When in Doubt, Call Them Out or…Sell It as a Safe?

Reference: article in Referee magazine, Baseball section, March 2023 We cannot always attain the perfect distance and angle on close safe-or-out plays. This is especially true in the 2-umpire system. What should you do when you did your best to get the correct distance/angle but could not see the entire play as it unfolded? Many umpires will state emphatically that

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NCAA meeting – Coaches Q & A

Thanks to Rob Penticoff for taking notes from the 2023 NCAA meeting video and creating this PDF for the Coaches Q&A portion of the meeting. This may help our umpires understand what coaches look for in a great collegiate official. NCAA meeting – Coaches Q & A

Between Innings Management

Game Management Umpires must be aware that when a half-inning ends, it is not time to “take a break.” There is a lot happening on the field between innings. If the crew needs to hold a quick meeting for something germane to the game that must be discussed, this meeting must be quick and the crew should still be watching

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Conference Tracking Template

One of the new rules introduced for the 2022-2023 season limits the number of times each team can hold charged player-to-player conferences per regulation game and per inning. In addition, the rules regarding charged conferences have been changed – all games will now follow the previous media format rules. These changes make it even more imperative that we keep a

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Preventive Umpiring versus Coaching

Parts of this article are taken from excerpts from Referee.com, 4/30/2021 Once in a while umpires will get into a debate about what should and should not be brought to the attention of coaches when it comes to certain situations whereby there may be a nuance between preventive umpiring in a situation which may be helping a team who could

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Topic and Focus Pre-games

Crew chiefs should consider starting the pre-game with their partners a few days before your game. Use the Rule Book, the CCA Manual and this article as your sources for material. Choose one of the pre-games below. Send an email to your crew and divide up the topics, with each member of the crew taking one or two items and

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Connecting with Coaches

Are you on their list? What does it take improve our relationships with coaches? Are you on the list when the coaches tell the assigner which umpires they would like to see umpiring their games? Let us admit it – there are some officials who gel with some coaches and, statistically, the ones who get along get further ahead. What’s

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Video Review

Video review was successfully experimented with during the 2019 and 2021 softball seasons. NCAA will now allow video review for all games; it is not mandatory. This is one of the major rule changes for 2022-2023. Rule 5.9.9 and Appendix G have the details for this new rule. This article is a summary of the key components of video review.

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What You Do Not Say to Coaches

In today’s situation with social media and other venues, anything and everything an umpire says may be heard, whether on the field or off the field. Never make any off-handed comments about a person that may be construed to affect an individual’s reputation. This becomes even more important when umpires are on the field. Umpires may use many different words

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Managing Trick Plays

Deception is part of every sport and softball is no different in that regard. Clever coaches constantly think of ways to fool opponents and it sometimes takes a few years for rules makers to shut it down. We need to be ready for these plays and judge whether they violate a rule or not. If they do not violate any

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Managing Arguments Effectively

This article includes excerpts from Referee publication No Argument. One of the biggest factors which separate the top college umpires is their ability to manage a game. College coaches, in general, have a more active role in the game because, for most of them, this is their livelihood, their job/career. Their longevity in that job can depend on the success

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Judgment Calls and Arguments

There are multiple articles on this Locker Room website which deal with interactions between umpires and coaches. You should also read these articles: Connecting with Coaches, Misconduct, Warnings by Rule, What You Do Not Say to Coaches, Comments and Gestures, Managing Arguments Effectively, and Are You Approachable? A rule change in the 2016-2017 NCAA Rule Book, and a Point of

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Handling Situations (by Anthony Garcia)

Example of an argument You make a call on a hard hit down the line and you know without a doubt that you got it correct. You were in position, saw the whole thing with the correct angle and distance, had good timing, and ‘sold’ the call well but here comes the coach. The beginning • First thing that usually

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Comments and Gestures – Where Is Your Line

Some material from Referee.com 10/10/19 Comments from head coaches, their coaching staffs, team supporters and fans can vary and deserve a multitude of responses. But when the comments go from noise to unprofessional conduct, officials have a responsibility to address it — using both management skills and the rules to establish a return to civility. When it comes to dealing

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Coach approaches non-calling umpire

Crewness After a coach talks to the calling umpire, if any coach from either team talks to any other umpire about the play the only thing that umpire should tell the coach: Coach, the calling umpire has already made his call and talked to the coach about it. I have no comment. New rule added to the 2024-2025 rule book:

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Umpire Procedures for Handling an Altercation or Brawl

When a physical altercation between two players starts, the closest umpire should immediately attempt to handle the situation. If the altercation evolves into a brawl between players of opposing teams all umpires must become involved. These rules come into effect: Rule 13.3 Physical Contact with an Umpire or Opponent Rule 13.4 Leaving Team Area to Join a Brawl All Umpires’

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Handling Ejections

The first step to handling ejections is to try to avoid them if at all possible. One of the most important tenets for college softball umpires is respect for coaches and the jobs they have. We must do all we can to use the ejection tool only as a last resort. Review the Warnings article in the Game Management/Preventive section

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Is There Any Humor in an Ejection?

