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Watching practice

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Bucknutty, Apr 7, 2009.

  1. Bucknutty

    Bucknutty Member

    So the college football team I cover has made an unprecedented move and allowed us to watch practice today and Thursday. This is the first time I've ever been allowed to watch a practice. Any tips on what to watch for? Those of you who do this all the time, what do you look for?
     
  2. Moderator1

    Moderator1 Moderator Staff Member

    During the spring, watch for guys not lining up there they lined up before. Position switches are spring stories the readership eats up.
    Also, look to see who is working with the 1s and who is working with the 2s. Why is the OG who was a 1 all last season now a 2? Who beat him out?
    I enjoyed watching the one-on-one pass drills a lot. Can't hide shit there. Who can run? Who can cover? Who can catch or not catch?

    They using any formations you didn't see in the fall? Why?
     
  3. Moderator1

    Moderator1 Moderator Staff Member

    Also, make a list of returning players and check 'em off as you see them. Who is missing? Why? Academics? Injury? Gone completely?
     
  4. zebracoy

    zebracoy Guest

    There's quite a bit to watch for.

    Check the personnel and see which players are where. One would expect the back-up to the departed middle linebacker to be with the first team, but maybe he's not.

    Scan the sidelines for walking boots and players in shorts.

    Listen for who gets torn apart and who gets praised.

    Watch the drills, not only to see what's going on but to get a glance at potential stars of the future.

    See which quarterback can throw and which can't.

    Just be observant. You can find quite a bit of stuff just by paying slight attention.
     
  5. Bucknutty

    Bucknutty Member

    Thanks for the tips. These are all things I figured to look for, but I wanted to see if there was something I was overlooking. In all honesty, I feel a bit dumb for even asking.

    Now here's hoping I don't freeze to death.
     
  6. mediaguy

    mediaguy Active Member

    Moddy's got the best stuff. Every once in a while, it's a good idea to make a one-page list, position by position, with numbers for every player who should be there. Doesn't take long to check everybody off, just to make sure somebody hasn't left without it being noticed.

    Easiest things to spot are injuries -- who isn't running, who has cast/boot/crutches, etc.

    And there's a delicate balance in how much detail you give in terms of how a team is lining up, new formations, etc. -- say too much in print, and practice will be closed the next day.
     
  7. Johnny Dangerously

    Johnny Dangerously Active Member

    Great tips from Moddy, as usual. My only caveat: Don't assume a guy now running with the first team at this particular practice is now a starter. The coach might be simply getting a look at how he works with the first group (especially on the OL). I can't tell you how many times the local radio guy (and a few others) creates a stir with a practice report that "so-and-so is running with the 1s now!" But yeah, it's important to note when a guy gets a shot, and if you have good contacts you can find out what it really means.

    All of Moddy's suggestions are gold.

    Also, resist the urge to talk about your fantasy league team with the person standing next to you, or to have a joint bitch session with the paper's photog for 30 minutes, or to let yourself get sidetracked by anyone you'll see every day off the practice field anyway. Be careful too with people you don't see often. Standing near them on the sideline might be helpful in some way, but pay attention to the practice. This is time you rarely get. Use it wisely.
     
  8. John

    John Well-Known Member

    I'm lucky in that I've been to every practice, fall and spring, for the past two years.

    Still, everything said by everyone else is spot on. I basically go through the roster at every practice to make sure everyone is there. Tedious, but necessary.
     
  9. GlenQuagmire

    GlenQuagmire Active Member

    There have been many wise things said here.

    Be sure you have a story idea or two before you get out there. See who's there, not there. Any injured players on sidelines? Any starters working with the second string or vice versa. Any interesting position battles? Who is flying up or down the depth chart? Who is surprising the coaches?

    You're not always going to catch everything. Just prep the best you can, observe and report and have a plan - but be ready to make a change if needed.
     
  10. zagoshe

    zagoshe Well-Known Member

    Make sure you bring some caffeine, speed or anything else to keep you from falling asleep.

    Watching practice is helpful, it is also somewhat overrated as it is mostly a cure for insomnia......
     
  11. Armchair_QB

    Armchair_QB Well-Known Member

    Don't make a big deal of a kid missing practice due to injury.

    Players get held out of spring drills for very minor injuries that would not stop them from playing in the fall.
     
  12. Johnny Dangerously

    Johnny Dangerously Active Member

    That reminds me of something I probably should have posted last night: Guard against placing too much emphasis on what you see. Try to get some perspective from a coach, player, trainer or manager, if necessary. It's easy to think something is more of a story than it is when you get your first look at practice in forever and a day.
     
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