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Old Mon Aug 24, 2009, 09:03am
AtlUmpSteve AtlUmpSteve is offline
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Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Woodstock, GA; Atlanta area
Posts: 2,804
As an ASA trainer and an association trainer, I teach the ASA mechanics strictly. In fact, we use ASA mechanics as the state adopted high school mechanics (Georgia). I understand the rationale for teaching the masses, and the KISS methods, which work best 95% of the time (inside-outside theory, for example).

As an NCAA umpire, I also see times that the NCAA mchanics are better; they allow more adjustment to specific game situations. There are times that working outside is better (and certainly easier); but mandating "outside" is no better than mandating "inside". The working between pitches and secondary positioning has made me a better umpire, no matter which game I am working.

My personal opinions include two instances where I find the NCAA mechanics less advantageous; one general, one specific. I am certainly not a newbie; I first started calling softball in 1971, so I have some years of perspective, not just a reaction. I am not comfortable with the calling distances overall, I feel like I am smothering the plays, and losing the perspective that is better from a wider angle view. Frankly, I believe I have missed more calls, both tag plays and force outs, working at the NCAA distances. I may have seen just a few tag plays better; I have overall felt like I missed more.

The other issue I have is a specific game situation; three umpire system, single runner on first. I do not agree that U3 should have a primary tag play distance and then work back out for force plays; it is so much more effective to start at force play distance and step up to the tag play. I have done some research, and reject the notion that there are more tag plays (steal, passed ball, and wild pitch) than force plays; it is NOT the predominant play. It certainly is easier to step up than back up; every other sport and mechanic tells you that. There is more time to read the steal/PB/WP and step up, than there is to read a batted ball, judge that it will be fielded, then react to the perfect angle as well as back out at the same time.

With those exceptions, I prefer the NCAA differences that Rachel points out. Although I use a traditional ASA stance, I understand that various plate stances work better for others. Just one nit to pick with that; the NCAA manual says when using the scissors, the head (eyes) should be at the top of the zone (GREAT; I agree). But, when using the traditional heel-toe ASA stance, the head should be higher than the catcher's head. To me, that never made sense; if setting the eyes at the top of the zone is more consistent (and of course it is!!), then you would no more be affected by the catcher's head when working the slot in one stance versus the other. Telling us we have the option of multiple stances, and the option to use what works best for us, then pigeon-holing specifics for evaluators to use as negatives is counterproductive, IMO. Rarely do you hear "it isn't what's in the manual, but it works good for you, so keep using it".

Just my few points of contention; otherwise, prefer NCAA mechanics for my use; just not sure the masses are ready to get the options to adjust.
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