Funny Ejection Stories This happened in a Division 1 game. An assistant coach got ejected for ranting and raving about a judgment call. The ejection was well warranted because of his “overboard” actions. There was no automatic suspension for this behavioral ejection, but he got worse than a suspension: The ejected coach had flown his mother out to the tournament

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Inclement Weather or Unforeseen Circumstances

This is one of two articles on this Locker Room related to Inclement weather. See the companion article as well: CCSUA School Procedures for Inclement Weather. It is located by selecting the CCSUA button on the Dashboard page, then select Announcements This article covers the procedures for longer suspensions of play. See the companion article Suspension of play – normal

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Halted game rule and procedures

The Rule The weather is unpredictable, even in Southern California. You must familiarize yourself with the Halted Game rule – the plate umpire shall declare a halted game if play must be temporarily suspended with the intent that it will be continued at some later time or date. Use of the halted game rule may be decided at the pregame

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Protests and Forfeits

Protests The 2024-2025 rule book did not make any changes to the protest protocol for regular season games. However, it did include significant changes to 7.2.6, 7.2.6.1 and 7.2.6.2 (NCAA qualifiers and championship play protest procedures). Nothing is listed about this in the pages for Major Rule Changes or Significant Editorial Change. The following covers only the regular season protocols.

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Scrimmages Practices Games

The NCAA rule book designates four different forms of events in which teams may participate: • Practices – may be held with outside competition; the score is not kept and the event displays only the skills of the sport rather than competition between participants. These are exempt from the playing rules. • Scrimmages – limited to participation by appropriate institutional

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Basic Umpire Crew Pre-Game

Some material from the NASO Pick a Pregame booklet was used for this article. The crew pre-game meeting is an important discussion for all officiating crews working a collegiate contest. The Crew chief/plate umpire sets the tone for the single game or weekend series. Veteran crew chiefs should include the entire crew in their discussions and ask for honest feedback

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Pre-game Bat Inspection

It is extremely important that all umpire crews do a proper bat check before every game. This requires coordination with the coaches to ensure the bat list and bats are presented per the rule book. Bat Compression Testing is now required (rule changes in 2020 and 2022) for all NCAA softball games prior to the start of each tournament, series,

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Communications With Your Partners

Excerpted from Referee.com, August 8, 2018 The words “requires excellent communication skills” are part of virtually every job description in today’s market, to the point where they’ve become meaningless jargon. When it comes to umpiring, however, outstanding communication skills are essential. Effective umpiring communication will: Enhance your credibility Partners, coaches, players and spectators will gain confidence in you when they

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Verbal Communications

Officiating team sports required effective management and communication with the participants of the game. Officials need skills to apply and sell decisions in ways that are well received by the coaches and players. A good decision can be communicated badly and create perceptions of unfairnessA lot of research has been done on sports officials, with most of the decision-making component

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Getting the Call Right

The first requisite of an umpire is to ultimately get all decisions correct. Umpire pride is important, but never as important as getting the play right. It is the philosophy of the NCAA that umpires always seek to get the call right. This may involve the reversal of a previously rendered decision. However, the correct decision, not the pride of

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Changing a Call

This article is a sister article to the article Getting the Call Right (in this same Game Management General section of the Locker Room). It paraphrases an article from Referee.com (12/28/18). For many years, an umpire changing a call was considered a sign of weakness. The current thinking at all levels of play is that getting the decision correct must

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The Unwritten “Rules” of Game Management

Excerpted from an article in Referee Magazine and converted into presentation form.  Use the arrow-down symbol on the bottom-left of each page to advance to the next page of the presentation.

Game Flow

Some of the following information is taken from Referee.com article 1/22/19 Softball is played without a clock but increasing game times are very much on the minds of many involved with overseeing the game, particularly at those upper levels where television contracts and drawing fans into seats are big concerns. For a game that does not run on a clock,

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Normal Suspensions of Play

Any umpire may suspend the game for a legitimate reason, as outlined in the rule book. Use the signal in the CCA Manual. It is important for the calling umpire to use the appropriate emphasis, both signal and verbal, for the situation. The emphasis may range from the ordinary to the loud/strong (look at me, this is important). As the

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Administering Option Plays

From 2018 CCA manual Section 4, page 26 With the increase in option plays, umpires must be aware of the possibility that, at the conclusion of a play, a decision on an option play may require the previous batter to be returned to bat with the previous count. It is strongly suggested that umpires glance at their partners as you

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The Official Scorer

The official scorer (herein identified as the scorer) is part of the game personnel, as explained in rule 4.6. This is an important role and umpires should be aware of our responsibilities of identifying the scorer and communicating with him or her during the game. Identifying the scorer The scorer is appointed by the host team, conference commissioner or tournament

