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First Time UIC

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Good Afternoon All, 

as of last Monday i began the transition into becoming the UIC for my local district. i was curious if there was any advice out there for someone just getting into this spot! 

 

Thanks,

Ken

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Good day, Ken.

Please give us a little more context. Is this baseball? Softball? Both bat sports? What level of play does this entail? Little League only? Travel / Academy ball? Are you drawing your umpires from an association, or are you the coordinator for umpires-as-independent-contractors?

There is certainly more advice to give you, based on your answers, but some immediate, general points come to mind:

  • Know your ruleset(s) backwards and forwards. You will not only be counseled by League Directors, Tournament Directors and coaches, but by your contracted umpires. And yes, working a game for you is a contract. Suffer naivety, but never suffer ignorance. There is a difference.
  • Never assign a game to an umpire that you yourself are unwilling to do. In the same vein, you will likely have a value system based on skill sets, personalities (works well with certain partners, works well with certain coaches), and experience. However, don't assign games based on favoritism, as you will culture grudges. Don't give a championship game to an umpire simply because he's your nephew.
  • By all means, support and defend your umpires to the Nth degree. However, when at a game venue, never step on the field to give your resolution, insight, or judgement on a play uninvited. If your umpires (for that game) are unclear about a Rule interpretation, and seek you out to get it right, then that is acceptable, and you should advise them based on the Rules. Judgement calls are non-Negotiable. In fact, if you are called in by your umpires to consult, you should let them describe the situation to you as if the fences were opaque walls and you saw nothing, even if you "saw the whole thing". Remember, you are just referencing Rules knowledge, not judgement.
  • You may have to step in (or summon another stand-by umpire to do so) if one of your umpires gets injured, isn't feeling well, or his/her attention is impaired by a personal issue (divorce, death in the family, car accident notification during game, etc). Never dock the umpire in this situation – give him the full game fee. Resist the temptation to remove an umpire if he's "blowing calls". You may need to remove him from further games for the day (LDs & TDs should discuss this with you), but do not remove him from that game underway. Do not dock his pay, and do not let a TD or LD dock his pay. Even if you have an umpire storm off the field in disgust and abandon the game, and you're now in a pinch to find a replacement, make sure you pay him for that game. It covers your butt.
  • Set up an evaluation system, a feedback and accolades structure, and some sort of instructional or training system, no matter how basic or advanced you're able to implement. Umpires rarely get recognition or accolades, and as such, some seek appreciation by direct coach feedback, or lingering around to shake/slap hands with the game participants. Don't foster this mentality! Encourage them to get off the field and get among other umpires (yourself included) to review the game and identify points of praise and opportunities to improve.
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I work as the UIC at a complex the has Tball - 14U league and tournaments. Been there 5 years now and love it. I hire, fire, train and schedule all the umpires. 

- As Madmax said know your rules not just the easy ones cause you will be called for everything under the roof

- Work with the young umps to develop them into good umpires. This is one of the best parts of the job and will give you pride knowing you are turning out great umps

- Know your crew and what they can do. We don't have the pool we use to so you are going to get umpires that are older and set in their ways. You are going to have to either work with them or not put them in higher games unless you have to

- Good way to get rid of bad umps is to just quit scheduling them. They will get it after awhile and you don't have to fire them

- Be ready for coaches and parents to find you and complain every night, most the time it will be on plays that ump had right and you will have to explain the rules to the coach who will not want to listen.

- Watch your umps work and take notes 

- Be ready to walk coaches to the gate

- Know your league or teams. If you know you got a game with two hot headed coaches sit on the game 

- Make sure you don't take your umps for granted. Always tell them good job tonight or I appreciate you. They work in a hostile work environment and need you to tell them good job

- You don't have to but I give my umps my cell number. We have a long complex and I can't be everywhere so if they have a problem like coach ejected, rule question, fans getting out of control or need more balls I can be there.

