Provide rule books, patches, equipment, etc., for umpires. Start with a community set of equipment that everyone uses. Then progress to those that return or agree to umpire so many games will get a mask, more games will get a chest protector, etc.
Provide every volunteer a league umpire shirt and umpire hat to wear when they umpire. This will go along way in establishing loyalties and ties with your league.
Acknowledge umpires at end of year through dinners, picnics, or get together after the season for awards, show of appreciation, etc. Recognize your umpires….make them feel important!
Move umpires up, meaning use them for tournament games in at least district play, utilizing different umpires in championship games from year to year.
District UIC should approach each league to ascertain who is available for tournament games and what their availability actually will be as far as travel, open nights, etc.
Leagues, districts and umpires should understand that they should continue training. Rules change; interpretations change, mechanics change and everyone should realize this and conduct training or get to sessions for those updates.
Little League umpire shirts with the name of the league on them or just a shirt with a patch and Little League above the pocket will pay dividends on retaining umpires in your program.
Keep your foot in the door during the winter. Make contact at least monthly with your volunteer umpires.
On the local league web site, have an umpire section. On this section list schedules, rule interpretations, questions and answers and have a feedback area just for umpires, and talk to each other about weird plays or situations.
Local leagues should implement guidelines and procedures for keeping managers and coaches under control.
Ensure that your concession stand workers understand that it is permissible to allow volunteer umpires concessions after the game. Give them the hot dog and soda treatment after a game with a big smile and heartfelt “Thank you!”
Set up a program where volunteer umpires work at different leagues during regular season to keep them interested and to share the wealth with each other. An umpire who works in just one league can get stale and develop bad habits that he/she doesn’t realize he/she is developing. Also, try to umpire with different partners during the season. By umpiring in other leagues it will sometimes force that umpire to concentrate more on proper mechanics and make him/her a better umpire.
Recognize the umpires’ families. Say “thank you” to the spouse for encouraging the umpire to get involved and to be away from home four, five or six nights a week. The umpires will appreciate the support.