Jump to content

4th of July Clinic

Recommended Posts

@Richvee and I just attended the 4th of July clinic hosted by the COG/MAC.

The attention on better mechanics and individual evaluations are two of the major reasons I think this group's approach to instruction are top notch. All of the instructors have experience at the Division I level or higher, yet they have the patience and interest to work with umpires of all levels of experience. Without exception, each of the dozen instructors/evaluators took the time to answer any questions and provide suggestions for improvement.

Unlike many clinics, the design of this one allows for multiple evaluations of live game work as the clinic is held in coordination with a local tournament with games from 9u through 18u. Each attendee is guaranteed 2 full game evaluations for both their plate and base work. I received a lot of great feedback that will make me better and I know that @Richvee did as well. 

Of all the things covered in the clinic, the most valuable for me was a new approach to tracking pitches that makes so much sense and makes calling pitches much easier. Since becoming an umpire, I had been taught to track the ball from the pitchers hand to the catcher's glove, but I had never been taught how to use the natural positioning of my eyes to better track the ball.  

Most umpires face the pitcher and have their face and eyes looking directly at the pitcher as he is on the mound. Umpires set their face angle so that their eyes sit at their natural position while looking at the pitcher and then move their eyes as they track the ball into the strike zone. As the ball approaches the strike zone and we move our eyes down to track it into the glove, we take our eyes out of their natural position as they sit in their sockets. This downward action makes it more difficult to see the entire zone as the ball passes through it.

Rather than use this approach, we were introduced to the idea of finding a focal point about 10-15 feet in front of HP. Using this focal point, instructors suggested that umpires move the angle of our head so that our eyes were sitting naturally while looking at that particular point.  Their suggestion was a point at the edge of the dirt circle as shown below.Focal point.jpg

As the pitcher goes through his pre-delivery motions, we were instructed to lift our eyes rather than our head. Once the pitch is delivered, track the ball and as the ball approaches the zone, your eyes will be at their natural position allowing for a more relaxed view of the pitch. I could not believe how much of a difference this made. I used it this weekend and I will continue to use this method of tracking pitches.

It was a little uncomfortable at the start, but as I continued to use it I became more accustomed to it. I think of it as the Wolverine method as it reminds me of Hugh Jackman's stare in the X-Men movies


I would highly recommend this clinic for anyone. The group wants their umpires to get better and they make it a priority.

Have a happy and safe 4th!



  • Like 4

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

I have heard of that technique, I was taught to look slightly towards the B-slot (RH batter) and C slot (LH batter). Look at the pitcher with just eyes, and as the ball comes in your eyes go from uncomfortable to comfortable. Really helps tracking pitches for me, especially when they are throwing in the 80's to 90's range.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, maineump said:

I have heard of that technique, I was taught to look slightly towards the B-slot (RH batter) and C slot (LH batter). Look at the pitcher with just eyes, and as the ball comes in your eyes go from uncomfortable to comfortable. Really helps tracking pitches for me, especially when they are throwing in the 80's to 90's range.

This technique takes that same 15 degree "off center" philosophy, then adds the  slightly different head/eyes placement, focused on that spot about 10-15 feet in front of the plate,then raise just the eyes to see F1, and track from there. The view is amazing. I have work to do on tracking, but the view this technique gives is second to none.

I'll echo Kevin on how great the instructors are, and how much they care and want to help each and every one of us get better. The 4 individual evaluations were great. One evaluation in particular yielded information on my tracking I never realized. I've always though I could be more consistent on the outside corner, even though I thought I was tracking well. It was brought to my attention, that I was actually deciding pitches before  they were caught. The evaluator said he could tell by the slight movement in my shoulders on the outside pitches when I would call a strike. My shoulders were actually starting up to make the strike call just a hair before, or at the same time as F2 would glove the ball, indicating I'm not watching that outside corner to the glove. With the new head/eye placement,and this information, I'm sure my outside corner calls will improve.

To have an instructor watching that intently and with that much expertise to realize what I was actually doing is priceless. It will fix a flaw in my plate work that I would have never realized otherwise.

I also picked up valuable insight to my base work. Like how I was coming set too late trying to get an extra step to 1B for calls there from "C". 

Here's a base tip I'll share that had never crossed my mind before. R2 only,  ball to the  right center gap, step and turn to watch the ball, but...take a glance at R2 passing F6 and F5 to catch any kind of obstruction, along with this, you may be able to get a read on R2 if he's going full speed and going home, in that case, you can drift to the right side because BR will be your only responsibility. Conversely, you may be able to  read that R2 is holding up and you can be ready to get into a better position for a possible play back into 3rd on him.

Great stuff all weekend.

  • Like 1

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Wow I wish I knew about this clinic earlier it looks like something I would like to attend I see it's an annual clinic so hopefully next year

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites
On 7/4/2016 at 7:33 AM, Kevin_K said:

Rather than use this approach, we were introduced to the idea of finding a focal point about 10-15 feet in front of HP. ...

Tried this last night in my 14U USSSA game. It really does make a difference. Good stuff! I was even tracking where foul balls were hit better because I was seeing the ball better.

