Recruiting Little League Umpires
Player registration time is a great time to recruit umpires. Often, leagues look for managers, coaches, concession stand volunteers and even ground crew helpers during this time of year, but forget about locating umpires.
Below are a few ideas.
- Create a flyer. Post the flyer in local newspapers and in the league’s clubhouse.
- Have the league’s Umpire-in-Chief present during player registration. Ask the parents to help out. Ask the District Umpire Consultant to attend. He/she can discuss District training opportunities.
- Require each team to supply an adult volunteer umpire for a minimum amount of games in another division (for example, Major teams umpire Minor team games and vice versa). Sometimes, these people start to enjoy umpiring after being exposed to it.
- Offer training through the district, region or Little League International. Offer to offset the costs.
When thinking about recruiting umpires, leagues should also consider how to retain umpires. It is important for the League President and other league officials to support their umpires. Do not allow spectators and coaches to berate them. Conduct parents meetings to clearly communicate expected behavior toward league volunteers which include the umpires. A good idea is to post Little League’s Parents’ Pledge throughout the facility. Some other retention tools include:
- Provide meal tickets to umpires for the concession stand
- Provide umpire shirts
- Use incentive programs – after a certain amount of games, provide a hat. At a higher level, provide equipment.
- Encourage umpires to attend clinics and or/umpire schools. Little League Regional Centers and Little League International offer excellent training opportunities each year. Offer to offset the costs for such training.
- Encourage the utilization of the online Umpire Resource Center, located on Little League’s web site.
- Utilize technology such as email, on a regular basis to disseminate rule interpretations and share information how to handle situations.
Recruiting volunteers for any needed position is not easy. Sometimes we find it difficult to ask for help, but without that help, a league cannot exist, let alone be successful. Volunteers are at the core of the Little League program. Volunteers are so important that there is a stadium named in there recognition on the Little League International Complex!
By following the above tips, hopefully you can establish a core of dedicated volunteer umpires, who will support your league for years to come. Best of luck in finding and retaining the men and women in blue!
By Jim Smith