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Updated: Feb 24, 2022

You're evaluating an umpire who is either fairly new to the job or hasn't received much instruction or feedback.

You'll probably see a few obvious red flags that will tell you he or she isn't quite ready to move up to the next level.

Not all of the indications are, by themselves, a problem that automatically tells you the umpire isn't ready. Some of them are just indications the official hasn't yet learned the finer points of umpiring and might still improve.

Let's go over a few of them.


Does the umpire show up in the proper uniform? Is it clean, worn properly and, more or less, fitted properly? In umpiring, as in many things in life, attention to detail is often an indicator of quality.

Just as the players and coaches will judge an umpire by their appearance, so will you. If the umpire isn't wearing a uniform properly, it can be an indication they don't pay attention to the many small things an umpire needs to be aware of.

In addition, appearance is one of the few things an umpire is in complete control of. So if he has an unkempt appearance, it can possibly show they haven't been taught about the importance of their presentation, or they don't care.


This one I see all the time. The batter fouls a pitch straight back to the backstop and the plate umpire throws both arms up in the air and loudly yells "FOOOUUUUULLL!"

Again, by itself it does nothing to negatively affect the game. But it's an indication the umpire isn't aware there's no need to vocalize or demonstrate on an obvious foul ball.

And never mind he's unnecessarily calling attention to himself by being so loud when he doesn't have to be. If an umpire is loud all the time, it takes away his effectiveness when he HAS to be loud on a close play.


There are two versions of this one:

  1. The plate umpire keeps pointing to the pitcher and saying "Play!" when the ball is already live.

  2. The plate umpire doesn't put the ball back in play when he has to, such as after a time out or a foul ball, with runners on base.


Making calls - whether they're safes and outs, fair/foul or balls and strikes - too quickly is an indication the umpire is too anxious and/or hasn't received much training. It's a lot easier to make a decision when you slow your timing down and let what just happened get processed in your brain. But, of course, this umpire hasn't learned that yet.


Most of us work the majority of our games in the two-umpire system. In that system, both umpires should be on the move most of the time the ball is put in play, especially with runners on base. If you watch the umpire you're supervising until the end of the play and he still hasn't moved from where he started, it's a sign he doesn't know, first of all, that he's supposed to move somewhere and, second, where he's supposed to go.

There's also a good possibility that when the ball was hit he just became a fan and started watching the play, not realizing he is no longer just a spectator.


The pitch is swung on for strike three and you see your umpire do a beautiful strike three mechanic, complete with voice and a great "pull the chain saw" mechanic. That probably means he's paying SOME attention, and he saw someone else, whether in a local game or on TV, do a strike-three mechanic. So he knows HOW to do it. He just doesn't know when to do it.


Does the official keep looking at the indicator, right in front of his face?

That's an easily fixable bad habit, but it's also a sign the umpire isn't aware of how much of the game he's missing while staring at his indicator.


Your umpire is in perfect position for a play at third. He makes a great "safe" signal, complete with good timing. He looks good. Everything is going great. Then he turns his back on the play and jogs back to his position.


Dang it! He was doing so well! But experienced umpires know you never turn your back on a live ball. So now you know your guy isn't there yet.

There are several more indicators - such as what time your umpire showed up, whether he takes his mask off when the ball is put in play, how long he takes for discussions - but the ones mentioned here should tell you how much instruction your umpire is going to need.

And, again, these are only indicators that your umpire doesn't have much experience or hasn't had that much instruction. What really counts is if he is coachable, willing to work at umpiring,