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Umpiring is not easy (first game)


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For the record I am a coach who's always been very cool with the officials...

First 12U scrimmage yesterday to warm up for my first 12U game on Saturday. Open rec ball where teams may have AA level players as well as total beginners. I had some nerves.

My foul calls were too quiet. Strike calls were too quiet. Strike zone was too tight but consistent. I didn't have my head in the game on a couple plays. I didn't move around enough to get a good look at plays.

I think one of the big challenges is staying engaged and aware after seeing 8 balls in a row. The infielders AND the ump were snoozing at times.

I am excited to start umpiring but it is much harder than I thought it would be. I know I have a firm grasp of the NFHS rules but seeing the plays and enforcing everything real time is a whole other story.

It's insane for a coach to complain about a couple tough calls over the course of a game with ONE umpire. 

Tom

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We see you working, Brother @Toggy! We all aspire to work the highest levels of the game that our abilities allow. Sometimes due to the nationwide manpower shortages, we are pressed into service perhaps above our abilities. Whether you are working tee ball or 60+...the better the ability of the players, the easier and more enjoyable it is for the umpires. And for exactly the reasons you indicated...when you have a pitcher who can't find the zone, catchers that can't catch, hitters who can't hit and fielders who can't throw it can be a challenge for the umpires to stay focused, get into the proper position, make all the correct calls and do so with consistency.

Don't overload yourself. Pick 3 critical things about The Craft that you are working on. Discuss them with your partner in pre-game and review them in post-game. Yes, you'll likely make mistakes on things that you weren't working on, too. It's ok. It's all ok. It's all part of the show. Work as many games as you can, try to split time plate and bases and with reps, it will start to come together for you. You really don't know what kind of umpire you're going to be until stuff happens to you on the field and you learn how to handle it. We see you, Togs...take it one pitch and one play at a time, brother.

~Dawg

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17 minutes ago, SeeingEyeDog said:

Don't overload yourself. Pick 3 critical things about The Craft that you are working on. Discuss them with your partner in pre-game and review them in post-game.

100% endorse this. Just had this discussion last night with the four most senior umps in my LL area (2 WS's and 2 Regionals among them). All are in agreement.

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On 5/19/2023 at 9:26 AM, Toggy said:

For the record I am a coach who's always been very cool with the officials...

First 12U scrimmage yesterday to warm up for my first 12U game on Saturday. Open rec ball where teams may have AA level players as well as total beginners. I had some nerves.

My foul calls were too quiet. Strike calls were too quiet. Strike zone was too tight but consistent. I didn't have my head in the game on a couple plays. I didn't move around enough to get a good look at plays.

I think one of the big challenges is staying engaged and aware after seeing 8 balls in a row. The infielders AND the ump were snoozing at times.

I am excited to start umpiring but it is much harder than I thought it would be. I know I have a firm grasp of the NFHS rules but seeing the plays and enforcing everything real time is a whole other story.

It's insane for a coach to complain about a couple tough calls over the course of a game with ONE umpire. 

Tom

Well at least you are able to spot what you need to work on. And everybody should have some nervousness when they go on the field to work a game. It's natural. But as you get more experience the nervousness will become less, and the confidence more. Just try to get better and learn something every game you work and watch. Once you become an umpire you will never watch a game the same and it will drive non umpire fans crazy. And if you ever go on a field thinking you have no room to learn or improve then just quit umpiring. This is my 29th year and I want to pick up something every game.

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9 hours ago, Toggy said:

I didn't have my head in the game on a couple plays. I didn't move around enough to get a good look at plays.

Did you manage to discover where “hidden outs” are hiding, and just how easy it is to convert those… actions / moments into outs, if you, as a coach, were to stop watching where the ball goes and start watching the runners? 

Or, better yet, get one of the otherwise useless, redundant assistant coaches to watch the runners? 

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On 5/19/2023 at 1:33 PM, BLarson said:

...In a scrimmage...

If it was easy, everyone would do it.

Sorry I didn't mean that anyone complained during my scrimmage. In any game where there's one umpire they can't get bent out of shape about a couple calls. 

I'm not going to do any base umpiring because we always have one ump at the games only.

 

So I have to be louder. Move better. And be more aware of situations. 

 

Thanks all. 

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It's great that you recognize where you need to improve.  Approach each game as a professional, do your best, and leave each play on the field.  If you boot one, don't "make it up" on the next call because then you've just booted two.  Work the play in front of you.  Heck, work the pitch in front of you.  Short memories are our friends.

Welcome to the dark side.  Still looking for the cookies.

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can this post be pinned forever?

- Read the rules and case books over and over

- read this forum

- watch close call sports channel , youtube there is even one for little league and high schools, on plays that might not have happened to you yet.  

- find a mentor

- find umpire friends and talk about games

- camps

- camps

 

 

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I will say that IMO, the toughest levels to learn at are the younger levels. ANYTHING can and will happen. They are inconsistent and unpredictable. It will teach you to not anticipate or take for granted any play.  Working alone makes it doubly harder.   I will offer to also find a mentor to talk you off the ledge/out of the tree after s really rough game.  Welcome to the club. 

