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Last Updated: Wednesday, 30 August 2006, 16:59 GMT 17:59 UK
Sports commentator tips
Ali Bruce-Ball
"Think of yourself as the eyes of the listener"
Radio Five Live football commentator Ali Bruce-Ball combined his love of sport and drama at school to land his dream job.

Find out how he did it and share some of his top reporting tips.

I always loved playing sport and watching sport but I never thought I could turn this passion into a career. At school I did a lot of theatre, in fact, I was a bit of a show off. My love of speaking to an audience and sport came together in this fantastic job.

I trained as a news journalist. When I started I didn't have much knowledge of current affairs and all I really wanted to do was do sport reporting. But it was really worth doing a news journalism course as it gave me all the basic skills I use today. If I'd done a course purely on sports journalism, I think I might have fallen out of love with sport.

I commentate on both TV and radio but what I really love about radio is the immediacy - saying what I think as it occurs. I get nervous every single time I am on air, but it all adds to the excitement.

What happens if I run out of things to say? It happens all the time. This is why it's really useful to have another commentator sitting next to me. That way I can hand over to them.

If you are on your own, the key skill is to describe what is in front of you. If you think of yourself as eyes of the listener, hopefully you won't run out of words during the game.

When you are commentating, it doesn't sound very good if you keep repeating the same word. This can be a problem in sport as there are only so many different moves. Take football for example. You don't want your commentary to be "pass, pass, shot at goal, save, pass, pass."

One tip I learned from another journalist is to write down a list of different ways of describing the moves and cross them off as you use them, to avoid repetition.

Here are is my list, why not see if you can add to it:

Pass

  • Stoke
  • Curl
  • Float
  • Skim
  • Nudge
  • Glance
  • Flick
Shot at goal
  • Fizz
  • Smash
  • Rocket
  • Thunder
  • Stab
  • Bullet
  • Power
  • Thump

Another good tip is to turn the volume down on the TV while you are watching a game and record yourself commentating into a tape recorder. Then play it back.

At first it might feel weird listening to your own voice but it's really useful. And keep the tapes! You never know who may want to listen to your commentary! Also, it's always good to listen to them at a later date to see how much you have improved."





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