FEB 24


There is nothing quite like the feeling of walking off the field after a stellar performance behind the plate. But having a great game calling balls and strikes — and executing impeccably on everything else that goes with the plate umpire position — is not easy.

It takes focus and attention to proper mechanics. Here are five things necessary for doing your best work as plate umpire:

Getting in the slot

It probably goes without saying that if you don’t have the best vantage point with which to judge pitches as the catcher catches them, you can’t expect to be at your best calling balls and strikes. Although most of us learn very early that the space between the inside shoulder of the catcher and the batter is where you always need to be, it is surprising how many good umpires don’t get enough into that slot position to see all the pitches.

I recall learning as a young umpire that you need to be in the slot so you can see the pitch that hits the outside corner at the knees. However, I believe more umpires miss the pitch that hits the inside corner at the knees because they are not sufficiently up into the slot to see that pitch. They get blocked by the catcher’s body and end up having to guess on its location when it is caught. The skill level of the catcher will determine how close you can get. Many lower level catchers will make it impossible for you to get too close without constantly making contact with them as they come up to throw.

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