Baseball Umpires’ Learning Blog

Our Place to Share the Game

Trained, “Focused” Eyes and The Need for an Additional Official

As a sports official, one the most important skills that we need to develop and constantly maintain is the ability to focus on the player activity that is assigned to us per recommended mechanics. Trained eyes make it possible to see most of what we are supposed to see so we can properly officiate our games.

This following video helps me make my point about “focus” and the need for additional officials. How did you do? Could you count the number of passes by the white team? How aware are you of what happened. Please take time to read the rest of this blog entry after watching the video.


Most officials will agree that at the high school level in most sports, we would benefit greatly by having an additional official. The way that basketball has changed over the years (esp. 3-point line and motion offenses), we can serve the game best by having three (3) officials. In football, officials cannot cover some blocking infractions and actions against receivers without five (5) officials. In baseball, we can cover a game best with three (3) which allows umpires to move into the outfield to rule on catches, accurately rule on base-touching and fair-foul balls, and have the ability to create good angles and be close enough to plays. Hockey also needs to move from two to three (3) officials. When you are focused on a potential off-sides call, you are not capable of seeing the whole play related to a possible penalty call.

However, given the financial times and some resistance to additional officials amongst some of our coaches and athletic administrators, we must try to do our best with one less set of eyes. This makes our pre-game conferences and adherance to prescribed mechanics even more important. We must know our responsibilities and strictly follow required mechanics. These mechanics (positioning, signals, and use of the voice/whistle) determine how we view and rule upon what we see. We all know that we make hundreds or even thousands of rulings during each contest we officiate, only to interrupt games (making calls) at appropriate times.

Some officials quickly and easily learn what to focus on early in their officiating careers. Others take a great deal of time to properly train their eyes. Some never master this part of officiating. “Focus” is very important but we must be careful not to focus our eyes or our mind too much on one or more concerns. Looking for that illegal screen/block or holding (basketball, football, and hockey) can sometimes avert our focus from seeing the entire play that is often necessary. With an additional official, you may be able to focus on one thing (and sometimes the mechanics provides for this).

When we say to ourselves/others that we would like to see that play again, do you think we might have focused in on something a little bit too much? I know that I have been caught by this many times. Now that it has come to my attention, I know that I need to add this comment and thought to my pre-game preparation checklist.

April 25, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Keeping Sharp During the Off Season

What do you do to keep sharp during the off season?


I’m lucky this year I’m teaching the new umpire class for my high school board so I’m in the book creating PowerPoint’s.

October 10, 2007 Posted by | Uncategorized | 9 Comments

How you can become an umpire!

Several people have come to our learning blog trying to find out how to become an umpire. I am very aware that virtually all umpire associations would enjoy having a fresh batch of umpires every year. For this reason, we should answer this not so simple question when we are communicating with a world full of baseball leagues. However, we welcome your comments on other ways to become an umpire. Once the season has begun, the best way to learn how to become an umpire is to introduce yourself to the umpires shortly after a middle school or high school game (generally in the parking lot).

Beginning your experience as a volunteer Little League umpire in a local league works well for many people and truly makes a difference for children and families despite your beginning ability. Little League has excellent local and regional training programs. Go to the Little League Baseball Official Website ( to locate a league near you and/or click on “UMPIRES” here or at the top of the page for more information.

The best thing to do is go out and watch games and meet umpires. Introduce yourself and ask the umpires who to contact and give your name to the plate umpire who can write down your name and number on his lineup card. Hopefully all umpires will pass this information along to the proper member(s).

Prior to the season watch the sports pages in your local newspaper 6-8 (?) weeks before the high school season begins or contact an umpire that you know or met. Ask the people you think are good umpires where they are working their next games and go to additional games. Find a mentor. This can be an important first step for true beginners and green umpires.

Mentoring programs are proven to have profound effects on all professional groups that utilize this model. Most umpires could also benefit from a structured teaching and feedback system so the entire officiating group can focus on a short list of specific topics and national points of emphasis to standardize the learning. This is an important function of Executive Committees in conjuntion with the local rules interpreter.

I presume that every state that uses National Federation rules also has a state umpire-in-chief. I hope some readers can confirm this presumption and give us a resource where we can all find state-by-state information. In the process, active umpires from around the country/world will discover who they can contact to answer their toughest rule questions. Asking only questions about rule situations that actually, almost, or might really happen will make this a productive exercise for you and your state umpire-in-chief (and they won’t hate me for telling you to call them!).

May 22, 2007 Posted by | Association Improvements, Commentary, Uncategorized | 6 Comments

Just for Fun! “Baseball-Wiki”

Here’s something that might be fun. I have created a “wiki”. Yes, I am utilizing some more technology (that I would also love to introduce to you). I request that we learn a bit about fellow bloggers. Go to the “Baseball-Wiki” ( and leave your first name, state, and level of games that you work (or are associated with). Coaches are welcome as some of our best umpires were coaches and vice versa. Click on “Edit This Page” and just type your information in the document. You must click “SAVE” near the very bottom of the page for your information to be published with the rest. Please do not “EDIT” the page for more than is necessary. Click save and then read! Thank you! Anyone can edit this page, so don’t mess with anything else or I will tell umpire war stories about you in “the Baseball Wiki”. Wiki fun!  Ayuh!

May 22, 2007 Posted by | Baseball Wiki, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Link to Maine HS Sports Standings

Now that our state has published the first round of the team standings, you might like to be able to access this information from our blog.  Click below or on the MPA Standings in the “blogroll” where other links are located.


Don’t forget to check out the Umpire Photo Gallery.  All pictures are used to teach some aspect of umpiring.  Local Bangor area (EMBUA) umpires are featured most of the time.


also known as Umpire Photo Gallery in Blogroll


May 9, 2007 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment