UmpTalk #23: Nine Tips for Surviving Weekend Youth Baseball Tournaments

It’s weekend youth baseball tournament season. There’s a lot of baseball to be played and that means those games need umpires! For umpires, this is a tremendous learning opportunity and a chance to make some great money.

Snapshot 1 (6-7-2014 11-51 AM)

But the hours are long, the stress level is high and if not prepared, they can be a tremendous disaster.


Here are nine tips to help survive those weekend youth league tournaments from one who has experienced them as an umpire a player, a parent and a coach.


  1. Hydrate – This means preparing the day before, having lots of great water and hydration during the day and taking care of your body. These weekends are in the dog days of summer and can get extremely hot. Know your body and keep it hydrated.
  2. Be on time – Show up to the tournament 30 minutes before. Be your scheduler’s friend. Sometimes these tournaments have four or five times the number of umpires for a normal night. Be flexible with your schedule.
  3. Know the rules of the tournament. Many have special tournament rules.
    • Know the run spread
    • Know the time limit
    • Know the base rulebook (MLB? NCAA? High School? MLB + New Home Plate Rule?)
    • Know the tournament specific rules (Slide rule, substitutions, lineups)
  4. Know how to deal with issues/problems. Know the philosophy of the tournament. How do they want you to deal with issues? Call a field supervisor? Deal with yourself? Ejections?
  5. Know your partner’s name. Be a good partner. You’ll work with tons of different guys at all levels in these tournaments. Communicate. Hustle. But most of all, know his/her name.
  6. Dress the part – Your uniform takes a beating during these tournaments, but understand that your first impression likely determines a lot about how much crap you’re going to get. Tuck in your shirt. Dust off your pants.
  7. Umpire the last inning of your last game the same as your first. Be proactive with your physical fitness and energy level. Not only with hydration, but also with muscles, food intake, etc. Can you umpire the same way in your 10th hour like you do in your 10th minute?
  8. Know your limits. If you cannot do 6 games in a day, don’t sign up for 6 games in a day. Don’t be a hero. An assigner would much rather only put you down for 3 games than replace you in game 4 and have to scramble for the last 2 games.
  9. Have fun. These tournaments, while intense at times, are fun. Kids playing baseball should be fun, so have fun with it. Smile. Clap. Interact with the kids. It goes a long way to making a long weekend very, very fun.

UmpTalk #22: Umpiring and European Baseball

As the world becomes smaller and the game of baseball grows in popularity, it’s not surprising that umpiring would get more organized and professional. European Baseball is one of those areas that is exhibiting tremendous growth in recent years. Through programs like the Jim Evans European Classic, efforts are being made to standardize and educate umpires who may not have grown up on the game like those of us in America have.

Thanks again to Thomas Heywood for providing three outstanding interviews with six great European umpires as he attended the Classic in April.


We speak with:

  • Eddie Fannon and Gabor Erdos about baseball and umpiring in England.
  • Urs Koestinger and Michael Renggli from Switzerland about adjusting the game of baseball for that country.
  • Mike Michalk and Germo Wittkopf speak about umpiring and baseball in Germany.

More of Thomas’s outstanding photographs can be found here and more of Thomas’s contributions to UmpTalk will be coming soon in a later episode.

Photos courtesy of Thomas Heywood: