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A fundamental problem: Safe or Out


SCRookie

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Hi all,

I have only done several games so far, I am VERY new at this, and I decided to stop umpiring for the rest of the fall season since I feel I need more training, specifically in one very fundamental, important aspect: calling safe or out. The problem I am occasionally having is a big one, so much that I feel like I may not be cut out to do this job, and I don't want players to suffer because of my own misses. It makes me bummed out, because I wanted to really enjoy this and have fun, and contribute in a meaningful way to a sport my kids are involved in.

First, I should start off by saying that I am a bit dyslexic, and my brain plays tricks on me occasionally. What I see with my eyes is not what comes out of my mouth. And I know it. On maybe two occasions, I called out, hammered the signal, but in my mind, my brain was like "that was not an out, dude." One was so bad that a few of the players went nuts, and the PU overturned it on an appeal. It ruined my night. The PU between innings was like "hey man, we all blow calls...but I have no idea what the heck you saw there." He's a decades long veteran, and his whole thing is "This is an on-the-job training job." And I think he's right, but there HAS to be some way for me to build up this skill off the field.

I know the rules extremely well, and I am a student of the game. So that much isn't a huge concern. It's training my eye to instinctively see it, send the signal to my brain, and then make the call.

I am coming to terms with either one of two realities: my shortcomings are just not something I can overcome and I need to step away from this job, since I am hardwired to sometimes flub stuff like this in everyday life as well. Or: I need to seriously do some very specific training in this area, but I am absolutely not sure at all how to do it. Watching baseball on TV is OK, but the angles are just so different. I can call it well on TV, but being there on the field is not the same, especially in a two-man crew where I'm trying to cover action at all bases.

Any advice? And it's OK if the advice is "maybe be an announcer instead." :D

 

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Try not to rush calls

 

I personally cannot recall saying out and giving a safe sign or the other way around but a lot of my peers have said it happens to them.

 

Just slow down on the calls and it will probably fall into place.

 

Someone told me this.  See it, your mind calls it, ask yourself was that a ""  then if you answer yes call the ""

same thing with balls and strikes slow down

And yes we all blow stuff from time to time

Don't let it eat you up, learn from it and move on

 

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Another thing

Don't ty and predict anything be in the moment.  I blew a call this year on a roller down the line that hit a divot at the last possible second and bounced rom a foot foul to on the bag.

I called foul and then immediately screamed NOO fairball

That are me up for about 2 or 3 days I was so mad at myself.

Well training happened this past weekend and I go thru a very similar senario with practicing calls down the line on rollers down 3rd base line.  That scenario kicked into my head and Ill be damned if I did not have the same Fing thing happen I was thinking about it in my head and then I just went out and did the same thing well nearly I blew it this way. 

raised my hands to signal foul and said Fair ball 

Im shaking my head at myself at my desk as I type this I mean what a f'd up thing to do.   I imediatly hung my head in shame and shouted what a dope I was and called out exactly what I did wrong.

Anyway

Dont predict observe and report

 

 

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34 minutes ago, SCRookie said:

Any advice? And it's OK if the advice is "maybe be an announcer instead." :D

 

Well, our job isn't that much different from the announcer's job:  We see what happened and we tell people about it.

You "get it right" on TV because you see the whole play and you don't feel the need to rush to judgment.  It might seem like a looooooong time to you when you are on the field, but if you take a second or two to process teh information, the timing will be just rigth to those who are watching and participating.

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I think I can probably help...

By this I'm assuming you're talking about force plays (or the equivalent at first for the pedants among us). If it's tag plays that are giving you fits, let us know and there will probably be different advice.

1) It's easy (especially when you're new) to try to get too close to a force play. Your eyes can only see so wide at once - think of it like having a dinner plate at arms length. That's the part you can *really* see. Try backing up and watching from farther away.

2) Make a concerted effort to watch the foot on the base. Keep watching it until *after* the runner touches the base. When you're in A, if you look up too soon, you can make a snap judgment. When you're in B or C (and this is something I *still* catch myself doing), you find yourself looking at the glove instead of the base. It's one of the few times you can actually see the ball when it hits the glove ... but you shouldn't, because you should still be watching the base and listening for the glove

3) And this is the big one. You're still rushing yourself. Your brain is going 1000 mph and you feel an internal pressure to make a call right away. I was probably 5 years in before I got the feeling "oh, this is what good timing feels like". Watch the play. Keep watching the play. Re-play it in your head. Wait for the fielder to do something else (throw the ball elsewhere, run toward the pitcher or off the field, look up toward you to see what your call is). THEN make your call.

4) Related to (3). When the ball is on the way to the fielder, exhale and leave your breath out until you make your call. This does two things. (a) It slows your nervous system down and lets you concentrate, and (b) it forces you to inhale before you actually make your call, slowing you down even further.

