The most important part of calling a live event is the gathering and organization of information well in advance of the contest. All announcers should have a “game board” for each team competing. The purpose of the board is to put information at your fingertips to retrieve by glancing at it while maintaining your focus on the game. While your board should be unique to you, an athlete’s name, number, position, stats and year in school (if applicable) is a must have on the board. If you are calling a college or professional game you will want hometown as well though in high school sports it isn’t necessary as you can reasonably assume the students are from the same general area. I write everything phonetically on my board so pronunciations are easy to recall. Most of the time you can find this basic information on the school or team website. I suggest creating a space for information on the Coach too, you will want to spend some time talking about the Coach’s history or philosophy during the broadcast.
Once you have the basics on your board, do some research to fill out that information with stories, trends, history or anything else you can find. Has a particular athlete recently come back from an injury? Switched positions? Do they have an interesting background, hobby or family history? Is there a statistical trend you can spot? Have they played particularly well the last five games? If so, in what area? Ask to speak with the Coach in the week prior to the game to find out the team’s strengths and weaknesses. Research the team’s history and performance BEFORE you get the Coach on the phone. Many teams have a Sports Information Director who can help direct you to stories that may be of interest.
You should enter the game knowing the personnel, their history and their tendencies confident in your ability to retrieve a stat or storyline quickly. I always take a few minutes aftereach game to write a few notes on my board so I have a way to jog my memory the next time I come across that team or player. I keep all my game boards electronically filed both by sport and alphabetically. When I have that school (or coach who has gone to a different school) I will often find player history on position, injury or background that I am able to apply years later.
Create your own system and know that it is a process. Every year I add or subtract, tweak, adjust my board and you should too as you learn which information you find most helpful.