Knowing which sports photography equipment is right for you, will depend on the competition level of the sports and the location the games are played at.
What I mean is the sports photography equipment that is used to photograph indoor sports needs to be more specific for the task, such as photographing in low light conditions. You need a lens with a fast aperture and a camera capable of a high ISO.
Outdoor sports, if played in bright sunny conditions you can get away with camera equipment that is not as expensive, but still need to be of a certain level to get consistent photos.
If you watch any major sporting event you will notice the big white and black lenses on the sidelines. These camera lenses are super telephoto lenses ranging from 300mm F2.8 all the way up to 800mm f4.
When combined with a super fast camera that is capable of 14 – 20 frames per second, you have a system that is able to produce amazing photos. But as you can imagine a camera kit like these is expensive.
You can capture amazing photos with less capable sports photography equipment and at a much cheaper cost, it just means you need to work harder to produce good photos.
My first ever job as a sports photographer was photographing football and other sports, at club level and the local newspaper. The games were played in all types of weather conditions from stinking hot days to finger numbing cold winter days.
I started with a Canon 20D that was an 8-megapixel camera that could take 5 frames per second, it did the job until the shutter stopped working.
I later upgraded to more professional equipment, a Canon 1D mk4 and it made my job so much easier. It gave me the confidence knowing that the likelyhood of my equipment failing would be minimised, plus it was super fast in every aspect.
The advice I’m going to give you will be from my 9 years experience as a sports photographer, and the upgrade path I made from a prosumer camera kit to professional high end equipment.
You don’t need to have the best sports photography equipment, but to get consistent photos it does make it easier. Using camera equipment that is designed specifically for the task will be more reliable and allow for more customisation.
In this guide, I’ll be listing out the best sports photography equipment, but also the path from budget photography kit to the middle of the road equipment for sports photographers working their way towards getting paid for their sports photography.
So let’s get started.
Table of Contents
- Recommended sports photography equipment
- Best Cameras for sports photography
- How to choose a camera for sports photography
- Best Lenses for sports photography
- How to choose a camera lenses for sports photography
- Sports photography accessories
Recommended sports photography equipment
The standard sports photography kit will depend on the sport you’re photographing.
The photography equipment you see being used on the sidelines at almost every major sporting event is 2 DSLR camera bodies, f2.8 400 mm, f2.8 70-200 mm, f2.8 24-70 mm or f2.8 16-35 mm, monopod and a flash for the celebrations and presentations.
- The 1st camera body with the 400mm attached to a monopod will cover 90% of the game. The 400mm lens is a super telephoto and will be used to cover from the sideline and each end of field.
- The 2nd camera body with the 70-200 or 24-70 when the action comes close and the 400 mm is too tight.
- For the team photos or celebrations after the match, add a flash and either a 24-70mm or 16-35 if you are tight on space.
Best Cameras for sports photography
How to choose a camera for sports photography
Technically you could use almost any camera to photograph sports, but a camera body that has an interchangeable lens mount will be more versatile.
To get the best results the camera needs to have certain features that make it easier for you to capture, fast-moving action and the ability to photograph in low light conditions that you sometimes may be faced with.
To purchase a good quality camera for sports photography, that will last you a while, here are some of the features you should look out for are.
- Full frame sensor
- 20 – 30 megapixels
- Minium 10 fps
- Fast auto focus
- Weather sealing
- Heavy duty construction
- Large buffer
- Fast operation
- High shutter cycle
- Customisable settings
The type of camera that is generally used for sports photography is a digital SLR or DSLR such as those made by Canon and Nikon. Recently Sony has made a big push with their impressive Alpha series of cameras which are known as mirrorless cameras.
Canon and Nikon have also started to release cameras using mirrorless technology allowing for faster frame rates and better auto focus.
Choosing between a DSLR and a mirrorless will come down to personal preference. Even though mirrorless sports cameras are much newer, they have matured a lot in the last few years.
Excellent large megapixel sensors, high iso and fast burst modes, are now standard in both DSLR and mirrorless cameras.
Camera sensor size
There is also the topic of sensor size, A crop sensor vs full-frame sensor even though the technology for both are excellent. You notice that the top cameras are all full frame sensor cameras but that wasn’t the case not so long ago, when even the top cameras were crop sensor cameras.
Granted they weren’t a significant crop meaning the consumer type cameras will have a 1.6x crop sensor compared to say a 1.3x sensor.