As said earlier, don't beat yourself up too much. It happens to all of us. And as the first guy who got me interested in umpiring said "it's the only job you'll ever have where you're expected to start perfect and then get better every time"

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19 minutes ago, kylehutson said:

I think I can probably help...

By this I'm assuming you're talking about force plays (or the equivalent at first for the pedants among us). If it's tag plays that are giving you fits, let us know and there will probably be different advice.

Yes, force plays...I found the plays at first were giving me the business the most.

The PU gave me a couple other bits of feedback that I think were important: he said I made my calls while in motion a lot of the time, and that for me was somehow a very hard habit to break.  I also was not selling the calls very well. That also probably led to the amount of protest that I was getting. 

Thanks for the advice! I read every one of these comments and even write down some of them. Appreciate all the support...makes me feel a little better about trying LL in the Spring (even though that's for sure harder!)

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1 hour ago, SCRookie said:

Yes, force plays...I found the plays at first were giving me the business the most.

The PU gave me a couple other bits of feedback that I think were important: he said I made my calls while in motion a lot of the time, and that for me was somehow a very hard habit to break.  I also was not selling the calls very well. That also probably led to the amount of protest that I was getting. 

Thanks for the advice! I read every one of these comments and even write down some of them. Appreciate all the support...makes me feel a little better about trying LL in the Spring (even though that's for sure harder!)

DON'T QUIT!

Kylehutson's advice was spot on.  I guarantee, given your experience level, that you're calling too fast.  See it, replay it in your head, look for the ball (is there a "voluntary and intentional release?") and then make the call.

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I can’t find link right now but I saw a Perfect Game Umpire Eval video where a guy did same thing 2-3 times.

it literally is all about timing. No disrespect to learning disorders but dyslexia impacts reading, have you ever eaten something really hot and screamed “*** COLD !” No.

You are simply going too fast.  Be abhorently slow next time (not all the time, just a couple times to force you to slow down).  Literally watch the play happen and count to like 3, then make a call.

Something else that’s REALLY helped me, and idk where I even learned it, but it made a 1000x better umpire on plays at first.

You generally know when a close play is gonna happen, ball hit slow, fielder bobbles it, fast runner, etc…when I was trying to get better at close plays, I literally said to myself “sound, sound, sound” to force myself to focus on the sound of mitt and foot on bag, and then I’d take a second to process and replay “what sound came first?”  If it was so close I honestly couldn’t tell, he’s out, but 98% of the time, you can tell.

Had a pitch (I was BU in A), ball hit something twice, and it was FAST. Two sounds, one clink and one thud, within 0.02 seconds.  From 100’ ft away, I could tell my partner with 100% certainty that the pitch hit bat before hand/wrist bc of sound, the ting came first.

Just slow down , and then slow down some more.  My 14 year old son umpires now and he was fast, told him to slow down, he still was too fast.  He said “you’re kidding”.  As someone else eluded to, you feel twice as slow you actually are.  You feel like you waited 2 seconds, it was actually 1.

and have fun

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Good advice here. I’ll just reiterate what I thought were the huge things here to work on first and foremost.

Be still. Watch the touch of the bag and listen for the pop of the glove, the just move the eyes to see the fielder and possession of the ball.  Then, after you take it all in, replay it i your head. Only then make a call. We all have a tendency to speed upon the bangers. That’s the time we need the extra beat  the most, and the toughest habit to break. 
 

Distance. It’s been said and worth saying again. Don’t get too close. Watch the pros on plays at first. Never ate they right on top of  the play. 
 

don’t give up. It’s just a matter of learning new habits. Nothing helps more than a clinic, or a high school cadet course if can find one. Read all you can about mechanics and umpiring. 
 

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This may sound silly, and you may feel silly doing it, but if this is your weak area it may be worth the try (oh and studies back it up as effective. SCIENCE! )

Practice, role play, pretend. Whatever you want to call it. Act it out.

Stand up, move a few feet as you would from BU A into position for the call, set yourself, visualize the play of the ball and runner, do everything said above (slow down, inner dialogue "did first baseman catch the ball? Did the run hit the bag? Did he beat the throw? I think he beat the throw. Did he really? Yes. Ye he did. Runner got here first. That means he's safe. SAFE. SAFE!" [and yes, you have enough time to do all that]), then give the physical and verbal signal. Then do it again. And again. And again. And Again. And again... getting the point :)   If you can do it with live action actors, all the better.

Even if this doesn't work out for you (and it will), the willingness to try, introspection and courage to be self critical and ask for help makes you an incredible person. Pass that on to your son and you're Dad of the Century in my book. 

