Tips For Studying the Rule Book

It is a requirement for college umpires to study 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.”

You should also read the article in the Rules Corner/The Game/Umpires – The Intent of the rules.

 Here are some 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 reading 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 (i.e. do not start with Rule 1, then Rule 2, etc.). Begin with the “ball in play” rules – Pitching (Rule 10), Batting (Rule 11), Base Running (Rule 12), Defense (Rule 9). Rule 12 on Base Running is a long and extremely important rule. Break this rule down into three sections: 1. Batter-runner and runners (12.1-12.10), 2. Base Running regulations (12.11-12.16), 5. Interference (12.17).
  • For each rule
    • Do not attempt to read the entire rule; break it down into smaller sections – for example, read 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.
    • Review the articles on this website which cover that particular rule – for example, after reading the rules for pitching, read the articles in the Rules Corner/Pitching section.
    • Then watch the videos in the Videos section of the Locker Room website for that rule.
  • Proceed to the other rules in this order – Players and Subs, Equipment and Uniforms, Misconduct, Appeals and Protests
  • Finish your Rule Book study with – Game Management, The Game, Game Personnel, Field of Play
  • 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. See the section below.
  • Make notes in the margins or near the rule as appropriate.
Here is one possible effective use of the highlighters:
  • Use light blue to highlight the different subsections of the rules as some of them are long and have many subsections, making it difficult to pick them out quickly – example: for 7.1, highlight,,, and Now you can quickly find the 5 types of appeal we have for college.
  • Use yellow to highlight the rules that happen a lot and may be challenging for you.
  • Use light red to highlight the rules that you get wrong on tests or, when on the field, you seem unsure of the proper ruling.

Let’s work on this together – after all, we are a team.  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 the look well-study, with tabs, notes, highlights, etc.?