The umpire who performs his duties in a brisk, business-like manner upon his arrival at the field, who is courteous with players and coaches (without being overly friendly) prior to the game, whose calls are made promptly and confidently and with an emphasis that dissuades argumentation, yet is non-dictatorial, and who cooperates with his partner in the efficient coverage of all situations, is rarely questioned. When you enter a ballpark, your sole duty is to umpire a ballgame as a representative of the league.
It’s a trying position that requires the umpire to exercise all his patience and good judgment. Do not forget that the first essential in working out a bad situation is to keep your temper and self-control. Be courteous, but firm and you will command respect. Never lose sight of the fact that friendship for the umpire, appreciation for the duties, and cooperation in decisions rarely exists when a difficult situation occurs on the ball field. Your only friend is the other umpire.
An umpire should give any rule interpretation that a manager may request, quickly and courteously, but refrain from general conversation and especially from discussion of plays and players. Umpires are to judge plays, not players! Do not assume an air of superiority because you are an umpire.
The following three factors are essential to the success of any umpire:
- Mechanics and Techniques
- Knowledge of the Rules
It may appear to be an inherent factor of officiating. The calm style of the finished umpire when confronted by a spontaneous uprising who looks like it doesn’t affect him. By his experience, he knows what to take or not. Early in the career, the average umpire will likely respond to rowdy tactics or abusive language with some show of fear. As an umpire, you must learn how to temper your emotion. No provocation, not even physical attack, should cause an umpire to lose sight of his primary responsibility – to keep the game under control. An angry umpire is never a master of the situation. In short, umpiring judgment is mainly experience, along with cool-headed common sense. Good mechanics and techniques. These are factors appreciated to some degree by even the most difficult player.
A lack of good mechanics is one of the things that separate the best of the amateur umpires. The mechanics of umpiring deal with the who, what, where and often the why of it all. Technique deals primarily with the “how” of umpiring. Technique deals with the amount of flair or individualism employed by the umpire in any given situation. Hustle is an integral part of good umpiring mechanics and technique. Acceptance of any umpiring assignment requires the complete attention and energy of an umpire for the entire game. Hustle is the spirited application of the principles of good umpiring. Aimless running about is not hustle (at least not productive hustle). Briefly, good mechanics and technique consists of being in the right place at the right time coupled with strict attention to detail. Knowledge of the playing rules is expected of every umpire.
New and veteran umpires should devote ample time to reading and studying the rulebook. The common-sense application of the rules is the stamp of a master umpire. Prepare yourself in the off season. Read the rules often – understand the intent of every rule.