What this means is if your camera uses a sensor that is smaller than a full frame e.g. 1.3x crop, and you attach a 200mm lens, it will become 260mm. You simply multiply the lens length by the magnification. 200 x 1.3 = 260
This is good if you want to get closer to the action, but that extra magnification will also make a wide angle lens not as wide, also fitting less of the subject in the frame.
A full frame sensor means you can fit larger pixels on the sensor, which improves the image quality and the low light performance, and of course a full frame sensor will fit more of the photo in the frame.
Which one to choose will really depend on your budget, as some of the features I’ll talk about may only be present in the high end cameras.
If the cameras that you choose have most of these features, then you know that the camera body you choose will do an excellent job in helping you capture any sports you try to photograph.
How many megapixels do you need for sports photography?
The amount of megapixels these days is not a good measure of how good a camera is, unlike it used to be.
Most cameras which have an interchangeable lens mount will be at least 20 megapixels and above. The sweet spot for sports photography is between 20 and 28 megapixels. With that many pixels, the image quality is excellent and it allows you to crop into your photo without much deterioration of the image.
The more megapixels you have the bigger the file size that is produced by the camera, and therefore takes up more space on the memory card. More computer resources are needed to process the photos.
Almost all the camera brands have cameras with 30 and 40 megapixels sensors in their range. Even though this amount of pixels to work with is excellent, it takes a lot of computer resources to process and slows down your workflow for it to be a good fit for sports photography.
High frames per second ( FPS ) | burst mode
Even though not all sports are fast-moving, it’s still essential to have a camera that can take photos at a high frame rate. FPS standards for frames per second, meaning how many photos can the camera take in one second.
Generally the top cameras take anything from 14 to 20 photos per second in burst mode.
Consumer level also known as prosumer cameras are anywhere from 5 to 10 photos per second.
Using a camera that is capable of firing off a high frame rate could be the difference between an ok or missed photo. A high impact photo compared to a mediocre photo. You would be surprised how much of a difference it makes until you use a camera with a high fps.
Football, gymnastics, baseball, athletics, cycling, motorsport, surfing, anything that is fast moving needs at least 10 fps to get something decent. Even though I’ve photographed all those sports with cameras that could do 5, 10 and 14 fps.
The camera that could only manage 5 fps, I felt that I was missing photos while shooting in burst mode. This was especially true when photographing semi professional / professional sports, because they move so much faster.
Another important feature in a sports camera is waterproof sealing, to keep out moisture and dirt while you photograph in lots of different conditions such as light to heavy rain, dusty and muddy conditions which is very common when you’re photographing outdoor sports.
The weather seals are the grommets and bits of rubber, that are in between the hard pieces of plastic or metal on your camera body. They prevent any foreign objects getting inside the camera body itself.
Prosumer level cameras do use grommets to prevent light rain or dust from entering the camera body, but it is not to the extent as the professional grade cameras.
Normally you would use some sort of rain cover to protect your camera equipment. But there are times you are caught out with light rain or you work in less than favourable conditions, like at the beach where there is no escaping the salt water spray and fine sand.
Fast auto focus
A fast auto focus is essential to capture pin-sharp photos when the athletes are moving at speed. All modern cameras have relatively fast autofocus, but there is a big difference between a middle consumer level camera compared to a pro level sports camera.
Flagship cameras from Canon, Sony and Nikon have autofocus that is almost instant. Even when you have fast moving action that’s constantly changing direction like in football.
Consumer-level cameras from the same manufacturer will be a little bit slower to lock on an object, but still provide excellent results for the price.
Also the amount of auto focus settings found in a professional level camera are far more customizable. You can change fast the auto focus changes from one subject to another. The af points can also be changed in groups to reduce focusing on the wrong subject.
Large buffer memory
All cameras have internal memory that is called a buffer memory. When you take a photo, it is stored temporarily in the buffer memory before it gets moved to the memory card.
This is useful when you take a burst of photos as it helps the camera to take photos quickly, but once the buffer is full it needs to transfer the photos to the memory card before the camera can take more photos.
A red light on the back of your camera indicates your camera is writing photos from the buffer memory to your memory card.
If you ever tried using your camera while it tries to empty the photos from the buffer, you will notice even though you are pressing the shutter button, the camera will only take a photo when there is free buffer memory.
