Use Fall Ball Season for Recruiting, Training, and Improving Mechanics
By Thomas Haines, Jr.
Director of Umpire Development
Yes, the Little League® season is over, but as long as there is good weather, games will go on. September and October are prime months for Fall Ball and Training and Development (T.A.D.) seasons; and a great time to welcome in new umpires, and work on your mechanics.
Many local league Umpire-In-Chiefs (U.I.C.) use this time of year to recruit and educate volunteers, so that a new corps of umpires can be ready for the upcoming season. Fall Ball isn’t just a time for players to work on their skills, it provides a wonderful opportunity to introduce new volunteers into the role of umpiring.
The U.I.C. is an elected position on the Board of Directors. Once in place, his or her first priority is to engage the constituency about umpiring.
Umpires can come from anywhere. Typically, former Little League coaches and managers, parents of younger players, or current high school-age players, volunteering through the Junior Umpire program, make great additions to a league’s umpiring ranks. We all know that games are just scrimmages without umpires, and to give the children a well-rounded and wonderful Little League experience, having properly-trained volunteer umpires filling these roles is a necessity.
Striving to expand the league’s umpire depth chart, the U.I.C. can introduce volunteers to the role of umpire by placing them in Fall Ball or T.A.D. games with a veteran umpire as their partner. Working two-man, or four-man crews is the simplest and least stressful situation for new umpires to learn and allow veterans to mentor and teach.
In between games, the U.I.C. is focused on educating the new recruits and assessing all of the league’s umpires. Training sessions should include individual evaluations, refined instruction on the proper umpire mechanics based on Little League standards, and detailed explanations of Little League Baseball and Softball’s rules and regulations.
In much the same way coaches work with players during T.A.D. games, umpires, younger and older, also can benefit from the reps. We never stop learning and improving. The success, or failure, of an umpire is determined by their preparation. By using the Fall Ball Season to recruit, train, and evaluate, you, your U.I.C., and your local league, will be ready to provide a fun and enjoyable experience for the children and their families come next season.
Remember, Little League recommends that all umpires make an effort to attend a formal training clinic at least once every two years in order to stay current with mechanics and rules. Little League’s umpire clinics are available at each of its five regions in the United States, and at Little League International in Williamsport, Pa.