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mr magoo

Having trouble with bang bang Plays

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In the past three weeks I have had trouble with  three bangers on first base, two where when I was in the C postion and one in A. I have asked my partners post game about them and they say they were ok calls, but its just a nagging feeling  I have done alot of games so I'm wondering if I'm just worn out. I could be rushing my calls as well I just can't put my finger on it. So I am asking for any insight or suggestions to get over this hump. I have been putting off signing up for All Star games because of this. Is there any way to practice something, because these plays don't always happen in a game. Thanks in advance for any ideas

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Timing, timing, timing.  See the play all the way through, read some body language, and then trust your judgment.  I like to review Jimmy's two-man book or the CCA manual to make sure I was in the proper spot if I feel I didn't get the best look on something.  

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Something I do...Pregame and in between innings watch/listen during the infield practice throw around...watch 1B and listen for the sound of ball hitting F3's mitt. Be conscious of the base as you hear the sound. This will warm you up for those bangers.

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Critical elements of making calls:

1.  Get the proper angle/distance.  Not sure what you mean by making calls "in the C position."  Do you mean that was simply your starting position, or were you actually making the call from there?  When you know the throw is going to first, you should be moving with a purpose within the working area to close distance while maintaining the proper angle.  Unless something really weird happens, you should not be making a call on a play at first from the C position.

2.  Be SET for the call.  Is it possible that you are still moving when the play happens?  Make sure you are truly set, focused on the bag, watching for F3's foot maintaining contact and the BR's foot touching the base while listening for the pop of the glove.

3.  Timing.  The definition of timing is "proper use of eyes."  This means that you will not make the decision on safe or out until you have seen the entire play.  Once you hear the pop of the glove, and have judged the timing of that versus the BR's touch of the base, allow your eyes to travel up to F3's glove to ensure he has secure possession and voluntary release.  Now you can decide safe or out and make your call.  This is hard to do on bangers because we all get sucked in, but if you practice this when the infield is taking their warmups, it will help you in the game.  Repetition is critical to learn this skill, so do it every inning.

Keep working and this will all become second nature.

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First off this is a great website.  I've learned a BUNCH of stuff since I happened upon this forum a few weeks ago.  Thanks to everyone.  Ordered and received Jim Evans 2-Man Mechanics book on Monday from the advice I read here.  Great book that I can tell will really help me out.

grayhawk and johnnyg08....I'm a little confused on the advice about trying to never call plays at first from the C position.  Keeping in mind I'm a relatively new umpire on the 90' diamond and still hashing a lot of info, but under what circumstances would I be moving toward first from the C position to make a call?  In my limited experience, by the time I determine a play is not being made on one of the existing on base runners, I generally only have time to square to first, get set and make a call.  I guess there have been some routine plays where I knew quickly the ball was going to first (2 outs, infield back, etc.) but I was wondering if there is something else I'm missing?

Thanks in advance.

 

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In the past three weeks I have had trouble with  three bangers on first base...

​Don't worry, they were out. I could tell from here. ;)

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OK, let's say you're in C. The place you need to get to is the working area (between the mound and second base). If the ball is hit to F6, you'll shade further toward the 1-2 baseline to get out of the way. Otherwise, head for the WA. Now, turn and watch the fielder. He'll tell you where the ball will be thrown. Follow the ball to F3, and SET! Don't forget, this is mostly Kabuki Theatre, and, if you don't look like you're in position, and call on the run, half of the people in the ball park will think that's why you "blew" the call. Now, watch the play, and wait- and then wait some more. If you think you've waited too long, you're probably just about right. Wait until the runner is 15-20 feet up the line before you make the call: that gives you plenty of time to process what you've seen. It takes practice, but hang in there and you'll get it.

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The reason that you shouldn't be in C is that when the ball is hit, you should be moving to get position based on your read of the play.  In most cases, the mechanic is to step with the foot on the side of your body the ball is hit, so on a ball hit to F5 or F6, you will be stepping with your right foot, then pivoting with your left to face the ball/fielder, and then reading where the play will be made.  With the throw being made to first, you should be able to drop step and gain a few steps and still be able to get set for the call.

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I should have  been more  clear I am starting in C and work towards 1st in the working area. I keep thinking that my biggest issue is that as stated I am rushing the call. Thanks Maven

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Thanks and that makes sense.  After posting my question last night I broke out the Jim Evans book I purchased and he validates what you guys said.  

Again I've learned another specific area of my game that needs improvement.

The list is long. 

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A little late to the party. Some pretty good advice so far.