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3 hours ago, boyinr said:

I will say that IMO, the toughest levels to learn at are the younger levels. ANYTHING can and will happen. They are inconsistent and unpredictable. It will teach you to not anticipate or take for granted any play.  Working alone makes it doubly harder.   I will offer to also find a mentor to talk you off the ledge/out of the tree after s really rough game.  Welcome to the club. 

It's also the beauty of starting at the lower levels...You are going to see everything under the sun.....You are going to see stuff you may not see again for the next 5 years. You're going to  see stuff you don't know how to call. You're going to go home and get answers to these weird situations that have happened and you'll never forget how to rule on that particular play again. 

I forget the actual numbers, but someone once said 95% of the game is played using 20% of the rules. 

Youth ball will make you learn and use that other 80% of the rule book. 

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On 5/20/2023 at 2:46 PM, Umpire942 said:

can this post be pinned forever?

- Read the rules and case books over and over

- read this forum

- watch close call sports channel , youtube there is even one for little league and high schools, on plays that might not have happened to you yet.  

- find a mentor

- find umpire friends and talk about games

- camps

- camps

 

 

There's several youtube channels that I absorbed all winter. 

https://www.youtube.com/@UmpireClassroom that one has great info too. And I think I have read this forum in it's entiriety haha.

So I have to rules down pretty darn well, but the positioning and mechanics is a challenge. It's much more than rules.

First actual game was Saturday and I think I did great. Observers said I did great. I was loud and accurate. Lost track of the count once... didn't click the clicker. The game was very lopsided so not many close judement calls to make actually. I was mobile as hell, but being still when the play at the bag occurred and I was able to call safe/out at first from only 40 feet away. Much easier than 80 feet. (75 foot bases in 12U)

We agreed to no balks in this game because there would have been 100 balk calls. I am not kidding. They will have to improve on that. I said I would balk pitchers only if consequential. I balked the winning team for hidden ball trick in the last inning... the pitcher was at the pitcher's plate with no ball in possession. They were up by at least 20 runs...

 


 

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On 5/19/2023 at 8:47 PM, MadMax said:

Did you manage to discover where “hidden outs” are hiding, and just how easy it is to convert those… actions / moments into outs, if you, as a coach, were to stop watching where the ball goes and start watching the runners? 

Or, better yet, get one of the otherwise useless, redundant assistant coaches to watch the runners? 

Please explain more.

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I've been there. Umpiring is not easy, but as you get more experience certain things will become easier and somtimes automatic. Remember your great games and what you did well. Review your bad games and think about a couple things that you could have done to make that game easier. 

My advice is to think of this as an art form. This is a craft. Just as artists don't get everything right on the first try neither do umpires. 

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On 5/22/2023 at 5:18 AM, Toggy said:

First actual game was Saturday and I think I did great. Observers said I did great. I was loud and accurate. Lost track of the count once... didn't click the clicker.

Lesson # 1.  It's not a clicker, it's an indicator.

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2 minutes ago, BigBlue4u said:

Lesson # 1.  It's not a clicker, it's an indicator.

🙄

“This is the type of errant pedantry up with which I will not put.” --Attributed to Winston Churchill

Yes, you're right. It's an "indicator", but did you have any question about what he was referring to? (Excuse me... "about the device to which he was referring?") If not, then who cares? If you're going to Pro School, you're absolutely right that it should be called nothing other than an indicator. I call it an ind-clicki-counter, just because I like watching people's heads explode who get up-tight about the silliest things.

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On 5/22/2023 at 7:22 AM, Toggy said:

Please explain more.

Especially on amateur games, especially on games played on field dimensions less than 60-90, it never ceases to amaze me that no-one, other than the Umpire(s) are watching Runner base-touches. 🙈 And these are games where the ratio of players-to-coaches is nearly 1:1 or 2:1!!! Everybody watches the ball, no-one watches the Runner(s)! So if you (as a coach) discipline yourself – or, assign an “assistant coach” / parent – to watch Runner touches, I can almost guarantee you’ll get at least one Out on appeal, if not 2-3 more. 
… and you’ll absolutely break the backs of the opposing team, negating a big hit, because invariably, BR missed 1B. 

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2 hours ago, MadMax said:

Especially on amateur games, especially on games played on field dimensions less than 60-90, it never ceases to amaze me that no-one, other than the Umpire(s) are watching Runner base-touches. 🙈 And these are games where the ratio of players-to-coaches is nearly 1:1 or 2:1!!! Everybody watches the ball, no-one watches the Runner(s)! So if you (as a coach) discipline yourself – or, assign an “assistant coach” / parent – to watch Runner touches, I can almost guarantee you’ll get at least one Out on appeal, if not 2-3 more. 
… and you’ll absolutely break the backs of the opposing team, negating a big hit, because invariably, BR missed 1B. 

I assumed this, after umpiring LL games for seven seasons. 

Alas, coaching my 10-year-old's team this year, I've appealed three times on missed bases, to no avail. I've had the umpire look sort of blankly at me twice, and one ruled safe.

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