A camera with a large buffer is ideal.
The top sports cameras can fill up the internal memory with over 170 RAW photos.
A consumer camera is considerably less as they can only fit 5 – 30 RAW photos which is still pretty good.
jpg photos are smaller in size than the RAW image format, of course your camera will naturally fit more photos in the buffer. In most cases the amount of photos when using jpg doubles, and triples in some cases.
Fast transfer to memory cards
Buying a camera that uses the latest in memory card technology eliminates the bottle neck. The red light on the back of your camera which indicates photos being written to your memory will be on less.
Depending on the camera you purchase it will determine which memory card technology your camera will use. Even though you don’t get to choose, it’s still good for you to understand where the bottle neck might be when you experience slow photo transfers.
From my experience, entry level and prosumer cameras will naturally use slower memory card technology like SD memory cards.
Also due to space limitations, memory card technology is sometimes mixed on the camera e.g a SD and CF card slot on the same camera.
Heavy duty camera construction
You’re more than likely going to treat your camera with care. But when you’re in the moment, focused on getting the shot, accidents can happen no matter how careful you are.
Camera straps getting caught on something, accidental drops can happen anytime.
A camera with a heavy duty construction is needed if you are serious about getting into sport photography. Take it from someone who has dropped a camera body on concrete and in the ocean.
I can tell you from first-hand experience it’s the difference between finishing the sporting event or having to switch to your backup camera.
It goes hand in hand with the weather sealing. Professional sports cameras will have a magnesium alloy body that’s wrapped in a grippy rubber.
The entry level and prosumer cameras may still be made from magnesium alloy but it won’t be to the extent as a camera that’s worth five times as much.
High shutter cycle
This is something that not many people think about, that is the amount of times your shutter can be used before it fails, this is a guarantee by your camera manufacturer.
My first camera failed after 50,000 photos. I was averaging 2,500 – 3,000 photos a game, capturing pre game, main event and post match celebrations.
Compared to my Canon 1DX it’s still going after 6 years and has a guaranteed shutter life cycle of over 300, 000.
Even though the shutter can be replaced, the camera will never be the same way again. That was my experience when I replaced the shutter box, after a while every photo had purple fringing.
Entry level cameras won’t last, prosumer cameras will do a decent job. Ultimately every camera will fail, it’s just a matter of when.
All cameras come with some form of customisable settings within the camera. I’m not referring to image size and shooting mode because these are standard options these days.
What I’m referring to are camera settings, to customise the performance and functionality of the camera such as the autofocus, how it responds when trying to lock on a subject.
Top professional sports cameras will have the ability to change the sensitivity of the auto focus, so if you focus on an athlete and if an athlete happens to quickly pass in front of you, you may want the autofocus to stay with the player in the background, and not switch to the person running by.
Another example of a useful customization is assigning a button on the camera body for customer exposure. when you press the assigned button it changes your exposure settings for a different shutter speed and aperture.
This is great if you’re photographing fast action sports and you’re photographing into the sun, then all of a sudden your sun is behind you, this is common for fast moving sports like football or soccer.
Some other settings include,
- Controlling the way your photos are transferred to your memory cards.
- Assigning a camera button to change the metering mode, useful in harsh conditions.
- Remotely change your flash settings from your camera.
- Configure how auto focus works when you can’t lock on a subject.
- Custom settings menu for quick access to your most used settings.
- The ability to save your settings to transfer to another camera, useful if you have multiple cameras or need to reset your current camera.
All these custom settings make your job as a sports photographer easier. Although not essential, you can still photograph fast action sports without them.
It just means you may end up with less usable photos, because you are forced to photograph a certain way, rather than working the way you want to.
This will more than likely happen when you use an entry level camera or prosumer camera for sports photography. Given the price jump for high end cameras specifically designed for action sports, customerization is standard.
Best Lenses for sports photography
24 – 70 mm
70 to 200 mm
200 to 400 mm
How to choose a camera lenses for sports photography
Out of all the camera equipment you can buy to photograph sports, a camera lens will make the biggest impact to your image quality and it will hold its value more than a camera body.
The big difference between professional sports photography lenses, such as telephoto lenses compared to a consumer type lens is image quality, build quality and constant F stop through the zoom range, and most will be prime lenses.
Most camera manufacturers will have a luxury or professional version of a lens.
