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  #1 (permalink)  
Old Sun Aug 23, 2009, 12:56pm
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NCAA vs. ASA Mechanics

I think the group here can come up with some good discussion on mechanics.

I see the major differences between the two as something worth talking about. I have been able to do both and I think in a lot of ways the NCAA works better for me. When working ASA I try to do it their way but when calling pitches I think the NCAA allows people to do what works best with their body and call the game.

*U3 coming all the way over to call a play at first on a one hopper to right. (ASA)

*BU always having to come inside on a single (ASA)

*90 angle on the throw for force plays (NCAA)

*Calling distances for force and tag plays (Both - they are different)

*Secondary positioning (NCAA)

I just thought I'd throw this out there and get opinions. Mike has said that the NCAA is arrogant but I feel that some in ASA are hard headed.

I have also worked with umpires that are proud of the fact that they can stand in "B" for innings at a time.
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Last edited by Rachel; Sun Aug 23, 2009 at 08:00pm.
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Old Sun Aug 23, 2009, 07:04pm
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Which organization's mechanics are you refering to in your "bullet points"?
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Old Mon Aug 24, 2009, 09:03am
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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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Old Mon Aug 24, 2009, 09:35am
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Originally Posted by AtlUmpSteve View Post
But, when using the traditional heel-toe ASA stance, the head should be higher than the catcher's head.
Steve,

I agree with you on this. The height of every batter probably changes with each new at bat. Also, the catcher has different objectives than I do, so why would I let her influence my position (unless I'm physically in her way).

Top of the strike zone is where I like to be unless I'm forced by either the batter or catcher to move in order to see the pitch.
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Old Mon Aug 24, 2009, 12:58pm
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I think we have had this discussion in one form or another several times. As an experienced umpire, I find the NCAA mechanics to be better overall. I have also talked to Emily about this subject. As most of you know, she was the primary contributor and author of the CCA Softball Umpires Manual.

NCAA mechanics have been developed for the experienced umpire and are for the "thinking" umpire. To a point, they are more of a guideline to get the umpire in a reasonable position to work a game that is generally faster and played by better athletes overall. It is expected that the umpire be able to adjust to the play at hand and be in postion to see and call that play effectively.

ASA mechanics are written as a standard for all levels of umpires, from the raw rookie to the 20+ year vet. They are solid mechanics that will work for a large percentage of games across all age and talent levels. Due to the large number of ASA umpires across the country, I can see why ASA wants to have one standard set of mechanics. In theory, any ASA umpire should be able to step onto the field with any other ASA umpire and effectively work the game using the same set of mechanics.

Do I believe that ASA should have some flexibility and allow some of the NCAA mechanics to be taught to and used by more experienced umpires that understand the purpose? Yes. However, I can also understand why they (ASA) have chosen not to do that at this time.
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Old Sat Aug 29, 2009, 03:03am
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Ditto!

And thanks Andy and Rachel!
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Old Sat Aug 29, 2009, 08:43am
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andy View Post
Do I believe that ASA should have some flexibility and allow some of the NCAA mechanics to be taught to and used by more experienced umpires that understand the purpose? Yes. However, I can also understand why they (ASA) have chosen not to do that at this time.
Here is the difference, Andy. With ASA's mechanics, I should be able to, and have at the national level, walked onto the field with a crew and the total pregame was, "by the book".

I do not disagree there should be a high level of training for the high level of umpires. To quote Rachel's hero , "it shouldn't be an Advanced School for Umpires, but a School for Advanced Umpiring".

The only problem with that is the restriction it places on some umpires, their ability to work with other umpires and would make it more difficult for some to move up through the system within the ASA umpire ranks.

As you note, I think ASA is too large a body of umpires to get overly specific. I have no problem using advanced mechanics with the umpires who can handle them. OTOH, I believe these umpires should not become elitist and completely dismiss the standard mechanics if they work with a crew which is not up to their level.

