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Putting together a list of helpful tips for a group of incoming umpires, and wanted to get some ideas from you guys and gals on here. What are things you may have learned over the years that would be good tips or advice for a new umpire. It doesn't have to be all about the game and rules, there are a lot of important things about umpiring that have nothing to do with the rule book as we all know. Thanks

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Not found in a Rule book or Umpire Manual: Your appearance matters. Not only are the pieces you are supposed to wear important, but how you wear them speaks volumes. If you look the part of an umpire,

Be early. Be professional. Be teachable. Be confident.

Looking like an umpire goes a long way in establishing credibility, so dress well, learn proper mechanics and watch yourself in a mirror.

Not found in a Rule book or Umpire Manual:

  1. Your appearance matters. Not only are the pieces you are supposed to wear important, but how you wear them speaks volumes. If you look the part of an umpire, you will be perceived as one much more effectively. 
  2. Your fitness, posture and composure matters. You do not need to have a model body-type – the good Lord made you unique, and there's only so much we can do to affect that. But, if you look like you're out of shape (completely), or if you slouch, or if you were to go into a crouch and probably won't get back up, or appear nervous or uncertain, the other participants (colleagues, coaches, players) and fans will notice this. So, too, when you are standing about, or interacting with a colleague or with a coach, there are times to be "formal" and times to be casual, certainly, but for the most part, err on the side of formal. Don't lean on the fence between innings, for example, or go chasing down coaches for plate meetings. Composed – you're here to conduct a job.
  3. Be familiar with the fields you play on. If you're new to a field, even if you're not the PU and in charge of the plate meeting, get to the field extra early and walk the field if you must. You have every right to do so – you are an umpire! No need to make this big show of it, just take note of the layout, any quirks, any impedances, etc. Ask yourself "What if a ball goes there?" and if there isn't an obvious answer, discuss it with your partner(s) when you see him/them.
  4. Keep things in context. No one is expecting you to be perfect – they are expecting you to know baseball, to be fair (unbiased) and to be consistent.
  5. Sell the call. That doesn't mean be loud or use outlandish, exaggerated mechanics. It means be definite, project your voice (when necessary), and make the call with conviction. Body language and conduct has just as much to do with this as volume of voice (I had to conduct a game at CDP as BU without saying a word above the level of a whisper, as I lost my voice the night before. It really forces you to sell calls with definitive mechanics and body language).
  6. Your eyes are the most important tool you have. Your partners' eyes are the second most important tool you have. Communication between you, as partners, is the third most important tool. Everything else descends from there.
  7. There are no ties in baseballA. EverB. It's either Fair or Foul, Catch or No Catch, Safe or Out, Ball or Strike, Win or Loss. Judge / rule/ call accordingly.
  8. This is one of the best jobs in sports, and more so if you have an affinity for baseball itself. What better seat in the house is there than the B positionC during an intense, competitive, splendidly-played game? Live it up!
  9. The single-most important, top-of-the-list, crucial thing to know is the whereabouts and status of the baseball. Granted, you have other duties during a play (touch at 1B, for example), but once that duty is satisfied, determine the whereabouts of the baseball. As a team, there should be at least one umpire seeing where the ball is at all times.

A: Bow-ties, worn during a throwback / vintage game, are allowed.

B: Okay, okay, the 2001 All-Star Game in Milwaukee was an aberration because of the mismanagement by both Managers, and the noodleness of Bud Selig. Bud, as commish, should have told them to bite the bullet and play it out.

C: At least as BU, you don't have to anticipate a 85+mph speeding baseball potentially hitting you every pitch. Less stress = better seat. ;)

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Know who to listen to - Don't take advice from umpires that don't know what they are talking about.

Source: My first year doing High school ball, a partner told me to be loud on every call - even foul balls out of play. I must have looked like an idiot. 

 

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One thing I learned early on was to be teachable. Take the best from other people you work with, and use it.  For example, if one partner has a poorly executed safe call, and just looks like a walking turd in his/her uniform, the 3 things to take away is to have a clean and pressed uniform & sharp mechanics with good timing.

You're never going to be 100% perfect all of the time, but get better with time. Conduct a post-game with your partner.  Pick out something to focus on improving on.

 

You are expected to be perfect on opening day, and get better as the season progresses ~Jim Evans

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Be confident but not cocky. The game is about the players - not us.

Don't be afraid to hear a coach out, but don't let it go on too long or get personal.

Listen to your mentors and partners.

Remember 99% of judgement calls cannot be overturned.

We have 2 ears and 1 mouth for a reason.

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I can't believe no one has said this one yet: Join Umpire-empire.com! Rules discussions, mechanics, game management skills. It's all here. I'll guarantee that I'm a better umpire because of it.

but kisser

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Be confident but not cocky. The game is about the players - not us.

Don't be afraid to hear a coach out, but don't let it go on too long or get personal.

Listen to your mentors and partners.

Remember 99% of judgement calls cannot be overturned.

We have 2 ears and 1 mouth for a reason.

because Q-tips don't taste good?