- Canon – L series lenses
- Nikon – Nikkor ED glass
- Sony – G Master lenses
So when it comes to upgrading your sports photography equipment you’ll more than likely upgrade your camera body more often than your camera lenses.
So to purchase a good quality camera lens for sports photography, that will outlast your camera. Some of the features you should look out for are.
- Image quality
- Build quality
- Weather sealing
- Constant F stop
- Image stabilization
Wide angle vs standard vs telephoto
You don’t always need a telephoto or super telephoto lens to photograph sports, as it completely depends on the type of sport you’re photographing. It also depends where you are photographing within the sporting venue.
So if we look at a field sport such as football, most of the game will be photographed from the sidelines or the ends of the field, and a super telephoto lens will get you closer to the action.
As the players come closer to you, using a shorter lens is necessary because a super telephoto lens would be too close to the action, and you need something wider to fit the players in.
So with that in mind you have to think about where you are going to be in relation to the action.
It doesn’t matter if you’re photographing kids sports on a Saturday morning or professional sports at the Olympics, you need to have a wide variety of lenses to cover sports successfully.
Generally you are going to have 16 to 35mm for the ultrawide. If that’s too wide then a 24 to 70mm is a great lens range. Then the 70-200mm will cover any action that’s a medium distance away and the 400 – 600mm range will cover halfway down the field.
You can generally get away with having only 3 lenses that will cover all the action.
You need 24-70, 70-200 and a super telephoto like a 300mm or 400mm depending on the sport.
Prime lens vs Zoom lens
A prime lens is a fixed focal length lens such as a 300 mm lens.
Zoom lens can change it focal length using the focus ring on the lens such as the 100 mm – 400 mm lens
It’s a common misconception that a prime lens is much sharper than a zoom lens. That may have been the case 10 or so years ago but nowadays the gap is not existent. In all honesty you would be very hard pressed to tell the difference, if someone is using a zoom or a prime lens, unless they are using a big aperture where the depth of field is very shallow, which is a tell tale sign of a prime lens.
As for a constant aperture, both a zoom lens and a prime lens can offer that, it’s really down to the manufacturer of the lens if they offer it in your price range.
When it comes to choosing between a prime or zoom lens, look at how usable it is for your situation. What I mean by this, for a prime lens, you need to zoom with your feet. If you’re too close simply move further back, if you’re too close move forward..
And that’s where the zoom lens has the advantage, you can simply use the zoom ring on the lens to get closer or further away, perfect for when you can’t move or don’t want to get physically closer.
High end lens vs consumer grade lens
As you start to browse for a new lens you’ll notice that most manufacturers will offer different versions of a lens.
A luxury or high-end version or a consumer version of the lens.
A good example of this is Canon who offers there 50 mm lens in 3 options
50 mm f1.8 – Consumer
50 mm f1.4 – Middle of the road
50 mm f1.2 – High end
The f1.8 version is the cheapest and definitely the most mass produced.
The f1.4 is a step up with slightly larger aperture which allows more lighting in low light and better build quality and costs upto 3 times more.
The f1.2 version is the most expensive, with a metal body, better image quality and construction and a very large aperture, which will give you excellent low light shooting and very shallow depth of field.
When you’re first starting out it’s perfectly fine to use the consumer versions of lenses, but just be aware the image quality and construction quality will be better as you move up into the higher-end models of the same lens. Depending how serious you are about your sports photography, it may be best to save up for the more expensive lens option in the long run.
One common trait of a consumer-type camera lens, is that the aperture is not fixed for the majority of lenses on offer. This means as you zoom in and out, the aperture will change. And for sports photography it’s preferred that you have a constant aperture to get the best results.
This is particularly important if you photograph in low light conditions, either indoors or outdoors such as an overcast day or late in the afternoon.
A professional lens will have the ability to use a very shallow depth of field to isolate the subject, which gives a blurry background to a photo, but also allows more light to come through the lens, this helps in low light conditions.
Lenses that are capable of large apertures such as f1.2, f1.4, f1.8 and f2.8 are known as fast lenses, with a large aperture. When needed in low light conditions they excel compared to lenses with smaller apertures like f4, f5.6 and so on.
The tell tale signs of a lens that’s not suited for the environment are blurry photos and slow autofocus performance, as a result the amount of usable photos goes down considerably.
