Use the district umpire consultant to offer and schedule clinics during the pre-season. Districts can also “share” district umpire consultants to conduct clinics in neighboring districts. The old saying of an expert is anyone who lives fifty miles away is very true and gives the local umpires a new prospective and creates additional interest. It also reinforces everything the local district umpire consultant has been saying in his/her clinics.
The UIC can video tape games, to help as a training aid for both new and old umpires. The theory is that you can’t hide from the camera.
Use pre-game, in-game, and post-game critiques as a training tool. However, you must be careful how you present critiques. Often you can run into someone who doesn’t understand constructive criticism or doesn’t want to hear criticism of any kind.
Develop a mentor program where senior or more experienced umpires umpire with those that are less experienced.
Conduct rules training in multiple sessions, not just a two hour session, and include managers/coaches in those training sessions. Advertise your training sessions to everyone, not just umpires. Managers/coaches will be surprised how much strategy they can learn from the rules of the game.
Also, offer training on field mechanics to include plate mechanics as well as base mechanics. More than one volunteer umpire has left the program because of being out of position and getting a call wrong.
Utilize Little League manuals, books, magazines, etc., for those training sessions.
Use e-mail/website to disseminate rules questions/answers, and develop an Internet-based training program. Use of e-mail will eliminate a lot of telephone calls when it comes to unexpected holes in game assignments.
If the local league decides to utilize parents as umpires, make sure each team provides two parents as umpires as a minimum and give them shirts and hats to wear while they umpire.
Umpires must be reasonable, and not the type of individual with a chip on their shoulders. They should understand how to deal with other volunteers and, most importantly, how to deal with children.
Expand the use of your umpires, exposing more of them to more games during the course of the regular season.
An umpire training fund should be started by the local league or district to send those volunteer umpires who desire more training to go to Williamsport or one of the regions for weekend or weeklong training.
Ask managers for input on their thoughts about any players who may want to be umpires.
Fall umpire meetings should be scheduled to keep your volunteers interested and abreast of the latest changes in rules, league policies, to organize for spring, etc.
Be a friend to your umpires or other umpires. More than one game has been a bad experience for an umpire, and it’s always nice to have someone to talk with about the situation.
Develop some type of three-year or five-year award, such as a pin, for umpires, and give it to them at closing ceremonies or end of the season banquets, picnics, etc.
If your league has been selected to host upper level tournaments, i.e., sections, states, etc., don’t just use host umpires during tournament. Invite umpires from neighboring districts to give others an opportunity to work in these great games.
Conduct local seminars on what it takes to be a volunteer Little League umpire and ask those in attendance to get involved just one or two nights a week.
Inform all that are involved that you will ensure that they will be assigned to some tournament games. This incentive is sometimes very exciting for the volunteer umpires.
Establish a reward or recognition program such as: The Rhino Award, given to the volunteer umpire with thick skin; The Golden Boot Award for the least amount of calls that were not correct during a season (humor award); and The Iron Man Award for the most games umpired in a season.
Keep new umpires’ costs down by supplying some or all the equipment they need. Don’t make them buy a bunch of equipment and uniforms at the beginning of their career.
Contact the local schools to get on community involvement lists that are provided to the students to aid the student in completing their graduation requirements.