 

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8 hours ago, SCRookie said:

Hi all,

I have only done several games so far, I am VERY new at this, and I decided to stop umpiring for the rest of the fall season since I feel I need more training, specifically in one very fundamental, important aspect: calling safe or out. The problem I am occasionally having is a big one, so much that I feel like I may not be cut out to do this job, and I don't want players to suffer because of my own misses. It makes me bummed out, because I wanted to really enjoy this and have fun, and contribute in a meaningful way to a sport my kids are involved in.

First, I should start off by saying that I am a bit dyslexic, and my brain plays tricks on me occasionally. What I see with my eyes is not what comes out of my mouth. And I know it. On maybe two occasions, I called out, hammered the signal, but in my mind, my brain was like "that was not an out, dude." One was so bad that a few of the players went nuts, and the PU overturned it on an appeal. It ruined my night. The PU between innings was like "hey man, we all blow calls...but I have no idea what the heck you saw there." He's a decades long veteran, and his whole thing is "This is an on-the-job training job." And I think he's right, but there HAS to be some way for me to build up this skill off the field.

I know the rules extremely well, and I am a student of the game. So that much isn't a huge concern. It's training my eye to instinctively see it, send the signal to my brain, and then make the call.

I am coming to terms with either one of two realities: my shortcomings are just not something I can overcome and I need to step away from this job, since I am hardwired to sometimes flub stuff like this in everyday life as well. Or: I need to seriously do some very specific training in this area, but I am absolutely not sure at all how to do it. Watching baseball on TV is OK, but the angles are just so different. I can call it well on TV, but being there on the field is not the same, especially in a two-man crew where I'm trying to cover action at all bases.

Any advice? And it's OK if the advice is "maybe be an announcer instead." :D

 

 It's training my eye to instinctively see it, send the signal to my brain, and then make the call.

You nailed it right there.   Training is key.  And it takes time, for some of us a lot of time.  Stick with it and remember it's LL baseball.  Not the end of the world for anybody.  Have fun.

 

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1 hour ago, agdz59 said:

Awesome advice here.  Can I extend the conversation to 2-man double plays from B or C?  In this situation, it's hard not to think "I gotta make a call before I turn my head to first!" - so I find myself not taking the time I do in A.  How do you guys handle that?

Bc it’s a force, you only need to see it long enough to establish control (and touch of base).  HPU has illegal slide.  Get a good angle, see control, get a couple steps towards first and verbalize out while turning, get set, watch action at first.

No need to give visual mechanic or anything crazy if it’s a standard force out.

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15 hours ago, agdz59 said:

Awesome advice here.  Can I extend the conversation to 2-man double plays from B or C?  In this situation, it's hard not to think "I gotta make a call before I turn my head to first!" - so I find myself not taking the time I do in A.  How do you guys handle that?

You don't "gotta make a call before turning."  You can see all you need to see while F4/6 is catching and then throwing the ball and you step and turn with the throw while making the call.  That's plenty of time.

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On 10/28/2021 at 11:58 AM, SCRookie said:

First, I should start off by saying that I am a bit dyslexic, and my brain plays tricks on me occasionally. What I see with my eyes is not what comes out of my mouth. And I know it. On maybe two occasions, I called out, hammered the signal, but in my mind, my brain was like "that was not an out, dude."

No two peoples' brains process an event in the exact same manner, and certainly not exactly sequentially / linearly. What the human brain has an incredible, awesome capacity for is assembling the events and inputs and outputting a combined structure. So if you're having a problem unifying or combining the call (vocal) with the signal / mechanic (visual / physical), then separate the two. 

I do this with new umpires I'm training, and will certainly be implementing it into the exercises when I start conducting clinics this winter – process a series of plays at 1B, some 20 - 40 (if you're able to) without saying a word. Treat it as if you lost your voice... use only a physical signal / mechanic to make your "call". 

Then give yourself a break. 

After that, process another series of plays at 1B, some 20 - 40 (again, if you're able to) without making a gesture whatsoever. Use only your voice. Then, the added challenge is to not use additional words  and/or correct yourself. 

Then, again, give yourself a break. 

If you want to do practicals, tell your (PU) partner that you're going to be silent for that game... or you're not going to give any safe / out signals. Take your pick for a game, and stick to it. It's amazing how much more you find yourself concentrating. Then, when you're confident you're getting the calls correct, re-introduce the vocal element and join it with the physical signal only at certain times / plays. "Bangers" would be the obvious choice, but I'm concerned that you (any new umpire) would begin rushing the call because of the intensity of the play. Instead, use a vocal and a physical signal when the result of that play affects another potential play. Example: You have R2 only, and that puts you in C. Ground ball to the infield, and the first play goes to 1B. Step across and judge the play at 1B. Whatever the outcome there is, it has an affect upon the potential next play involving R2, so this would be an apt moment to join the vocal call ("Safe" or "Out") with a physical signal. In fact, depending on how the play(s) progress(es), you may not have time to get the physical signal out there before you have to read a throw or action towards R2; you have to adjust your position and angle accordingly to judge that next play fully.