Consumer lens apertures will generally bottom out at f3.5 or f4. If it’s a zoom lens, it’s likely the aperture will not be consistent as you move the zoom through the focal range. Compared to professional grade lenses your aperture will be consistent, which in turn makes finding your exposure easier.
Both prime lenses and zoom lenses can have fixed apertures.
It generally applies to zoom lenses as an example a consumer quality lens will have a zoom range, at which the aperture will change as you zoom in and out.
An example is the Canon 28 mm to 135 mm lens; it has an aperture of f3.5 to f5.6 as it’s largest aperture.
This means, when zoomed at 28 mm, aperture is f3.5 as you zoom out to the longest end 135mm, the aperture will automatically change to f5.6 unless you are using the camera in auto mode, you will need to constantly be making changes to your exposure.
Compared to a professional level lens that is preferred for sport photography the aperture can be consistent all the way through. For example the Canon 70 mm to 200 mm, you can set the aperture at f2.8, it won’t matter if you zoom from 70 mm to 200 mm the aperture will be consistent.
Some versions of lens come in multiple versions. Based on their aperture size such as,
f4 – 24mm – 70 mm
f2.8 – 24mm – 70 mm
Buying a lens that is a f4 version of the lens will save money. As you expect it’s low light performance, it won’t be as good as the f2.8 version. So you really need to think about where you will be shooting sports the majority of the time to make a decision on a lens.
Lens Image quality
As you move up from a consumer grade lens to a professional grade camera lens, the quality becomes far superior.
- Photos will be sharper
- Colour will be vibrant
- Better contrast
A good way to test is to bring your camera with you to your local photography store, photograph using both the lower end and high end lens, and compare the photos at home on a computer screen.
Take the same photo at different apertures, largest ( f2.8 ) middle ( f5.6 – f8 ) small ( f16 ). This will give you a good idea how a lens performs. A lens is generally not as sharp when photographing using a large aperture. A high end lens used by professional sports photographers, will be consistent with it’s image quality, no matter the aperture or zoom range.
Lens Image stabilization
Not always necessary, but image stabilization in a lens is useful if you are photographing in low light conditions without any support from a monopod.
Image stabilization works by activating gyros in the lens when you press the back focus button / shutter button. The gyros move the internals to counteract movement by the photographer, as a result eleminitating camera shake, which can cause blurry photos.
Image stabilization, depending on the brand, will have different settings for the type of image stabilization. Some brands and low end lenses may only have one setting of either on or off.
Canon in their L series, high end super telephoto lens, like the 400 mm f2.8 has three options. On / Off, Image stabilization for all movements, stabilization for vertical movements and stabilization for horizontal movements. The two latter options are useful if you want to do some panning, to show movement in your photos.
Some camera lens manufacturers will have multiple variations of a lens. A non image stabilization which is much cheaper and a image stabilization version which you’re paying a premium for.
Lens build quality
When you hold a consumer lens you will notice it will be light, the build quality is good but is made from plastics or a combination of plastics and some metal for the mid range lens.
Whereas the construction of a professional grade lens will be all metal and heavier. The focus and zoom rings will also be more refined and smoother to operate. The lens will always come with a lens hood that fits securely.
Some lens models come with added features like a zoom lock, so the zoom doesn’t move when not in use.
High end lenses from all camera manufacturers will have a weather seal built into their lens. One main difference that you will see between a consumer level vs a high end lens is, where the mount connects to the camera. The lens will have an extra rubber seal to help reduce dust and moisture from entering the camera body giving you that extra security.
Camera lenses with weather sealing have a better building quality and are able to cope with light rain conditions.
Sports photography accessories
Accessories such as an air blower, microfiber cloth, memory cards, batteries, are all essential accessories and should be in every camera. But it’s the quality of the accessories and some of the specialised accessories that make a difference when photographing sports photography.
Good quality memory cards make a huge difference in keeping your photos safe, also giving you the peace of mind that you need to photograph in less than perfect conditions.
Quality memory cards will also offer fast read and write speeds. Perfect for when your camera buffer fills up, a memory card with a fast write speed helps transfer photos from internal camera moment to the memory card faster.
When it’s time to download your photos off your memory card to your computer. A memory card with a fast read speed helps to transfer your photos to the hard drive quickly.
Memory card brands such as Lexar, SanDisk will do the job perfectly.
I’ve used SanDisk memory cards exclusively throughout my photography career. I haven’t had any corruptions and when I dropped a camera in the ocean the memory card still worked perfectly after.
