How to Write a Sports Match Recap

The most basic element of sportswriting is the game recap. The major news outlets all provide these. Here's the basic formula to use.

How to Write a Sports Event Recap

In your opening paragraph (known as the lead), you usually pick the dominant stat of the game–often the leading scorer–and identify it. Then include the score of the game.

Example: Chris Paul had 25 points and nine assists as the New Orleans Hornets beat the Sacramento Kings 113-99 on Sunday.

But this isn't always the formula. Exceptions: Instances in which someone makes a game-winning play in the final secords (or inning), or if there's an injury to a major player during the game. These occasions are always more noteworthy than simply who was the leading scorer or star of the game.

Example: Chris Paul's basket with 1.6 seconds left gave the New Orleans Hornets a 113-111 win over the Sacramento Kings on Sunday.

Your next two or three paragraphs should be about the storyline started in the lead and then what the game means to each team. Also remember that the second time you mention a team, put its record in brackets next to it.

Example: Paul has now scored over 20 points in six of his last seven games and has been hot from three-point range, shooting 4-for-6 from beyond the arc Sunday.

The Hornets (44-28) moved within two games of the San Antonio Spurs for the best record in the Western Conference.

The Kings (31-36) lost their third straight game and fourth of five since guard Ron Artest has been out with a broken wrist.

Then provide some play-by-play, how the game unfolded. Were there runs? Any spectacular plays? Who came off the bench? Was one team throwing a lot of passes in a football game? Was it close at all, or was it a blowout the whole game? How did the goalies do in a hockey game? Any stolen bases if it's baseball? You've told everyone your final result–now tell everyone how you got there.

This is your chance to use your writing skills as well as work in all this valuable information.

Other notable stats: Make sure you include the stats of many players, and team stats that are indicative of how the game went. If it's basketball, make sure to mention both teams' leading scorers. Talk about how both quarterbacks did. How did the runner-up putt on the back nine? Who else scored a goal? How did the teams fare on the power play?

Quotes from players and coaches (when you have access to them): Include these to back up the statistics you've provided in your recap. Avoid cliches such as "We'll see what happens" and "We'll play them one at a time."


Be very careful when reporting quotes. They must be verbatim. Don't trust your memory to get a quote right; record it via tape or taking notes.