Northern Coast Officials
Gerry Davis
Umpire Attire
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Baseball and Softball

Between the Lines School of Umpiring

Baseball / Softball Umpire Rules Review Online

High School Baseball and Softball Coaches Handbook (pdf)

2023 Baseball Coaches Meeting Presentation (pdf)

Baseball: CIF and NFHS Rules and Interpretations | NCS Pitch Count Limitations

Softball: CIF and NFHS Rules and Interpretation


  • News
  • Umpire Education
  • Summer Softball
  • Dealing With Fans
Umpire News:

HUmpire Coachelp your assigners out and make your crew and the association look good by...

  • PLEASE keep your availability up-to-date, including times and travel areas.
  • PLEASE MAKE POSITIVE CONTACT with your partner a day or two before the game. Positive contact means you actually spoke to your partner or exchanged emails. Confirm Date, Time and Location of the game. Also where you'll meet at the school. DO NOT ASSUME!
  • PLEASE PLAN TO ARRIVE 45 minutes prior to start time. If you are running late because of traffic, contact your partner. If your partner has not arrived 30-minutes prior to start time contact your partner. Dave and Gary are working umpires and are probably on a diamond themselves and can't bail you out.
  • PLEASE CHECK IN with the home coach upon arrival to the field, which should be at least 30 minutes prior to scheduled start time. When checking in make sure they know you are the umpire(s) for the game. Recently an umpire checked in by just saying "hi", assuming the coach knew who he was. The coach didn't. 11-minutes prior to start time the coach called David Clark looking for the umpires for the game.
  • PLEASE BE AT HOME PLATE 7 to 10-minutes prior to the start time of the game. When entering the field head directly to home plate. Be cordial with any coaches or players as you head to home plate. Do not stop to socialize with them.
Umpire Education

2017 CIF Baseball Coach and Umpire Memo (pdf) | Umpire / Coach Conflict Resolution (pdf)

2017 CIF Pitching Rule (pdf)

Various Umpire Training and Education Items:
Granting Batter's Time Optimal Positioning at Home Plate
  High School Baseball Pitching Clarification
How to Umpire Baseball & Softball
Book and DVD Available on
by Steve Boga
Sport Science - Episode 5 - Working the Plate (YouTube) Very Interesting Piece! Balk Rules by Mike Scott Baseball (YouTube)
Umpire Movement:
  1. Bases Empty Routine Base Hit
  2. Base Ump - Inside Diamond - Movement to First
  3. Bases Empty - Play at First
  4. Runner on First - Base Hit - Play at Third

Other Education Items:

Umpire Camps


West Coast Umpire Camps

Black and Blue Umpire Camp
Black and Blue Umpire Camps

Little League / High School Baseball Rule Differences

NCOA Umpires attending any 2.5 Day Umpires Camp will receive a $40 rebate of their FY2016 dues upon completion of their NCOA Minimum Standards - and an additional year of experience (max 12).

Umires attending a camp MUST submit a letter or certificate from the Camp Director to receive the rebate and additional year of experience pay.

Umpire Coach



What is Umpiring? Umpiring is preparation, reading and then reacting to a situation for each umpire causing the umpire to move to a position to cover their area of responsibility. Then be set to make a call on a situation. Coverage is based on the most likely play to happen next. Umpires should not react to unlikely second or third play developments.

Thus good umpires will do the following:

  • Study the rules and mechanics especially the ones that are confusing to them.
  • Comply with the policies and procedures of the association for whom they are working.
  • Make sure their uniform looks good, clean and professional.
  • Contact partner(s) day before to confirm time, location and uniform.
  • Plan to arrive 45 minutes prior to scheduled start time.
  • Check in with the coach(es)/site director making sure game will start on time.  No BS’ing with them.
  • While getting dressed for the game have a pregame with partner(s).
  • Arrive on field 10 minutes before scheduled game time and check equipment for safety and legality if required by rules.
  • Plate umpires keep the game moving by calling a realistic strike zone, keeping the game moving during dead times and between innings by enforcing the pitch and time rules.
  • Base umpire(s) hustle to their next position.
  • Umpires hustle and move accordingly to cover the plays they are responsible for.
  • Use good timing prior to rendering a decision so that only one call is made on that one play.
  • Deal with adversity from players, coaches and fans by hearing everything and re-acting to what needs to be re-acted to.
  • When the game is finished they leave the field together with their chins up, not looking for complements from the team(s).  “If you believe them when they say you did a good job, you better believe them when they say ‘you suck’.”
  • Review the game and ask for feed back from their partner(s).
  • Rinse, lather, and repeat.