- Get to know your coaches so they know who you are will come to you with any problems 

- Always have you umpires backs. I had a game 3 weeks ago that our umpire ejected both coaches and called ball game. This team was the problem team of our league and I had no problem with how he handled it. I go to check on the ump in our umpire parking lot and see the coach over there in his face screaming at him. Our ump was 60+ and a good ump and this coach was 20's. I get in between the two and long story short I push my ump away and me and the coach almost go to blows. The next day the umps were happy and excited that I would go to war for them in that way. Not saying you have to do this but the umps need to know you have their backs 

 

It is a great job and you will get what you put into it. You have a lot of responsibilities but when coaches and parents come up and tell you how great your umps did you will feel pride. Most of the time you are watching games but when it hits the fan it really hits the fan.

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I have one (previous JR) umpire who has been doing local little league for 4 years now.  This year, he graduated HS, has been working Legion ball as well as district, sectional and state level LL tournaments.  Every once in awhile you will find someone with the interest and the desire to continue to learn and move up.  Sadly, I fear that I won't have him around next year.  However, I wish him all the best while in attendance at the Wendelstedt school, and hopefully PBUC & beyond!

 

BACK YOUR UMPIRES!! (who knows, you may get free MLB tickets one day.......)

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I agree with @MadMax and @Kckumpire about knowing the rules. Also, spend the money and get current copies of Wendelstedt manuals, BRD and Jaksa/Roder. Read them thoroughly as they are great learning opportunities for yourself. I also will take the pdfs of our national positioning/mechanics manuals and Provincial youth rulebook to printer to set printed and binded. I am lucky because most of our rules are OBR based. 

The great thing about having these in print is that it will make it easier to get old dogs to learn new tricks. If you show the umpire what needs to be done, rather than telling him not to do, it not a power issue between the two of you. If you frame the interpretation, positioning and mechanics in terms of what is expected of all umpires, including yourself, then it is not about what I tell you to do, but this is what is expected of all of us.

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5 hours ago, Aging_Arbiter said:

I have one (previous JR) umpire who has been doing local little league for 4 years now.  This year, he graduated HS, has been working Legion ball as well as district, sectional and state level LL tournaments.  Every once in awhile you will find someone with the interest and the desire to continue to learn and move up.  Sadly, I fear that I won't have him around next year.  However, I wish him all the best while in attendance at the Wendelstedt school, and hopefully PBUC & beyond!

 

BACK YOUR UMPIRES!! (who knows, you may get free MLB tickets one day.......)

Most of the guys we have are either older guys who do it for a side job or young guys who quit after a year. I have had 2 kids that I have took from wide eyed rookie doing t ball to being a dam good umpires. They have moved up to High School umping and want to get into umping college ball. I could not be more proud of them and at the end of the day it gives me pride to know I gave them the tools to get where they are. This is part of the reason I love my job as a UIC.

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22 hours ago, Kckumpire said:

...... This team was the problem team of our league and I had no problem with how he handled it. I go to check on the ump in our umpire parking lot and see the coach over there in his face screaming at him. Our ump was 60+ and a good ump and this coach was 20's. I get in between the two and long story short I push my ump away and me and the coach almost go to blows...

That team, and especially that coach, will be on the "not welcome back next year" list?

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17 hours ago, Aging_Arbiter said:

I have one (previous JR) umpire who has been doing local little league for 4 years now.  This year, he graduated HS, has been working Legion ball as well as district, sectional and state level LL tournaments.  Every once in awhile you will find someone with the interest and the desire to continue to learn and move up.  Sadly, I fear that I won't have him around next year.  However, I wish him all the best while in attendance at the Wendelstedt school, and hopefully PBUC & beyond!

 

BACK YOUR UMPIRES!! (who knows, you may get free MLB tickets one day.......)

We had one of those guys at our park.  Started when he was 14 and one year out of H.S. went to umpire school and made it all the way to AAA and lasted there for 3 years until they said his services were no longer needed. :-(

Now's he's back helping us out.

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