APPEARANCE – 1) Looks good in a uniform.  2) Athletic looking and in good physical shape.  3) Uniform clean and pressed with shoes shined.  4) Good posture.  5) Professional mannerisms.  6) Good body language.  7) Looks confident and not arrogant.

MECHANICS / STYLE / FORM – 1) Gives clear and authoritative signals.  2) Smooth and relaxed style.  3) Projects confidence.  4) Coordinates voice and signals.  5) Does not showboat.  6) Does not change mechanics during the game.  7) Strong projection of mechanic into stands.

USE OF VOICE – 1) Voice is loud enough to be heard.  2) Authoritative and assertive.  3) Does not draw undue attention to himself.

TIMING – 1) Does not anticipate play.  2)  Allows everything that can happen, to happen before making DECISION, then makes the call.  SEE THE PLAY, DECIDE THE PLAY, CALL THE PLAY.

POSITIONING FOR PLAYS – 1) Establishes 90-degree angle for most plays at 1stbase other than the ones to the right side.  On these, he gets the largest angle possible without going into foul territory unless he feels pressure from the 2ndbaseman.  2) Force plays.  3) Steals, Pickoffs, Swipe Tags, Run Downs.  4) Fly balls to the outfield (proper coverage, angle, distance to catch/no catch).  5)  Fair/Foul Decisions and Mechanics.  6) Lining up tag-ups on fly balls.  7) Watching runners touching bases (head on a swivel).  8) Positioning for batted and thrown balls out of play.  9) Knowledge of proper positioning for plays.

REACTION TO DEVELOPMENT OF PLAYS – 1) Displays good instinct.  2) Knows where plays are going to happen and gets in proper position before play happens.  3) Able to react to 1stplays.  4) Able to react to next possible play.  5) Establishes proper angle for each play.  6) Able to make adjustments to bad throws, pulled foot, swipe tags, etc.   7) Able to react to movements of partner.

JUDGMENT OF PLAYS – 1) Fair/foul decisions.  2) Catch/no catch decisions.  3) Tags and Touches.  4) Force plays.  5) Pickoffs and steals.     6) Rules infractions.

HUSTLE/MOBILITY/COORDINATION – 1) Moves into proper position when ball is hit.  2) Does not ‘give up’ on routine plays.  3) Gets into a set position to make all calls.  4) Has good agility and coordination.  5) Smooth and fluid movements.  6) Does not over hustle to draw attention.  7) Moves back to proper position quickly after plays.

GENERAL DEMEANOR ON THE BASES – 1) Commanding presence.  2) Projects confidence.  3) Authoritative conveyance of body movements.  4) Strong, confident, in charge on the field.

CREW COMMUNICATION – 1) Uses proper verbal and non-verbal communications.  2) Good eye contact with partner between hitters and during developing plays.  3) Acknowledges situation prior to play.

CREW MECHANICS – 1) Good knowledge of proper mechanics.  2) Rotates in the proper situations.  3) Is alert to adjust if partner misses a coverage.

CHECK SWINGS – 1) Judgment of check swings.  2) Assertive display of decision.  3) Use of proper appeal mechanic.        4) Proper use of voice.

ON-FIELD ATTITUDE – 1) Professional.  2) Focused on the game.  3) Alertness.  4) Game intensity. 5) Body language.        6) Fraternization (too much, unapproachable).

OFF-FIELD ATTITUDE & INTERACTION WITH PARTNER AND EVALUATOR – 1) Eagerness to learn and improve.  2) Willingness to accept constructive criticism.  3) Interaction with partner and evaluator.  4) General appearance.  5) General conduct.

HANDLING SITUATIONS – 1) Calm, professional, firm demeanor.  2) Good verbal communication.  3) Does not get rattled or adjust calls because of comments from the dugout(s).  4) Proper use of warnings (again in fall ball this might not be something we need to do or have to do anyway).  5) Does not demonstrate / excessive use of gestures.  6) Able to defuse situation without have to eject.  7) Does not have a ‘quick trigger’, but knows when to eject (again probably not even possible in the fall ball because most situations will be low key).  7) Able to maintain focus on the game after the situation has taken place.

