How to Be a Little League Umpire

Three Parts:Applying to Local LeaguesKnowing the RulesBeing a Great Umpire

Most parents think of coaching when they get involved in Little League, but umpiring is a great way to participate that many might not be aware is an option. Little League umpiring features quite a few differences than that of standard umpiring. Many rules are altered, or even added, to account of the level of play and the age group involved.

Part 1
Applying to Local Leagues

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    Search for the local Little League divisions in your area. Find a list of all of the Little League divisions close to your location to see what options are available. Some are separated by gender or age group, so pick the one that suits you best.
    • Most counties have a website dedicated to Little League listings. You can also find websites dedicated to helping you find a particular league.[1]
    • Neighborhood or school bulletin boards may post information about local leagues as well.
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    Apply as an umpire. Fill out the application to become an umpire. These applications can often be found on the Little League website, but you may also have to retrieve and fill out the physical copy in person. Your information will be reviewed and you will be contacted if selected.
    • Be prepared to fill out information related to your occupation, any umpire training you have received, whether you have children and they are playing on the team, and whether you have been refused by other youth programs in the past.[2]
    • Be forward with your personal information. Most Little Leagues perform background checks for volunteers.[3]
    • Have a few references you can supply on the application that can put in a good word for you.
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    Purchase the necessary equipment. Pick up the gear you’ll need to do your job on the field. This includes a chest guard, face mask, shin guards, plate shoes, and comfortable underclothing.
    • Sporting goods stores carry much of the equipment you’ll need, sometimes bundling the items into one package.[4]
    • Check with the league to see if they have any old equipment that you can use, or ask to see if you can borrow gear from any prior umpires that are not participating this year.

Part 2
Knowing the Rules

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    Review the rule differences between Little League and Major League baseball. There are a series of differences between Little League baseball and major league that can impact rulings and how the game is played. You need to understand the rules completely in order to be considered as an umpire.[5]
    • One example of a Little League specific rule to consider is: “When a ball goes under the fence, what happens?”
    • Another example: “If the ball hits a tree and the fielder catches it, is it a fair catch?” Parents and players will both want to know that these questions are handled correctly.
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    Attend a local class. Little League classes are available in many areas, and umpire specific classes are included. These classes go over the major differences between the major leagues and Little League, as well as advice for becoming a better umpire.
    • Local recreation departments often have classes, or can suggest where to find one.
    • Little League also hosts a national umpire school that aspiring umpires can sign up for online.[6]
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    Sign up for the umpire registry. The Little League umpire registry allows umpires to connect and communicate with one another. Signing up for the registry includes a copy of the official Little League Baseball rulebook, as well as access to the Umpire Registry site.
    • The registry can put you in contact with other umpires in the area who can help show you the ropes.
    • Updates to regulations or rules will be provided on the registry site, providing members with immediate access to the latest information.[7]

Part 3
Being a Great Umpire

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    Know the responsibilities at plate. Plate umpires call the balls and strikes, as well as plays at the plate. The plate umpire must also return the ball to play after foul balls or a time out.
    • Keep a consistent strike zone. There are a few guidelines for what constitutes a strike, but whatever you choose, consistency is what is important to being a good umpire.
    • Keep an indicator to help keep track of balls, strikes and outs.[8]
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    Know how to work the bases. Base umpire responsibilities are different than the plate umpire, and require you to watch the pitcher and runners on base. Once the ball has been hit, the umpire must move appropriately to avoid getting in the way of players, while still maintaining the ability to call a runner safe, or out.
    • Let plays complete before making your call. Calling a play too early can result in an incorrect call and anger players.
    • Make your gestures for runners crisp and visible to everyone in attendance.[9]
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    Be loud when necessary. Loud and aggressive calls help alert the crowd and players to close calls, as well as indicate your knowledge of the rules. However, there is no need to be loud for obvious plays, such as wide, foul balls.[10]
    • Develop your own style! Many umpires add their own style to their strike calls. Some growl it, some make it sound more like "Hike" than "Strike". Be careful not to confuse players with your calls though.
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    Maintain composure during blown calls. Own up to “blown” or incorrect calls with respect to everyone involved. If the coach says "I'd like to appeal that call," grant his request if you know the call was questionable.
    • Speak with your partner umpire before conversing with the coach. You want to get a consensus on the call and whether it was truly incorrect.[11]
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    Exercise good judgment when ejecting coaches. Ejecting coaches should be avoided and only used as a last resort. However, if the coach is making the game less enjoyable for players and the crowd, then it may be necessary to remove the coach. If the coach does not leave then his team may have to pay a price, such as forfeiture.
    • Explain the reasoning to your call calmly. Do not escalate the situation if you can help it.
    • Walk away from coaches who do not want to accept your call. Try to move on with the game!
    • Don’t say any more than you must. You are the umpire, and others must learn to respect that.[12]


  • Never make physical contact with a coach, or your umpiring career will be over.
  • Stand your ground and only appeal calls when asked.

Things You'll Need

  • Shin guards
  • Mask
  • Chest protector
  • Plate shoes
  • Baseballs
  • Indicator

Article Info

Categories: Baseball