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10 Tips For Managing The Umpire In Youth Baseball

Updated on July 20, 2012

How many times have you seen youth baseball coaches argue a bad call by screaming and berating the umpire? Do you think the umpire will even consider the argument of a coach who is verbally abusive? Although there is no sure method to influence umpires, here are ten tips for managing the umpire in youth baseball.

1. Introduce Yourself Before The Game
How often do you see Little League coaches engage the umpires? Sure, you see them up and close when a call goes against them, but a smart approach is to seek out the umpire(s) before the game. Ask them their name, where they are from, what their umpiring experience is, etc. etc. Showing an effort to know the umpire can go a long way - especially in considering your argument or challenge to a call later in the game.

2. Respect The Umpire
Umpires are often looked down upon by coaches, players, parents and fans. This is true from the youth baseball level all the way up to major league baseball. Although umpires understand the fact they aren't popular, they crave respect.
Respect can come as a simple "Nice call - ump" comment, to limit yelling at the ump, to introducing yourself before the game.

3. Pick your Fights
Don't you just hate it when your kid's baseball coach argues ever ball and strike, every call at first base, every check-swing? A really good tip for managing the umpire in youth baseball is to pick your fights. Don't argue every ball and strike, wait for a situation that could mean the difference in the game.

4. Discuss Controversial Calls With The Ump Between Innings
Let's say there was a close play that resulted in the third out of the inning. Why not approach the umpire and ask his thinking on the play; why he made the call he did. You'd be surprised how willing the umpire is to share his thoughts. Why? Although they may not tell you, they want to justify their calls. Again, talking to the umpire outside of a hotly controversial situation is a good tactic for youth baseball coaches to employ.

5. Never Raise Your Hands or Get In An Umpire's Face
First and foremost, youth baseball managers and coaches should never, ever raise their hands or get in the face of umpires. They are setting an example to the kids on how to interact in a controversial and heated argument. Any sign of physical aggression by a coach is cause for immediate ejection, future suspension and possible criminal charges.

6. Request The Umpire To Get Help From The Other Umpires
There are situations in a game that an umpire makes a call on his own. It's not offensive for a youth coach to request the umpire get help from the other umpires.

7. Know The League Rules
Many youth league umpires work for different youth baseball organizations and the rules can differ. Don't expect the umpires to know all the rules. Do your homework and learn the rules so you are prepared to challenge a call that breaks a league rule.

8. Team Rule - Players Do Not Argue With The Umpire
One of the rules for my youth baseball players is not to argue with the umpires. If they do, they will be removed from the game. A list of team rules is handed out to the youth baseball parents before the season so the parents know what to expect. It also helps avod arguments with parents. Youth baseball parents arguing with umpires shows disrespect and lack of discipline.

9. Talk One-On-One In A Whisper
Umpires do not like to be shown up, but many coaches do it anyway, not realizing they are doing so when they scream and berate them in front of the players, coaches, parents and fans. Let's face it, nobody wants to be yelled at in public. Instead of running out of the dugout and screaming at the umpire. A better approach is to call time out, ask the umpire to talk one-on-one and discuss your argument in a low calm voice so only the ump can hear the conversation. This will allow you to state your case without distraction and without offending the umpire.
Sounds simple, but this has helped me many times. Umpires will be more likely to consider your argument, consult the umpire or consult the other umpires if you use this technique.

10. Shake Hands After The Game
Be sportsmanlike and shake hands with the umpires, even if their bad call caused you the game. You see, it's more about showing the kids how to act in certain situations. What better way to teach kids respect and humility!

These tips for managing the umpire inyouth baseball are not meant to get the umpire on your side. They are simply extensions of how a decent human being should act in the world. Believe it or not, if you practice these methods you'll teach kids baseball and something even more important, very important life lessons.

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    • jericho911 profile image

      Kenneth Claude 

      5 years ago from Parts Unknown

      Great article. I'm a full-time sports official. Your article should be mandatory reading.

    • B4UPLAYBALL profile imageAUTHOR

      B4UPLAYBALL 

      6 years ago from NYC - USA

      It's not easy being an umpire and I think it's awesome that your calls haven't cost a game. You're absolutely right that keeping control of the game is the ump's priority. By the way, I teach the kids on my youth baseball team to give the utmost respect to the umpires. Unfortunately, not all coaches rank this with high importance.

