Make your calls as smart as your crowd
AS LEAGUES MATURE, so do their audiences. When I first started announcing in 2008, it wasn’t uncommon for announcers to fill time and space with jokes and commentary on outfits. As our sport has grown and our fans continue to return to our games, they’re looking to know about what’s going on in a game. I highly recommend staffing games with two announcers so one can keep track of stats that help to inform the audience on the game. One of the best ways to do this is to keep a producer’s worksheet and draw facts from it so the fans can watch the game and hear about the fascinating stats and milestones from the announcers.
I’ve been producing WFTDA games for many years now, including two Championship games. While many of the best producers have made up worksheets to help organize their tracking of games, I’ve historically used graph paper, which allows me both organization and freeform as needed.
In this “Basic Empty Tracking Sheet” document, I’ve tried to put into a table what I do on graph paper.
When I set up my graph paper, I pick a column near the middle of the paper and write “jam” at the top then put lines down either side of those columns so my tracking looks a lot like this:
Across the top of the page I put the teams and their colors on the same side as they’re listed on the scoreboard. I write the period at the top/middle of the page. I’ll use multiple sheets if I have to. Often these notes are used in writeups and in morning briefings to prepare for upcoming games – so keeping track of these details really helps at those times.
As a jam is about to start, I write the jam number in the middle column. Like a lineup tracker or scorekeeper, I do NOT pre-fill the jam numbers in because there are some events that get their own lines like time-outs and star passes.
As the teams line up, I put the jammer numbers in the jammer column.
When a jammer gets lead, I write an L near their number. Sometimes I’ll put it to the outside and sometimes I’ll put it in the notes box. I nearly always CIRCLE the L. But if you want to keep track of lost leads, you might want to always write them outside then only circle them when lead is lost.
When jammers complete a scoring pass, I write the score they received to the right side of the notes box. It’s a great way to track scoring passes and not just jam scores. While this example was done in Word, in real life, if it looks like there will be multiple scoring passes, I start the jam scores more toward the middle of the box. But if there’s only one scoring pass, then I put it all the way over to the right. One thing we’ve been doing since last year at WFTDA playoff and champ games is tracking multiple scoring pass jams. Unlike my example, at the highest level of play, it’s remarkable if they’re frequent. Often, they’re turning points in the game and something announcers can reference back to – either in explaining why a jammer/pivot is a high scorer or talking about the damage done in a penalty. Sometimes I’ll mark these multiple scoring passes by circling them so they’re easier to count, but having MORE than one number in that space also makes them easy to count.
At the end of a jam, I total the jam score and add it to the running score. In real life, I might make some kind of notation like a curly brace } along the side of the black team’s running score where they were at 43 for 3 jams. Or maybe, while a team is scoreless for a couple jams, draw a line at the top of the first jam with that score then a line down from that like a T so that your announcers can quickly see how many jams were scoreless. This information is something I also will put on my quick whiteboard if it’s a thing that’s trending in this game.
When a jammer gets a penalty, I write the penalty code near the left side of the notes box and put a square or “box” around it. This makes counting jammer penalties quick and easy and also helps keep track of trends in kinds of penalties a particular team’s jammers are getting. Again, these are things that can be turning points in a game or can help announcers tell a story of a particular jammer if penalties are the thing.
Besides starting a new line to attribute scores and penalties to a pivot-jammer after a cover pass, I also like to use a whole new line without a jam number when the clock is stopped. The clock will stop for Official Time Outs – and I will write OTO, the time on the clock, and why the clock stopped. I have a couple examples here, but other examples would be for injury (and noting who was injured), Team Time Outs (which team), and Official Reviews (and noting who asked for it, what for, and if it was granted). Referencing times of timeouts, especially ones which clearly have an impact on the game in reflection later, enriches the announcers’ calls.
If there are big events from blockers, I try to squeeze them into my notes boxes as well. Usually there’s space I can steal from neighboring jams.
I supplement my stats sheet with a Quick Board. Here’s my Quick Board from 2017 Champs.
I use one color pen for the first period, write those tallies in a corner for the second period, then use a different color for the second period. Last year, I consistently tracked:
- Lead jam designations
- Jammer penalties (note I also put letters here)
- Cover/Star passes
- Multiple scoring pass jams
The bottom gets used for a stat that’s relevant in a game. In this game, the teams were dominating lead for a few jams in a row then switching in the second period. I can tell that because my game specific stat was “First lead in ____ jams” at the bottom. We can also see there were 3 lead changes. I don’t remember what happened in jam 8 of the first period, but I’m guessing it’s the first time London took the lead in the game.
You can also see at the top I put the first-period scores for each team. This really helps me set up stats like “Score this second period is 80 for Montréal and 60 for London. What a change Montréal made after half-time.” That’s a made-up stat – but you can see how remembering the half-time score can be helpful. Even without having the exact stats on the game we can see that Montréal really stopped London from having big scoring jams in the second period (4 in the second period compared to 9 in the first) while keeping the same number of big jams themselves. I think that’s how it went. In real-time we can contemplate the story of this as to whether it was because Montréal or London changed to make that stat happen.
Announcers who are invited to attend postseason WFTDA tournaments need to be familiar with this kind of stats tracking and using the information seamlessly in their calls. Using this kind of tracking at home events will get the attention of your fans. I know I always get a lot of compliments when I’m a guest announcer at a venue whose announcer doesn’t typically do this. It’s easy to up your announcing game, start taking good notes now!
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