 

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2 hours ago, MadMax said:

No two peoples' brains process an event in the exact same manner, and certainly not exactly sequentially / linearly. What the human brain has an incredible, awesome capacity for is assembling the events and inputs and outputting a combined structure. So if you're having a problem unifying or combining the call (vocal) with the signal / mechanic (visual / physical), then separate the two. 

I do this with new umpires I'm training, and will certainly be implementing it into the exercises when I start conducting clinics this winter – process a series of plays at 1B, some 20 - 40 (if you're able to) without saying a word. Treat it as if you lost your voice... use only a physical signal / mechanic to make your "call". 

Then give yourself a break. 

After that, process another series of plays at 1B, some 20 - 40 (again, if you're able to) without making a gesture whatsoever. Use only your voice. Then, the added challenge is to not use additional words  and/or correct yourself. 

Then, again, give yourself a break. 

If you want to do practicals, tell your (PU) partner that you're going to be silent for that game... or you're not going to give any safe / out signals. Take your pick for a game, and stick to it. It's amazing how much more you find yourself concentrating. Then, when you're confident you're getting the calls correct, re-introduce the vocal element and join it with the physical signal only at certain times / plays. "Bangers" would be the obvious choice, but I'm concerned that you (any new umpire) would begin rushing the call because of the intensity of the play. Instead, use a vocal and a physical signal when the result of that play affects another potential play. Example: You have R2 only, and that puts you in C. Ground ball to the infield, and the first play goes to 1B. Step across and judge the play at 1B. Whatever the outcome there is, it has an affect upon the potential next play involving R2, so this would be an apt moment to join the vocal call ("Safe" or "Out") with a physical signal. In fact, depending on how the play(s) progress(es), you may not have time to get the physical signal out there before you have to read a throw or action towards R2; you have to adjust your position and angle accordingly to judge that next play fully.

 

Very good.

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From articles and here.

Never take your eye off the ball.

let the ball pass in front of you (only behind in an emergency on a throw or ball hit 100 mph right at you for self preservation) and take you to the play.

it is all right to anticipate a play happening (much much much less so for LL) but never/ever/never anticipate the call itself.

timing, slow down and see the whole play through, then make the call as doug harvey would say. Nobody (not NBC, CBS, ABC, Fox, ESPN, ESPN F1 to F infinity), none of them are going anywhere till you make the call.

 

Disclaimer:::: none of the above guarantees that you will never/ever/never miss or kick the manure as Jim Joyce would say, out of a call.

 

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5 hours ago, dumbdumb said:

From articles and here.

Never take your eye off the ball.

let the ball pass in front of you (only behind in an emergency on a throw or ball hit 100 mph right at you for self preservation) and take you to the play.

it is all right to anticipate a play happening (much much much less so for LL) but never/ever/never anticipate the call itself.

timing, slow down and see the whole play through, then make the call as doug harvey would say. Nobody (not NBC, CBS, ABC, Fox, ESPN, ESPN F1 to F infinity), none of them are going anywhere till you make the call.

 

Disclaimer:::: none of the above guarantees that you will never/ever/never miss or kick the manure as Jim Joyce would say, out of a call.

 

Agree with most of this, but id caution about “never take your eye off ball”.

If you follow throw all way to first, one, you won’t have a look at bag and if he kept foot on, and two and more importantly, your eyes will be moving at moment of most importance.  Read the throw long enough to judge if it’s a true throw or one that’s gonna pull fielder off bag so you can get a read step (more advanced, worry about that later after this issue is resolved?) and then shift eyes to bag and be set and watch and LISTEN.

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Much of the advice you have been given is gold and spot on. You can also increase the number of reps you give yourself when the fielders are just taking infield between innings.

As F3 is rolling the ball to the infielders, position yourself, see them field the ball, watch for the release, determine it is a good throw and then snap your eyes to the bag. Watch F3's foot, hear the snap of the ball into the glove and then bring your eyes up to see secure possession of the ball in the mitt. You may be able to add 20-30 reps per inning just casually doing this exercise all while building muscle memory, leaving your mind less concentrated on the mechanics of tracking and more on the process of observing and determining what event occurred first; runner hitting the bag before the ball hits the glove, or the reverse?

Doing this exercise also allows you to control/improve your timing... see the fielder field, watch them release, watch the bag, hear the snap... process what you heard/saw, decide on what happened and then tell the participants what your ruling happens to be, all within your head as they are just warming up.

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5 hours ago, SH0102 said:

Agree with most of this, but id caution about “never take your eye off ball”.

I believe this advice is being given is in context of the play within the infield (and additional advice was given above).

I say that because, on the little field with balls to the outfield, as BU you need to get inside without colliding with anyone. PU has those outfield balls covered (and you'll know if it was a catch, HR, etc. from the sound 😁 )

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