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The Best Seat in the House:   Mental Approach

Geoff Robertson

7 January 2016


John Scolinas was the Head Coach at Cal Poly University.  Cal Poly is a highly respected organisation in its baseball program and Coach Scolinas is a very respected coach from all levels of the baseball fraternity and respected by the community as a man and as a citizen.


Although Coach Scolinas was speaking to the side as baseballers and as a coach would speak to his side there is no doubt in my mind that his approach and ideas can be applied to umpires and umpiring situations.  In fact I feel his theories can be applied to everyday situations.  All with success.


What we are talking about is from the shoulders up.


Everybody listens - few people hear.


A lot of people look - few people see.


The ability to see makes a good athlete or a good umpire.


The bottom line is - Mental Toughness.


Don’t let outside influences overrun your thinking or mental toughness.


Some possible examples are:


Pitcher doesn’t like your calling of balls and strikes - be mentally tough and don’t let his opinion or attitude override your concentration and distract you.


Similar situations could arise with the catcher disagreeing.


Be mentally tough - don’t let him distract you. The same could be said of the batter.


Situations could and probably will occur on base calls.  Don’t let the runners or baseman’s comments distract your concentration - be mentally tough.


The niggling coach - don’t let him get to you.


You may have a game in adverse weather conditions - heat wave or freezing cold with bitter winds.  You don’t let these conditions dictate to you.  You don’t become fatigued.  You adjust.  You don’t stoop or move slowly.  You remain alert and aware of the situation.  You are either mentally tough or you are a marshmallow - and melt.  If you’re a marshmallow - try something else!


The above are just some examples.  You have to work at it all of the time - if you don’t - you’ll lose it!


You must make adjustments - the conditions can’t think so can’t adjust.  Mentally tough umpire can adjust his thinking.


You don’t let outside situations influence you.


Analyse the situation.  Either a pitch or a call on bases, pick-off, fly ball, infield fly, deliberately dropped fly ball, etc.  Don’t try to pre-empt or predict the play, but know the possibilities.  When the play occurs don’t be surprised by it.


Visualise - vision dynamics.


Centre - on the ball and the play.


Execute - your call after the play.


Replay - if need be replay the incident to see if you got it right.  If you think you might have missed a pitch, replay it immediately in an attempt to get it right.


Adjustment - if necessary.


Key - is to see and to react accordingly.  What you see - not what you look at.


Baseball is a simple game - don’t make it difficult.


Full of information - you still must perform - do it naturally.




Always think good towards your fellow umpires.  Encourage them.  Hope generally that they succeed.  Don’t wish them ill hoping you’ll step into their shoes.  It doesn’t work. You’ll only succeed by doing it right yourself, not by others failures.  Don’t get too wrapped up in yourself.  Project a good self-image.




Keep plenty of class.  Head up all the time.  Hustle.  Neat appearance and clean uniform.


If plays or calls aren’t working - make adjustments.


Desire as against Intense Desire.  Desire to succeed and do well.  When you get knocked down get up quick.


If you get appointed to games or grades you don’t like, don’t go crying to people about it.  Take the games, give it your best shot.  Show them by your ability to handle the game and by your approach that you are able to handle the better games and/or higher grades.  Treat it as a knockdown or if you like a defeat.


Handle defeat before you can handle a win.


If you can’t you’d better start thinking about officiating in another sport - because you’re a marshmallow - you’ve melted.


LINK:     BEST SEAT IN THE HOUSE:  all articles


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