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Defensive Changes and Reporting Them

Thanks to Will Macedo, Oscar Segura and Martin Vandenburg for their assistance in writing this article. All defensive changes must be reported in college.  But what is a defensive change as compared to a defensive shift?  This is an important distinction, as the NCAA rule book has specific requirements for listing the defensive positions on the lineup card and even

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Conference Management

For more information on the rules governing conferences see the article Conferences in Rules Corner/The Game/Participants. Conferences between team representatives and players are a common occurrence during a college softball game. We must allow an appropriate amount of time for the coaches to meet with their players and, now with the new rules in 2022, allow player-to-player conferences. We do

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Sell the Tough Call

Excerpted from Referee.com 7/20/18 What do a ninth-inning call at home plate, a crucial roughing penalty late in the fourth quarter or a block/charge call all have in common? They are all tough calls that can generate conflict, controversy and a coach who is going to be very upset.  All officials have experienced conflict with a coach. Confrontations can have

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Rule Book Verbiage

When you have to make that difficult call and you know you nailed it with your rules knowledge, explain the situation to the coach with rule book verbiage. It is usually best to state the rule to the coach first and then if questioned, use the phrase “in my judgment” or “by rule” as appropriate. Here are some examples: RULE

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Body Language – Handshakes and Gesturing

Handshake at pre-game with coaches When you meet someone for the first time, the initial four minutes are powerful in the development of that person’s opinion of you.  A common introductory gesture is the handshake.  Whether it is the first time you have ever seen this coach, or a coach with whom you are familiar, the handshake at the pre-game

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“Are You Approachable?”

Coaches will sometimes tell our assigners that they feel some umpires are no longer willing to listen to their concerns. Perhaps we lost a piece of the puzzle when the rule changed to warn coaches when they questioned judgment. There is a difference when a coach is constantly questioning your strike zone, or your judgment on the bases. There are

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Non-verbal communications

Introduction Verbal communications are very important for umpires, but that is not the subject of this article. Before we list the different forms of non-verbal communications, let’s quickly review the key points of verbal communications. Clarity of speech Pauses Stress on words Remaining calm and focused Being polite Following basic rules of etiquette Non-verbal Communications (Body Language) Non-verbal communication comprises

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Going for Help on a Judgment Call

Can you change a judgment call when you kicked it and everyone knows you kicked it, but it’s not appealable? Should the umpire tell the coach he/she will not get partners together because this is judgment call and cannot be changed? There was an excellent write-up on the topic of “Going for Help” in the 2011 CCA Manual (pages 109-112), It was

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Judicious Use of the Stop Sign

Excerpts from Steve Tietz article in Referee magazine, August 2018 The “stop sign” has been commonplace for many years in multiple sports, but feelings toward it have changed in recent years.  Should it be used in a college softball game?  The current thinking is that it can be an effective tool in your toolkit but must be used judiciously and

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Indicator Management

  Knowing the correct count on the batter as a crew After a steal there was a question among the crew as to what the proper count is. What is the correct procedure? The plate umpire should get the crew together to ask for assistance to make sure all umpires agree on the count. Umpires must work hard to prevent

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Taking Substitutions from the Coach (Lost Mechanic)

Guidelines for taking Lineup changes There are three very important steps in handling substitution requests from coaches: • Interaction with the coach to accept the substitution • Making the changes on the lineup cards • Announcing the changes Information on how to accurately record the changes on your lineup card is covered by the article on the SUP website: Players

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Violations – Be 100% Sure or Due Diligence

Softball umpires make many judgment calls during a game. Some may determine the outcome of the game – a close play at the plate for the winning run. Others may be easy – batter-runner out at first base by 10 steps. And then there are the calls which seem to automatically result in a “discussion” between the calling umpire and

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Warnings

EWE Process As taught by the CCSUA Training Staff, an excellent method for handling game participants who continue to argue umpire calls…use the EWE process: Enough – “Coach, that’s enough.” This may be accompanied by the umpire hold out on hand in a “stop” gesture. Warning – “Coach, that’s your warning.” This should be accompanied by a stronger gesture and

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Warnings by Rule

In the 2020-2021 NCAA Softball Rules Book, there are 50 possible violations which require a warning from the umpire. See the list below.

Misconduct – Questioning Strike Zone or Umpire’s Judgment

A rule change in the 2016-2017 NCAA Rule Book gave umpires another tool to assist with game management. It was initiated by multiple coaches who were concerned/upset about other coaches being allowed to argue too long or too often. That year the rules committee made it a “Point of Emphasis” that questioning umpire’s calls based purely on their judgment would

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CCSUA School Procedures for Inclement Weather

Below is the protocol which the assigners sent to coaches and event managers for schools assigned by them.  See the companion article for umpires: Inclement Weather or Unforeseen Circumstances. It is located in the Game Management Corner, subsection General.