A Coach's Approach With Umpires
Coach Arnald Swift -
I would like to write an article about the relationship between a
coach and an umpire. Having been a coach for 34 years and umpire
for 21 years, I feel like I have some expertise in this area.
The first and foremost thing is to realize that both of you are
out there to do a job. This truly should not be an adversarial
relationship, though sometimes it reduces itself to that.
I've always kept in mind when I coached younger kids that the
umpires themselves were just starting out and probably do not
have the experience nor the expertise to handle every situation
that comes up in a ballgame.
They certainly don't have the maturity to handle a coach that is
on them from the first pitch and about every call. Nothing really
good is going to come of this kind of interaction. The umpire is
going to become very defensive about his calls, and in fact the
less experience they have with coaches and situations the more
likely they are to eject a coach or a player over something that
was really just part of the ballgame.
The other possibility is the umpire will take any amount of the
static from both from the coaches, players, and fans and
therefore loses control of the game besides ruining it for
It has always been my opinion and experience that coaches and
umpires realize why they're both out there on the field. It's not
the umpire's job to make everybody happy every call. A close play
will is usually going to disappoint 50% of the people.
An umpire should look at the play, make a decision, then be firm
in announcing it and go on with the game. You've never seen a
umpire change a ball/strike or out/safe call. That is just the
way it is and should be.
Coaches have every right to an explanation of a rule and the
application of the rule; in fact that was always my rule of
thumb. When I would talk to the umpire as a coach, I wanted the
rule and application of that rule explained and wanted the
application changed. The application of rules is what can be
changed not the call itself.
As an umpire I always appreciated and gave the utmost
consideration to a coach that knew what he was talking about and
only complained or questioned the rule. I'll guarantee you that
you'll get more done going out there and saying "I need you to
explain to me" or "Why did you call it that way?" If you go out
there and are argumentative that's what you'll get: an argument.
I will say right now that the umpire that is worth his or her
being out there will win each and every argument. That is the way
it has to be and that's why they're working the game.
When you are arguing with an umpire there are words that you
should never use and they are not always the obvious ones such as
cussing. Depending on the level of the game a coach can be more
vocal, but no umpire in the world likes to hear the word "you" or
"cheater" in front of any statement that you may make.
When I was working college or high school we discussed things
very adamantly at times, but the minute the coach put "you" in
front of his words he stood a good chance of getting tossed.
Remember the umpires are there in the game just as you and your
players. To try to manipulate him is the same as trying to
manipulate your players.
I will agree if an umpire makes the wrong call by applying the
rule incorrectly then you have every right to try to get it
changed. But you are creating a situation that you really don't
want when you complain about balls and strikes or safe or out.
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