Baseball Umpires’ Learning Blog

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Good Timing vs. Waiting to Communicate A Call

Good Timing

Timing is when you rule on a play, not when you communicate the call via mechanics and voice. So no matter how long you wait to communicate the call, your timing is going to be poor if you’ve made the call before the entire play happens. Good timing results from training yourself to use your eyes properly on plays.

In force out situations I see poor timing all the time. Not that the call is communicated quickly, but the call itself is made before the umpire is sure all requirements for a force out are present. 95% of the time there’s no problem, but we are paid for those 5%. On the very first day you started to umpire you were told watch the feet and you’ll hear the ball hit the glove. Great, but how often do you look to see if the fielder maintains control of the ball before we make that call? You should always take your eyes from the base to the glove to make sure the ball is in it then communicate the call. You’ll never be saying “Out, safe; he dropped the ball.”

Have you been in the stands and said, “Boy, that plate umpire isn’t calling the curve ball a strike today”. Odds are the umpire’s timing is poor and he’s calling the pitch before it reaches the batter. Good timing comes about by tracking the ball all the way from the pitcher’s hand into the catcher’s mitt before making the call. Much like a batter, umpires tend to “give up” on pitches before they reach the batter. When that’s done it’s been proven that umpires are calling the pitch BEFORE it reaches the batter.

The bottom line is this; timing myths like, “see it, say it, call it.” and “pause read and react” only delay communication of a call that may have been made using poor timing.

Use your eyes properly and make the call. You’ll never be to quick.

April 6, 2008 - Posted by | Mechanics


  1. When I am calling pitches…I will see the pitch hit the mitt and tell myself ” Thats a strike/ball” Whichever it may be. That seems to help with my timing

    Comment by Tom | April 7, 2008 | Reply

  2. Nice job on addressing what you believe to be timing myths. I like to think that seeing the whole play includes looking for the secure possession of the ball and then taking that extra fraction of a second to evaluate whether you are comfortable with your ruling. Sometimes that split second allows you to change your decision without everyone knowing that you changed your call. Also the extra blip of time can allow you to put the play in context even more. Player reactions may be just what you needed to help you make the call that you already believed in your heart. Some catches and tags cannot be clearly seen and timing and context becomes even more important.

    However, if you have bad/fast timing, you are either stuck with your first impression or look a bit foolish changing your call.

    Comment by Shawn Kimball | April 13, 2008 | Reply

  3. Great site! Whenever bases have runners, I am ready for anything. After making EVERY fast call, an old grey official taught me my true solid mechanics. Whenever my partner is at a better angle than I like a first third switch or bump, and it is close in that I could miss a pulled foot, I glance at him prior to the call if action has stopped, and he will make the call for me. Teamwork, getting it right in these cases actually gets cheers from everyone, even the team who got put out since any appeal is mute. It is BECAUSE of these older wiser experienced men helping us younger apprentice officials that make us the best we possibly can be. I have never had so much fun as officiating and a big thanks to all you who have helped me get better.

    Comment by Dannyboy | April 22, 2008 | Reply

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