Pre-game Procedures – start a week before game date

Contacting the Coaches and your Partner by email:
  • A sample email is located on CCSUA Locker Room – Protocols Corner in this same Game Preparation section.
  • The crew chief /plate umpire should check the Arbiter Schedule and home team Point of contact information to determine who the email should be sent to. (Coaches at Community College level, Event managers at D-I/II/III).
  • Send it five to seven days prior to game. This gives the coach ample time to respond, especially with the upcoming weekend.
Dress Attire – Guidelines for travelling to games and all CCSUA meetings

• Men – Slacks/Dockers or Neat and Upscale Shorts, with pockets; Polo-short sleeve shirt or button down business; Casual type, closed toed shoes.
• Acceptable: Females – Business or casual pants, dresses or skirts
• Acceptable for both – nice sweat pants or suit like Nike, Adidas, Under Armor NYLON style with matching top or a polo short or long sleeve shirt
Note: Some umpires who work will be traveling straight from work and may not have time to change. If this is your situation for Community College games, you should put in your car a nicer shirt and then put it on when you check in with the coach.

  • Arriving at the game site in your uniform pants and T-Shirt and meeting the coaches in this attire.
  • Blue-jeans, open toe sandals or shoes; ragged shorts; gym-type or sweat pants or tops; cut-off shirts or shorts.
Arrival Time and location:

• Both the Rule Book and CCA Manual books state that umpires should arrive at least one hour before game time.
• Make sure that you communicate with your partner as to where you will park.
• Whoever arrives first should try to save a parking space for your partner that is close to you.
• If parking passes are required and there is no one to meet you in the parking lot, wait for your partner to arrive. Once they arrive, one person stays at the vehicles, while the other quickly retrieves the parking passes from the coaches, player or game management and returns.

Greeting the Coaches:

This protocol is only for 2-umpire crews at the Community College/D3 level. Division 2 (3-umpires) and Division 1 are different, as most use event managers for check-in and email contact. Once parking is secure, both umpires together will meet the coaches and introduce themselves. The Plate umpire initiates the conversation with the coaches

  • Check-in with the home team’s Head or Assistant coach and assure that they have the newest bat list available and highlighted with their bats.
  • Tell him/her the crew will return to the field 20 minutes prior to game time to begin checking bats.
  • Do not ask him/her if there will be a national anthem and any special event before or after the pre-game. This should be discussed at the umpire/coach plate meeting before the game so both coaches are part of the conversation.
  • Briefly speak to the visiting team coach to ensure he/she has the newest batting list and it is highlighted.
Plate umpire leads the umpire crew pre-game

Having a thorough crew pregame discussion before every game is a requirement for college softball umpires. See the article Umpire Crew Pre-game in the Game Management/Umpire Duties section.

Enter the field, walk the field, do the bat check
  • Enter together as a crew. The CCA Manual states the crew arrives at the field approximately 20 minutes before game time.
  • Check to see if both teams have their bats lined up outside their dugouts. If not, ask the team(s) to do so.
  • A visual check of the field is sufficient if there are no weather issues and the crew has worked on this field previously
  • If not, the crew should walk the field, using a ball to check any problems areas.
  • Do the bat check. See the article Tips for Bat Checking in the Game Management/Umpire Duties section.
Umpire/Coach pre-game meeting

Yes, the first impression is important and the common belief is that it happens as the umpire crew first walks onto the field. That is most likely true; however, the umpire/coach meeting before the game is when the first true interaction between the crew and the coaches occurs. This meeting is longer and a more personal interaction with the coaches. It is our chance for a “second impression.”

The first element for a successful meeting is to begin it at the designated time. The second is to give a strong second impression:
• All umpires should give each coach a firm handshake and look both in the eye.
• All umpires need to learn, rehearse, and practice a strong meeting

When you are the plate umpire which one of these do you want the coaches to be thinking while walking back to their dugouts – “we are in good hands today” or “this is going to be long game today with this plate umpire!”?

The plate umpire leads the pre-game meeting with the coaches.
• Base umpire(s) should stay engaged while the plate umpire is talking; some personality is fine as long as it does not distract from the professional atmosphere embraced by the plate umpire.
• Base umpire(s) should not interrupt or add anything until the plate umpire asks “partner(s), do you have anything to add?”
• This allows the base umpires to be heard and included as part of the umpire crew. One way to do this is to pre-arrange that the base umpires add a comment – examples…” we expect good sportsmanship during the game”, “Please keep your players hustling between innings so we can abide by the 90-second rule”.

As the plate umpire, if you struggle with the items to cover at this pre-game meeting, it is helpful to have an acronym (a recognized tool for memorization) to assist you. For example, use ILGSPQ to remember the order and the items to cover. This represents – I love good softball played quickly – see the bolded words below: Introductions, Lineups, Ground rules, Special rules, Partners, Questions.

The plate umpire should include these items in the umpire/coach pre-game:
• As the coaches approach, ask them to introduce themselves to each other, then the plate umpire introduces the crew to the coaches
• Review the Home team lineup, then the visiting team lineup. If DP/Flex is being used, verbally confirm the team is starting with 10 players, the batting position of the DP, and the defensive position of the Flex. After both lineups are official, ask each coach, if there are any changes. Then identify the official scorer and their location.
• Review the ground rules
• Review special rules (conference/tournament/non-conference and coaches decide at pregame meeting) – Tie-breaker, Media format, Halted Game, Travel policy options
• Ask partners if they have anything to add
• Ask coaches if they have any questions
• To wrap it up it is appropriate to shake hands while say something to indicate the end of the meeting, (example, “have a safe game, coach”.

Note on the second bullet above – See the article College softball roster and lineup requirements in the Rules Corner/The Game/Participants section.

The plate meeting is not the time to conduct a rules clinic. If a coach asks a question about a specific rule, feel free to briefly address it. However, it is not the umpire crew’s responsibility or job description to initiate discussion or drone on about proper use if the DP/Flex, base awards, charged conferences or anything else.