Off Season Preparedness
Now that the Little League season is fast approaching, there is not much time for volunteer umpires to get ready for the baseball and softball season. Let’s focus on the three main areas you should be addressing prior to the games beginning.
This is the time to contact your Local League or District Umpire-in-Chief and let him/her know that you’re interested in umpiring again this year. If you’re a beginning umpire or new to the group, now is the time to get involved. Usually this time of the year the League and District UIC’s are preparing for the season by holding rules and mechanic clinics. It is very important for the new, as well as the veteran umpire, to attend as many clinics as possible. This will allow umpires to sharpen skills and learn what rules have changed for the new season. It also allows the UIC’s to find out how many umpires that he/she will have available during the regular season for scheduling purposes.
Little League rulebooks and other training resources can also be ordered through Little League’s Online Store at www.LittleLeaguestore.net. Williamsport and all the Little League Regional Centers offer weekend, week-long, and outreach rules and mechanics clinics for the volunteer. The training is top quality and the experience of the volunteer instructors is superior. You can find the dates for these clinics at www.LittleLeague.org , click on clinics or call your local regional center. If you’re interested in working postseason tournament games, you should let your UIC know so he/she can help you develop your skills for higher level ball.
The next thing you need to focus on is your equipment. Your equipment is very important to you for your protection. It’s always best to have your own equipment. However, if you’re just starting out you may only have the local league umpire gear to available to you. Check with your UIC and make sure they have enough equipment at the game site. Sometimes the league will provide you with gear if you volunteer a certain number of games for them. If you have your own gear or are using the leagues equipment, make sure it still fits you correctly. Check for any worn out, cracked or torn items. If anything needs to be replaced, now is the time to do that. A good source and licensed equipment provider is Honigs Whistle Stop, they have everything the umpire needs. Check with your local UIC about what uniform they require you to wear on the field. Some leagues will provide the volunteer umpire with certain clothing items and expect you to provide the rest. Whatever you do, look like an umpire when you go on the field. You and your partner, if you have one, should be dressed the same looking the part will afford you respect and authority.
Getting yourself in condition is very important so that you don’t injure yourself. You should start a physical fitness program as soon as possible. Start walking and doing stretching and squat exercises for 15 to 30 minutes a day, this will get your legs and back ready for those long games at the plate. Gradually work up to a comfortable routine daily, this will help you immensely, once the season begins doing a few games a week will keep you in shape.
Remember, have fun and thanks for volunteering your time for the program.
Western Region Umpire in Chief