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Mental Preparation for Calling Balls and Strikes

Develop Criteria for analyzing and evaluating our strike zone.

Have a method of mental preparation each game for calling balls and strikes

What does a strike look like?

Describe what tools you are using to evaluate and call the inside pitch?

Describe what tools or techniques you are using to evaluate the top of the zone?

Describe what tools or cues you are using to evaluate the bottom of the zone?

Describe what tools or cues you are using to evaluate the outside of the zone?

How will the level of the players effect your zone development?

What cues will you evaluate before the game starts to develop you strike zone?

In what ways will the score of the game affect your strike zone?

What types of feedback from player/coaches can be helpful during a game?

How should you or should you not use their feedback to effect the current game?

Or future games?

What types of feed back from player/coaches requires that you respond?

What is your strike zone philosophy ?

What does a strike look like in the catchers glove?

What does a ball look like in the catchers glove?

What pitches will you call a strike no matter what the catcher does?

What pitches require the catcher to catch the ball a particular way?

How will the level of play effect your evaluation of the catchers glove work?

What does catching the outside of the ball mean?

When is a check swing a swing?

When should you go to your partner for help on a check swing?

What will you say to a coach when he asks what is your strike zone?

What makes an umpire a good ball and strike umpire?

What are your strengths as a ball and strike umpire?

What area do you need to work on as a ball and strike umpire?

What single skill do you want to work to improve your next game?

How will you prepare to work on this skill?

Remember your honesty about your skills is critical to your improvement as an umpire. You must constantly work to improve you ball and strike skills. Talk to others about what you are having trouble with and what is going well. Sometimes they do not even have to respond just talking about it will allow you to separate yourself from it and do a better job of self-evaluation.

Develop a strong mental approach. During a game be confident and secure with your plan of approach. Evaluate you approach after each game and make adjustments.

Mental Preparation

Congratulations Dan. What a fantastic way to prepare one-self to call Balls and Strikes. This is the first time I have read and seen something so good for us umpires like these. Thanks for your effort put out to do these for every umpire of any level to Develop such a Criteria and to analize and evaluate our strike zone. Every one of us, should take advantage of this. I know I will.
Thanks again.

Strike/Balls calls preparation

Lot of unanswered questions, but I suppose that is your intent - to provoke thought in order to work on self-improvement. You are so far above me in level of expertise, I just hope some of this rubs off. I don't know about the other guys in our class (#4), but I believe we are very fortunate have you three instructing us. I only wish we could of had this level of instruction 20 years ago. I could have really benefitted then. Now, at age 69, my umpiring career is almost over. Nevertheless, I am grateful for you guys' leadership, instruction, mentoring, etc. I know I will be a better umpire because of it.

Being Mentally Prepared

What a great article Dan! I have had trouble lately with my game management especially with "time limit" games. And I in fact have come to the conclusion that I not only need to work on a few other things but my strike zone can have alot to do with the pace of a game as well. I recently came across a game where neither side could put a pitcher on the mound that could throw strikes. Both coaches changed pitchers several times and the frustration  level for the coaches and players was extremely high. My own frustration became evident and I basically lost control of the game. At one point I had one coach from one side tap his watch as if to say "lets get this thing going" as the other coach was making his fifth or sixth pitching change! Unfortunately as I looked back I doubt I could have changed this with my strike zone? If anyone has any suggestions on how to deal with this sort of thing please let me know?

As for the preparation mentally, I think this is something that can help me in several areas as I take the field? Thanks again Dan.

umpjb's picture

This is a great article Dan.

This is a great article Dan. The mental preperation gets over looked from time to time and it is good to talk with guys about it. For most of us umpiring is a hobby so we have to make sure that other areas of our lives do not influence our ability to call a baseball game. One thing I try and do when I get to the field is just spend 5 or so minutes clearing my mind and thinking about baseball before I begin to get dressed, let all of the days events leave my mind so to speak so that I am clear and focused on the game I am about to umpire.
       I have struggled with the bottom part of the strike zone but I do believe I am getting better, maybe you can read this and make some suggestions. I have been doing a lot of college wood bat and Stan Musial games where the hitters and coaches are knowledgeable, for the most part, about the strike zone as well. The conclusion I have come to is if it catches the bottom part of their knees and the catcher catches it properly, meaning his glove does not travel further towards the ground once the ball hits it, I can call that pitch a strike, if not I call it a ball. The perception of the pitch that is dragged into the ground by the catcher and the one that is caught properly determine a lot about how everyone views your knowledge of the game and the strike zone. When I speak with a coach at this level about a close pitch being called a ball because it is not caught properly they understand and that ends the discussion. As the level of the play by age or skill level goes down I try and call the close pitches strikes whether or not they are caught properly, unless a catcher brutallizes a pitch. We should always make sure our timing is good but a lower levels you have to really take your time because cathcers move balls around and you don't look good when you call a pitch a strike that the catcher just moved 6 inches. Thanks again Dan, I have a definitive check list and will be checking it twice after every plate game.


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