KNOWLEDGE AND APPLICATION OF THE RULES – 1) Solid knowledge of the rules.  2) Familiar with the ‘actual’ rules and their interpretations.  3) Applies rules with common sense and fair play / not overly technical.  4) Applies the appropriate penalties and awards.  5) Understands the concept of specific rules.


  1. Youth
  2. Less than varsity
  3. High school varsity
  4. Junior college
  5. DIII
  6. DII
  7. DI

APPEARANCE - Do you look good in a uniform are do you look like a FRUMP?  What is a FRUMP?  You know it when you see it.  To me a Frump is an umpire that looks like he just got out of bed in his uniform and looks like he has never cleaned it or washed it.  Are you athletic looking and appear in good physical shape?  Is your uniform clean/pressed, shoes shined?  Do you have good posture?  Do you use professional mannerisms?  Do you exhibit good body language?  What is good body language?  You stand erect and don't lean to one side, your arms are not folded across your chest, your hands are not consistently on your hips, etc.  You look confident but not arrogant.

MECHANICS/STYLE/FORM - Do you give clear and authoritative signals or are they incomplete and non-authoritative?  Do you look smooth and relaxed or do you exhibit choppy and uncoordinated movements?  Do you project your confidence?  Do you coordinate your voice with your signals or do you use your voice and then give the signal.  Most professional umpires that are respected coordinate their voice with their signals.  Are you a showboat?  Remember the game is about the players and not about you.  Do you change your mechanics during the game or do you do the same mechanic each and every time you have the same play.  If you need to change the mechanic you do so only on the ones that are in need of selling.

USE OF VOICE - Is your voice loud enough to be heard (ASSERTIVE) or does your voice draw undue attention (AGGRESSIVE).  In other words does your voice match the situation.  A ball call should be heard in the dugouts and the strike call should be heard in the stands behind the dugouts.  Obvious balls have less emphasis than the close pitches.  A called strike three has more emphasis than a called strike one.

JUDGMENT OF THE STRIKE ZONE - Do you interpret and call the strike zone as it is written in the rule book?  Do you call strikes on "unhittable" pitches?  You shouldn't.  Do you call borderline pitches strikes?  You should.

CONSISTENCY OF THE STRIKE ZONE - Do you maintain the same zone throughout the game?  Do the late innings stay the same as the previous innings?  Are you a 5 inning umpire as opposed to a 9 inning umpire?  We need 9 inning umpires.  Is the strike zone the same for both teams throughout the game? 

TIMING ON PITCHES - Do you anticipate the pitch?  No, that is good.  Do you allow everything that can happen, to happen before making a decision and then make the call?  If so, that is good.  Do you make the call as the pitch is approaching or just crossing the plate?  If so, that is too quick.  In other words do you SEE IT, DECIDE IT, AND THEN CALL IT?  If so, you are using good timing.  This means you are using your eyes properly.

FEET, BODY, HEAD POSITIONING - Do you establish a "LOCKED IN" position.  Do you drift side to side or up and down with the pitch?  If so, this is not good.  Do you flinch on pitches during swings, foul tips or check swings or balls in the dirt?  If you do, you need to learn to not flinch and that can come from practice in batting cages or in your games when you don't have good catchers to work with.  Stay in their and let your equipment protect you.  Do your feet remain stable throughout the pitch?  Do you have a solid base in your stance?  Do your eyes remain horizontal with the ground?  Are you square to the pitcher or are you tilted sideways somewhat?  You need to stay square to the pitcher.  Is your head height in the correct position allowing for an unobstructed view of the entire plate?  Do you work in the "SLOT" and not over the top of the catcher or to the outside?  In the SLOT means you have your eyes in the middle of the slot.  This is where you must get your feet into proper position for that pitch.  Each pitch has its own correct position and you must learn to relax between pitches and step back after each pitch and don't get locked into the same foot position for all pitches.

HUSTLE/MOBILITY; COORDINATION -  Do you move from behind the plate when the ball is hit?  Do you remove your mask with your left hand properly and not dislodge your cap?  Do you give up on routine plays?  You should not because there are no routine plays.  Do you get into position to make calls?  Do you show good agility and coordination?  Do you have smooth and fluid movements?  Do you over hustle to draw attention to yourself?  Do you move back to proper position after plays?

