In much the same way coaches and players prepare for the season, umpires too have to train and tone their minds and bodies. Reviewing the Little League® rules, sharpening on-field mechanics, committing to improve one’s physical well-being, and making sure your gear is ready, all contribute to umpires being at the top of their game when the season begins.
Review the Rules
Before you hit the field, hit the books and purchase and/or review the Little League rules app. When checking out the current Little League Baseball® and Little League Softball® rulebooks, and the app, focus on the new or adjusted rules. Also take the time to read “Make the Right Call,” which is the casebook for Little League Baseball and Softball umpires. Both publications are available through ShopLittleLeague.org, and provide insight into all of the rules that you are expected to know and apply.
Master the Mechanics
The Little League University website has many training and education materials designed for umpires, including a robust video library that features field mechanics that umpires will use on a regular basis. Also online is the Little League Umpire page on LittleLeague.org. There you will find the current year’s schedule of umpire training clinics and access to the Umpire Registry. Every Little League umpire is strongly encouraged to attend at least one training season per year, in order to stay up-to-date with the rules, mechanics, and best practices.
Focus on Fitness
In addition to having the knowledge and education, an umpire must be physically capable of performing the duties on the field. Agility is critical to being in the proper position to see a play as it happens and render an accurate call. During the offseason, flexibility and responsiveness is often diminished, so it is important to put the time in to training your body to move at the speed of your mind.
Easy ways to improve personal fitness include, regularly taking brisk walks to increase cardiovascular conditioning; and a full-body stretching routine that will improve muscle response. Both activities will help to prevent injury, and likely make the season more enjoyable.
Get the Gear
Another key area of preparation is making sure wardrobe and gear are ready. Assess your equipment and the umpire uniform. Make sure your protective gear is in excellent working condition; and that your umpire hats, shirts, pants, belts, and shoes (including laces), and undergarments are clean and ready to go. If you need one, or more, umpire patches for the left sleeve of your shirts, they can be purchased through ShopLittleLeague.org. Remember, it’s always good practice to have two of everything in your game bag, just in case.
As players and coaches are working hard to get ready for the season, now is the time for you to do the same, so that the start of your umpiring season can be successful.