Now is a good time to reflect on your performance from last season and to focus on the aspects in which you can improve your knowledge of the game. Have you attended or plan to attend any type of umpiring clinics in your area or state? Have you pulled out your rulebook and gone over it? Have you watched any of the umpiring videos that are out there? Have you read any books related to umpiring? Have you tapped the Internet and all other resources on umpiring to help you become better? Are you preparing yourself physically to umpire for the new season? As we umpires prepare for the upcoming season, there are many things we could cover. Listed below are a few tips to help you along the way to a successful 2017 season.
Renew Your Membership – If you have a job, such as an electrician, doctor, etc., you know how important it is to renew your license. Make sure you renew your NUA membership with Babe Ruth League, Inc. so that you are a member in good standing. Be informed about rules changes. Hone and test your skills with the renewal examination.
Proper Training – Attend a clinic prior to the season.
Preparation – To be your best, make sure you get a good night’s sleep, a nutritious breakfast and enough time to get to the game without rushing. You’ll find that these steps will increase your focus and improve your game.
Look The Part – Make sure you have the proper clothing and equipment to look official. Press it, button it and shine it.
Respect – Every blue shirt doesn’t come with a license for respect. You do not deserve anything until you earn it. Earn your respect with confidence, your knowledge of the rules, correct positioning and proper mechanics.
Attitude – Be polite and respectful. Never lose your temper on the field. Players and coaches will follow the lead. Accept the fact that every player is giving their maximum effort, you should too. Being lazy will let the game slip away from you. As an umpire, you have to be willing to call the first pitch the same way you call the last pitch. Don’t be judge and jury. Your job is to umpire the game, not to pass judgment. Control the game as necessary. Develop an “every game is a big one” attitude. Remember the games truly are for the participants. You are only a small part of the game. The quicker your realize this, the better attitude you’ll have toward all your games.
Knowledge – As an umpire, you must know the rules. Rules can be hard to learn and interpret. Sit down and read the rulebook one rule at a time. Visualize the plays and try to understanding why the rule was written that way. Review and discuss the rules with your fellow umpires.
Take a Look Around – Make an observation of the field on which you’re officiating. Walk around and make sure there are no surprises when the game gets underway. It is important to locate safety hazards. Take a look at the scoreboards, outfield fences, and backstop – anything that might be of significance during the game. Setting aside a little time beforehand can prevent some major headaches later.
Get in Position – The most basic fundamental of umpires is to get into the best position to see the play and always keep your eye on the ball. Even though this concept is among the first lessons taught, umpires get themselves into trouble by forgetting to apply this simple adage. The most common and important calls are safe, out, ball, strike, fair, foul, batter hit by pitch, runner hit by batted ball, and balk. All of these calls are judgment calls you make on an event that happens where the ball happens to be! You must follow the ball as the ball will lead you to the play!
Stay Focused – The most difficult part of being a successful umpire is the ability to ignore outside influences and to maintain concentration on the game and only the game.
Communication - Use, Give and Respond to Signals with your Partner – It is very important that you and your partner are on the same page. No one is above this. The signals should be repeated each time the situation changes. After each out or play, confirm the number of outs with your partner. Make eye contact and flash the number with your fingers. If you lose track or disagree, it’s far better to figure things out before the next play than to get caught in a potential game-changing mistake.
Heads Up – Body language is crucial after calling a ball or strike. Sometimes umpires get frustrated when pitchers can’t find the strike zone. Don’t show your frustration by dropping your head. It shows disappointment with a player’s performance. Also, don’t convey your emotions through your voice. Don’t sign or use a sharper tone.
Potpourri – Integrity, fairness and impartiality are important traits to adopt. Hustle at all times. When a game ends, hustle off the diamond with your partner. Reserve any discussion until you are away from the diamond. Most important, if you are not willing to make mistakes, then umpiring isn’t for you. What is crucial is to learn from them and move on!