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View Full Version : Exactly what is "coaching"


PeteBooth
09-05-2008, 02:09 PM
Hi All:

The recent OP about a player missing the plate and Richard's comment about "coaching" prompted me for this post.

Do the masses consider the following coaching:

1. I believe many of us played the game at various positions. While doing the dish I am almost certain that when F1 starts to have control problems we have a pretty good idea why.

Therefore, while doing the dish has any of you ever said to F2 - He is over-throwing or rushing etc. In other words anything along those lines so that as PU we can get back in the groove and call strikes.

If we do say something to F2 is that considered coaching?

2. We notice F1 is not coming set - depending upon the situation do any of you call Time, dust the plate off and while dusting off the plate tell F2 to go talk to F1 and make certain he comes set.

3. We have already discussed this in a previous OP meaning when a player hits a HR - make certian the plate area is clear and also tell the players to stay back.

4. When doing the dish F2 turns his glove down and thinks the ball is a strike. Do you tell F2 that when he turns his glove down gives the impression that the pitch is a ball and it will be called that way. Next time keep your glove "firm" and most likely you will get the call the next time.

The aforementioned are just some examples of what I have done during games. Is that coaching? Doing our job? and also mechanisms to avoid a possible sh*******

IMO, there is a fine line between "coaching" and doing what I consider our job.

What's your take and do you have similar examples or on the "flip side" completely disagree and feel that we should not tell the players anything.

Pete Booth

JBowling
09-05-2008, 03:29 PM
I think that #1 is a definite example of coaching.

#2 could be considered coaching. If you see a balk, call it.

#3, No, you and the defense need to see whether or not he actually touches the plate.

#4 I wouldn't really consider coaching. That's telling the catcher that he is telling you he thinks the pitch is a ball too but wants to make it look like a strike.

Richard_Siegel
09-05-2008, 03:39 PM
Pete,

I think all the things in your post are forms of coaching. Any time you make a suggestion to a player that is designed to help him avoid a violation or improve his performance is coaching. Since many of us started out as coaches before we umpired (as did I) we often find hard to completely shed that urge to help the players.

However, no good deed goes unpunished. Doing this can backfire. You could end up telling a player to do something his coach told him not to do. You could be asking for trouble.

Many years ago doing a freshman game the pitcher was barely coming to a stop. After he walked a batter I went out and asked for the ball to inspect it and tossed him another one. While I was out there I said to him, "You're close to balking. Make sure you come to a stop." The kid he had just walked the bases loaded so he started to pitch to the next batter from the wind-up. He begins his motion and ....comes to a stop! The BU calls a balk on him. His coach calls out from the bench, "Why did you do that?" The pitcher shouts back to him, "The ump said I had to come to a stop!"

That was the end of my days of giving coaching tips as an umpire.

Another reason I became an umpire was because I was a terrible coach. I didn't play in HS or college so I was very weak on skills and strategy, but I knew the rules really well! Because of that, when the LL umpires blew a call, I had a hard time keeping my emotions in check. Becoming an umpire forced me to be impartial and calm. So since I wasn't very good coaching when I WAS a coach, I really then have no business offering coaching help to kids as an umpire.

Now all that being said, I do find ways to get "help" to kids without doing things I believe is coaching. If I see a player doing something I think will lead to a violation, if the climate of the game allows it, between innings I will go to his head coach a speak to him about it. "Dave, I noticed your pitcher is barely coming to a stop with runners on base. It very close to a balk." This gives the coach the option to tell his player about it or not. He might like the way the kid is pitching. Since I haven't called a balk yet, then why make him change? However, most of the time he's grateful I pointed this out and he then can coach his own player.

If a coach has been a problem to me, I certainly won't do this.

I just think that we should not be offering unsolicited help to players. We are there to make the calls and enforce penalties for violations. Helping players to play better is not part of the job.

In the case of the catcher turning hid mitt over. I have said to catchers in cases like that when they have askked what I saw, "It looked low to me the way you caught it." Notice that I am not suggesting to him how to do it better, but I think it still sends him the intended message.

mstaylor
09-05-2008, 04:18 PM
I agree with Richard. If a catcher asks me about a pitch I will tell him to not pull pitches on close pitches. I have mentioned to coaches things like you mention about the pitcher being close.

GoodCallBlue
09-05-2008, 04:31 PM
#1 I believe is coaching.

#2, #3, and #4 I believe are not coaching and have done so without any problems or complaints and will continue to do so until I have problems.

BrianC14
09-05-2008, 04:58 PM
I don't know that I could necessarily describe coaching in so many words, but I do know it when I see it.

TarheelUmp
09-05-2008, 09:10 PM
#1 No
#2 Yes, I've done this.
#3 Yes
#4 Yes.