REACTION TO DEVELOPMENT OF PLAYS - Do you show good baseball umpiring instincts?  Do you know where plays are going to happen and get in proper position before the play happens?  Do you rotate and stay home at the appropriate times?  Do you establish proper angles for each play?  Do you make adjustments for bad throws or unusual situations?

CREW COMMUNICATION - Do you use the proper verbal and non-verbal communications - red book language?  Do you show good eye contact with your partner between hitters and during developing plays?

CREW MECHANICS - Do you show good knowledge of proper mechanics - Red Book Mechanics?  Do you rotate in the proper situations?  Are you alert enough to adjust if your partner misses a coverage?

CHECK SWINGS - Do you have good judgment on check swings?  Are you assertive when you make the call on a checked swing?  Do you use proper appeal mechanics, Red Book Language?  Do you use your voice properly here?

GENERAL DEMEANOR BEHIND THE PLATE - Do you have a commanding presence?  Do you project confidence?  Are you assertive?  Do you show a strong, confident and in charge of the field presence?

ON-FIELD ATTITUDE - Do you portray a professional attitude?  Do you appear focused on the game?  Do you show that you are alert?  Do you show game intensity?  Do you exhibit Positive Body Language?  Fraternization (too much with teams and partner is not acceptable).  You do need to be approachable but also firm.

OFF-FIELD ATTITUDE - Eagerness to learn and improve.  Willingness to accept constructive criticism.  Relationship with your partner.  Interaction with your evaluator and others.  General appearance.  General conduct.

HANDLING SITUATIONS - Calm, professional, firm demeanor.  Good verbal communication.  Does not get rattled or adjust calls because of comments from the dugout(s).  Proper use of warnings (probably not going to happen in fall baseball often).  Does not demonstrate / excessive use gestures.  Able to control the situation and take action without becoming aggressive (assertive is better).  Does not have a "quick trigger", but knows when to eject (again in fall baseball there probably will not be any situations where this will become anything that you will do).  Able to resume focus of the game after the situation.

KNOWLEDGE AND APPLICATION OF THE RULES - You have a solid knowledge of the rules (sometimes in games there are really no rules to actually apply).  Familiar with the 'actual' rules and their interpretations.  Applies the rules with common sense and fair play/not overly technical.  Applies the appropriate penalties/awards.  Understands the concept of specific rules.



You’re making one of the 27 most-common officiating errors if you …

21.   Don’t Consider Whether to Respond

      Just do it – run your mouth any time anyone says anything you don’t like!  Your career will be short, but you’ll suffer far less internal tension than most.
        Understand a simple concept:  Not every challenging statement requires a response.  When you can tell which comments must, should or shouldn’t and better not draw a response from you, you’re on your way to a long and successful career.
        Here’s one additional related tip:  More often than not, the “right” response will not be verbal.  You might nod your head slightly, smile momentarily, glance at whoever said something, hold eye contact for a moment or two, shake your head, or hold up a stop sign (one hand at arm’s length, shoulder high with an open palm toward the complainer).  Learn to use them wisely and you won’t have to worry about a verbal response.


22.   Don’t Ignore the Crowd

      Is concentrating on officiating a challenge when you’re working in front of 8,000 or 9,000 spectators?  Sure.  Is it a bigger challenge in front of eight or nine dozen?  Yep.
        Large crowds have a “buzz” – the noise level is constant and individual voices are generally lost in the crowd.  But in a high school gym with 20 or 30 spectators, every leather-lunged jerk can sound off like a public address announcer.  When you can’t help but hear every derogatory comment, you do have to struggle to focus on the game.
        Concentrate on your real duties – officiating the game.  Learn to tune out all but the most disruptive spectators and remember that someone (not you) is responsible for crowd control.
        If someone’s obnoxious father really is interfering with a game, ask the game administrator, league representative or, as a last resort, the head coach of the fan’s team to take care of the problem.  Save it for real problems, but understand that you cannot allow a game to continue if spectators are causing major problems.
        Finally, resist the friendly woman in the second row who looks so sweet and only wants to ask a simple question.  You can bet there’s more than a question coming and you can also bet you won’t win by acknowledging her.


