Brief overview of the basic settings I use for sports photography. Just a disclaimer, these are just general guidelines that I have found that work for me. Another note, I always shoot in either manual or shutter priority mode. Using these modes (as compared to auto or sports mode) give you much more control over the camera and the images you will capture.
I use AF-C (autofocus continuous) for all my sports photography. As far as the actual mode goes I prefer single point or Dynamic-25 depending on the camera Im using. I would recommend you avoid the auto point selection or 3D tracking. Personally I have found they dont work well for most field sports.
Use the highest frame per second rate you camera has and capture quick 1-2 second bursts of action. Personally I shoot around 10 frames per second. This allows me to capture the full sequence then go and pick the best of the best frame.
Typically you want the fastest shutter speed possible to freeze action in sports images. I have found that shooting at least 1/1000 will freeze action pretty well. If you can shoot faster, by all means increase your shutter speed. What I have found shooting slower than 1/1000 is there is a good bit of motion blur introduced into the hands and feet of the players. Now with that being said depending on the lighting I will go down to 1/500 but that is typically the slowest I will go. With 1/500 you have to be much more accurate with your panning and focus in order to freeze the action
I prefer to keep my aperture between f2.8 and f4. This is typically wide enough to get good light coming into the camera while still maintaining a fairly shallow depth of field which will allow you to get good background separation.
ISO is actually the thing I worry about the least. I choose an ISO that based on my shutter and aperture that will get me as close to a perfect exposure as possible. The thing you have to remember is a perfectly exposed high ISO image will look better and the noise will be cleaner than a high ISO image that was underexposed and recovered in post processing. Recovering shadows and detail in an underexposed high ISO image will cause the noise to be more pronounced and noticeable in the images.
Check out the video above for some example photos.