Are they coaching probably. How much I say or do will depend on the climate of the game As Richard mentioned. I also have told coaches of things I see, but am not calling. Once again if the climate is right.

carolinablue
09-05-2008, 10:06 PM
I think it depends on the level you are umpiring. I have only done LL and I have coached before. I think sometimes in LL the kids don't get coaching on some of the finer things of the game like two strike hitting and really pitching and working with a catcher on location. When I am doing some of the younger kids I don't coach but I will give them encouragement when they do something right. If a batter spoils a good pitch with two strikes I may say " Good job batter I would have rung you up on that one " or if a catcher locates on the corner I'll give him an attaboy after I ring up the batter. I do it silently so noone will think I am rooting for anyone. If and when I start doing HS I think I will just keep my mouth shut and call the game.

Richard_Siegel
09-06-2008, 12:53 AM
I think it depends on the level you are umpiring. I have only done LL and I have coached before. I think sometimes in LL the kids don't get coaching on some of the finer things of the game like two strike hitting and really pitching and working with a catcher on location. When I am doing some of the younger kids I don't coach but I will give them encouragement when they do something right. If a batter spoils a good pitch with two strikes I may say " Good job batter I would have rung you up on that one " or if a catcher locates on the corner I'll give him an attaboy after I ring up the batter. I do it silently so noone will think I am rooting for anyone. If and when I start doing HS I think I will just keep my mouth shut and call the game.

If you want to work a HS game well, start practicing keeping your mouth shut now. When I do LL games it seems that every coach in the dugout and most of the parents have to shout coaching tips to the batter or catcher on every pitch. Often the advice conflicts: the HC is shouting, "Move up in the box!" from the dugout, and the batter's dad is behind the backstop telling him to back-up. I think it would drive me nuts if I were some of these kids.

I think the last thing these kids need is the umpire unnecessarily speaking to them. In HS many coaches are very suspicious of anytime an umpire speaks to his players. Like we have said so many times on this website, "No good deed goes unpunished."

Matt13
09-06-2008, 01:07 AM
Everything in the OP is coaching. 1 through 3 are never acceptable in any level of serious baseball. 4 can be if unsolicited, but if the catcher asks where the pitch was, then I may respond with a statement similar to that.

carolinablue
09-06-2008, 02:05 PM
I see your point Richard. One thing for me is that 90 % of the games I did this season was in the same LL. I did a lot of games and after a while the kids and coaches get to know you and come up to you before the games to say Hi and maybe joke around a little. It's hard not to get " attached " to the kids but I can see how this could be a problem as well.

Cal Blue
09-12-2008, 03:38 PM
I ABSOLUTELY tell the catcher to cure a marginal balk problem before I start calling balks. Balks suck. If I can quietly and discreetly warn a guy, I will.

I also instruct catchers early in a game not to pull pitches--absolutely. Good framing is one thing, but pulling a pitch eight inches down or sideways is an insult to everyone.

I never say, "Don't pull pitches like that, it makes me look bad." I'll make it sound like all umpires are put off by the practice. "Avoid pulling pitches like that; umpires do not go for that."

Tim_C
09-12-2008, 04:48 PM
Matt13 wrote:

"1 through 3 are never acceptable in any level of serious baseball."

I have worked a lot of "serious baseball" in my life (including NCAA D1 playoffs) and I have used #2 all my career.

While your mileage may vary I know a whole lot of advanced umpires that use "hey, make sure you stop SOMEWHERE" to both catchers (when PU) and directed to pitchers when working inside with runners on (as BU).

I just can't come close to agreeing with you on this one.

KenGibes
09-12-2008, 06:54 PM
Since we're talking about 'umpire coaching,' I've steamed over this one for about a week and I can't get past it, so here goes:

My son's PONY game last weekend had a HP umpire who adamantly refused to let the on-deck hitter chase after balls that went to the screen. It's a 100% accepted practice around here (well, I guess it's now a 99% accepted practice) including high school play, as it speeds the game up considerably.

Despite the 105 degree temperature and 60% humidity, the umpire stuck to his guns. When my son's coach asked him what the problem was, the umpire replied, "I want the catcher to learn how to block bad pitches, so I'm making him chase everything that goes past him."

Unbelievable....

KenGibes
09-12-2008, 06:59 PM
I also instruct catchers early in a game not to pull pitches--absolutely. Good framing is one thing, but pulling a pitch eight inches down or sideways is an insult to everyone."

On a few occasions, I've spoken quietly to a catcher after he pulled a pitch and said, "Catch... when you pull a pitch like that, you make me think that you don't believe it was a strike."

I've never had a complaint about it, and F2 usually stops doing it.

BT_Blue
09-13-2008, 06:18 AM
I also instruct catchers early in a game not to pull pitches--absolutely. Good framing is one thing, but pulling a pitch eight inches down or sideways is an insult to everyone."

On a few occasions, I've spoken quietly to a catcher after he pulled a pitch and said, "Catch... when you pull a pitch like that, you make me think that you don't believe it was a strike."

I've never had a complaint about it, and F2 usually stops doing it.

One of my favorite things to say when a catcher doesnt catch a pitch right I will some times say "if you catch it like it strike it, it probably will be". For the most part they get the idea.