For the Betterment of the Game
As an umpire, you have the ability to control the game. This also means you have the ability to help make the game a positive experience for everyone. In order to help create an environment in which all coaches, players, and parents will feel comfortable and positive, you can make a good first impression, maintain professionalism, and create an environment of respect.
Make a Good First Impression
You've heard it time and time again- first impressions are crucial. This is also true for the first impressions made of you as an umpire for a game. In order to start out the game on a good foot, it is important to make a good first impression. Below are a few tips to help you make the best first impression possible.
- Be on Time: One of the best ways to create a good first impression is to be on time, or even early, and to be prepared. Showing up to a game right at game time and not being prepared to begin the game can create a bad first impression, which could carry over into the game. By getting to the game early and being ready to go on the scheduled game time, you can make a good first impression that you have everything under control.
- Introduce Yourself to the Coaches: You will be dealing with the coaches during the game and working together to keep the game on track, so it is important that you create a good relationship with all of the coaches from the start. When you walk onto the field, find the coaches for each team, introduce yourself, and shake their hand. It's up to you what you would like for them to call you, whether it's your name or Mr. Blue. Make sure to remember what each coaches' name is so that during the game if you need to talk to them, you can approach them by using their name. Taking the time to introduce yourself to the coaches and start out on a positive note can be helpful later on in the game if conflict arises.
- Be friendly and Approachable: It can be easy for coaches and players to see umpires as the bad guys or girls. By being friendly to all coaches and players and treating them all with respect, you can be more approachable, which may reduce conflicts. If a coach feels like they can approach you and ask you a question without getting in trouble, the atmosphere of the game will become more open and clear. Coaches could also approach you more calmly if they know you are friendly.
As an umpire, professionalism is a key component to overall game management. However, preparation in professionalism starts well before the game. Professionalism is the skill, good judgment, and polite behavior that is expected from a person who is trained to do a job well. This includes:
- Dedication: Being an umpire is hard work. It takes dedication and passion to become a great umpire. One of the best qualities an umpire can have is the dedication to the betterment of the game for all coaches, players, and parents. Through being dedicated to your work as an umpire, you will help create a better environment of professionalism.
- Hustle: Standing out on the field or behind the plate for long periods of time can be tiring, but you have the ability to set the pace of the game with how you hustle. Jogging on the field and running to get in position to make calls shows that you care about the game. To players, this also shows them how they should hustle on and off the field. When umpires walk around on the field it can appear unprofessional.
- Integrity: Integrity is the quality of being honest and fair, and doing the right thing. One of the most important things an umpire can do is maintain the integrity of the game. This means catching and correcting any cheating that may occur. While the majority of coaches, players, and parents will uphold the integrity of the game, there are some who will cross the line. Catching those who cross the line and righting the situation is a good way for umpires to have integrity and maintain professionalism.
- Responsibility: As an umpire, it is your responsibility to act in a professional manner before, during, and after the game. While you are an authoritative figure on the field, it is important to remember that you are also the most watched person on the field, and that your actions can be seen by all coaches, parents, and players.
Creating an Environment of Respect
One of the most important things an umpire should have from the coaches, players, and parents is respect. As an umpire, you should value the opinions, views, and roles of all others on the field with you, and you should expect all others to do the same for you. However, respect is not just freely given because you have authority. You have to earn respect. Here are some tips on how to earn respect from others:
- Show Respect to Others: Sometimes coaches, players, and even parents will disagree with calls that you make. While some people will disagree in a respectful manner, asking you to please consult with your umpiring staff, others may be disrespectful and try to argue. It is crucial that you show the same amount of respect to everyone, no matter the amount of respect they are showing you. By being respectful to everyone in every situation, you may earn the respect of people around you.
- Treat Everyone Fairly: It can be easy to get along better with some people more so than others, but as an umpire, you have to be able to get along with everyone. Part of this includes treating everyone fairly and doing the right thing when a decision needs to be made. Through treating everyone fairly and not showing favoritism, you are better able to control the game and ensure that all coaches, players, and parents can respect your decisions.
- Listen to Others: There are more than one umpires per game for a reason- to be able to work together to call a good game. Umpires need to be able to work together on the field. If one umpire refuses to listen to another when discussing calls, it could impact the game. Try to listen to the umpires you are calling a game with and hear their sides of the call. Respect for the umpires you are working with is an important part of the game.
- Maintain Self-Control: When a coach, player, or parent gets upset about a call, it can be difficult to remain calm when discussing the call with them. No matter how upset the coach, player, or parent gets, you have to remain calm and maintain your self-control. You are the most influential person on the field that can control the flow of the game. If you get upset and lose your self-control, it will be difficult for you to regain control of the game. By staying calm and maintaining your self-control, you will be acting in a more respectful manner towards the person who is upset.
- Be Confident in Yourself: Having confidence in yourself and your umpiring abilities will not only come through in how you call a game, but in your body language as well. When coaches, players, and parents see that you are confident, they will feel more confident about you calling their game, and in turn respect you more.