It is never too early to start thinking about the upcoming season.
As a suggestion, take this time to work on one aspect of your umpiring to improve upon this year. This could be many different things for different people. It could be your strike zone, the way you call balls and strikes. You could work on your base mechanics, the way that you make safe and out calls at first base. It could be your positioning in the middle of the infield in the two different slots. It could be the focus that you have during the game, what you’re thinking about between pitches, or what you’re going over in your mind between innings.
How do you hustle on the field once the game has started, how do you handle players during the game? Do you talk non-stop to the players and coaches on the field? How do you conduct yourself during the pre-game meeting at home plate with the managers? What have you done during the off season to take a look at your uniforms and equipment that you will be using during the upcoming season? Have you cleaned or repaired any equipment you might use? Have you ordered any new uniforms, hats or anything else?
What types of things have you done in the off-season to improve your knowledge of the game? Have you attending an umpiring clinic in your state? Have you pulled out your rulebook and read it over and over? Has your local league had any meetings during the off season? Have you tapped the internet, library or any other resources related to umpiring to help you improve?
Have you prepared yourself physically for the new season?
We realize we have touched on many different aspects – our main purpose is to get you to start thinking about the upcoming season. Pick out a couple of items that you personally think could use a little more work to make you a better umpire. Work on these things through the remainder of the off season.
Grace Under Pressure
According to many professionals, too many umpires focus on the idea of having an argument rather than pursuing the avenue toward a professional discussion and defusing the situation. There are four different types of arguments:
1. Legitimate - in which both sides have a point.
2. Intimidation - in which one party is using the argument only to force his/her will.
When intimidation is the main factor you must exude extreme confidence. Keep responses very short, i.e."He was safe coach" , "Coach, I was right on that call"
3. Situational - in which the argument is only valid within the context of a particular situation, (think of a close call at 1st base with 2 outs in the last inning of a blowout)
4. Personality - in which the argument is driven more by the clash between the individuals arguing than by the incident being argued.
The Neutral Dispassionate Approach
The Proactive Down To Business Approach
Disarm him/her immediately i.e. "Coach dial it down if you want to discuss this with me.", "If you can't be civil there will be no discussion." , "Coach I'm trying my best to keep you in this game, so dial it down."
Umpires looking to advance should be able to identify each situation and apply the correct professional formula.