What Are the Benefits of Attending a Clinic or School for Umpiring?
I am often asked: “Why should I attend an umpire clinic, or school because I have been umpiring for ‘x’ number of years and haven’t had any problems? Why should I take the time, effort and spend the money to attend one of these clinics or schools?”
I relate to my own personal experience.
After being trained by my local league Umpire-In-Chief and umpiring at my local league and district for over six years, I decided to attend the Umpire School at Little League International in Williamsport, Pa.
I thought I knew the rules, mechanics and overall was a pretty good umpire, but after the first day I realized I didn’t know hardly as much as I thought I did.
This is not a reflection on anyone, but a lot of times the people we learn from and rely on have never had any formal training, and possibly, somewhere along the way have been given some wrong information concerning an interpretation or mechanic.
I know that a lot of people will say that with the advent of the Internet that they can get all the information and instruction they need through their computer. The computer/Internet is a great tool and resource, but you must be very careful to make sure who you are talking with, or where you are getting your information from, is a reliable and up-to-date source … Not a self-appointed expert.
One of the benefits of the Little League clinics and schools is that it is reasonable for what you receive. To try and help our volunteer umpires, the prices for attending are kept at a point where they just cover the operating expenses. I have been told many times that the food alone is well worth the cost to attend.
By attending a clinic and school at Little Leagued International, the regional centers or a Road Show, you will be getting the current and accurate Little League rulings, interpretations and mechanics instruction that are available at that time.
I know that our staff in Williamsport, and I know it is the same at the regional centers, are some of the most dedicated, experienced, knowledgeable and well-versed instructors that we could assemble. They are always willing to go that extra bit to help anyone become a better umpire.
All the staff has been through our program, before becoming an instructor, some more than once and everyone one of them has at least one World Series assignment.
The interpretations that are presented are accurate and factual concerning the Little League program, and in some cases, quite a bit from other organizations due to the safety factor, age and/or ability of the children within our program.
The mechanics instruction that you will receive at our clinics and schools is a proven product.
Everything that is taught at the clinics and schools, and contained in our various manuals has been tested, proven and used daily by our instructors out on the playing field. The mechanics were designed and developed to be able to be used by the new, inexperienced umpire as well as the seasoned, experienced umpire, so that with the least amount of movement and effort that they can get to the proper position to make the calls to the best of their ability.
Another thought is that no matter how many times we attend a clinic or school, we can always learn or have something refreshed that we hadn’t thought about in a while. It maybe something that you had learned or heard before that has slipped your mind; something that is explained or demonstrated in a different way; or if you just use the clinic and school to prepare yourself for the season.
Even though I have worked as instructor for over 20 years, volunteering at the clinics and schools keeps me fresh, up-to-date and energized to be the best umpire that I can be for the children, my league and district.
We have many people who have been to a World Series, Regionals, etc. and continue to return to the various clinics and schools to keep themselves current and refresh their umpiring skills. The camaraderie that develops between the attendees and the instructors is another benefit that cannot be measured.
So what are the benefits of attending a Little League clinic or school? In a nut shell, it is fun, affordable, first-class instruction that encompasses all the elements of the Little League philosophy and way of life, while helping you to become the best umpire that you can be.
Prepared by Mike Messick
Director of Little League Umpire School