Go look in the mirror and be honest with yourself – were you a “good umpire” for that game.  What can you do better next game?  We are only as good as our last call.  Get noticed for the right reasons.  If you end up on YouTube make sure you look good.

Unwritten Laws of Umpiring: As an Umpire...

  1. Before, during and after a game coaches, players and fans are NOT your friends. Be cordial but do NOT socialize with them during your role as an umpire. Your job is to umpire the game.
  2. When checking in with the coach(es) keep it short and sweet.
  3. When being questioned about a rule, state the words out of the rule book. Use the rule book to your advantage. Never express your opinion or philosophy about a rule. A coaches committee writes and changes the rules. As umpires we are their to enforce them.
  4. Do NOT bring up ANY history with a coach or team - Good, bad or indifferent. If a coach asks you about a call or situation in a previous game, go ahead and discuss it, but keep it short.
  5. If a coach asks you about a ruling in a previous game that you did not work, simply state that you were not there to see the call. Support your fellow umpires by not putting them under a bus.
  6. Have a good pre-game with your partner - EVERY game!
  7. NEVER initiate a re-visit of a situation during a game with a coach or player.
  8. You are only as good as your last call. Be better than the game being played.
  9. Avoid sarcastic remarks, impatience, condescending attitude and profanity. Any thing you say can, and WILL, be used against you.
  10. Keep your concentration on the game. The second you take it off, something WILL happen and the game will go south.
  11. Possess a positive attitude toward coaches, players and your crew.
  12. Do not insist on the last word and be in control of your emotions.
  13. If you believe them when they say “you were great”, then you better believe them when they say “you suck”.
  14. Cover your PRIMARY play or situation first. Then proceed to any secondary plays or situations. Division of labor is the reason we have two umpires on the field.
  15. Get noticed for the RIGHT reasons.

Ways to Get Noticed for the Wrong Reason; Recently an umpire showed up to the home plate pregame meeting with the coaches with hat on backwards and a cup of coffee. Ummm, NO! What impression do you think the coach had of that umpire?

At another game this season a coach sent an email to Gary, "the umpires seemed like they were unsure on how to handle or umpire a Varsity game." I don't know what actions and/or comments were made, but every game, at every level, needs to be handled in a professional manner as we have talked about in the meetings, clinics, and past emails.

Get your partner's back. If your partner is about to do something wrong, such as carry a coffee mug onto the field, smoking in the parking lot, not wearing the proper NCOA hat, etc, tell him/her that it is NOT acceptable.

The way an umpire presents him/herself before, during and after a game goes a long way toward managing conflict. Simply put, you’ve got to look like you know what you’re doing and look confident while handling situations. An umpire with presence projects an aura of confidence, not arrogance. Commands respect through stature and demeanor rather than demanding respect. Looks athletic with comfortable, fluid mannerisms. Positive body language. Movement is brisk and purposeful – not overly deliberate. Keeps head up. Composed. Coaches and players can sense nervousness and may become aggressive, thinking they can easily influence an umpire and gain an advantage. Younger umpires should be prepared to deal with more conflict than an older umpire. Coaches tend to test rookies because there’s a perception that they are more easily influenced than veterans.

Ways to improve your presence:

  • Start each game with a clean and sharp uniform.  Look like an umpire.
  • The power triangle -  Chin up and shoulders back.
  • Stand tall and proud after making a call and during dead periods in the game.  If you must lean, lean forward.
  • Watch your body language during a confrontation.  It will say more than what comes out of your mouth
  • Hustle to be in position to make the call. Come to complete stop before the play happens.
  • When talking to players, coaches and fans - "what you say can and will be used against you... "

Advance Fly Ball Coverage: BASEBALL and Recommended for SOFTBALL:

NCOA has adopted this Bases Empty method of covering fly balls to the outfield that have a potential of being caught by an outfielder.  The base umpire heads directly to second base while at the same time covering the fly ball.

