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Tips for covering football practice

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Shifty Squid, Aug 13, 2009.

  1. Shifty Squid

    Shifty Squid Member

    I've done a lot of the typical things in this business -- features, sidebars, gamers, breaking news, blogs, etc. -- but I've just gotten my first assignment to do a major college football practice notebook. I don't know the details yet (whether I'll be able to watch the entire practice or only part of it, if there's a scrimmage or just drills), but what I wonder about is if I'm just working on a notebook based on a set of drills, what's the best way to approach this? What should I watch for? I've watched practices, and they often seem somewhat difficult for an outsider to follow.

    Obviously, injuries, anything big. I'm guessing I'll be fine. But if I've got to fill up 20 inches, do you have any tips for how I should go about it? I appreciate any help you can offer.
  2. Stitch

    Stitch Active Member

    20 inches on practice. Easy. Watch different drill, see how everyone is stacking up compared to the official depth chart, and talk to people.
  3. Drip

    Drip Active Member

    Drink a lot of water. Talk to as many people as you can. You'll be surprised how quickly 20 inches turns into 40 inches.
  4. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    Even if you get to see practice (which is rarer and rarer) you aren't going to write that they spent 20 minutes running a Wing-T formation or practicing a fake punt.

    Primarily you would fill up the notebook with news such as injuries, suspensions, players moving up/down on the depth chart.

    But you need to watch and be prepared to ask questions about players who limped off the field, were absent, etc. You could ask who is doing well, etc.

    You can always fill by talking to players for little mini features.

    You really don't want to get into drills and crap like that unless it's really unique and the coaches will talk about it.
  5. share24

    share24 Member

    I always like to add a "hit of the day," "catch of the day," "play of the day," or something similar to that.

    Check out the incoming players (freshmen, transfers). Any of them moving up the depth chart and ready to contribute?

    Any NFL scouts on hand? Find out who they are there to see.

    Ask the coaches what they did over the summer (and I don't mean their kayaking trip). Find out if they visited with other coaches to learn new techniques on coaching special teams, or the spread offense, etc. Most coaches will visit with other coaching staff's and share notes.

    Any new coaches? How are they different from the old position coach? How have the players responded?
  6. Second Thoughts

    Second Thoughts Active Member

    If you're on the field or the sideline during drills, pay attention. You might get run over.
  7. JakeandElwood

    JakeandElwood Well-Known Member

    Check and see how position battles are going.
  8. Shifty Squid

    Shifty Squid Member

    These are a really big help, guys. Thanks. Especially Ace and share24. I'll keep all that mind. Getting some direction from people who have done this a lot will give me some good confidence heading out there.
  9. Armchair_QB

    Armchair_QB Well-Known Member

    Sunscreen. Lots and lots of sunscreen.

    All that other stuff is good too.
  10. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    Oh, and chat up the trainer for injury info, if he will talk. If not, try to talk with student trainers or others during practice who know what's going on. Some of them are pretty chatty.

    If you do this a lot, sometimes just talk to players without planning to do a story. Just chit chat. Makes them more comfortable.
  11. joe_schmoe

    joe_schmoe Active Member

    Before you go, find out what the college's policy is for allowing media access. This will help determine how you approach practice.
    If you can stay the entire time and choose to (you poor sap) and are allowed access to players and coaches during that time (which would be very unusual), then great, it makes it much easier to write. But if you have a situation like I have had, where media are allowed to talk to players a specified time before practice, and after...and can stay to watch usually about the first 15 minutes of practice, then you have to be more focused on what you will be writing about.
    Know before you go.
  12. Shifty Squid

    Shifty Squid Member

    Good thought, Joe. I'll make a call to find that out before I go.
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