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Summer Baseball: Use it to Improve Your Game
With the high school season just behind you, the mistakes you made during the season and the weaknesses in your game are fresh on your mind. List the top two or three and make the effort over the summer to turn your deficits into strengths. Do an honest self-assessment.
How was my plate work:
  • Am I tracking every pitch w/ my eyes, not head, into the catcher’s glove?
  • Do I lock in and stay still?
  • Am I properly in the slot for both right and left-handed batters?
  • Am I seeing the outside pitch well, especially with a left-handed batter?
These are some of the typical plate problems umpires encounter.
Relative to my base work:
  • Did I track the ball well off the bat?
  • Did I miss rotations?
  • Were my angles good?
  • Was I set when making calls?
  • Was my timing too quick?
  • Did I wait to see secure possession and voluntary release?
  • Was I able to adjust and take a “read” step when throws were off line?

  • ...or am I a “spot” umpire - I go to a spot to make a call and never adjust?
    Relative to taking plays at the plate:
    • Did I always start by stepping straight back from the “point of the plate”?
    • Did I read the throw and the runner and then adjust from the point of the plate getting in that wedge between catcher and runner typically just off the catcher’s left hip?
    • Did I ensure there was possession and voluntary release before making an out call?
    • Did I anticipate the possibility and watch for possible obstruction or malicious contact?
    Relative to handling situations:

  • First and foremost, do I know the rules?

  • Was I able to clearly explain rule      issues to coaches?

  • Did I stay calm?
  • Did I allow the coach to speak first and only answer what was asked?
  • Did I let conversations go too long and did I know when and how to properly end them?
  • Finally, do I fraternize too much with coaches and players.
    Summer baseball is hot and you typically work multiple games in a day. You and your partner get tired and sometimes cut corners. Even so, try to work on the things you didn’t do well during the season and tell your partner you’re doing so. Tell him, for example, you are working on not missing rotations; so no “flaps down” this game. Ask the assigner to pair you with a more experienced official, and in pregame, share with him what you’re working on and he may be able to provide valuable post-game feedback.
    Every umpire wants to work post season tournaments and the biggest games. Working on your deficiencies when working summer baseball will help get you there. The best umpires learn from their mistakes and work hard to correct the flaws in their game. The others are content to get nothing more out of summer ball than a check.
    ~ Joe Lubarsky
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