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Helpful Hints to Become A Better Umpire

Umpires must be:

 

Neatly, properly and completely dressed per PIAA standards

Prompt and on time

Approachable

Well educated in the rules (knowledge of the rules is important, but more important, is the understanding of their purpose, and the ability to interpret and enforce these principles)

Clear in making calls

Poised, in control and in charge on the diamond

Consistent

Able to display good judgment and make accurate calls

Able to explain and clarify the rules and rule interpretations

Confident

Prepared

Flexible

Hustling all the time

Decisive

Able to display rapport

Unbiased and objective

Able to make the tough call

Enforce the rules in an unbiased fashion

Respectful to the sport and its participants

 

  • Your uniform speaks volumes about you. If your shoes are shined, your shirt is crisp, you have your belt, and you are well groomed, you will immediately be accepted as a professional. The managers, coaches, players and fans will respect you from the time you step on to the field. If your shoes are scuffed and worn, your shirt is faded and wrinkled, you didn’t bother with a belt or a shave, you could be the most knowledgeable umpire in the sport of softball, but no one will believe it. Every close call will be questioned. It will be assumed that your mechanics, like your uniform, are sloppy.
  •   Make sure the way you dress when you step onto that field says that you are a professional umpire and that your game that day will be professional too
  •  Learn from your peers – good and bad. The things you learn from your peers you will never find in a rulebook.
  •   One aspect of the game that veterans can teach you best is game management. Game
  • management is simply the skill of keeping the game moving, anticipating problems, and handling those problems as they arise.
  •   It is often helpful to ask your peers for a critique after the game. It may sting a little, but it will benefit you in the long run. On the other hand, some things you learn from others aren’t always the things that you want to repeat, such as sloppy mechanics, poor attitude and lousy appearance.
  • Don’t let this get to you. All you can do in this instance is support your partner and do the best job you can with what you have. For everything you learn from a fellow umpire, you will probably learn one thing that you should not do.
  •  • When we talk about professionalism, we take about a confidence and knowledge that should be carried by all umpires. This confidence isn’t arrogance; it is a confidence in knowing that when you walk onto that field, you are there to do a job as defined by your rulebook and to enforce your rules as defined by common sense and the interpretation of those rules. As an umpire, you have one of the least forgiving, least understood and most underappreciated jobs in the world.
  •   You must be prepared before you walk onto that field for anything to happen, and expect that anything to happen on every pitch. You should be as physically fit as you can at the start of the season and keep yourself in condition.
  •  There are no excuses when you miss a play due to lack of hustle. If you and your partner both hustle, the players will do likewise and the game will be administered in a professional manner. 
  • It is important once you start working behind the plate, that you treat each pitch as if it was the deciding pitch of the game. Establish consistency of the strike zone so both the batter and pitcher know what to expect. If you miss a pitch or a play—forget it—know why you missed it and put it out of your mind. This is a must so it doesn’t affect your next call. Remember, you can never even up a missed pitch or call or you will have two mistakes, plus quickly lose respect.
  •  
  • Correct positioning is in the simplest terms, angle and distance. Understand that having a proper angle is more important than being five feet from the play. Most umpires use two-man mechanics and it isn’t always possible to be standing directly behind the bag to make every call. Know where you need to be, get a good angle, see the play, and make the call.
  • •Proper mechanics allow you as an umpire to correctly communicate with your partner, and to allow yourself as an umpire to be in the best possible position to see the play.
  • Be honest. We all miss them once in a while.
  • Work hard every pitch of the game. It means something to somebody.
  • Cooperate with your peers, don’t compete.
  • Strive to get better. We still have not called the perfect game.
  • Umpire because it’s fun and because you love the game.
  • Post Game Critique—Since in most cases you do not have a supervisor watching you work your games, it is important you and your partner have a post-game critique to help each other improve your umpiring skills. Always be honest with your partner and make sure he knows you want the truth from him. Learn from each other.

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Trust yourself. Find a way to relax on the field. Don't worry about the calls that have yet to be made. Tune out the running mouths. There will be times where you question a call you made  - let it go until after the game and use it as a learning experience - it's not easy but no matter what happens train yourself to remember the next call is what matters most. 

There will be days when you walk off the field thinking you don't want to umpire any more.... but stick with it and there will be many more days when you get home and know you nailed it. 

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Section 1.1 from the MiLB Umpire Manual (2015):

1.  Keep the game moving.  A game is often helped by energetic and earnest work of the umpire.

2.  Be focused on every pitch of every game without regard to factors such as the score, inning, weather or standing of the tems involved.

3.  Display hustle, concentration and an alert, confident demeanor in order to project a professional appearance on the field.

4.  Remain active on the field at all times.

5.  Be courteous, impartial and firm to compel respect from all.

6.  Remember that you are an official representative of (your league) both on and off the field .  Act accordingly.

7.  Always keep your uniform in good condition.

8.  Always dress appropriately to and from the ballpark and in public places.

9.  Even when off the field, remember that you continue to be representative of...baseball and your league.  Never do anything that would bring disgrace upon you or...baseball.  Always act, dress and work in a way befitting your profession.

 

IMO, I think #9 is even more important in amateur baseball...especially if you work in a "house league" where everyone in your town or county will know you as "the umpire" from the town/county baseball league.  You will be the talk of the town if you screw up away from the field because of your avocation.

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