Interacting With Umpires
Umpires – youth and adult – undergo rules and procedure clinics each season. While the UICs provide training materials and situational drills, and spot check progress weekly, they don’t spend as much direct time with them as do coaches with players.
The UICs attempt to address anything that needs adjustment. They stress knowing rules, hustling and being positioned correctly, making judicious calls and maintaining appropriate conduct. The umpires, particularly youth umpires, are instructed to be respectful and accommodating to head coaches – to grant conferences, listen to issues and attempt fair resolutions WITHIN THE RULES based on what they actually saw in order to make the right call.
Umpiring is, however, a two-way street. Coaches should also be aware of how they approach and interact with umpires. They are responsible not only for their own behavior and language when speaking with umpires, but also their coaches, players and even parents and fans behavior and language.
Only the Head Coach can address the umpire(s), and only one at a time. Do not argue judgement calls (strikes, balls, safe, out, fair, foul). If you wish to discuss a rule, stay under control, be respectful, call time, get time, approach the umpire that made the call, and talk in an appropriate manner. Because you want, request or even demand a conference does not mean you will receive it – umpires aren’t under any obligation to give you one. Once the umpire says the discussion is final or over, do not continue discussion about the play or call. Move on and play the game.
The Head Coach’s behavior is of utmost importance. It governs the behavior of the assistance coaches, the players, and the fans. We understand that you may not like the call and may voice your displease, but it must be done in an appropriate manner and tone, and not be disrespectful of the umpire, question his integrity, or be demeaning in any way. A controversial call may come at a crucial point in the game, but it does not lose a game. Everything your team does or does not do combined, wins or loses the game.
Keep your coaches, players and fans under control. You are responsible for them. We are all here to teach the kids the right way to play the game; conduct is part of that. Treat the umpires right and you will get their best effort. UICs are available to discuss any problem you may have involving an umpire, his call or rule. They will listen to your side and then the umpire’s side (the two often are different), and will ask other people who were there.
Remember, the young umpires are the same kids that you are coaching or have coached. They are “our” youths. They are our middle school kids and our high school players. Do not mistreat them. You taught them how to play baseball and now we are teaching them how to work, and this may be their first job. This is a very hard and responsible job and we are asking a lot of them. Their parents may be parents on your team or may be one of the others coaches’. One of them may be your own son. Please treat them as if they were one of the kids on your team.
Also, the coaches are responsible for knowing and correctly implementing the pitching rules. The umpires are not required to know those rules, but they are responsible for administering the penalty for violation of those rules, once an appeal or protest has been made.
- Don’t yell at or degrade your coaches, fans or players or opposing coaches, fans or players
- Don’t run at, yell at, degrade, touch or argue a call loudly or at length with an umpire – after a play, the Head Coach may call and receive time, walk to the umpire that made the call, and ask a rules question in an appropriate tone and with appropriate body language and behavior.
- The Head Coach may ask that umpire to ask his partner what he saw (appeal). That umpire may or may not speak to the other umpire – you may not go to the other umpire. When a decision is rendered, it is final.
- The Head Coach must call and receive time before going onto the field.
- The assistant coaches may do neither of these and may not talk to the umpire (about a call or decision).
- Neither coach may make any form of exaggerated disagreement, either verbal or body language, prior to an appeal or time out, during a discussion or after a decision rendered, or later in the game.
- The Head Coach may only discuss a rules issue – all judgment calls are not for discussion or comment (ball, strike, fair, foul, safe or out).
- Only one Head Coach at a time may talk to an umpire. At no time, should more than one coach gather around a Head Coach-Umpire discussion, either from the same team or both teams.
- The Head Coach should not try to influence the umpires call or try to coerce the umpire to change his call, either from trying to convince the umpire that the rule is different, to bringing a rule book out onto the field. The Head Coach can appropriately say that he believes the rule is different and the umpire may or may not seek his partners help, or the Head Coach may say that he has a rule book in the dugout, would the umpire come over and look at it (again, the umpire may decline – but take note – the game will not be delayed looking for the rule – the Head Coach must have the rule citation and the rule book ready for review).