Being a Little League Umpire has great rewards. We hope this article helps new and current umpires prepare for another season of Baseball/Softball at the Little League level.
Make no mistake, umpiring is just as important as a league's local board, managers, coaches, volunteers and players. Every year, thousands of volunteer men and women put on the uniform to take the field for another game. Good weather, bad weather, we’re there not only for the love of the game, but for the players. Without umpires, you can image how games would be played.
To become a Little League umpire, you have to decide that you're going to have the right mind set. Know that there are going to be times you'll ask yourself "Why am I doing this?". Umpires, Managers, and Coaches are people. There's going to be good days, and there's going to be bad ones. DON'T let that keep you from a game that you love. We will give you tips on how to deal with these types of situations.
Just like any job, you have to be prepared. Having a good understanding helps, but there's more to it. Uniforms, equipment, shoes, and hats are investments that you'll have to make, but in the long run it's going to pay off. Umpiring is not cheap. Umpires are always buying new equipment, shirts, and hats to stay up to date. If you're serious about the profession, spending up to $500 this first year is not unthinkable. Look at it this way, the equipment you buy will last for years, if you take care of it.
Continuing education on rules and field mechanics training is a never-ending process. Every year there's changes in the rules, how to position yourself on the field, and training to make you a better umpire. Little League recognized this fact in the last few years and created Little League University, LLU. They have good training online training videos to help you become a better umpire.
If you’re serious about umpiring, consider joining the Little League Umpire Registry. It’s free and you get access to great information about being an umpire. In 2020, Little League developed and released an electronic version of the Baseball, Softball, and Challenger rulebooks for $1.99. This is a one-time charge with future updates at no additional charge. You can check it out www.littleleagueumpire.org.
Frequently Asked Questions
What’s the minimum age to become an umpire?
Minimum age requirements vary from league to league. Some leagues set an age of 12 and above, others are 14 and above. A lot of it will depend on the person. Check with your local league for specifics. You can always contact us through our website for more information.
Do I have to attend an umpire clinic before I umpire?
Check with your local league. Some require it and others may conduct training at their local league. It is HIGHLY recommended that you attend a clinic to learn the rules and getting a good understanding of field mechanics. Transitioning from a player to an umpire is a whole new adjustment.
Do I have to buy uniforms to umpire?
Yes, we highly recommend it. There are several sites you can purchase hats, shirts, and pants from. There are several companies who sell umpire uniforms and it’s more of a personal preference where you order them from. Remember this, if you walk on the field and look professional, you’re halfway there. If you don’t look like you’re taking this seriously, you will most likely have problems. Look professional, you’ll feel better and have a great time.
How much do I expect to spend on plate equipment?
That depends on what and how much you want to spend. If you’re not sure umpiring is right for you, look for decent, used equipment. New equipment can run up to $500-700 when you look at masks, chest protector, belt, ball bags, indicators, brushes, and plate shoes.
How much time would I expect to spend umpiring?
That’s up to you. Most leagues are short umpires and you could work games every night and on the weekends. Most leagues have 2 games a night per field starting between 5:30pm and 6:00pm. Games typically finish between 9:30-10:00pm.
Can I still be an umpire if I didn’t play baseball/softball as a kid?
Yes. Having played baseball/softball as a kid is not a requirement to be an umpire. Sure, it helps but if you have the desire, ambition, and wherewithal, you’ll be a good umpire.
Will I be partnered with an experience umpire my first time on the field?
Yes. Leagues will work with new umpires to make sure they’re ready. Umpire clinics, on field training and field mechanics taught by the district and local leagues are covered so that you have the tools to be an umpire.
Are managers, coaches, and parents really that bad?’
That’s up to you. Once you take the field, you set the tone. Your appearance, attitude, and behavior all make a difference. In most cases, when there’s what we call a “banger play”, a close call, managers and coaches might get excited. They may want to call time out to talk to you. We recommend talking to them because it’ll calm things down. Remember this when you talk to coaches, don’t look to eject them for asking questions. As long as the conversation doesn’t get personal, let them talk. If they ask you to talk to your partner, talk to your partner. It shows respect for the manager/coach for doing their job and you’ll see how fast the fans calm down. Whatever you do, don’t change your call just to please a manager/coach. Ask your partner “What did you have?”. Listen to what your partner has to say and consider it.
I have another game with a manager/coach that didn’t like my calls the last game. What do I do?
Nothing. The situations you had the last game are “in the book”. It’s over. The game you’re getting ready to do is a new game, and you don’t know what’s going to happen. Whatever you do, don’t hold a grudge or look to eject anyone. It’ll only make things worse.
What do I do next?
Start by contacting your local league. They can get in contact with the right person to get started. If you need additional information, please complete the 'Contact Us' form and someone will get back you by the next day.