It is a requirement for college umpires to read the Rule Book and CCA Manual on a regular basis throughout the year. Have you been doing this? The umpires who keep moving their careers to higher levels do this. And they do not just “read” these important and vital softball reference books, they study and absorb them. Notice that throughout this article the word “study” is used and not the word “read.”
If you are new to college softball umpiring, start with Section 3.6 – Uniforms and Equipment, then follow the steps below.
General tips for more logically studying the CCA Manual
Study carefully and slowly, digesting the words and thinking about the intent of the words. A good start is the Introduction and Opening Pitch – two short pages that will give you a good flavor for what will be happening in the upcoming season. Then, study the Manual in a logical order instead of sequentially starting with Section 1. Begin with Section 2 – Mechanics Changes/Additions, then follow the sequence below.
• Study Section 8 – Signals. This should be a quick study as many of the signals are the same as other codes, but some are unique to the college game.
o Study the words for each signal; practice it in front of the mirror as you view the picture
o Study the Umpire-to-Umpire Signals and when to give them
• Get into the details of the different systems. Study Section 9 or 10 for the Umpire System you work the most often – Two or Three-Umpire (see detailed guidance below). If you work both, study the other system next.
• Study Section 7- Mechanics. Consider this the “icing on the cake” as it takes the verbal instructions and diagrams from Sections 9 and 10 and gives them some reality with actual game situations.
• Study Section 6 – In-game Umpiring/Situations. Consider this the “advanced mechanics” section. Keep in mind that some subsections are specific to the 3-umpire system; examples – Returning From Outfield Coverage, Fly Ball/Line Drive Coverage
• Study Section 4 and 5 for good information on game management.
• Study Section 11 – Definitions. This will help if you are unsure of some of the unique wording used in this Manual
• Study Section 3 – Responsibilities
Tips for studying the Three-Umpire System – Section 9
You will get cross-eyed and go crazy if you try to study too much of this section at one time. Break it down into manageable units. Study each Runner Configuration at a separate study session. There are eight possible runner configurations if you include the No Runner. A quick way to refer to them is:
• R0 (no runners)
• R1 (1st base only
• R2 (2nd base only)
• R3 (3rd base only)
• R1R2 (1st and 2nd)
• R1R3 (1st and 3rd)
• R2R3 (2nd and 3rd)
• R1R2R3 (bases loaded).
For each Runner Configuration
• Study the Starting Position and Working Between Pitches pages
• Study the pages for No Chase
• Study the pages for U1 Chases
• Study the pages for U3 Chases
Tips for studying the Two-Umpire System – Section10
• Start with the introduction pages which include Essential Concepts, Starting Positions, etc.
• The rest of this Section is similar to Section 9 with regard to the mechanics for each runner situation. Use the same technique as for the 3-umpire system
Additional Resources and Tips
• Go to the SUP Central Hub on RefQuest and check the News & Announcements and National Coordinator Notes sections for any mechanics updates and changes,
• Use a highlighter (or two or three) while studying the manual so you can go back to those sections for review, looking only at the highlighted sections.
• Make notes in the margins as appropriate.
• Put tabs in your Manual so you can quickly locate what you are looking for. See examples below
It is very important to engage with other umpires and join Study Groups to truly understand the directions and intent of the content in the CCA Manual. If you are relatively new to college softball umpiring, select an experienced college umpire and ask him/her to be your mentor. Let us work on this together – after all, we are a team. During the regular season, and fall ball, make this part of your pregame: “Let’s take out our rule book and CCA Manual and pick out some things to discuss.” Now check your partner’s books. Do they look brand new, as if they have never been opened? Or do they look well-studied, with tabs, notes, highlights, etc.?
Examples of tabs for the CCA Manual
Tabs for each Section
Tabs for runner configurations. Got a question regarding mechanics with runner son 1st base and third base? Quickly go to the tab R1R3.