If the outfielder is going to have trouble catching the fly ball, the base umpire should come to a complete stop and watch the situation and rule on it accordingly – “catch” or “ball’s down!”.

At no time will the base umpire go to the outfield to cover the fly ball. Exception: Fly ball down the right field line “threatening” the pole the base umpire should go out and cover the ball.  The plate umpire will take the batter-runner around the bases.

The advantages for this “new” method:

  • It puts an umpire 100 feet closer to the catch.
  • At the same time the plate umpire can take the batter-runner into first watching him touch first and cover any throw backs at first should the ball not be caught.
  • If there is an over throw at first the batter-runner will be “boxed in” between the two umpires – thus better coverage.
  • There may be times both umpires can watch the catch/no catch on a trouble ball even though the plate umpire is moving up to cover the tough of first base by the batter-runner.
  • This also “saves steps” for the plate umpire by not running out to cover 99% of the fly balls. This doesn't mean the umpires should get lazy and not hustle appropriately.

Bases Empty fly ball to the outfield coverage

Watch Video:

  • Base umpire will take the batter-runner to second and third.
  • Plate umpire, by moving up the first base line, is responsible for the batter-runner touching first base and covering any plays on the batter-runner at first should the ball not be caught.
  • If the ball is not caught the base uonsible for the batter-runner touching first base and covering any plays on the batter-runner at first should the ball not be caught.
  • On fly balls toward or down the lines, right (not threatening the pole) or left, the plate umpire will take the ball and the base umpire will take the batter-runner around all the bases.
    Plate umpire communicating to the base umpire “my line” is essential!

Runners on base—fly ball coverage:

  • Base umpire has all catches from Right Fielder to Left Fielder.  If it is a routine catch the base umpire can get touches and tags at second base.
  • Plate umpire has touches and tags at first and third.  If the fly ball is a trouble fly ball, the plate umpire will also take touches and tags at second while the base umpire stays with the ball.
  • On fly balls towards or down the lines, right or left, the plate umpire will take the ball and the base umpire will take the touches and tags at second and first, and maybe at third if it is a fly ball down the right field line.
    Plate umpire communicating to the base umpire “my line” is essential!

DIVISION OF LABOR: Both umpires should NOT be watching the catch, unless it is a trouble ball that needs dual coverage. If you are responsible for the catch, you MUST stay with that catch until it is a catch or no catch. Do not look away until this is determined! Trust me, I screwed this up several years ago when I looked away and then turned back only to see the ball on field and had no idea how it got there.

If you are NOT responsible for the catch, you have the runners touching bases and/or tagging up. Normally on routine catches not towards the line, the PLATE umpire will watch the runners tagging up or touching FIRST and THIRD, while the base umpire can get second base. On trouble balls covered by the base umpire the PLATE umpire will have ALL touches and tags.

FINALLY: If the ball is NOT caught, do not say "no catch". Instead say "ball is down, ball is down" while giving the safe signal. If it is a great catch by a diving fielder, the responsible umpire should be yelling "that's a catch! that's a catch!" while giving the out signal. On routine catches where there is no doubt, verbal nor a signal is usually not needed as we hold this evidence to be self truth.

Please cover this topic in your pregame as it could safe your crew from a lot of trouble and discussion with the coaches.

Pace of Game Items: A game with rhythm and flow is more enjoyable to watch and umpire then no flow. Also, you don't get paid by the hour to umpire, you get paid by the game. Here are some things we umpires can do to keep the pace of play going when umpiring:

  • Call the entire strike zone. The pitch is a strike until it convinces you it is a ball. If the first pitch to a batter is close, call it a strike. The game moves much faster when strikes are called. Don't be ridiculous with your strike zone, but do have an aggressive zone. Be a pitcher's umpire.
  • Limit pitcher to number of warm-up pitches allowed by rule. Baseball: 8 to start, then 5 between innings. Softball: always 5.
  • Betwen inning warm-ups, be on the batting team's side. When the pitcher has two warm-up pitches left approach the foul line near home plate, signal and tell the pitcher and catch "two left".
    When the pitcher has one warm-up pitch left, turn and tell the first hitter, "Hitter one left".
    Then pull your brush out so when the last throw is complete and the catcher throws down approach home plate and brush off the plate.
    T he batter should be approaching home plate. This will save about 15-20 second each half inning. Multiply that by 14 opportunities knocking several minutes off the length of the game.
    Watch the video.
  • Keep the batter in or near the batter's box between pitches when nothing occurs on that pitch. First kindly remind them. If it continues to be a problem warn the coach between innings. If then it becomes a problem, then enforce the rule.
  • For Baseball games: Anytime you can get a new ball to the pitcher, balls fouled off anywhere, including home plate, pitches getting by catcher with no one on base or strike three or ball four, get a new ball out to the pitcher immediately. Then worry about the old ball.

These are things we are doing in college baseball to keep the pace of the game flowing. Games with no pace are boring and tend to take longer then they should.

Pregames With Partner: Upon arrival at the site, stop the BSing and have a pregame with your partner. I don't care how many times you have worked with him/her, conduct a pregame. Get your "team" ready for the game, and be the best team on the field. If you disagree with a mechanic or coverage item the NCOA handbook takes precedence.

When conducting a pre-game with your partner, do not just go "same old stuff? -OK" to your partner. I know some of you have worked together so many times you can read each other's minds. If such is the case, then talk about strange or wierd situations you had lately and how to better cover them. Other wise cover the four basic components of the game:

  • Batted ball stays in the infield coverage.
  • Batted ball goes to the outfield coverage.
  • Fly ball to the outfield coverage.
  • Also cover specific ground rules for the field you are about to work on.

To keep your focus on the game during the game, remind yourself what YOU are going to do on each of the first three items above. Do this before each new batter, change in runner positions during that batter and/or after every third pitch.

Timing:Timing is proper use of your eyes to see the all the crucial elements of the play and then make a decision based on the information observed.
Timing is crucial in umpiring. If you never work on anything else in umpiring work on this. Remember, speed kills.

When calling balls/strikes strive for consistent timing so the players know when to expect the ball or strike call. Track the ball into the catcher’s glove with your eyes, let the brain process it, then render your decision. Buy time on easy pitches to call so when you have a tough one on the corner or at the knees you can take that bought time to make your decision and no one will notice the difference. When the plate umpire’s timing is too fast it leaves him/her susceptible to hasty decisions. (Read that to say wrong calls.) Timing that is too slow can make one appear indecisive. Timing that is inconsistent will bring undue attention as people take notice to a break in rhythm.

When making a call on the bases, including fourth base (home), umpires will make the out call when the fielder shows voluntary release of the ball or the player starts a new act while still holding the ball in his glove. A safe call should be made when it is clear the runner is safe with no potential of being out due to further action on that one play (i.e. oversliding). See the whole play before rendering your decision. Some plays may need more time to rule on in order to see all the crucial elements of the play.
The key is, one play one call.

Covering Primary Play First: Always cover the primary play that is occurring that you are responsible for first. Work to get angles on that play. Secondary plays will be covered after that primary play is done. Too many umpires are moving away from the primary play worried about what else might occur.

Only exception to the above is a routine double play ball in the infield. Yes you will be moving away from second base, moving towards first getting an angle on the play at first because chances are that will be the tougher call. If the play at second breaks down, move back towards second.

Arguments and Ejections: If a coach or player make a statement or action that does not warrant an immediate ejection issue a “warning” first. Make sure you use the words “this is a waring...if you continue to argue or make statements about ... you will be ejected.” If the coach or player does not stop you have grounds for ejection. When submitting the ejection report please be specific with what was said or done. Also state that you issued a warning. A statement like, “the coach threw a tantrum” is not specific. If any cuss words were used, please include them in the ejection report.

A phone call to David or Gary is required after the game and ejection reports are to be submitted online before going to bed that evening. Ejection reports are needed to advise the school so the coach or player does not participate in the next contest.

