Talking to Umpires: Do’s & Don’ts for Player’s, Parents, & Coaches

Written By: Chas Pippitt

How you talk to an umpire can be the difference between winning and losing. These men and women are not robots, they have both emotions and memories. More than likely, they will remember both good and bad interactions with you and your team. What’s the best way to make umpires remember you and your team in a good way and get the benefit of the doubt on tough calls?

Pitchers and Catchers

Talking to Umpires

ALWAYS introduce yourself and shake the umpires’ hand. Do this pregame in an inconspicuous manner. Catchers, NEVER EVER show up the umpire on a ‘bad call’ and always make sure they’re ok if they’re hit by a ball. Pitchers, make sure you NEVER EVER show up the umpire on a call you think he or she missed. Always thank the home plate ump after every game you pitch, win or lose, good or bad. Re-introduce yourself then as well, to help the umpire remember you and your character. It is hard to thank an umpire when you have lost or feel he’s squeezed you but I promise he or she will remember your words post game.

Umpires: don't be like this guy. The pitcher clearly does nothing wrong here. All he simply said was "that's horrible", talking about the call. He didn't say the umpire horrible, only the call. That's a big difference. This thin-skinned umpire is costing this pitcher's chances of playing in this weekend's super regional and possibly one game of the College World Series due to his suspension. Which is a mandatory 4-game suspension by the NCAA for pitcher ejections. 

Position Players and Bench Players

Be smart. Your actions on the field and words in the dugout help or hurt your team. Make sure you’re a part of your team’s solution and not a part of the problem. Remember: negativity breeds more negativity. This happens with teams, businesses and marriages.

Be POSITIVE about the next pitch or next call instead of reacting negatively to a perceived ‘bad call’. Remember, you weren’t closer to the call than the ump. And remember this as well: no umpire goes into a game trying to be wrong. Do you go into a game trying to walk everyone or strike out? Of course you don’t! Give them the benefit of the doubt and allow for some human error while keeping your competitive spirit.


Batters, you are the easiest and most likely to anger an umpire. Never ever look back at an umpire to question a call. Speak forward, or downward, to the umpire and never make eye contact or ‘helmet brim’ contact towards him or her. Looking back and speaking to them is a huge “NO NO” and will always be dealt with in a negative way by the ump. I was on a team once where a player ‘drew a line’ in the dirt where the pitch ended in an ejection. Umpires will hold previous experience with you and your teammates against you, as they are human beings. Be a reason for them to like you instead of a reason for them to hurt you.

Check out these do's and don'ts from Philadelphia Philly Bryce Harper.

Coaches and Parents: It's Not About YOU

William Wotring/ The Dominion Post

There is a great responsibility with coaches and parents that many coaches do not understand. As coaches and parents, we are role models, we are mentors for our athletes that we coach/raise. We owe it to our players to never allow the umpires to be disrespected or berated at our games by our fans.

These people, the umpires, are humans. Because of this, we know they make mistakes and will not always rule correctly or in our favor. Therefore, it is our duty to protect them and our players from the outbursts of the parents on our team or our supporters. Umpires will never forget a coach calming an out of line parent or fan and this will provide much leverage and latitude in the future. There is no telling how this ridiculous and embarrassing outburst by this fan hurt WVU baseball with borderline calls.

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I have seen umpires using extremely wide and tall strike zones (I call it “toe to the tongue”). Occasionally, umps will state what they will call strikes before the game will start (a ball’s width from the plate will be called strike), but this is rare. Is it ever acceptable to just ask the ump to define what he considers to be the strike zone? If so, is that something only the coach should handle?



I think at the beginning of the game, before it begins, you can ask an umpire if he’s white line to white line or black to black.

Just say you’re asking to prepare your team for a big zone or a small one.