What Can I Expect If I Attend Umpire School?
As lead instructor at the Little League Umpire School located at Little League International in Williamsport, Pa., I am often forwarded emails or asked, “What can I expect if I attend Umpire School,” and “Is it worth my time, effort and money to attend?”
My first response is that anytime that you can attend a training session it can only benefit you in your umpiring career, and will be well worth the time and cost.
Whether it is a new mechanic or interpretation; different ideas or tips; or just updating and refreshing your previous umpire training, it’s said - and is very true - that you can always learn something. You also will meet new umpires from all over the country and walks of life that can become life-long friends, while having a great time.
Since I volunteer at the Umpire School in Williamsport, and have not personally attended all the Umpire Schools held at the various Regional Centers, I will only talk about and reference our program in Williamsport. But, no matter whether the Umpire School is held at the Regional Centers or Little League International, our overall program is staffed and run by experienced and dedicated instructors. We are all using the same curriculum, so that no matter which school you attend, you will receive the same training and interpretations.
For a nominal fee, you will receive lodging (in our case it is the same dorms the players stay in during the Little League Baseball World Series); five days of training; all the training materials/manuals/handouts and meals. On our evaluations, the food has been complimented as being worth the fee alone.
We hold a week-long (Sunday through Friday) Umpire School each April. The biggest question is always: “Why can’t you hold the school earlier in the year?” We know and understand this, but due to weather considerations (we have a lot of outdoor activities), we cannot hold the School any earlier than April. As for your league needing you, we understand and respect that too, but if you can arrange it, your league, the children, and you will benefit greatly by attending.
When you return home, you will be more confident and better umpire, which will be noticed and appreciated by everyone, especially the children who we do this for.
All our field mechanics have been developed and field-tested so that with the least amount of movement, the umpire can be in the best angle, distance and position to make the best call possible. So whether you are an umpire just starting out; an umpire who has a few years of experience and wanting to try and advance to higher levels; or a seasoned umpire who wants to make sure he/she is up to date, our program is designed so that there is something in it for everyone.
The program at Little League International I limited to a maximum of forty-five (45) attendees. There are six instructors (who have been through our program and had at least one World Series assignment) and myself. We stay on site so that we are accessible if there are any questions or someone needs further information or training after hours.
By Mike Messick