Baseball Umpires’ Learning Blog

Our Place to Share the Game

Baseball Umpire Do’s and Don’ts

Here are some suggestions that I hope can help your umpiring. These also came from the handout that I previously made accessible as a download.  As always, your comments and suggested additions/changes are greatly appreciated.  This is a learning area which works best when parties interact.

Umpire Suggestions
  1. Set high expectations! Work to please yourself and demonstrate confidence in your abilities. By doing so, you will earn respect and the next umpire that works that team’s games will be more believable. The effort and performance of the last umpire crew can make it easy or difficult for the next crew.
  2. Keep the ball alive. Baseball is the greatest of the ball sports because the ball is alive even during times of little action. Rules govern what everyone must do during live ball situations.
  3. If the ball is alive, watch it closely – DO NOT look away! Don’t rest until time is out! Sweeping the plate is a good time to take a deep breath and mentally gear up for the next chunk of time that you will be focused.
  4. In the B & C positions, square your body to both the plate and the pitcher. In the “A” position, be square to the plate for check swings and pitched/batted balls striking the batter
  5. Look over your shoulder with a runner on 2nd or runners on 1st and 2nd base when the pitcher commits to home. It will help you with one of the game’s most difficult and important calls—the steal of third.
  6. Keep yourself busy out there. It is much easier to focus when you have that inner mental and physical energy. There is plenty to do. Be a hawk, but know when to interrupt play. Often it is better for your board interpreter/secretary to communicate with the school/coach than you being “the enforcer”.
  7. Use your loud voice, “Did he go?,” when you signal ask your partner to rule on a check swing.
  8. Plate men run up the baselines one-third or half the way with no runners on base and then run back to your position, stop, put on your mask, communicate with your partner(s), and take your position.
  9. Practice your calls and stances (and putting on your mask) in front of a mirror.
  10. If you ask to see the ball on a tag play, you’d better be calling an “out”.
  11. Have real slow timing on tag plays! See the ball, the possession by the fielder, the tag, and the voluntary release of the ball.
  12. Have slow timing when judging the catch of the batted ball. Often times by seeing it all and having slow timing, you can go by the player’s reaction if you have to guess. Yes, guessing, rather I should say experienced and educated guessing, is part of a two-man crew’s job.
  13. Dead heats at 1st base are outs. Close does not constitute safe! The runner must beat the ball to a base when forced and avoid being tagged. Outs are good for the game (and you!).
  14. Umpiring is a lonely job, but you have the best seat in the stadium. Getting together 2-3 times between innings should be plenty.
  15. Critique yourself after every game, not after every call! You need the confidence and positive energy to survive the game!
  16. If you feel anxious as a play is unfolding, this emotion will effect your timing and lead to missed calls.
  17. If a coach/spectator gets in your head, you cannot do your job to the best of your ability. Deal with the situation if necessary for the good of the game.
  18. Use your voice and signals to communicate. Mechanics sometimes require both voice and signals, other times just one or the other.
  19. Everyone makes mistakes! Whether or not you choose to learn from those mistakes is what matters most!
  20. Catalog close plays at first in your mind so you have that continuum (easy out‡ less than a step ‡ extremely close ‡ banger/dead heat ‡ close safe ‡ easy safe) giving you something to compare too when you judge every close call in the future.
  21. After calling a play, bounce out of that area to cover other runners at other bases or quickly return to your “home” position.
  22. Be aware of obstruction and interference and know how to rule on them appropriately.
  23. Have simple straightforward answers for players and coaches who ask about your calls and use rulebook language whenever possible.
  24. You are only as good as your last call. Make sure that your last call(s) were good ones!
  25. Coaches, Players and fans don’t care about the last game you called just the one you’re about to.
  26. DO NOT bring attention to yourself. With each batter approaching the plate, communicate with your partner enough to do be prepared to do your job properly.
  27. DO NOT cross your arms on safe calls.
  28. DO NOT point to first when a batter gets his fourth ball. If he doesn’t know enough to go there, he should stay at the plate longer. (Just kidding! Use your voice!)
  29. DO NOT work the bases from the B & C positions as though you could be sitting on a stool and simply spin around to make calls.
  30. DO NOT react to fan’s comments verbally or physically. This is not always easy. If absolutely necessary, use the rulebook to remove crazed parents/fans.
  31. DO NOT take your eyes off the pitcher when he has the ball.
  32. DO NOT be too quick to rule on a batter being struck by a batted ball when you are the base umpire. Use slow timing to let the player help you make the call. It is tough to be positive to rule that any ball strikes a batter/runner.

March 20, 2008 - Posted by | Commentary |

7 Comments »

  1. Re: #10 If you ask to see the ball on a tag play, you’d better be calling an “out”.

    I am assuming, Shawn, that you are prepared to make the “out” call once you have a chance to see what’s inside the glove. However, no ball in glove, no out on the scoreboard. Certainly you wouldn’t be asking to see the ball if you had already decided that the runner was safe.

    Comment by Steve Johnson | March 28, 2008 | Reply

  2. I think I’ve seen #25 someplace before.

    In list form it always sounds so easy.

    Great work as always.

    9 days and counting until my first tune-up game of the year.

    Comment by Rob Curtis | April 5, 2008 | Reply

  3. About #17 –
    What if the coach seems to be getting into your partner’s head?
    How much from a coach is enough?
    Are there ‘key words’ that you would eject on right now?
    I held my tongue this year with a coach and stayed professional – letting him give me his side of the story. I told him, as did my partner, that we didn’t see the infraction he was screaming about. We told him that we were sorry, that we didn’t see it his way. He then walked away bitching and running his mouth looking towards the fans. I raised my voice and called him back to us – told him that was enough and the play was over.
    He was still upset with us the next inning and when he made a pitching change, he came to ask me about it again – I sent him to the dugout.
    Was a right by doing this, or should he have been ejected?
    Thanks for the help

    Comment by Troy | April 30, 2008 | Reply

  4. To my comments above – a PS
    I have ejrcted coaches and players before, but I was not intimidated by this guy – it was almost funny for a while the way he acted like a 6 year old.

    Comment by Troy | April 30, 2008 | Reply

  5. Great guestion Troy. I’m working on putting something together to post about dealing situations, it comes from the powerpoint I did for the new umpires class.

    Comment by embuaumpire | April 30, 2008 | Reply

  6. Great site really enjoyed and took some lessons away from it too, thanks.

    Comment by Art Garcia | March 19, 2010 | Reply

  7. great check list for a;; umpries to reveiew from time to time

    Comment by Billy Dougher | June 27, 2015 | Reply


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