Sports, Camera, Action!
Sage advice … arrive early and stake out your spot. Look for good angles, overviews and sidelines of the game. It’s a great idea to stay at the corner of race tracks, or slightly above the basket/goal, to get interesting perspectives.
Check your camera settings. You’ll want to up your ISO (so you can catch the action). Keep your shutter speed as fast as you can (so you can catch the action). Don’t shoot in raw, these files take a long time to register. (again … so you can catch the action)
I had a professor once who photographed a greyhound race with a low shutter speed. After developing her film, she realized she had 36 beautiful pictures of the race track. The pups were faster than her shutter speed … so they were invisible!
Anticipate! Follow your player and keep your eyes on the ball. A good photojournalist will get the ball (or a face) in every shot. Anticipate shutter lag if you have a more basic digital camera. Keep your shutter half activated so your camera is always ready-to-go.
Take a ton of photos. If you are shooting digitally you have no excuse. The more photographs you take, the better your chances of getting a great one.
Don’t forget the sidelines, bench, scoreboard or the fans. A reaction shot can be a safety net if you aren’t shooting what you like from the game.
If you are inside a gymnasium, and are close to the action, you may be able to use your flash. You’ll probably need a professional DSLR and decent flash to get this to work. There are two important flash rules to remember: always make certain you are allowed to use your flash, and never distract the players (this can be very important in games like golf).
Get in the mindset of a player; practice, practice, practice.