23.   Don’t Take Pride in Your Appearance

        No, you don’t have to wear a tuxedo en route to a junior high basketball game, but it is a good idea to dress a bit better than most people might expect.  Clean clothing is the first basic; slacks instead of shorts, dress slacks instead of blue jeans, a collared shirt instead of a T-shirt, a necktie instead of an open collar – each step up does that much more to send a subtle message that you are and expect to be treated as a professional.


24.   Don’t Talk With Players

        Consider the last time you were in close proximity to a stranger for several minutes.  It may have been standing in a slow line in the bank lobby, waiting for popcorn at the movie theater or hoping a stalled elevator would move soon.  If the person with you offered just the slightest, pleasant, ice-breaking comment, you felt a bit more at ease during the wait.
        You have the ability to break that ice, and a great time to do it is before something happens that requires you to say something to a player.  You’ll stand around the floor during a basketball team’s warm-ups and several players will bass by.  Since you’re the authority figure, few players will initiate a conversation.  But you can, sometimes with a simple “hello” or a simple nod of your head.  You’ll stand on a baseball field between innings, same thing.  You’re on the football or soccer sideline during a game, still the same.
        As Grandma probably said, “All good things in moderation.”  Be a bit selective.  You don’t want to know every name on the roster and you can’t afford to spend too much time talking, but as you identify the team leaders go ahead and offer a simple greeting.  See whether a short conversation develops.  There’s no need to push it, but if you appear both comfortable and cordial you’ll also appear confident and competent.
        There’s a dividend that you may collect later in the same game.  When you sense a problem developing with a player on one team, if you’ve already broken the ice with one of that player’s team leaders you can ask the leader to intercede with the problem player.  He usually will, and he’ll feel good that you have confidence in him to trust him to lead his teammates in a positive manner.


25.   Don’t Anticipate

      One of the greatest officiating axioms is:  Don’t anticipate the call.  If you decide what you’re going to see before you see it happen, you’ll get burned by every unexpected turn of events.
        But one of the greatest officiating techniques is:  Anticipate the play, not the call.  If you “feel” what’s coming and adjust your position or your visual focus to the right area, you’ll see the play better and you’ll have a much better opportunity to make the correct call.
        Good baseball umpires know when to expect a bunt, steal or a brush-back pitch.  Top basketball referees recognize the times a team is going to apply full-court pressure or change its defense.  Football officials know when to expect a deep pass or a quarterback sneak.  In soccer, you know when a team will play kick-and-run and when teams will attack the defense methodically.  All of those things help you anticipate the play, not the call.
        Consider windy weather, a wet field, hot or cold conditions, a short court, short tempers.  Anything that is going on might help you get on the right track.


26.  Don’t Resist Showboating

        If you’re a veteran official with plenty of confidence, you probably have developed your own style, an element of flair in your officiating.  That’s fine, but you really want to be aware of what you’re doing and how people are reacting.
        The late Ron Luciano, who died in 1995 at the age of 57, was among the most recognizable pro umpires of his time.  He worked the American League from 1969-79 and became famous for “shooting down” runners who were out while pointing his fingers like a kid’s imaginary gun, for shaking his head “no” and waving his hands like a bartender cleaning a spill when a runner was safe, and for many of the most flamboyant arguments and ejections in big league history.
        Lots of people loved watching Ron work because they thought he was a great guy having a great time.  But lots of his fellow umpires considered Ron more of a clown than an umpire because they felt he preferred public adulation to the respect of his peers.
        The truth was, Ron was a tremendous umpire.  You don’t get to the majors if you’re not.  The showboating hurt his reputation among his peers.  If a true major leaguer is hurt by his flamboyance, what might yours do to you?


27.   Don’t Finish Every Game Strong

        You know the feeling.  You’re in the last few minutes of a one-sided game, just waiting for the final minutes or the final outs to roll by.  No matter which team is getting trounced, they’ve been out of the contest since the first 10 minutes and they know it.
        Lots of us have a tendency to swallow a few extra whistles, to ring up a strike on anything that doesn’t bounce.  Bad idea!
        When the players and the coaches believe you’ve lost interest in the game, it really turns their cranks.  Frustration becomes anger, becomes hostility, and becomes a major problem.  When the game is “over” before it’s over, the losing team has nothing to lose and the winners are already celebrating.  That’s the time to turn it up a notch, focus on the subtle bumps and comments at the side of the court and become an assertive game manager.
        A partner who “disappears” near the end of a close game is a problem; one who disappears at the end of a blowout might be a catastrophe!

