Baseball Umpires’ Learning Blog

Our Place to Share the Game

Self-Evaluation: During and After Games

What a great day for baseball! It was so good, in fact, that we went 11 innings (this was a countable game). In my second plate game of the early season, I found myself not feeling very comfortable in the early going. Both catchers were moving all over the place. Inside/outside wasn’t much of a problem, but both catchers were moving forward and backward “late” (after sign had been given and pitcher was coming set) making it difficult to call the high and low pitches. About the second inning of, “Boy, I’m not getting a good look at some pitches”, a light went off in my head saying, “You’re setting your feet too soon.”

Working the Plate

So, rather then using the old umpire school mechanic of “on the rubber” (ready position feet set), it was “Wait until catcher moved and step up/back,” and, hey, I could see again and boy, I felt good for the next 9 innings.

I’m sure by now you’re asking yourself, “Why in the world does Rob feel the need to tell us about this?”

Here’s my reason. (Boy, that was long winded.) As umpires, I think all too often we get drilled into doing things one way and one way only, just out of repetition. However, whether we are on the bases or working the plate, we need to be doing self evaluation and changing/adjusting if something isn’t working.

I’ve heard more then once after a game, “Boy, I wasn’t seeing/calling the ________ today.” But then the umpire did nothing to self evaluate why that was happening. Think, “Is the fielder(s) doing something different; am I doing something I normally don’t?” The key is, don’t wait until after the game to say to the person you worked with, “Did you see me doing anything different?” That’s a great reason to talk to him between innings. He may be able to key you in on something that’s going on around you.

April 22, 2008 - Posted by | Commentary, Mechanics, Sharing Game Situations | , ,


  1. Rob, you hit the nail on the head when you suggested talking to your partner between innings. He’s the only one else out there who can give you constructive feedback on what you are doing. I like to meet with my partner at the end of the second inning for a reality check. If I’m not comfortable with my performance thus far, I’ll ask for his take. Even if I am comfortable with my performance, I’m still keen to hear his observations, because he may pick up on something I’m not noticing. The game is short enough as it is; We should be making corrections early on in order to give that game the best we have to offer. Let your partner help you improve so you can both enjoy the game more fully.

    Comment by Steve Johnson | April 22, 2008 | Reply

  2. Rob,I need your advice ( I umpire in Australia, but all else is the same) I noticed some of your umpires have their hands in front of their body during the pitch!..maybe you guys have tougher hands or does it aid better balance?Also how far inside the catcher should you set up, and still sight outside edge of the plate. I think I would only have one leg in view of the pitcher, to get a good line on the pitch. I notice some Major League umps are much wider from the plate. Is my position disadvantaging my “calls” in any way?

    Comment by Peter | May 26, 2009 | Reply

    • Peter –
      Where you keeps your hands is personal preference. I keep mine on the inside of my thighs – it is just more comfortable than putting them behind my back. By doing this it also keeps me square to the pitcher.
      As far as the catcher, I always set up in the slot. It is on the inside corner of the plate. If the catcher moves to the outside of the plate – I stay in the slot. Believe it or not I still don’t get hit any more than when the catcher is there. Being in the slot, you will get hit less than you would in the middle of the plate. Remember a foul ball coming off from the inside part of the plate is going to generally go back in the area away from the batter (towards other side of the plate), if that makes sense.
      Last point – if you use the same stance in the same place every pitch, then you see the pitches the same way every time – if you are moving around behind the catcher, just to protect yourself, then you are getting a new angle on every pitch that you see. It is hard to get consistant that way.
      Good Luck

      Comment by Troy | May 28, 2009 | Reply

  3. working the plate comes with time and adjustment use the basic s postions feet /shoulder s spread /ht to catcher head 1/2 arms length behind fine slot doing the consistant postion you will have consistant strike zone work with the catcher billy dougher #32 msbl cbua a/leigon

    Comment by billy dougher | April 15, 2014 | Reply

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