Moving to get Angles: When a play is developing move first to get angle rather than moving to get close to the play. Once you have angle and you have time, then work on moving closer to the play. Don't just stand in one spot to make calls on the bases. You have to move towards the play (angle first) to get a better picture of the play in order to improve your judgment. Many times the play will be easy. It is those few close calls that you need to have the angle to make the correct call. So practice getting angles on the easy ones so it becomes second nature thus making the tough calls easy.


Plate Umpire Moving: When the ball is put in play the plate umpire becomes a base umpire. Plate Umpire usually has home and third base. Here are some items of movement for the plate umpire:

a) Ground ball in the infield bases empty: Plate ump moving up first base line to help base umpire with pulled foot and swipe tags at first.

b) Fly ball bases empty: (Using new advance bases empty fly ball coverage) Plate umpire moves up first base line to watch batter-runner touch of first base.

c) R1 or R1 R3 and batted ball gets thru the infield: Plate ump must move toward third base covering any possible play at third. If no play, move back towards home. Let your partner know what you are doing - communicate!

d) R1 R2 less than two outs and fly ball to the outfield: Same as (c).

e) All Other Situations With Home Plate Threatened (Runners on 2nd and/or 3rd): Stay at home, but move back from point of the plate to get a view of the action watching runners touch bases and or tag ups. If a play at the plate is developing move toward the 3rd base line extended (not first base line extended). If there is a play at the plate move opposite the catcher as this keeps the "window open" to view the tag.

Catches: If you have responsibility for the catch - stay with the catch! Do not worry about the runners unless you can put the runners in your peripheral view. The umpire not responsible for the catch will watch runners tag up or touch bases with the primary base being third, then second, then first. This is called division of labor. We don’t need both umpires watching the fly ball/catch. On a trouble ball if you are not responsible for the catch you can assist your partner, but know that he is primarily responsible for the catch.

Our Enemy - the Ball: The ball is usually the root of all our problems so it is an enemy. When an enemy is present and live you must be alert, attentive and keep your eyes on the ball most of the time. Only when the enemy is dead can we relax a little bit.

Always know the status of the ball - live or dead. When it is live things can happen. There are times we need to take our eyes off the ball - watching runners touch bases - but then we must pick up where the ball is. Keep the ball in front of you. You should never have your back to the ball, except when making the pivot at first on a base hit while watching the batter-runner tough first. Then turn to pick up the status of the ball as it comes into the infield.

When working inside the diamond keep the front of your torso within a 90 degree viewing angle on the ball. In other words, you might be moving to get an angle on the play with your body turned toward the potential play but your eyes are still on the fielder with the ball until he/she throws it.

Any time the ball is dead - it must be brought back alive by the plate umpire at the appropriate time.

Summer Softball

Running Your Game (pdf)

ASA Background Check Form (pdf)

Santa Rosa Recreational Softball League Standards of Behavior (pdf)

Banned ASA Bats Also applies towards High School Softball

As of April 1, 2013, bats have been added to the banned bat list. They are:

  • The Louisville Slugger models FPC136, FP1368 and FP1369are no longer legal
  • Easton SCN10BH Synergy+ Helmer Model
  • Easton SCN6 Stealth Comp CNT+
  • Mattingly Beast Unleashed
  • Mizuno Wrath 2
  • Worth M7JH
  • Worth Mutant 120

Bats to look out for is a Catalyst FPC305, made by Lousville Slugger.
There are three yellow Catalyst bats:

  • FPC205 BLUE LETTERS...This is the one we see all the time at the
    college level...LEGAL BAT.
Dealing With FansUmpire Comic At one point during a game, the coach called one of his
9-year-old baseball players aside and asked, "Do you
understand what cooperation is? What a team is?"
The little boy nodded in the affirmative.
"Do you understand that what matters is whether we win
or lose together as a team?"
The little boy nodded yes.
"So," the coach continued, "I'm sure you know, when an
out is called, you shouldn't argue, curse, attack the
umpire, or call him a pecker-head. Do you understand
all that?
Again the little boy nodded.
He continued, "And when I take you out of the game so
another boy gets a chance to play, it's not good
sportsmanship to call your coach 'a dumb asshole' is it?"
Again the little boy nodded.
"Good," said the coach. "Now go over there and explain
all that to your grandmother."