Good umpiring requires rules knowledge, personal attributes, and mastery of complex skills. It requires years for umpires to develop to the highest levels of proficiency.
At Baseball Canada National Championships, umpires are assessed based on the competencies listed below. At any level of development, umpires and evaluators can use these competencies to guide their development and set goals for continuous improvement.
Having a positive attitude both on and off the field is a key to good umpiring. This includes socialization with others, ability to work with the crew, keeping to the schedule, taking a leadership role and more.
Does the umpire arrive at least 30 minutes before the schedule starting time? Does the umpire arrive for the plate meeting on time?
Is the uniform clean and well pressed? Are the shoes polished? Is the uniform within the established standards?
Does the umpire's equipment appear to be in good condition? Is the umpire's equipment adequate in it's safety for the level of baseball?
Did the umpire take the opportunity to speak with his / her partners prior to taking the field regarding any specific ground rules or issues which may arise, i.e.. time limits, weather? Did the umpire demonstrate ability to prepare (both mentally and physically) prior to assignments.
Does the umpire present a positive and appropriate image (i.e.. appropriate dress attire, interaction with assignors, colleagues, supervisors.)
Does the umpire avoid unnecessary game delays? Does the umpire ensure teams hustle between innings? Does the umpire get someone to warm up the pitcher if necessary? Appropriate use of ball boys / girls if available or players to get foul balls? Dugout management, managing the hitter in the batter's box.
Reaction to Criticism
Does the umpire allow criticism to negatively effect them during the game or after a situation may have occurred? Does the umpire handle criticism in an appropriate manner at the correct time to prevent it from continuing or escalating?
Does the umpire communicate appropriately with team personnel and the score keeper? Does the umpire effectively communicate substitutions? Does the umpire communicate verbally and non verbally with partners throughout the game? Does the umpire employ any techniques while conversing with team personnel which may de-escalate or prevent a situation?
Does the umpire convey confidence through their body language during the game? Does the umpire consider their body language between innings? Does the umpire’s body language show indecisiveness or doubt in their abilities?
Does the umpire allow a mistake to effect their concentration moving forward? Does the umpire appear to lose concentration during the game? Does this have a negative impact on the game?
Does the umpire consult with their partner’s when necessary? Does the umpire back their partner when the situation dictates it? Does the umpire follow the correct protocol when dealing with a protest?
Does the umpire appear in control when dealing with a situation? Does the umpire attempt to de-escalate situations when possible? Does the umpire make the appropriate decision in dealing with ejections? Does the umpire issue appropriate warnings? Does the umpire handle their own situations not relying on their partners? Is effective body language maintained in challenging situations?
Keys to consider when evaluating the plate umpire’s stance: Footwork, Head Height, Use of slot, Adjustments, Square to pitcher, Arms in safe location. Keys to consider when evaluating the base umpire’s stance: Square to play with head and shoulders, Balanced, Hands on knees or standing.
Are the signals clearly visible? Are the signals crisp and aggressive or lazy? Do the signals assist the umpire in selling a call? Are the signals given when appropriate and required?
Does the umpire use an appropriate voice when calling balls and strikes? Does the umpire fluctuate their voice when emphasizing close calls? Does the umpire’s voice demonstrate confidence? Can the umpire be heard by the scorekeeper or team personnel when required? Can the umpire be heard by their partners throughout the game? Does the umpire’s voice stay consistent or fade throughout the game?
Does the base umpire step up with the correct foot? Does the base umpire correctly use a read step? Is the umpiring cross-stepping or back-peddling? Is the umpire continually moving or do they let the play dictate their movement? Do they utilize and understand the working area?
Following the Ball
Does the umpire step up, turn, and face the ball? Does the umpire always attempt to be chest to ball? Does the umpire pick up the ball off the bat?
Is the umpire in the correct starting position? Is the umpire the correct distance from the play in making a call? Is the base umpire utilizing the 90 degree theory? Does the umpire read ‘pressure’ when appropriate? Is the umpire getting a better angle versus distance? Is the umpire making adjustments not to get blocked out on a play? Plate umpire getting the correct position for plays at the plate?
Plate umpire using consistent and appropriate timing calling balls and strikes? Base umpire using appropriate timing, confirming control before giving signal? Does the umpire allow a close play to alter his / her timing?
Appropriate for level of baseball? Consistent throughout the game?
Does the umpire’s mobility affect them getting to the correct spot? Does the umpire show hustle throughout the game, both during plays and between innings? Does the umpire let the game dictate their hustle?
Does the umpire get to the proper spot for all rotations? Is the umpire late in recognizing rotations? Does the umpire appear to be lacking in knowledge of the appropriate system being used? Does the umpire cover rotations which may have been missed by another umpire?
Does the umpire have a solid rules foundation? Does the umpire correctly apply the rules? Did the umpire misapply a rule during the game? Did the umpire not apply an applicable rule? Does the umpire enforce specific rules for a specific age group?