There is a reason why a group of umpires is called a crew. Whether it be a two, three, four, or six-person team, it’s imperative that all umpires working the game understand the responsibilities of their position on the field and their partners’ roles once the ball is put in play.
The umpire crew is a team that must work in tandem with each other and the rules of Little League® in order to be successful, respected game officials.
Conferences before and after the game provide confidence and clarity for the crew. These meetings are informal, and typically take place away from the field, yet they establish a level of trust that will serve the crew well throughout the game, and in future pairings.
The pre-game meeting is imperative to success. Conducted prior to walking onto the field, the conversation provides the opportunity to get re-acquainted or make the acquaintance of any new crew members. After everyone is together, the meeting’s fundamental purpose is to identify each umpire’s responsibilities and establish a rapport that will bind them together throughout the game.
Some of the common topics include fair/foul coverage, fly ball responsibilities, tag-ups and touches of bases, positioning, and signals used during the game.
Do not take these few important minutes for granted. If you don’t understand each other, you will have difficulty providing the support that your crew members need.
After the game, gather the crew and find a place away from the coaches, parents, and players to reflect on the events that transpired. Taking the time to discuss the good and the bad, while accessing what could have been done differently, will make each member of the crew better prepared for the next game.
An umpire’s preparedness and continuity can dictate the flow and tone of a game. Competency and consistency speak much louder than arrogance or brashness. For the crew, establishing its collective identity is critical to the experience that the players, coaches, and fans have during the game.
Make your meetings productive for the crew and remember why you chose to umpire. Volunteers step up and reach out to help others. Little League Umpires are no different. Taking on the responsibility to learn the rules and proper mechanics is two-thirds of the task at hand. The final component is the role that umpires play in setting the example for children and other adults. Umpires can teach life lessons through demeanor, work ethic, pride, and attention to detail.
© 2015 Little League International. All rights reserved.
Fairball | March 2015 | URC | Registry