The CCSUA training program will consist of these major elements:
Locker Room web site
Monthly postings in the News & Notes section
Annual training cycle
A program of education in the four major areas of umpiring:
Rules, mechanics, game management, and protocols
In addition, the CCSUA training program will include these additional items:
Training sessions at the CCSUA and Assignor annual meeting
Observation and evaluations
Recommendations for post-season games
Training will be conducted throughout the year in conjunction with the NCAA Softball Umpire Program (SUP), the college assigners and various local college conferences.
CCSUA/NASO Locker Room
The CCSUA has developed a web site which is now hosted by the National Association of Sports Officials (NASO). It is called the College Softball Umpires Locker Room, and is the main portal for all information on the CCSUA and its training program. CCSUA umpires are expected to check the Locker Room at least once per week during the season, and at least every 2 weeks in the off-season. Training articles for rules, mechanics, game management and protocols are posted there as part of the training program.
The training staff will endeavor to post a monthly test on the Locker Room throughout the year, including the off-season. Questions will include rules, mechanics, game management and protocols. Each member should also take the annual NCAA on-line test as well as additional tests created and administered by this TP. Updated information on rules interpretations (and mechanics) will be part of this process.
The annual training cycle is intended for 1st year, 2nd year and selected veteran umpires. It shall include a Fall Clinic, Fall Ball observation games, and the CCSUA Preseason Camp. The veteran umpires will be selected based on a 3-year rotating cycle, enabling a veteran umpire to continue to improve his skills and knowledge.
The annual Fall Clinic is usually held in early September. It is attended by 1st year, 2nd year and selected veteran umpires. A request to miss the meeting must be submitted to the Training Coordinator by email. This email should include information such as how many college games he worked last year, at what levels, and why he feels that he can miss this meeting and still be ready to work the upcoming season.
Agenda items will be determined by the TC staff each year based on the past year’s experiences and observations, as well as changes to the CCA manual. Topics may include Assigners’ comments, review of the CCSUA Training program, rules differences, interpretations, key new rules, handling substitutions, enforcing pitching rules, and mechanics.
Fall Observation games
There will be a series of tournaments and games played by college teams during the fall of each year which will be used for training. These games are usually referred to as “Fall Ball.” The components of Fall Ball are: schools which are willing to participate, fees negotiated between the schools and CCSUA, selected umpires, observers and a TC staff member as assigner. If possible, some of these training opportunities will be used to train and observe 3-umpire mechanics.
The policy for the number of observation days for umpires will be:
For 1st year umpires, a minimum of 2 observation days of assignments.
For 2nd year umpires and selected veterans: a minimum of 1 observation day.
Two days of observations if the umpire has negative coaches’ comments or
After an unsatisfactory observation report during his/her first observation.
For umpires trying to move up to 3-ump (D1): a minimum of one observation day during which he/she works all three positions, otherwise two observation days.
For selected 3rd year and beyond umpires – Observations during Fall Ball may be required as deemed necessary by the TC staff. These are in addition to the selected veteran umpires going through their 3-year cycle
CCSUA Preseason Camp
In late January of each year the training staff will hold a 2-day camp for 1st year, 2nd year and selected veteran umpires. The purpose of this camp is to observe and evaluate the camp attendees for their ability to umpire college softball. If possible, certain fields will be used for umpires wanting to improve their skills in the SUP 3-umpire system. Except for unforeseen circumstances, the umpires will be videotaped and have available to them a copy of their games.
Rules training will be conducted throughout the year with sessions at the CCSUA Annual Meeting, sessions at the Fall Clinic and Preseason Camp, articles on the Locker Room, and articles in the CCSUA Newsletter.
It shall be a requirement of each member to purchase and read the current NCAA rule book before the season begins, and to frequently review it during the season. As part of the training program, an article is posted in the Locker Room with tips on how to read and comprehend the rule book.
The SUP Central Hub is the repository for updates and corrections to the rule book. It also has the official rule interpretations. As part of the requirement for college umpires to continue to advance their skills, it is expected that our umpires will frequently check this web site throughout the year.
The Collegiate Commissioners Association (CCA) Softball Umpires Manual is the official mechanics manual for the NCAA and will be used by the CCSUA. All CCSUA umpires will be required and expected to use the philosophies and mechanics outlined in the CCA Manual. Classroom clinics, field clinics and observation tournaments will be the vehicles that the CCSUA will use to teach and train the CCSUA umpires on the spirit and philosophies of umpiring, duties and procedures of the college umpire, how to handle difficult situations, and the two-umpire and three-umpire systems used in the college softball game.
Game management is an extremely important topic for college umpires. An umpire is expected to be very knowledgeable in rules and mechanics in order to reach the level of college umpire. Excellent game management is the talent which separates the top college umpires.
