TOP 5 Common Reasons for Yelling at Umpires and How to Avoid Them
Umpiring requires making in-game judgments and decisions in baseball or softball enforcing the rules of the sport. Although it can be tough when players or fans choose to yell at an umpire, it’s important for the umpire to remain calm and keep a professional demeanour at all times during the game.
Check out the 5 most common reasons why people yell at umpires below, and tips on how you can avoid them!
1. Making a Bad Call
As an umpire, you may make mistakes, and unfortunately, some calls can be controversial and lead to disagreement. While it is impossible to prevent all bad calls, you should be paying attention to all of the details of the game so that you can make calls to the best of your ability.
Paying close attention and not ignoring any catches or dropped balls can go a long way in avoiding mistakes and causing any players or fans to get angry. To avoid this, umpires must be diligent in their observations and pay close attention to the game.
Another key thing to keep an eye on that a lot of umpires forget is to watch the batter’s foot while they are in the box. If a batter has both feet outside of the box while batting, or steps on the plate after hitting, they should be called out by the umpire.
Watching for these minor details during your games will immediately set you apart as an umpire who knows how to do their job well. A lot of umpires will forget to check for the smaller details, or notice them without making a call, which can be frustrating to players and fans alike.
Stay a step ahead by keeping an eye out for these things - and be sure to check your league’s Umpire Cheat Sheet before your games to get clarity on all of the current rules.
2. Lack of Movement
As an umpire, you are not expected to run to the outfield to make sure a ball was caught, but you should be moving on the field so that you can clearly see all plays.
When a batter steps up to the plate or batter’s box, you should be on the opposite side. When a ball is hit to the infield, you should be moving towards the bases so that you have the best sightline for when plays are made. That way, you can actually see where the ball is hit, who picks it up or catches it, and whether or not the plays they made resulted in an out.
Long story short, you should never be guessing which call to make after a play because you will be seeing it first-hand, in real time, right in front of you as you walk or jog to the baselines where these plays are made.
3. Consistency of Strike Zone
If the strike zone in slo-pitch is 6-12 feet, you need to properly understand where that height lies when you are watching pitches come in.
If you are under 6 feet tall, each pitch thrown should be above your head, and if not you need to call that pitch illegal before the batter takes a swing at it.
Generally, good umpires set expectations early, and clearly state what pitch is considered the low end of 6ft, as well as the high end of 12ft. That way, each player and pitcher sees a 6ft ball and knows that that is the bottom height of the strike zone where they can pitch a ball.
4. Understanding the Game
When umpiring a game, it’s important to have an understanding of the sport and the players who are playing it. Being familiar with the rules and regulations of the specific sport will help to avoid any confusion or bad calls.
Additionally, knowing the players and their abilities will give the umpire an insight into how difficult or easy a certain play might be for them. This is especially helpful for close or difficult catches and sliding plays.
The more you umpire, the better your understanding of the game will be. After all, practice makes perfect!
5. Patience & Time Management
Umpires need to stay calm and patient in all circumstances. If someone questions the call they made, they need to be respectful and explain why the call was made.
Being patient and composed will help to diffuse any potential disputes.
Another key to becoming a successful umpire and avoiding any potential conflicts is ensuring that you manage time effectively and run all games on schedule.
Here are our TOP 3 tips for managing your time effectively while umpiring:
Make sure to get to the field at least 15-20 minutes early and set up the field. Start the game on time, and call last inning at the correct time, no later.
Be familiar with the rules and regulations of the sport and the specific league, so that you can better answer any questions or resolve disputes in a timely manner.
Enforce a strict policy on arguing or badgering the umpire, and don’t be afraid to enforce them. This will help keep the game running smoothly and prevent disputes that could lead to delays.
Commit to being the best umpire you can be by paying attention to these small details, and making the right calls during each play. When you show players that you care and are paying attention to the game and rules, you’ll quickly gain their respect and discourage any yelling or disagreements during the game.
If you’d like to stay up to date on all the rules, use the Umpire Cheat Sheet - also available on mobile for easy access at the diamond!