How to choose a reliable sports translator?

What to consider when choosing a language partner?

A woman listening to music while running down the pavement.

The global sports apparel market now stands at USD 213 bn and the global sports equipment market at USD 143 bn, so there’s more need than ever before for content that is accessible multilingually. To do that, sports providers need to find meaningful partnerships with trusted translators. But how can you choose a reliable sports translator?

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This article will explore 4 key elements to help you choose a reliable sports translator:

  • Text or audio-visual translation
  • Area of specialisation
  • Portfolio
  • Professional affiliations

Text or audio-visual translation

The first step in your journey to finding someone best suited to your needs has to be knowing whether you need a translator working with the written or spoken word.

Due to the nature of sports, much of the material that needs to be translated is in some way associated with audio-visual material, such as post-match interviews or game commentary. If you have a sports translator who is more familiar with translating written texts, as opposed to translating and subtitling spoken interviews, then they’re probably going to experience some difficulty when working on a subtitling or transcription project.

Services you might encounter:

Translation: of written text deliverable as a written document.

Proofreading: of a written text deliverable as a written document.

Transcreation: translation of a written text often for marketing purposes. Things such as product descriptions, website content for sports brands. Transcreation captures the essence of a text and doesn’t translate every word in the original text.

Transcription: the conversion of speech to text.

Translation from audio: translation of audio into a second language as a written document.

Subtitling: creating and translating subtitles that need to be timed with the original audio file.

A man in black swim shorts and cap gets out of a swimming pool.

Areas of specialisation

Language services for the sports sector are almost stand-alone languages in themselves.

Can you guess which sport the following words are used in?

Quickdraw – Layback – Crimp – Jug

If you’ve never heard of these, then you’re probably not someone familiar with climbing.

It’s imperative when working with sports translations, that the translator you choose has significant experience in the sport you are working with. They need to be at ease with terminology, styles or writing, and also have a wider knowledge of associated sports or areas of interest. Ask what experience your potential partner has in the area of sport under consideration.

If it appears that the translator has no more than a passing interest, then they’re probably not the partner for you. Sports enthusiasts are incredibly knowledgeable and passionate, and they expect people writing about their interest to be experts too. Terminology will catch out a translator who only has a passing interest in a sport, rather than a vested interest.


A great way to find out whether a translation partner could be a good match for you, is by asking to see recent projects or their portfolio. Many projects that a translator works on are subject to NDA, but translators with a keen interest in the sports industry will normally have one or two projects they can show you that really demonstrate their skill and expertise.

A portfolio can also show you what kinds of texts a translator usually creates content for. Writers who specialise in anti-doping regulations, for example, will have a very different style to writers of social media copy or athlete interviews. It’s important that your translated copy ‘feels’ appropriate in tone of voice and style, so that your readers are engaged and want to come back for more.

Professional affiliations

So, what other factors might make a potential partner stand out when you’re trying to choose a good sports translator? Professional affiliations are a very good way to assess the trustworthiness, commitment and expertise of an individual.

Professional memberships are rarely free, so it comes with the territory that someone who is affiliated with a well-known and trusted organisation such as the Chartered Institute of Linguists for example, should be someone you can rely on.

In addition, professional affiliations attest to a person’s areas of interest and commitment to their work. If you can see that a translator doesn’t have much experience yet and hasn’t got a portfolio brimming with examples they can show you, but does have a wealth of personal experience playing sport and a membership with a professional language organisation, then they’re probably a great partner to start working with. This kind of translator has the skills linguistically and the expertise sports-wise and just needs to put the two together. You could be their big break!

Now you know how to choose a reliable sports translator

In summary, there’s a bit of homework to complete before you find a reliable sports translator, editor or subtitler, but as a rule, once you’ve found one, you’ll see international sales increase and engagement peak.

As with everything, the 5 Ps are golden!

(Proper preparation prevents poor performance!)

Scenic view of a mountain peak shrouded in clouds

If you’d like more information about how can you choose a reliable sports translator, or if you have a sports translation project you need help with, get in touch.

At The Native Crowd, I’m proud to offer solutions for all your sports translation, editing and copywriting needs.

To read more of this kind of material or if you would like to speak to me about translation (Russian, German, or Dutch into English), subtitling, or proofreading, get in touch today.

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