Becoming a Better Umpire
As you prepare for your first season or 20th season, it is important to prepare yourselves as umpires now, before it is too late.
The single most important thing to understand as umpires is that you are salespeople. You need to sell yourself, and you need to sell your call.
Here are some pointers that will allow you to be more successful.
Looking like an umpire is half the battle. It is common to hear comments like “wow, we have REAL umpires tonight” when the umpire is properly dressed. Those people have not seen the umpire make a call. Your appearance is essential to your success. You need to look like an umpire every time you go on the field. That means the proper shirt, hat, pants, and shoes. The pants should not be baggy legs with the crotch down at the knees. Shirts MUST be tucked in. Your hat must be on facing the front. If you are working the plate, your shin pads should be worn UNDER your pants. The inside chest protector must be worn under the shirt.
How you conduct yourself both on and off of the field is also important. If the game is scheduled to start at 6:00. Make sure that the first pitch is at 6:00. Not 6:05. Not 6:15. Go onto the field with your partner as a crew.
During the game, remember that you are not better than players, coaches, or even your partner. If a coach approaches you, be respectful. They are volunteers as well. If you show respect, you should get respect. Even though you are in charge of what happens on the field during a game, there are good and bad ways of communicating. Yelling and screaming is probably not the right way.
Start the game on time. In between innings is not a social time as umpires. You still have responsibilities. You can meet with your partner, but you should be in position by the time the pitcher is ready to throw the first pitch. Keep the teams hustling on and off the field. If you are not into the game at all times, the game will become boring, and the possiv=bility for mistakes increases significantly.
If you have a bad attitude on the field, you will undoubtedly have problems during the game. It is important that you treat a house league game the same as the championship game. If you have that type of attitude, you will find yourself umpiring better. You will find the players even playing better. An umpire should never say, or think “well, it doesn’t matter. It is only house league.” Sometimes people forget that for most house league players, this is the only level of baseball they will ever be involved in. By having that bad attitude, you are taking the experience that those players deserve away from them.
One of the most common complaints about house umpires is that no one can hear what the umpire is calling. If you are not crisp and clear with your calls and signals, you are not going to come across as knowing the rule. Even though you got it right, if you can’t sell that call, people will question it. I have many times sold a call that was wrong, and no one came out to discuss it. If a situation arises that you need to stop the play, throw those hands up and loudly and clearly yell “TIME.” Stop that play. If you need to award bases, do so in a manner that is clear for all.
Remember, be proud of who you are on the field. Show that you are proud by your appearance, your conduct, and your attitude.
You will see an improvement in yourself as umpires, as well as the play during the game. You will enjoy the game and watching the kids from a different perspective.
See you on the field.