Northern Coast Officials

Gerry Davis
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Qualities of a Good Umpire

Introduction

The following is a list of qualities that make a good umpire.  These are expected of you at all times.

Communicate

Communication with your partner is vital before, during, and after the game.

Before—Call your partner no later than the night before.
During—Use signals and voice indicating where you will be and where you are.
After—Feedback, feedback, feedback.  Discuss coverage and unusual situations after the game and learn from them.  Honesty is where we excel and where we will learn the most from each other.

Arrive Early

 

Arrive early enough to conduct a good pre-game with your partner and to get yourself MENTALLY prepared for the next two hours or whatever it takes to properly WORK the game.

Coaches and players appreciate not having to wait for the umpires.

Between Innings

 

DO NOT get together between innings unless it is necessary to discuss a specific coverage situation.

The plate umpire has around 300 decisions to make and must keep his/her concentration on the game.

The base umpire has only a few decisions.  The base umpire should go to short right field between innings.

Consistency

 

When working the plate be consistent with your strike zone.  Players will adjust to you as long as you’re consistent.  They may not like it, but at least they know what your zone is.

Positioning

 

Know where you should be and get there before the play happens.

RARELY, RARELY, RARELY make a call on the run.  Build an angle first before closing in on the play, then stop, see the play, make the call.

Plate Ump

 

With no runners on base, and the batter hits an infield grounder, the plate ump should be running up the first base line and come to a stop about at the 45 foot line to be ready to assist with obstruction, interference and swipe tags on plays at first.

 

DO NOT camp out at home plate.

Give the Count Often

 

When working the plate give the count often, practically after every pitch.  When you give the count, give it both verbally and visually when the pitcher looks in to get their signal.

This will keep you focused and the players attention on the game.

Game Flow

Players play better when the flow of the game is quick and consistent.  Keep the game flowing smoothly and quickly by:

Enforcing the 5 warm-up pitches between innings.
Hustling the battery in and out of the dugouts.
Immediately getting a new ball to the pitcher when a foul ball goes out of play.  Don’t follow the ball if it is clearly out-of-play waiting for it to land.  Get another ball into the pitcher’s hand right away.
Baseball only-when a foul ball (or wild pitch with no one on base) goes to the backstop, throw a new ball to the pitcher and have the on-deck batter get the loose ball.  Make sure the pitcher doesn’t pitch while the on deck hitter is behind you and will possibly be hit by a foul ball.
Rarely talking to your partner between innings.

Don’t make unnecessary calls.  A foul ball right straight to the backstop requires no vocal or physical call from any umpire.  The same with a routine fly ball.

Getting Balls

Between innings, pitching changes or lulls in the action – RE LOAD the ball bag.  Don’t let people throw you the ball.  Have them toss it to the catcher who will then HAND you the ball, or have them bring the ball(s) all they way out to you.

Timing

 

Timing is proper use of your eyes to see the entire play and then make a decision based on the information observed.

 

Timing is crucial in umpiring.  If you never work on anything else in umpiring work on this. Remember, speed kills.

When the umpire’s timing is too fast it leaves him/her susceptible to hasty decisions.  (Read that to say wrong calls.)  Timing that is too slow can make one appear indecisive.

When working the plate strive for consistent timing so the players know when to expect the ball or strike call.  You should make the ball/strike call between three fourths of a second and one second after the ball hits the catcher’s glove.

When working the bases strive for consistent timing so the players know when to expect the out or safe call.  You should make the out/safe call about one second after the play is over.  WARNING, WARNING WILL ROBINSON.  See the whole play and some extreme cases may be more than a second and may even be two or three seconds.

 

key

The key is, one play one call!

Indicator

 

Know your indicator but don’t use it as a crutch.  When you make a call you should be able to “click” it without looking at it.

When it needs to be “zeroed,” take a quick glance at it and know how many “clicks” it takes to get each wheel back to zero.

You must keep your eyes and concentration on the players and the game not your indicator.

 

 

Try working a game without it—I bet you can.

Division of Labor

On fly balls communicate with your partner who has the catch and who has the runners.  An umpire has to watch the runner(s) touch the bases, it doesn’t take two umpires to watch the catch.

The umpire responsible for the catch MUST stay with the catch until it is a “legal” catch.  Don’t be in a rush to say or signal “catch.”  There is nothing worse then having the fielder drop the ball and you don’t know if it was a catch or no catch because you took your eyes off the play.

The umpire with the runners MUST watch runners touching the bases or tagging up legally.  You should get in position first to see tag-ups, then watch the ball and once touched switch your vision back to the runner(s) tagging up.  You’re not concerned with the catch because your partner is.  You need only to be concerned when the fly ball is TOUCHED.

The only exception to this is a fly ball down a foul line which has a chance to leave the field or any fly which may bounce over an outfield fence, in which case all umpires are to watch the flight of the ball.

Be Positive

Be positive with everyone and everything involved in the game.  Don’t add to a player’s misfortune such as:

Obvious foul balls—Don’t say anything, just get a new ball back in play quickly.
Swinging strike-outs—Just record the out, don’t ring it up with a strong voice and signal like a called strike-out.
Catches—Say “that’s a catch,” not “batter’s out.”  This is rewarding the defense for a good play.
Obvious outs—If everyone in the stands saw the out, just record it.  Don’t sell it like the close ones with a strong voice and signal.

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