Look for a minimum read and write speed 180mb/s when buying memory cards.
Memory card reader
An essential piece of equipment that will speed up your photo editing workflow, is using a fast memory card reader. A fast card reader will allow you to offload your photos to your computer within minutes and reduce corruption when copying your photos to the computer.
Always buy a card reader that uses the latest USB standard such as USB 3 or USB – C and is solely a card reader to get the maximum speed.
Camera bags are a unique piece of sports photography equipment, because it is such a personal choice and there is no right or wrong choice. Essentially it comes down to how much equipment you have and how you want to carry it all.
A perfect example would be if you’re photographing your children’s sport on a Saturday morning. You are more than likely going to have a camera with a 70 to 200 or 100 to 400 zoom lens. A backpack that you can insert the camera and lens connected together. Another option would be to take apart your camera kit and use a sling bag to make it more compact to carry. In this case, a 1 camera and 1 – 2 lens kit.
A professional sports photographer or someone that is a serious amateur, would naturally have a lot more equipment. So a large backpack or camera bag on wheels will hold 2 camera bodies and 4 lenses, plus all the accessories you would need to photograph a sporting match.
When you photograph sporting events that require a lot of walking, you may want to use a belt system or a lens bag and simply keep your camera bodies on your shoulders. This will allow you to move freely without having to worry about a backpack, or lug a wheelie bag behind you on loose ground.
If you’re serious about photographing sports you should invest in a monopod if you have a camera lens from 200 mm and above.
It will save your back, it will also help you avoid camera shake and help keep your horizons level as well.
I’ve used the same manfrotto aluminum monopod for 15 years, even though I’ve tried other graphite and lighter monopods. I still go back to my manfrotto monopod, it holds my f2.8 400 mm and Canon 1Dx with no problems.
When buying a monopod make sure it will extend tall enough, so you can use it when standing and short enough when kneeling, as these will be the most common positions.
Using a flash in sports photography is a big no-no. It distracts the players and can be dangerous.
But there are times where it is acceptable and that is at the end of a game, when players are celebrating or at the end of game ceremony that won’t be an issue. Just not during the game.
You could also use a flash during the team photo and headshots, if that’s what you have been hired to do.
Brands like Canon and Nikon incorporate weather sealing, where the flash fits into the hot shoe. If you are regularly using your flash for long periods of time, you might want to invest in an external battery pack for your flash system. The cycle time is reduced by half and it also extends the amount of photos you can take with your flash at full power.
I highly recommend using Eneloop AA batteries. They are excellent in keeping the charge when sitting in your camera bag for months, and are powerful enough to last for 300 – 400 photos. Here is an excellent way to organise your AA batteries. [link]
My favourite thing about photographing sports is that unless there is lightning it’s still going ahead.
The rain always makes for exciting looking photos, but keeping your camera gear dry is essential.
The think tank hydrophobia is my choice and comes in different sizes. On my main system I use it with a f2.8 400 mm and on a second body, the smaller version either with a f2.8 70 – 200 mm or f2.8 24 – 70 mm.
They also do have a version where that is big enough to accommodate a flash.
As a temporary solution a garbage bag with a hole in it so the lens can pass through, securing the ends with thick rubber bands works a treat.
Although not an essential piece of equipment it can elevate your photography, if you include a set of remote triggers in your sports photography equipment bag.
Remotely triggering your camera which has been placed in an alternate location. Such as behind the goals in a soccer game, at the finish line at the athletics or even placed in a location where it would be too dangerous to stand.
The way it works is that you connect one of the triggers to your main camera, and the other trigger connected to your 2nd camera. Every time you press the shutter button on the main camera, the 2nd camera also takes a photo as if you were in two locations at the same time.
You can also use a remote trigger to set off a flash, which is useful if you’re doing creative sports photos as the use of a flash is allowed in sports like mountain bike racing. Another use is triggering an off camera flash for creative sport portraits.
So that is my list of sports photography equipment and what to look for when purchasing your camera equipment.
I would recommend anyone serious in photographing sports to not get hung up on the equipment and practice your craft first.
As mentioned when I first started out it was with a consumer-level camera and a f2.8 70-200 mm for many years and it was fine to use in almost all conditions, and I was able to use the same photo kit to get paid photography work.
Start small and build your sports photography kit based on your experience and the sport you’re photographing.