters who work in radio may begin in a similar way; advancement for these individuals might come in the form of a better time slot for a sports show, or the chance to give more commentary. I ended up doing an internship with the Pittsburg Diamonds as their play by play guy among other tasks.
Went well, I am now doing high school sports for a radio station but I am not paid. I graduate next spring, I really want to find a station or team that would hire me next year. Should I just keep emailing teams and stations until I hit gold? Hi Brian, thank you for all the wonderful articles. I am currently in 8th grade and I want to become a sports commentator. I went through a phase about a year ago, and I fell in love with commentary. I was thinking ahead to high school and I think that commentating on some games would be a good way to get involved. What do you think I sould do?
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Should I contact the schools athletic director? Or should I wait until I actually start attending the school? Also, what commentary opportunities are availible for people my age? Luigi — good for you getting started early.
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Definitely contact the schools athletic director — be confident when you speak to them, you need to come off as an authority! I have been interviewed and done color commentary a couple times. Now that my life is somewhat settled down, I would like to get into doing color commentary, but I have no clue where to start or what to do? Any help is greatly appreciated!!! My name is Luis Barrio. Finding a wesbsite like this that offers info on pursuing play-by-play was really comforting.
My goal is to become a play-by-play guy and I took this job because I believed it was the correct route to play-by-play. Its about getting the news out fast and quick. Everything is scripted and it seems the whole dynamic of putting on a minute newscast is completely different from play-by-play. Perhaps going into Radio best. I want to know the route I can begin taking now to lead me somewhere in the door for play-by-play. As well as what kind of reel i need to be working on? Standups, anchoring, packages?
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Audio tracks? Luis — great questions! I spent 15 years in your typical studio based broadcast sports operation and it is very different from a live event, play-by-play scenario.
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If your true dream is to work in play-by-play, keep your local TV station job, but leverage that to get some play-by-play gigs at the local college or minor league team either for their local broadcast, webcast, streaming live or radio broadcast. See what they have and how you can get involved. All the best play-by-play guys still do standups before the game, halftimes or in between innings.
Many play-by-play guys also host a pre-game show, so stand-ups are always relevant Your news reel, will probably have you reporting and anchoring on it…no real need for play-by-play examples unless a specific job references play-by-play duties being included.
I have worked at our student run radio station. I am the Assistant Sports Director and have done many live play by play games for our football and basketball teams.
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I have dedicated myself to becoming a play by play broadcaster since I was little and am extremely passionate about it. When employers listen to a demo tape of my work, what are they looking for? What should I include? Thank you for your time. If you have any on-camera work, include that too, since most TV play by play jobs will require some stand-ups.
Hello — I have always been interested in a play-by-play career. I want to broadcast baseball, specifically the Royals. Arguably the greatest third baseman to ever play in the major leagues - and the greatest player in Phillies history - Schmidt returned to the organization in as a special instructor, a role he held through the season before being named special advisor.
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Following his year playing career , spent entirely with the Phillies, Mike was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in with He led the National League in home runs a record eight times; RBI, four times; slugging percentage, five times; and on-base percentage and total bases, three times. When he retired, Mike was ranked seventh on MLB's all-time home run list and will enter the season ranked 16 th , with Miguel Cabrera the closest active player Tth all-time with homers. Mike holds the career record for a third baseman in home runs and set the major league record for homers in a season by a third baseman with 48 in , which was broken in by Alex Rodriguez In , Mike began working as a broadcaster on Phillies telecasts during home Sunday games.
From , he worked Saturdays as well. He spent the season as a Phillies broadcaster and, in , managed single-A Clearwater, his first stint as a full-time manager or coach at any level, leading the club to a record. Mike was born in Dayton, Ohio, and currently lives in Jupiter, Fla. Gregg Murphy joined the Phillies broadcast team in as a field reporter. In his role, he brings viewers closer to the action reporting from the field, dugouts and elsewhere throughout the ballpark during the games.
He added occasional play-by-play duties in Part of the on-air team at NBC Sports Philadelphia since December , Gregg is a multiple Emmy winner and nominee in numerous categories, including sports reporting.