When starting out photographing sports it was all about capturing the action on the field. Trying to get the peak action from every play. I got some great action shots from those early games, but it doesn't always give you the best photos to tell the story of the game.
It's still hard to take my focus off the field, but I'm willing to miss some on field action to get those more meaningful photos of fans, coaches, and other players. Understanding the game and anticipating what will happen next are keys to knowing where to point the camera. You will also miss great reaction photos if you are checking the back of your camera to see if you got the action shot. You got the shot or you didn't. Check it later during more down time and get the reactions. Reaction photos are just as important, if not more, to telling the story of a game.
Get there early and stay later. I arrived an hour early for this game. Players need to warm up and so do I. It helps to dial in your settings, get your reaction time down, look for good backgrounds/angles, and get to know the teams. The first first photo in this post happened because I arrived early, chatted with a parent, and she let me know what direction the players would storm the bench before the game. Staying late can also pay off. If I left after the action ended I would have missed out on the photos below. Learning to cover the entire game, not just the action, will yield some great photos.