It is a requirement for college umpires to study the NCAA Softball Rules Book and CCA Manual on a regular basis, not just throughout the season. This should be done year-round with special emphasis on the few months before a new season starts – November, December, early January. Have you been doing this? The umpires who keep moving their careers to higher levels do. 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.”
You should also read the article in the Rules Corner/The Game/Umpires – The Intent of the rules.
General tips for more logically studying the Rule Book:
• Study carefully and slowly, digesting the words and thinking about the intent of the words. You should be studying, not reading. Do not consider the words in abstract; visualize them in action.
• Example – when studying the Pitching rules, visualize the pitcher taking her position on the pitcher’s plate and the different ways you have seen the pitcher go through her routine of preparing to throw the next pitch – activities before getting on the plate, her feet placement, her hands, etc. What should be called and ignored under advantage/disadvantage and given the intent of the rule. For other rules, visualize runners sliding, fielders overthrowing the ball, runners interfering with fielders, fielders obstructing runner…
• Study the rules in a logical order instead of sequentially (see below)
• For each rule
o Do not attempt to study the entire rule; break it down into smaller sections – for example, study 10.1 then proceed to the Case Book for those plays. If appropriate make notes in the margins of the Rule Book referencing the A.R.’s.
o Review the articles on this website which cover that particular rule – for example, after studying the rules for pitching, study the articles in the Rules Corner/Pitching section.
o Then watch the videos in the Videos section of the Locker Room website for that rule.
One Rule at a Time – Rule/Case Book
Have your Rule Book and Case Book at hand. Do not start with Rule 1, then Rule 2, etc. Let us do this logically. Do not forget to check the Case Book after every Section! If there is a good one, write the A.R. number in the margin of the respective rule
“Ball in play” rules – begin here
• Pitching – it all starts here; two major sections
o Pitching procedures (10.2 to 10.12)
o Pitching regulations (10.13 to10.19)
• Batting – two major sections
o Pitch related rules (11.1 to 11.7)
o Batting regulations (11.8 to 11.21)
• Base Running – long and extremely important rule; break into three sections:
o Batter-runner and runners (12.1-12.10),
o Base Running regulations (12.11-12.16),
o Interference (12.17).
• Defense – two major topics
o Regulations (9.1-9.4, 9.7-9.12)
o Obstruction (9.5, 9.6)
• Players and Subs – focus on DP/Flex, Improper Player and Substitution rules
• Equipment and Uniforms – study equipment, pause, study uniforms
• Misconduct – Warnings/Ejections; Misconduct
• Appeals and Protests – obviously two sections
The Game rules – finishing touches
• Field of Play
• Game Management
• The Game
• Game Personnel
• Wrap it all up by reviewing the only rule left we have not covered – Definitions. It will be a good review.
Keep looking – Appendices
Focus on Feet/Lines Chart, Improper Player Chart, and Video Review if appropriate.
Additional Resources and Tips
• Go to the SUP Central Hub on RefQuest and check the NCAA Rules Information and NCAA Bats sections for any rule 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 the picture below as an example.
• Engage with other umpires and join Study Groups
Use a highlighter (or two or three) while studying these books, so you can go back to those rules and sections for review, looking only at the highlighted sections. It also helps to digest the longer rules with many sub-sections. See the picture below as an example.
Here is one possible effective use of the highlighters:
• Use yellow to highlight the rules that happen a lot and may be challenging for you.
• Use pink to highlight the rules you get wrong on tests or seem unsure of during a game.
• Orange for the major sections of the rule
• Light blue for the first-level subsections
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. New and experienced umpires – 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. Joe, you pick a rule; Mary, pick something from the CCA manual.”