    • profile image

      dbpastor 

      6 years ago

      been umpiring for many years. First and foremoste I am their to control the games. Not one time in my years has one of my calls cost a little league or girls fast pitch cost the game. It always comes down to whos cathcer can stop the ball, whose pitcher can put it into the skrite zone, and whose fielders can field those hits. We all make mistakes but I run my fields as a they should be look it up. Umpire number one job make a call and keep the game moving. I have a wife and kids just like everyone else. Love to umpire am a pastor of small church on the field I am the one who controls the game, not all rules come to right away but i ump s fair game. judt started softball now I remember I why I went to littled league.

    • profile image

      Rob 

      6 years ago

      Coachs need to remember three things 1. Coaches make mistakes 2. Players make mistake 3. Umpires make mistakes. Coaches and Players mistakes will cost you a game long before a umpire mistake will cost you a game. Plus youth coaches need to teach the kids how to play the game the right and with respect then everyone will enjoy the game we love.

    • profile image

      Jim 

      6 years ago

      This was a very good article. i am a youth and H.S. umpire.and when i think i want to hang it up it is articles like this that let me know someone is recognizing umpires. We want to get the call right just as much as the coach wants the call to go his way. lol. thank you for a well written piece.

    • TNC profile image

      TNC 

      6 years ago from Ranger, GA

      As an umpire of youth baseball I agree with your comments and suggestions for how to approach an umpire. Umpires generally have a view of the game and of situations which no one else on the field has and they work hard at getting their calls right.

    • profile image

      Minijuice 

      6 years ago

      I'm about to become a youth umpire for the first time. Even though I've been playing baseball since T-ball and I know what I'm doing I know I'm going to be a few bad calls. What this writer says is true.

      I've heard that umpiring is very stressful and I personally would much more consider an argument from a coach who uses his head and follows these steps over a coach like the one listed by Easttipp.

      Most of these points are just common sense. In the end, it's just a game.

    • B4UPLAYBALL profile imageAUTHOR

      B4UPLAYBALL 

      8 years ago from NYC - USA

      easttipp,

      I'm sorry you had to experience that - and I'm even more sorry for the kids.

      Coaches and parents alike need to remember although youth baseball is just a game for kids, its where our kids learn how to act and handle social situations - especially stressful and disappointing ones.

      I hope someone makes the effort to discuss that situation with the kids - and it should be the coach. He can actually teach the kids an incredible lesson by apologizing and admitting he was wrong.

      I hope he's man enough to do it!

    • profile image

      easttipp 

      8 years ago

      I witnessed a youth (6-8 year old) game last evening where an ump called a runner safe and the coach went berserk. He started calling the ump a cheater since the umps kid was on the opposing team.

      As it turned out, the next batter flied out for the final out of the inning so the runner on first base was meaningless, but the coach continued his tirade as he walked into the dugout yelling several times that the ump was a cheater saying that the call was blatant cheating.

      To the umps benefit he walked to his position behind first base and turned his back on the shenanigans and prepared for the start of the next inning. Several individuals came onto the field to try and calm the out of control coach down.

      The next inning that coaches son (who had made the throw to first base on the supposed bad call) got hit in the face with a ground ball and he went to the ground in tears.

      The coach started yelling at his son at the top of his lungs to get up off the ground and get the ball – that he wasn’t really hurt, it wasn't that bad, etc.

      Sadly I heard several kids in that dugout saying cheaters, cheaters, they are cheaters.

      I just don't understand how leagues permit these kind of jerks to interact with their children. It truly was sickening!

      Coaches like that have absolutely no business in sports, let alone youth sport! Politics and youth sports dont go hand and hand - communities should not tolerate it and should demand better.

    • B4UPLAYBALL profile imageAUTHOR

      B4UPLAYBALL 

      8 years ago from NYC - USA

      IFD1253, you are so right! I don't understand what takes over some youth baseball coaches when an umpire makes a bad call. Coaches must understand they have a responsibility to the players and the parents. They have a duty to teach our kids how to handle adversity, confrontation and disappointment respectfully. What the kids learn on the field and in the dugout sets the stage for how they handle these situations later in life.

    • IFD1253 profile image

      IFD1253 

      8 years ago from Indianapolis, IN

      Great article. I run the gym for my church's school. Even in that Christian setting, we have parents and coaches making fools of themselves. I see it entirely too much. These are some great ideas that not apply to baseball but to almost every other youth sport as well. Heck, they aren't bad rules to live your everyday life by.

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