How Do Football Commentators Know The Player?

DUESSELDORF, GERMANY – AUGUST 09: Markus Hoehner, commentator poses for a photo in the commentary box prior to the DFB Cup first round match between KFC Uerdingen and Borussia Dortmund at Merkur Spiel-Arena on August 09, 2019 in Duesseldorf, Germany. (Photo by Lars Baron/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Football commentary is one of the most enjoyable things that go with a match. Whether on radio or television, the voice of the commentator adds to the spectacle of a game, making it more exciting to watch or listen to. 

Exceptional football commentators like Peter Drury, Jim Beglin, and Martin Tyler bring a certain gravitas to any match they are handling with their artistic use of the English language and descriptive way of telling you what’s going on in the field of play.

Apart from giving the audience a blow-by-blow account of the match, commentators also help to identify players on the pitch. Sometimes, adding background information like the player’s history and goal stats. The way they describe a player often leaves the audience wondering how they know so much about a player. 

So how do football commentators know the player. Let’s find out.

How Do Football Commentators Know The Player?

Many things go into preparing to run commentary for a match. One item that usually helps a commentator is the team sheet.

Roughly an hour before the match, the respective teams usually release their starting sheet for the match.

This helps the commentator memorize the names and numbers of the players and practice correctly pronouncing the players’ names.

Commentators also spend a good deal of time researching individual players to add extra information and depth to their commentary.

This helps the audience better appreciate the footballers they are watching on TV. They usually research from various sources regarding a players’ childhood, career history, and playing style.

They also have access to up-to-date databases that track and give instant information about a footballers’ past performances to give an idea of how he will perform.

Sometimes news headlines about a player are also sorted to look for relevant information about the player.

How Do Football Commentators Know The Player? Colorado Rapids commentator Marcelo Balboa in the booth before the Houston Dynamo game June 1, 2014 at Dick's Sporting Goods Park. (Photo by John Leyba/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
(Photo by John Leyba/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

How do football commentators recognize each player?

It’s always fascinating to see commentators know the exact player on the ball at any given time — something that is hard for someone watching the game on TV.

During the match, commentators rely on their knowledge of the game, player positions, and unique running styles to provide accurate and insightful commentary.

Video monitors are also essential tools that help commentators better see the football action and identify the player on the ball.

The vantage seating position of commentators also gives them a birds’ eye view of the pitch, which helps them better call the action and easily identify a player at any given time.

How do commentators know players stats?

Many football fans are often surprised by how match commentators are able to know all the players stats.

So, a statistician is typically present during games to display crucial stats on computer monitors, readily available for reference as needed. Additionally, ear pieces are utilized for seamless communication between the production manager, statistician, and other key personnel.


No doubt, a lot goes into the personal preparation of a commentator for a match, but the benefits are enormous for both the one running commentary and the audience.

For the commentator, it provides him with access to information that will make his presentation run smoothly. While for the audience, it helps make the match lively for them and provides information about a team or player they won’t necessarily have known beforehand.

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