All training opportunities (such as the Fall Clinic, Preseason Camp, Assignor’s meeting) will include a session on game management so the CCSUA umpire can handle the tough situations which arise during a college softball game.
A college umpire must be professional in all aspects of his/her duties. Protocols include appearance and uniforms, ethics and philosophies of officiating, fitness, professionalism in dealing with all representatives of colleges, communications with colleges before the game. Every training opportunity will include a session on the correct protocols for a college umpire.
The CCSUA and Assignors hold an annual meeting in January, a collaboration of the training staff and the college assigners. All members are required to attend. This meeting includes presentations by the Assignors and the TC conducting sessions for rules, mechanics, game management and protocols.
The observation program will be conducted with approved observers who will provide honest feedback, both constructive and critical, to umpires who have intentions to work college softball contests. It will be the main source of feedback to the college assigners as to what levels the umpires are ready to work. This program will use the Fall Clinic, Fall Ball program, Preseason Camp, the Mentor program and unannounced observations during the season.
As part of this program the observers will evaluate and umpire’s adherence to the key concepts and techniques expected of the college umpire. Observers will provide recommendations on how to improve in all areas of game management and mechanics, including proper positioning and techniques. A thorough knowledge of the CCA Softball Umpires Manual is mandatory for all observers. The observer will be expected to use proper and positive communication skills to increase and instill confidence in umpires.
Observers will facilitate pre-game and post-game discussions at the game sites. These discussions will take place after the plate umpire has finished his/her discussion. Umpires are expected to take notes as appropriate as the Observers will not be providing individual game summaries nor notes to the umpires. Observers will be expected to send appropriate notes and information on the umpires to the Training Coordinator.
Observers will transfer their skills to various mentors who will assist the TP by working with newer umpires during the season. This will be detailed under the Mentor Program section.
The Mentor Program will be used whenever possible during the season. Its purpose is to team up experienced mentor umpires with newer umpires or selected veterans for game assignments for the purpose of training and feedback. This program is vitally important to the CCSUA because there are not enough observers to cover all the games and see all the newer umpires. The Mentors will be able to provide current feedback to supplement the observation/evaluation program. The Mentor is a specially selected veteran umpire who has demonstrated the knowledge and terminology of the CCU Umpire Manual, and has the positive communication skills necessary for helping a newer umpire improve.
A Mentor is not an Observer and will not be expected, and should not, conduct a comprehensive evaluation of his mentoree after a game. The Mentor should contact the Training Coordinator as appropriate for feedback purposes.
The TC will work with the Assignors to match up the Mentors with their partners.
Roundtables will be used as much as possible throughout the year as a source for CCSUA umpires to have a relaxed, informal discussion of any and all aspects of college softball umpiring. If possible they will be rotated to different areas: San Diego, Orange County, Inland, Ontario area, Long Beach area, SF Valley, etc. Input from members should be solicited for topics and issues to be discussed.
The Assigners use ratings for all CCSUA umpires. The TC staff will have input and continually monitor these ratings for accuracy based on any and all factors related to college umpires, including the observation/evaluation program.
Playoffs and championship tournaments are a very important part of the college softball season The CCSUA endeavors to have our best possible umpires to work these games, whether they are D1, D2, D3, NAIA, or Community College playoffs. The NCAA Divisions 1, 2 and 3 have a process by which the NCAA SUP selects these umpires. The training staff communicates with the conference assigners in developing the list which is presented to the SUP.
The CCSUA Training Staff sends our recommendations for the NAIA and California Community College post-season playoffs. The training staff will develop a list of potential umpires for these playoffs and work with the appropriate people to have these umpires included in these playoff games.
The umpires who are selected should be the very best umpires who are familiar with the 3-ump system and have strong game management skills to handle the pressure of playoffs. The teams and coaches deserve that. The playoff selection should not be considered a “reward” for long service or other such reasons.
Past experience has demonstrated that each year many requests are received by the CCSUA from umpires who are interested in becoming college softball umpires. In addition, the training staff should be constantly looking for new college umpires and the CCSUA should encourage all of its umpires to be looking for and recommending quality umpires who are ready to make the step into college ball.
The minimum basic requirements for potentially new umpires are:
At least 7 years of softball umpiring experience
At least 5 years working at the highest level of high school, ASA, PGF, Triple Crown, or USSSA
Recommendation from a respected college softball umpire
We conduct a fall training program to observe and evaluate these potentially new college umpires. This includes a Fall Clinic, two days of observation working college Fall Ball, and the CCSUA Preseason Camp. Our overriding philosophy for accepting new umpires is:
If they are ready for college we take them.
If they are almost ready but live in a geographically desirable area, we probably take them.
If they are not ready we give them a list of specific desired improvements and tell them to come back when they think they are ready