Get in the zone. It’s great advice for new sportscasters. Players know it, they know when they’re in the zone. For sportscasters, our location of a groove or zone is just as important.
For most hockey, football or basketball broadcasters, by the time October rolls around you’ve been able to call more than a few games. You’ve had the opportunity to get rid of the off-season rust, get up to speed with new teams or players and hopefully feel a little more comfortable with your call.
But what if you’re not that comfortable? What if you haven’t quite gotten ‘in the zone’ yet? Today we’re looking at ways to find that groove.
Dial it back
One of the biggest factors that’s prevented me in my call is doing too much on air. It can be really tempting to come into a new job or season and look to hit a home run from game 1. That sort of thinking is just setting you up for failure.
The best thing to help get in the zone is to focus on one thing, do it very well and then move on. This methodical process will not only help you feel more comfortable by getting you to focus on less, it’ll also improve the quality of your work since you’re not being pulled in different directions.
Having the ability to take a step back on your call can be invaluable. Often times it is something simple or small that prevents you from feeling totally comfortable with a call, or an aspect to your broadcast.
Conducting regular self critiques can be a great way to hone in on that aspect of your broadcast. Perhaps you were starting to feel really good, but a bad throw to break, or a bad live interview got you off your game. Watching or listening back to a game a few days after the fact lets you dial in on things that prevent you getting in the zone.
A quality self critique starts with some good pre-planning and management of your recordings.
Acknowledge that being uncomfortable can be a good thing
Some are destined to never find a groove. Some broadcasters hate every game they’ve ever done and there will never be happy or satisfied about themselves on air. Being uncomfortable isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It can help identify some areas that you want to work on, or areas you may not include in future broadcasts.
Know when you need a break
A continuation from the point on comfort, I often found it easier to get in the zone on air if I had a break at some point during my game. For hockey, that meant intermissions and that often meant pre-producing a large portion of my 17 minute intermission. I would frequently record or voice-track bridges between short interviews to turn 2 or 3 three minute clips into one long ten minute segment. I would return from break live, update the score and tee up the intermission…then hit play.
From there I could grab a drink, sit down, rest and relax. I found an immediate boost in my energy levels and attention to detail for the subsequent periods which helped me get in the zone much easier on air.
Finding your happy space or your sweet spot on air is tough…but there is a noticeable increase in the quality of a call when you’re in the zone. Give yourself every opportunity to find it every game, and if you’re not quite there, make adjustments to your routine until you do.