Baseball Coaching Tips for Interacting with Umpires
A good baseball coach must learn how to interact with umpires. Let’s take a look at some Baseball Coaching Tips for Interacting with Umpires.
#1 Developing a Rapport
I find it a lot easier to interact with an umpire that I know than one that I don’t know. My strategy is to get to know the ones that I didn’t know and fast. A coach should try to have some brief conversations with umpires before, during and sometimes even after the game.
#2 Balls & Strikes
Coaches are generally not allowed to appeal or argue about balls and strikes. This behavior could lead to ejection. However, if the coach has a developed a rapport with the umpire then they may be able to slip in a clever comment or question to inform the umpire of the issue with the strike zone. For example, a coach who has a rapport with the umpire maybe able to ask where the pitch is missing. A clever comment or question like that should not be announced in front of everyone. At the older levels, sometimes mentioning to the umpire your pitcher has a late breaking curveball that he throws for a strike will get that pitch a longer look from the umpire. These are comments are something the coach can casually mention to the umpire while warming up the pitcher or when passing by to coach a base.
#3 Read the Rule Book
It will be very hard to interact with umpires if the coach doesn’t know the rules. The analogy I would use is that if you’re in a foreign country and you don’t speak that language then you will have some difficulty. A coach must learn the rules so they can speak the umpire’s language. Here are some commonly misunderstood rules explained and a cheatsheet you can download and take with you to the field:
Baseball Rules Cheatsheet from Baseball Zone
#4 The Appeal Process
If a coach disagrees with a call that the umpire has made then they must appeal it properly. The coach should not run out onto the field while yelling and screaming. The coach should ask for time from the home plate umpire and then ask for permission to speak to the umpire who made the call. The umpire who made the call is the only one who can grant the appeal.
#5 Asking for Time
A coach should never wander out onto the field without asking for time from the home plate umpire. Most umpires will become very upset at coaches who do not follow proper procedures. After issuing a walk, the batter must touch first base and the umpire must deem the play dead before he will issue time and allow the coach to walk out on to the field.
Respect is a two way street. If the coach does not show the umpire proper respect then there is a good chance the umpire will do everything they can to make the coach’s experience as difficult as possible.
#7 Controlling the Players
All of a coach’s good work with creating a rapport with the umpire can be destroyed if the players are allowed to disrespect the umpire. The coach should proactively tell players to not engage in any type of negativity towards the umpire.
#8 Controlling the Assistants
Out of control assistant coaches can be a nightmare for the head coach or manager and a headache for the umpire. A coach who develops a reputation for not being able to control assistants will quickly become unpopular with umpires.
#9 Controlling the Parents
The same is true for out of control parents. An umpire may see that the coach has a little less control over parents. However, a coach who doesn’t even try to help the situation through mediation may be viewed upon by the umpire as just as guilty as the out of control parents. The best strategy that I can suggest is being proactive. The coach should set the tone with parents before the season starts. The coach must inform them and remind them that it is the coach and no one else that should be communicating with the umpire.
#10 Standing Your Ground Respectfully
A coach has the right to disagree with an umpire’s call but there is a way to do that respectfully. A coach should not be yelling and swearing at an umpire or making some other type of commotion. I have managed youth baseball teams for over ten years and I don’t always agree with the umpire’s call. The one thing that I try to never do is disrespect any umpire who I interact with. It is a bad example for the players you are coaching and won’t help with your current dispute or any future interactions with that umpire.
Umpires have a difficult job and they certainly don’t need coaches making it any more difficult. Coaches can find respectful and creative ways to appropriately interact with umpires.
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