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 > Little League Online > Learn More > Newsletters > Fairball Newsletter > 2009 > Fairball - January 2009 > Getting Ready for the Season

Getting Ready for the Season

CarterThis is the time for all Little League Volunteer Baseball and Softball Umpires, new and experienced, to get ready for the upcoming season. There are three primary areas all umpires need to focus on prior to the start of the baseball and softball season. They are equipment, physical, and mental readiness. Let’s take a look at these three basic important areas.

An umpire’s equipment is a very important and vital part of safety, comfort and appearance. All protection equipment, chest protector, shin guards, mask, and other associated personal equipment should be checked to make sure that all straps, clips, fasteners and padding are in good condition and will provide the utmost protection and versatility for the umpire. The outer garments need to be checked also to make sure the uniform fits the individual so he or she can look their best on the field. If any of the equipment needs to be replaced, it should be done at this time, while equipment is available at the umpire outfitters. For new umpires just starting out, one of your questions might be, what do I need to get started? Your best resource would be to confide in your league or district Umpire-in- Chief (UIC) for their input and experience. The local league you are umpiring in might be able to help you get started with your first set of gear and uniform. The local league UIC can provide you with information on umpire outfitters such as Honigs Whistle Stop that can help you get started. Find out first what uniform is required by your local organization before you get started.

The physical part of the umpire’s readiness is also very important. Months before getting on the field for the first time after the long winter off season, the umpire should start a physical exercise program to get into good condition. Start getting those muscles in shape by starting your conditioning program slowly and working up to 45-to-60 minutes a day. Start off slowly, by simply walking 30 minutes a day with some resistive exercises. Get yourself into a state of physical readiness so when you get on the field you can perform your duties without injuring yourself, loosing time from work, while enjoying the vocation you look forward doing…umpiring.

The third, and just as important as the other two, is mental readiness. During the offseason, Little League umpires should get into a rules instruction and mechanic clinic as soon as one becomes. It’s very important to keep up on the rule changes for the new year and also to refresh those field mechanic drills and tune up to learn any new skills. There are many resources available for beginner and experienced umpires. Little League rulebooks and other training resources can be ordered through Little League’s Online Store at www.LittleLeaguestore.net.  Williamsport and all Little League Regional Centers offer weekend and week-long rules and mechanics clinics. The training at these centers is top quality and the experience of the volunteer instructors is superior. You can find the dates for these clinics at www.LittleLeague.org , click on clinics or call your local regional center. Another great resource for the volunteer umpire is the Umpire Registry. By joining this group you will belong to a select group of umpires in the Little League fraternity. By joining the registry you will receive Little League Baseball and Softball rulebooks in hard copy and also electronic versions. Also, you will receive Little League Baseball’s “The Right Call,” and “The Umpire In Little League,” plus many other benefits including this Fair Ball newsletter. Check out the Registry at www.eteamz.com/llbumpireregistry.

There’s a lot to do between now and when you umpire your first game on the field, so why wait any longer get started today. Have a great season and thanks for all the time you volunteer to make the program better.

Bill Carter
Western Region Umpire-In-Chief