Umpires and players run in different circles, no doubt, in every area but one.
Something about home plate creates s different mood. It can be antagonistic, or it can be friendly.
Who decides? The catcher, of course.
Catchers can create a happy and healthy relationship around home plate. Here’s how:
ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS introduce yourself to the umpire! They need to know that you’re there to work with them and not against them.
When introducing yourself to them, look them in the eye and shake their hand firmly. You are the captain and the backbone of this team, not a dainty flower. When speaking with them about pitches, ask where certain pitches are missing. How can your pitcher make adjustments in order to get pitches called strikes? What can you do in order to adjust to his/her zone? All umpires’ zones are different. By communication with them, you can work with them to find their zone. Maybe sometimes if they see you respect them, they can change their zone according to your pitcher.
Other important things to remember:
They’re not there for gossip, so don’t talk their ear off.
Always say “sir” or “ma’am.”
If he gets hit by a foul ball, call time and go talk to your pitcher just to give him some time to collect himself. Then ask if he is OK.
If you hold a pitch for longer than 2 seconds, you are not making a statement. You’re just making your umpire angry. An angry umpire does not equate to called strikes.
A good relationship with an umpire can help you and your pitcher determine the strike zone. Throwing strikes and working together can really help your chances of winning ball games!
About the Author: Claudia Cooper played at North Carolina State from 2006–10. She had the second highest OBP for the Wolfpack during her Junior season and rounded out that year with a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage. After graduation, she spent the 2010–11 season as a student assistant at her alma mater. Since leaving NC State, Coop has been a staff instructor at Elite Training Academy, coaching individuals, small groups and teams. Book her here.
Comments? Questions? Suggestions? Contact Fastpitchprep@gmail.com
-Coop’s Catching Corner