Now to make this a habit...

  • Like 1

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

I also tried this last night in a 12U game.  Unfortunately it was really bad "wreck" ball but I did notice that when the ball was near the zone, I was able to track better.  Problem is, pitching wasn't near the zone all that much.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Kevin  - thanks very much for sharing this. I look forward to giving it a try tonight and will certainly be in touch with you and Rich for follow up..

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Similar Content

    • By umpirebrianc
      Our annual Umpire Clinic in Tyler TX is being held Jan 26-28, 2018.  Marvin Hudson, 2016 World Series Umpire along with Clint Fagan MLB Rover and others will be instructors.  Also present DII, NAIA and JUCO assignors.  Both 3 man and 2 man options available.  Go to www.umpireclinics.com for details or email umpireclinics@gmail.com for any questions.
    • By Majordave
      September 22-24, 2017. Our Kansas City Collegiate Umpires Alliance Leadership is conducting their 2017 Intro to 3-Man Umpire Clinic.
      Camp POC; Jon Browar, Assigner for MIAA and GLVC, NCAA Division II Conferences and Kansas Jayhawk Junior College Conference.
      jbrowar16@aol.com, 913-638-5212.
      I have attended this clinic along with many of my past and current collegiate baseball partners.  Members on this board that have attended are ACPAR72, Ironman and I am sure several others.
      The instructor staff at this clinic are many of the same instructors that work other midwest umpire camps and clinics.  All work college baseball and many worked professional baseball.
      There will be live games to work.  In the recent past there have been both collegiate/junior college and high school level games to work.
      I have personally worked collegiate baseball with at least ten new to college baseball umpires that were assigned games because of their performance at this clinic.
      Past instructors include; current AAA Umpire Paul Clemons of Topeka, current AA Umpires Tyler Olsen and Grant Conrad. Former AAA and Major League Fill-in Umpire Seth Buckminster,  2017 NCAA Super Regional Umpires Bill McGuire of Omaha and Mark Wagers of  Wichita. 2017 NCAA Regional Umpire and former minor league umpire Tim Cordill, Former minor league umpires Mark Hutchison, Carlos Martinez and others on staff in the Big XII, Big 10, Conference USA, Missouri Valley Division I Conferences.
      Highly recommend you attend if you are interested in learning the 3 man collegiate umpiring system.
      I am not being paid or otherwise rewarded or remunerated for this endorsement.  I know that you will get great instruction, be treated well, meet lifelong colleagues and friends and learn a lot.  It WILL make you a better umpire.  PDF Flyer attached.
      2017 Flyer.pdf
    • By umpirebrianc
      The 6th Annual East Texas Umpire Clinic is coming Jan 27-29.  Learn from a 2016 World Series Umpire!!! Marvin Hudson is on our staff and will be here again in 2017.  
      Only $115 right now for Fri-Sun - check out www.umpireclinics.com for all the details.  Don't miss an incredible opportunity to learn from incredible instructors at the top of their game to help you better your game.
      Questions email me - umpireclinics@gmail.com
      Brian Chinn
    • By MidAmUmp
      I have attached a brochure for the 2016 Mid-American Umpire Clinic, Sept. 8-11 in Springfield, MO. 
      Remember we give discounts to UE Premium Members, Military and Public Service Heroes, and group discounts for 4 or more. 
    • By TheGeneral
      Last year, instead of calling balls and strikes, I was learning how to drive and shoot a tank.  This year, as of a phone call tonight, I have been named the Umpire-in-Chief of our local summer softball organization.  With this big honor comes big responsibilities, such as finding, training, assigning, and evaluating our crew.
      When I left, here is the state of our officials:  No training.  Two sets of shared equipment left in the concession stands overnight.  A t-shirt with the league logo on the front and "UMPIRE" printed on the back, and a suggestion (that was rarely followed) of khaki shorts.  Showing up 5 minutes prior to the first pitch.  These kind of things.

      When I showed up in a pair of grey slacks and an umpire hat (I wore the league shirt with the chest protector under it to conform to the league "uniform"), the place thought they got me from the major leagues or something.  And while I have had some training, called some Varsity games, and taken to doing my job correctly, I could still use a lot of suggestions prior to taking command of this ragtag group and getting them season ready.
      And in case you're wondering, Opening Day is May 7th.
      So, with just over 2 months to properly train umpires for the very first time, I'm asking for your help.  I'm not looking to prepare these folks for this season's MLB World Series; I'm looking to get them through a rec league that covers 1st-12th grade.  What are the main things you suggest to teach?  In your opinion, what are things you cannot do without knowing before stepping on the ballfield?  Do you teach any clinics, and what are some of the methods you use?
      I'm open to any and all suggestions, folks!
      Part two.  Currently, these umpires are organized under the local league, with the UIC being a position on the board.  This is beneficial in regards to funding, however, can be limiting to future growth.  I have the option to organize these umpires as a separate entity (our area has no umpire association), and build them with their own association identity.  This might lose initial funding but could open doors to different opportunities around the area.  While this is something that can change after a year or two and isn't initially as important, I'm curious to your opinions on this as well.
  • Create New...