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Little League® International’s Fall Weekend Umpire Clinic Focuses on Mechanics, Repetition and Perception

During Little League® Baseball and Softball’s recent weekend-long Umpire Clinic held at Little League International in South Williamsport, Pa., the message was clear -- quality umpire mechanics are the direct result of proper training and repetition.

“Perception is reality” was a theme echoed by the umpire instructors, headed by Thomas Haines, Jr., Little League Director of Umpire Development.

One of the most important elements of being a quality umpire is respect for the trade. “Umpiring is a profession,” said Mr. Haines, even though Little League Umpires are volunteers and there should be no financial compensation for service. To be perceived as a quality umpire you most look the part, but more importantly you need to have the confidence of your fellow umpires, the managers and players that you understand how to effectively and correctly officiate the game.

“By attending this clinic, these umpires showed that they care about providing the best possible experience for the players and their league,” said Mr. Haines. “Umpires never stop learning, so my advice is to go to at least one clinic per year to stay sharp and keep building your support network. With crisp mechanics and knowledge of the current rules, you will create a positive perception. ”

Each instructor encouraged the 20-member class to avoid “information overload” and to focus on a few specifics that they could take with them and work on once back home. The various classroom sessions focused on baseball and softball rules and regulations, while the instruction on the 60-foot and 90-foot diamonds, and a simulated game provided for real-time instruction and application.

“We are always learning,” said Rich Ealy, a clinic instructor. “When you get to the point where you think you know it all, that is when you will have problems. Continuing to train helps you avoid bad habits, and gives you the confidence and the ability to competently train others.”

Throughout the weekend, the attendees were encouraged to read and react to various situations and scenarios. Patience and seeing the ball were emphasized with repetition being the key to learning.

After two days of classroom and on-field instruction, the class dismissed with a wealth of information and the staff’s encouragement to practice regularly, on and off the field.

“I enjoy teaching what I know and I enjoy seeing the light bulbs come on,” said Mike Sharrow, a clinic Instructor. “Umpires who attend these clinics are our ambassadors. Back home, they can become the instructor and share the knowledge learned here with to others.”

Mike Messick, the Senior Instructor, said, “The whole idea for these clinics is to help you help your league.”

Each attendee received a certificate of participation, copies of the 2014 Little League Baseball® and Little League Softball® Rulebooks, explanations on specific rules that were covered during the clinic and the strongest encouragement possible to attend more training, including the Spring 2015 weekend clinic (April 10-12) and the Little League Umpire School, scheduled for April 21-26.

“Don’t get frustrated with mechanics, or the rules and regs,” said Mr. Haines to the participating umpires. “This is a process. Take what you have learned, work on it, apply it, and remember: repetition, repetition, repetition.”

Additional Umpire training is available at Little League’s Regional Centers, and free supplemental training is always available online at the Umpire Resource Center. Registration for next year’s Little League Umpire Spring Weekend Clinic and 2015 Umpire School will open beginning in January 2015.

© 2014 Little League International. All rights reserved.
Fairball | September 2014 | URC | Registry