Back to Basics: Umpire Clinic and School Curriculum Melds Rules and Mechanics
Veteran umpires and their students experienced an insightful and very useful program while attending the Little League® weekend clinic and week-long umpire school. Nearly 50 Little League umpires from across the United States traveled to Williamsport, Pa., during the month of April, and worked closely with the instructors to learn the “Little League Way” of umpiring.
Confidence and consistency are staples of a respected Little League umpire. During this year’s clinic and school at Little League International, Thomas Haines, Jr., Little League Director of Umpire Development, introduced a new approach to teaching rules and mechanics.
“It was our intent to raise the level of understanding by focusing on the basics, and building a firm foundation for learning,” said Mr. Haines. “The weekend clinic was followed by a week of school, and both the students and the instructors amassed a great deal of knowledge over those days.”
The “Basic 6” field mechanics were introduced, explained, and drilled each day.
“These mechanics are the base from which every umpire will call a game,” said Mr. Haines. “To do them correctly, and with authority, makes you better.” Two-umpire system mechanics were the focus of the weekend clinic and were expanded upon during the school.
The theme of presenting confidence and backing it up with perspective was on full display for the umpire school attendees. With the assistance of live video chats with Little League umpire David Lewis from California, students had the unique experience of playing the roles of the home team manager, visiting team manager, and umpire during a series of rules-based case studies.
Each day, the students discussed several situations, and approached each of them from three separate perspectives. The objective was to look at a single play from different points of view and establish how each angle is subject to interpretation, so that the umpires could better understand how to apply the rules. These exercises also provided insight into the complexity of administering the rules fairly and accurately.
“It can be intimidating when a situation occurs on the field and you are not exactly sure of the rule, or how to apply it,” said Mr. Haines, who served as moderator for the rules discussions. “Throughout the week, we immersed the students in the rules of Little League. Each group was engaged, and the dialogue prompted some healthy debate. As we debriefed after each session, it was apparent that plenty of thought went into to their conclusions, and a good deal of learning took place.”
During the school’s final three days, each of the umpires had the opportunity to officiate Little League regular-season Major Division games on the stadium fields at Little League International. Each game was video recorded and the umpires were provided with feedback to improve their game.
Every year, Little League International, and each of the five regional offices in the United States host umpire training clinics. It’s recommended that Little League umpires attend one session of formal training each year, when possible, in order to stay current and connected to the Little League Umpire Program. The next umpire training clinic in Williamsport is scheduled for Sept. 18-20, 2015.
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Fairball | May 2015 | URC | Registry