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Leaders Should Be Readers - Part 2

As we demonstrated with last week's listing of six books that should be read by umpires in leadership roles, there's a lot more to umpiring than just reading the rule book, calling strikes and balls, and safes and outs.

For example, if you want to be considered a top umpire, you're going to have to learn about leadership, making presentations, communicating, being creative, and working hard. And there are a lot of great books out there that can help you in these areas, and more.

So without any more preamble, let's get into Part 2 of suggested books that can help you become a better umpire, even though the books aren't about umpiring.

1. How Champions Think, by Dr. Bob Rotella.

For those not aware, Dr. Rotella is considered by many to be one of the world's top sports psychologists.

In the book, Dr. Rotella uses examples of his work with top athletes to share his performance principles for success.

For example, he describes how:

  • Basketball star LeBron James uses visualization to fix his three-point shooting

  • Pitcher Greg Maddux used self-evaluation to become a top pitcher

  • NASCAR star Jimmy Johnson used a different mental approach

  • Hall of Fame golfer Pat Bradley learned to use laserlike focus to win championships

Visusalization. Self-evaluation. Mental approach. Focus. Sound like anything an umpire could use to improve?

2. Coaching & Mentoring for Dummies by Marty Brounstein

The "For Dummies" franchise may be perceived by some - mostly those who haven't read any of the books - as a light analysis of the subject. That may or may not have been true in the early stages of the "Dummies" series, but it's certainly not any more.

Coaching & Mentoring for Dummies is a detailed look at how to coach and/or mentor people in your field, whether it's in a work environment or, as in our case, umpires. Sample chapters include:

  • The Do's and Don'ts of Mentoring and Tutoring

  • Taking Them Under Your Wing

  • Motivation - Not Inspiration or Perspiration

  • Setting Performance Plans the SMART Way

While it does tend to focus more on the business environment, the book is easily transferable to sports officials, and it gives detailed analysis of how to become a mentor and the steps to take - and not to take - once you have someone to mentor.

3. The Greatest Coach Ever: Timeless Wisdom and Insights of John Wooden, by Tony Dungy, David Robinson, Tom Osborne and others

Yes, we had a John Wooden book in Part One of this series. To be honest, there are easily five books about or by John Wooden that umpires should read if they want to become better umpires or better people.

In The Greatest Coach Ever, well-known coaches and athletes such as former NFL coach Tony Dungy and former NBA star David Robinson tell detailed stories about what they learned from Wooden and how he changed their lives.

Each chapter also has quotes and teachings from Wooden, such as:

"If I'm prepared, perhaps my chance will come. But if I'm not primed, I'll miss my opportunity, and it isn't likely to come again. I have to think as if I'm only going to get one shot, so I must be ready."

"Be slow to correct and quick to commend. No one likes correction, but we learn from it. If we commend before we correct, the person will accept the correction better. But we must listen before we correct. There is usually another side to every story. If we listen to others, they will be more apt to listen to us."

4. How to Have Confidence and Power In Dealing With People, by Les Giblin

The title makes the book sound like it was written with umpires in mind. If there's one thing an umpire needs on the field, it's confidence.

Some have it, some don't.

But if you don't have it, how do you get it? That's essentially the question this book answers. In its many short and to-the-point chapters, the book outlines, among other things what it can do for you, your keys to success and happiness, and how to create a good first impression. It then sums up each chapter in just a few paragraph, which is a really helpful tool.

5. Talent is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers from Everybody Else, by Geoff Colvin

Where does talent really come from? Do we have it at birth?

Are some people just naturally better at some things than other people are?

In the book (shown here with my multiple page markers for important sections), Colvin shows the reader, through studies and fascinating stories, that we can all be successful in our chosen fields, no matter what "talent" we have when we start. It takes not only knowledge and hard work, but self-evaluation and "deliberate practice."

After showing us that we all have talent, Colvin then shows us how to apply ourselves in our chosen fields. One of the keys to success, Colvin maintains, is passion. So if you're trying to climb the umpiring ladder and you're determined and full of passion for the field, learning Colvin's methods should help you succeed.

6. Slide:ology: The Art and Science of Creating Great Presentations, by Nancy Duarte

If you're putting together another boring PowerPoint presentation to show your young umpire recruits the fascinating world of the infield fly rule, stop what you're doing.

Most people roll their eyes when they hear they're going to be subjected to a PowerPoint presentation, because most people who present them don't know how to put them together properly.

In Slide:ology, Duarte has put together a colorful and powerful book that shows you step by step how to create a presentation that your young umpires will actually pay attention to and maybe, just maybe, they might actually learn something, too.

Because the book is full of beautiful slide examples, it's easy to be be won over by Duarte's teachings. And to top it off, she finishes with "The Five Theses of the Power of a Presentation," which are:

  • Treat your audience as king

  • Spread ideas and move people

  • Help them see what you're saying

  • Practice design, not decoration

  • Cultivate healthy relationships


Do you have some thoughts on this week's blogs or any of the other ones? Then please, let us know through the comments section or on our Facebook page. Look on Facebook for "Umpire Mentors" or "Umpire Mentors Group." And please, join our Facebook pages.


The UMPIRE MENTORS book is now out! 422 pages of advice, tips, secrets and stories from 100 of the world's best umpire mentors. To have a look or get your copy, go to



The use of an umpire behind the plate and one in the field becomes standard.


The use of six umpires for World Series games is mandated.

This Week's Umpire Quote

“Take pride in your work at all times. Remember, respect for an umpire is created off the field as well as on.”

- Ford Frick

Former NL President

This Week's Quote That Applies To Umpiring

“If you’re not willing to learn, no one can help you. If you’re determined to learn, no one can stop you.”

- Zig Ziglar

American salesman

and motivational speaker

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