Bringing the Fundamentals into Clear View
Basic fundamentals are very important to every coach, athlete, and official. The umpire with good solid fundamentals will be ready and able to handle the difficult games and the most challenging game situations. Using the rulebook as your primary guide, baseball umpires must also depend on basic fundamental movements/mechanics to guide their thinking and movement to be in the best location to make judgements.
My biggest concern watching umpires at the high school level here in Eastern Maine is the lack of movement by many umpires. Baseball and basketball conferences should employ three officials to best serve the game. So, therefore, if you are on a two-person crew, you need to be ready to move and adjust your position with every hit and throw. Other statements which one might call “guiding principles” can help umpires as they perform their duties.
A few days ago, I shared my 2008 list of fundamentals which you may have downloaded by clicking on the link. I have decided to publish the list below in order to inspire some discussion. Below is the list fundamentals that I brainstormed as I prepared to lead a clinic for the local umpire association. I know that it is incomplete and may need some adjusting. Please share any fundamental that you think I omitted and make suggestions for changes. In the next couple blog entries, I will share the “Do’s and Don’ts” that were also part of the previously mentioned downloadable document.
- Look and act like an umpire who deserves respect. Your hard work, rule knowledge, and commitment will command respect.
- Have “slow timing” that allows for you to witness the play in a relaxed manner, briefly run it again in your mind, and make the call.
- Watch the ball and glance at the runners. It’s about concentration and focus.
- One runner, stay with the runner; Two or more runners split the difference. Sometimes you should be close, other times you cannot be close. Know the difference!
- Be ready to move. Just like a defensive player, have the weight on the balls of your feet when action may be about to occur.
- Baseball somewhat unlike other games requires its arbiters to make and announce a decision when rule infractions. Doing nothing casts doubt on your abilities.
- Don’t take any call for granted. A surprise of any kind will mess up your timing and you are capable of kicking the play.
- NEVER forget that you are part of an umpiring crew. NEVER express negative remarks about your partner to game participants. Support (moral & active) for your fellow umpire will help him and the game in general.
- Have a quality and thorough pre-game conference. Know how your team is going to carry out its duties.
- Do your job and only your job. You have enough to do without getting involved in other people’s business.
- Evaluate your own performance after each game. Were you ever out of position? Have poor timing? Your judgment and mechanics will not improve unless you reflect on your work.
- Learn from your partners’ mistakes. Be a good partner and offer “food for thought” as appropriate.
- Be a positive role model for players, coaches, and fellow umpires.
- Have fun! Have the desire to be a great umpire. Take advantage of the opportunity to exercise and interact with tomorrow’s leaders.
- Sports officiating is a very humbling activity! As soon as you think you can do it all, you will be brought back to Earth.
- Be confident, use crisp/proper mechanics, hustle and keep the game moving. The rulebook requires it.