11.   Don’t Study Definitions

      Most rules questions posed by officials can be answered by simply reviewing the definition of one or two significant terms involved in each play.  When you really understand a definition, imagine three or four play situations that would rely on the definition.  If you find you don’t really understand that definition all that well, or that you’ve got some questions, go find the answers.
        Move on to the next definition.  When you finish the definition section, go to the rest of the book.

        It’ll take a while, but if you build a strong foundation through a complete and accurate knowledge of the game’s definitions, you’ll answer tough questions instinctively for your entire career.

12.   Don’t Wait to Climb the Ladder

      Anxious for that first high school varsity game?  That first small college assignment?  The move to the glorified Division I Level?  One nearly universal characteristic of dedicated officials is the desire to work more and better games.
        Stepping up to a new level of competition is a difficult process that requires careful management.  Few officials are willing to say “not yet” when offered that first varsity assignment.  Be sure you’re ready; there’s not much chance of successfully climbing to the top of your ladder after you fall off the first time.
13.   Don’t Resist the Gossip Temptation

        Other than actually working games there are few things officials enjoy more than yakking.  We’ll brag about our schedules, how tough we are during games, how many impossible rule situations we handled last week and all the inspired putdowns we’ve come up with during coach and player confrontations – many times at a favorite watering hole after a round or two.
        But you might want to think twice before offering your opinions on teams, coaches, players or other officials.  In the officiating business, a slip of the lip (that says the wrong thing) will sink a career (yours).
        Think the head coach at Central High is a real jerk?  Fine, think it – there’s no good reason to say it.  Figure out the Hilltopper baseball team’s steal sign?  Great.  Keep it for yourself or share it only with a partner who is working with you and wants to know.  Believe your assignor is jerking you around on next season’s schedule?  Find a private opportunity to talk directly to the assignor – ideally, face to face.
        We’re living and working in a closed society.  Anything said to anyone or overheard in a public place is going to get to the person under discussion!  Believe it.  If you don’t, your gossipy habits are going to hurt your career – even if you never know why you can’t seem to get a championship game assignment.
14.   Don’t Keep the Rules the Same

      What’s your tolerance level?  Will you let a point guard slip his pivot foot an inch or two without a traveling call?  Can a wide receiver stand with his arms swinging at the snap without drawing a flag?  Do you ignore it when the pitcher’s pivot foot hangs beyond the edge of the rubber?  Do you call a violation every time the keeper’s hand carries the ball through the penalty area plane on a distribution pass?
        Each example might provide hours of debate among officials.  That’s not the point here.  It doesn’t matter (for now) whether you call every infraction or ignore all of them.  The advice here is if you call it at the beginning of the game, keep calling it; if you pass in the first few minutes, pass all night.
        Here’s one more call and a philosophical approach often suggested:  “Go get the first two strikes on a batter, be liberal.  But be sure the third strike is really there.”
        Do that and one thing is sure to happen:  The pitcher, catcher and the defensive coach will decide you are inconsistent – the “same pitch” was a strike a moment ago (or an inning ago or two hours ago), but it’s not a strike now?  “Be consistent!” they’ll yell, and you’ll deserve the criticism.
        You’ll also deserve the criticism if you whistle the first traveling violation with 12 seconds to play or flag a motion penalty for something the coaches will see on the films every time that receiver lines up.

