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An Umpire’s Preparation Needs to Exceed the Efforts of the Players

Shined shoes, a clean shirt, and pressed, serviceable pants, all lead to the perception that an umpire takes pride in his or her appearance and equally appreciates the effort and preparation of the teams playing in the game.

Umpiring is much more than showing up to a game and calling “play ball.” There is a pattern of preparedness and a standard of commitment that should drive umpires to sharpen their skills in much the same way an All-Star team works through two-a-day practices and extra swings in the batting cage during the tournament season.

Being prepared goes well beyond understanding the rules and focusing on the play in front of you. The perception that the teams, parents and fans have of an umpire crew is often dictated by its appearance and demeanor. It is true that you never get a second chance to make a first impression, but looking the part will only get you so far. Work ethic, focus and proper field mechanics are what earn and umpire trust and respect.

To get better, umpires need to practice. Players are working hard to improve their skills and the umpires need to do the same. Being a volunteer is no reason not to be prepared, and is never an acceptable excuse for not knowing the rules or responsibilities.

Little League® offers a vast assortment of training materials, but umpires need to be willing to take the time, and make the effort, to use them. Newer umpires want the guidance, but often don’t know where to get it, while too many veteran umpires believe that they don’t need additional training. There is always an opportunity to learn and refine, but it takes a commitment to the craft.

Money does not have to change hands for professionalism to be applied to a craft. Umpiring should be considered a profession even though in Little League it is done as a volunteer activity.

Whether it’s the regular season or tournament season, the players and coaches put in a lot of time to get better and they deserve umpires willing to make that same level of commitment. Purchasing the proper equipment for behind the plate and in the field is important, but the rest of the maturation process comes from experience and using the tools available. The Umpire Resource Center is free and online, the Umpire Registry has an assortment of benefits for its members, including the Fairball newsletter; several regional clinics are conducted each year, the week-long Umpire School at Little League International is held in April; and all five regions in the United States have an experienced and well-versed Umpire-In-Chief to address your questions. You are invited and encouraged to use any, and all, of these outstanding resources!

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Fairball | July 2014 | URC | Registry