This is a concept well known in photography. The better you know a subject, the better you can photograph it. I grew up playing ice hockey so I feel the most comfortable and confident covering high school and pro games. I follow the flow of a game and position myself to photograph the best action. In the game pictured below, the red team was down by two goals at the beginning of the second period. I had a feeling they would come out flying and create good scoring opportunities. The red player scored on this shot as the puck slide just under the goalie’s stick in the first minute of the period.
Baseball is a sport I know and played but am not a student of the game. Every game I photograph builds on my knowledge and experience. Like anticipating when a batter will swing. When the sport has a ball, puck or snitch, it is best to get the ball in the frame or, in this case, on the bat.
This year I am learning to enjoy and photograph the sport of box lacrosse. Another fast sport like ice hockey. Lacrosse sticks have nets where the game ball is carried during the game. Players are wizards at using their sticks to carry, pass and shoot the ball from various angles. After a few games I started to recognize the moves of the players and anticipate the action. The first few times I was following a player who would suddenly put a shot on goal by going over his reverse shoulder, I totally missed it. I was determined to catch this stunning move and did after many attempts.
Practice is important in any sport as it is in photography. The more you photograph a sport, the better you know and understand it. The better your photographs of the sport will be.