15.   Don’t Carry a Simple Sewing Kit

      At some point, you’re going to have a uniform problem.  Whether its’ a seam in your trousers that’s just starting to unravel or a belt that you didn’t pack this one night, a basic sewing kit can save the day.
        You won’t need much in the kit.  One or two needles, black, navy and gray thread, a couple of plain buttons, and five or six safety pins are plenty.  You’ll fine a sewing kit in the sink area in most of the better hotels in this country (next to the cheap body lotion and giveaway shampoo bottles) or you can make a “big” investment of $3 or $4 to buy a kit in a small plastic box.  Either way, you’re prepared to solve little emergencies by carrying an extra four or five ounces of equipment in your bag.
16.   Don’t Avoid Making Threats

        Those “if-then” statements that scrambled your brains in high school geometry will toast your career during games.  “If you say one more word, then I’ll throw you out of the game!” is among the first cardinal sins of officiating for at least two reasons.
        One, the next word might be “fine.”  You either dump the coach or back down – neither is attractive.
        Two, if what’s been done merits a threat, go ahead and pull the trigger and eject.
17.   Don’t Control Your Emotions

      If you get angry during a game, you’ll lose the impartiality that must be a constant aspect of your performances.  But any number of emotions can get the best of you. 
        One official had a reputation for seeing the positive side of every situation – to a fault.  The inside joke about him was:  He’s the only guy in the world who could wake up on Christmas morning, find a pile of horse dung under his tree and immediately say to his mother, “Oh boy!”  Where’s my pony?”  No matter how bad things were going around him, this guy was delighted to be there.  Six innings of constant whining about his strike zone?  “Game went great today!  Not one problem with a checked swing!”  You get the picture.
        If you are so happy to be where you are, chances are you won’t recognize problems that really do require your attention.
        Some official’s get can get caught up in the excitement of a game.  There’s a fine line between letting the emotional high during a great game build your adrenaline flow, and being awed by the individual performances of truly talented athletes.  The adrenaline rush is fine, it adds to your energy; but distraction to the point of focusing on a player’s “wow value” will erode your ability to do your job.


18.   Don’t Admit Your Errors

            Consider this typical exchange from any time during any game at any level:
                Coach:  “You missed that one.”
                Official:  “No, I got it right.”
                Coach:  “I saw that whole play and I know you missed it!  You’ll never convince me!”
                Official:  “Coach, I had a great look.  I got it right!”
        Coach:  (voice rising):  “Your problem is you think you’re never wrong!  Why can’t you just admit you kicked that one?  I know you missed it!  You know you missed it!  Everyone here knows you missed it!
                Official:  “Hey!  That’s enough!  I got it right.  It’s time to play!”
        Coach:  “You’re terrible and you can’t admit it!  That’s why nobody in this league wants to see you on a game.  You’re terrible … an you’ll never work here again!”
        OK, the last shot slipped deeper into the land of the great clichés’ than intended.  Let’s get back to the example.  Assume for a moment that the coach is right, the official did miss the call and the official knows he missed the call.  The same exchange might take a different direction.
        Coach:  “You missed that one.”
        Official:  “You know, Coach, you’re right.  I did miss that one, but it’s gone and I can’t do anything about it.”
        Coach (for the first time in his life is virtually speechless):  “Well … uh … geez … uh … well, bear down out here!”
        The point is simple:  It really does take two to argue.  If you know you’re wrong and admit it, the other guy doesn’t have a whole lot more to say.
        But there’s a very important second point:  You can’t rely on that method to solve all your problems every game.  You can tell most coaches that you kicked a call – once.  When you’ve worked hard enough and long enough to have developed credibility in the league, you can tell the same coach the same thing again – once in a while (like every season or three).  More often than that and instead of enhancing your reputation as an honest person you’ll build one as a genuinely lousy official.
19.   Don’t Listen to Coaches

      Once in a while (OK, once in a great while), a coach will offer up a gem of wisdom that really deserves consideration.  Sure, it may be inadvertent, but there are coaches who understand officiating.  There are plenty of coaches who understand the game they coach.  They look at the games from a different point of view, but that view can be beneficial.
                If you never listen to a coach’s comments or “advice,” you’re probably missing an opportunity to improve.

20.   Don’t Ignore Coaches

      You were going along, trying to work a game, trying to keep things under control.  Suddenly, a coach will say something that belongs in a book.
        Imagine a basketball coach who, with his team trailing 88-32 with 1:42 remaining in the game, shouts, “That’s a foul!  Come on!  You’re missing a good game!”
        That’s a classic example of a comment you really want to ignore, at least in part because your first impulse is probably to laugh out loud.
        Coaches will say plenty during most games.  Much is designed to do no more than vent the coach’s own frustration.  When you hear those comments and they bother you, it’s time to find better ways to focus on the game action.

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