5 Ways to Get the Best Games

Jan 12th, 2012

Do you ever look at the umpiring schedule of some of your peers and wonder, “How does he get always get the best games?”  This seems to be a common question with most umpire associations that I’ve worked with, been involved with, or heard about.

We need to recognize the task at hand is a great responsibility. For most assignors, no matter the level of games to be filled, assigning umpires to various games can be a daunting task involving many factors.

Imagine for a moment you are asked to sit in your assignor’s seat for one baseball season. Striving to do your best; what qualities would you look for in your roster of umpires?

If you ask me (and we’ll pretend you just did) here are the top

5 Ways to get the Best Games from your Assignor:

  1. Ability
  2. Availability
  3. Willingness to Work Any Level
  4. Mentoring Others
  5. Low Maintenance

First, ability means everything:
Can you umpire?  Can the local assignor feel comfortable putting you on any field, at any time, and not worry about the job getting done correctly?  Do you study umpiring by reading the newest rule book, or the latest mechanics manual? Do you test your abilities at clinics each year?  If not, it might be time to brush up on your skills.

Second, availability makes the job of the assignor an easier one:
I know many of you have a day-time job that pays most of the bills, but do you have a schedule that is flexible and easy for the assignor to work with?  Baseball games start at various time of the day.  Are you available during a majority of them?  When a fellow umpire has to cancel his assigned game last-minute are you the reliable “go-to” guy the assignor calls to help him out of a jam?

Third, umpires must be willing to work at any level:
Sure we all prefer the high-profile games, but are you willing to work a low-profile game when asked?  You should be.  Your attitude toward baseball games at any level, speaks volumes of your umpiring capabilities.  You should umpire each game as it is the most important game around, because guess what?  It IS the most important game to those on the field, and to everyone watching and cheering from the stands.  Is it the best game you’ve ever umpired?  Probably not, but you should umpire like it is. The expectation is still the same. Start at 100% and get better from there.

Fourth, umpires need to mentor one another
New umpires need mentoring and teaching by more experienced members.  Assignors have to ensure that their association maintaining a certain level of excellence.  One way this is achieved is by umpires teaching umpires.  Umpires that have a true passion for umpiring, always take an interest in the betterment of other umpires, especially the newest members. Are you willing to work with the new guy to teach him the “steps of the dance”?  This characteristic is vital to the success of the rookie umpire, as well as the veteran.

Finally, be a “low maintenance” umpire:
Don’t create headaches and problems for your assignor.  When your assignor gives you a schedule, study the schedule right away and look for issues that conflict with work or family responsibilities and give those games back immediately. Do not confirm games initially, and then give them back to your assignor at the last minute.  This puts him in a bind to reschedule the assignment with little time.  Incidentally, you’ll notice the guy with the most availability (see:#2 above)  probably gets the game.

Try to incorporate all “Five Ways to Get the Best Games” I’ll bet you’ll find that YOU become the umpire that other umpires wish to be. Even better, soon they will be asking, “How do YOU always get the best games!?”

What other tips do you have?

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About the Author

Picture of Brandon Cooper

NCAA Umpire Brandon Cooper

Brandon Cooper is a highly respected NCAA umpire with many years of professional experience. He's a 1999 graduate of Jim Evans Academy of Professional Umpiring. Brandon worked as a Minor League Umpire from 1999 to 2006 and currently works as a NCAA Umpire. Brandon worked Appalachian Rookie, South Atlantic A, Carolina A, Eastern AA, International AAA Leagues and currently umpires a complete schedule of Big East, Ohio Valley, DI Non- Conference, DII Regional 2011 and DIII games.


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