If I had to guess, since you say these are bang, bang plays, I would say you're too fast. Exciting plays cause umpires to throw timing out the window.

Instincts need to kick in. Know where you're at in the line-up or just look at the batter (that guy looks fast...LHB's get to 1st quicker...etc.). When the ball is hit, you should know off the bat (slow roller vs. sharply hit to the fielder) if the play is going to be close.

So on a slow roller with a LHB or top of the lineup guy, I'm telling myself, "This is going to be a close play, slow down."

Outs are easy...don't make a call until you've had voluntary release. Safes are the hard part. Pause too long and it looks like you're guessing, don't pause long enough and it explodes. 

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On the subject of timing, a few weeks ago here somebody posted something that's really helped with mine. As a play is imminent, I set and exhale, and leave my breath out as the close play happens. Not only are you not breathing momentarily (keeping your body even more still), but before you can make a verbal call, you have to inhale again, giving you that last 1/2 second to keep reviewing what you saw, watching for a dropped ball, etc. I've found it to help a lot calling balls and strikes as well.

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On the subject of timing, a few weeks ago here somebody posted something that's really helped with mine. As a play is imminent, I set and exhale, and leave my breath out as the close play happens. Not only are you not breathing momentarily (keeping your body even more still), but before you can make a verbal call, you have to inhale again, giving you that last 1/2 second to keep reviewing what you saw, watching for a dropped ball, etc. I've found it to help a lot calling balls and strikes as well.

​Apart from the timing cues (which really should not come into play if you're using your eyes properly), the reasons for exhaling before a call are physiological.

When we exhale a deep breath, we stimulate the reuptake of cortisol, which is the stress hormone. Relaxed breathing thus promotes relaxation, which focuses the brain on the task at hand.

Excited breathing promotes the release of adrenaline, cortisol, and other stimulating hormones used for flight or fight. That makes everything speed up for us, and we tend to rush our calls. We also tend to be more aggressive in confrontational situations when we breathe excitedly, and for the same reason.

Better umpiring through neuroscience. :)

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maven, you learn that in medical school, or did you stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night? 

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Thanks everyone for the suggestions. After thinking this through I have to admit I am rushing the call, just another example of needing to slow down

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Thanks and that makes sense.  After posting my question last night I broke out the Jim Evans book I purchased and he validates what you guys said.  

Again I've learned another specific area of my game that needs improvement.

The list is long. 

STOP RIGHT THERE JAMES 88 AND A LOT OF YOU WHO ARE ON THIS BOARD!

You must understand one thing right now! Even those of us on this board who currently work or have worked at high levels of baseball have parts of our game that need improvement. Don't ever think that because you are young, inexperienced, or something else you are so much different or less of an umpire than we are. Everyone who posted in this thread has areas of our game we can improve, and some of us bust our tails to get better 12 months a year.   

We learn from you as much as you learn from us. Never forget it. It sounds like you think some of us never mess anything up and you do. This is incorrect, and when a guy gets to the point he thinks he can't improve or knows all there is to know, he needs to retire whether he is working in The Show or High School JV because on day he will blow something up in a big game and have to live with it for a long time. 

Now go get your wackers right.

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by jkumpire
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When I first started umpiring I worried about getting calls right. Questioned myself about every close play I called and sometimes lost sleep worrying about whether or not I got the call right. Now, not so much, in fact, almost never on judgment calls. Work a lot of games. Work as often as you can. Do post games with your partners. Study mechanics manuals and watch senior level umpires work. It took me a while to understand that the two things I can almost always control about a call were the keys to making any call. Positioning and timing. Hustle and get to the best angle you can. Then decrease your distance. Try to get closer on tags than on forces. Timing. Slow down then slow down some more. Don't even think about showing your call until the fielder has removed the ball from his glove and began his motion to throw to someone else. Or, if it's F1 covering a bag, starts walking back to the mound. Then make the call. I promise it will help you out. Easy to say but hard to do. You should almost have everyone waiting with bated breath for you to make the call.

What keeps me up at night?  Effing up a rule. At my level and experience it is essentially unforgivable.  I don't do it very often but working NCAA one day then high school then men's league then NAIA then JUCO can take its toll on the old memory.  I'm working on a short paper for myself to help refresh my memory before a game and try to keep the big stuff straight-pitching rules, substitution rules, balks, conferences, OBS/INT, etc.  I don't have trouble with the malicious contact, base/plate blocking or force play slide rules for some reason. 

Anyway, my .02......YMMV  

 

Edited by Majordave
Repair do stance to distance and keep the ever aware Maven happy
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Then decrease your do stance.

 

​I tried that once and pulled something. :(

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