JMHO
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Old Mon Aug 31, 2009, 12:58am
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Steve,

Very valid points, since I found a new cold one, I shall respond if I can...

Quote:
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".
I think that the NCAA idea of "working outside" has been misrepresented. Yes, this is the terminology used, but I prefer to think of the philosophy a little differently. Be Where You Need To Be To See What You Need To See. Simply put, if you do not have a play emerging RIGHT NOW (i.e. runner and a ball heading to the base RIGHT NOW), find someplace, ANYPLACE, that allows you to see the ball and the runner (and the possible obstruction) at the same time. Sometimes that is outside, sometime it is inside. Do not move somewhere that does not allow you to loose sight of one of the components. If you can stay put and see all the elements and still get to a calling position before the point in time you need to....stay put. Working NCAA does not mean "staying outside", it just allows a little more flexibilty in judging where the best possible position could be.

Quote:
The working between pitches and secondary positioning has made me a better umpire, no matter which game I am working.
You and several thousands of us.

Quote:
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.
I am not disagreeing with you in the slightest. But, when we moved the calling distance in, it gave me (a moving official) the ability to make minute adjusts as the play developed to see things up close and personal that I never saw before while standing back 10 feet away. The perspective back there is nice, but the ability to change angles on the dime is nonexistent.

Quote:
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.
A great idea. We should think about that more often. For those of you who have worked with me, you know that I am always at the backside of the allowed distance, because I like to move into the play (see above). You're right, it is also very awkward backing up for a play. The only key here is that obtaining a proper angle on the force play is much easier (3-4 steps to get a 90 degree angle to the throw from 3rd) closer up than it is farther away (6-???? steps) to get the same angle.


Quote:
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.
The point of the suggested stances should only be to give umpires ideas as to what they can do to allow them to call a better game. Yes, there are things that you would rather not see the umpires do, but frankly, if an umpire balanced herself on her left pinky and held an umbrella in here right toe while calling a perfect strike zone, would we care???? Or rather should we care? I tink not. Just be strong and right. I have never came done on an umpire who was unoothodox but looked strong, looked comfortable and was accurate.

I'm not sure what mechanics I used on a daily basis. Some things I learned in AFA, some things from ASA, some grand allowances I read in NCAA, a lot of tricks I learned from talking with and watching MLB umpires (you should hear there philosophies). I think our job is simple. Be in place. Be right. Look strong and believable. No organization should have problems with that.

But, then again, I am not and evaluator and I only have 13 beers left.

Smokey
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Old Mon Aug 31, 2009, 07:46am
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Originally Posted by bestviewofall View Post

I think that the NCAA idea of "working outside" has been misrepresented. Yes, this is the terminology used, but I prefer to think of the philosophy a little differently. Be Where You Need To Be To See What You Need To See. Simply put, if you do not have a play emerging RIGHT NOW (i.e. runner and a ball heading to the base RIGHT NOW), find someplace, ANYPLACE, that allows you to see the ball and the runner (and the possible obstruction) at the same time. Sometimes that is outside, sometime it is inside. Do not move somewhere that does not allow you to loose sight of one of the components. If you can stay put and see all the elements and still get to a calling position before the point in time you need to....stay put. Working NCAA does not mean "staying outside", it just allows a little more flexibilty in judging where the best possible position could be.
I agree it is misrepresented, but also in another manner as you suggest. The selling point has been keeping the elements in view. Not possible. Isn't going to happen no matter what mechanics a working umpire is using. A spectating umpire, sure, s/he can to this, but will never be in a proper position to make a call.

I am not of the belief seeing the ball is as important as seeing the runners and defenders and observing their actions. Knowing where the ball is at any time is important, but that doesn't mean it is necessary to see it rolling to the gap, bouncing off the fence and watching some OF stab at it.

Quote:
The point of the suggested stances should only be to give umpires ideas as to what they can do to allow them to call a better game. Yes, there are things that you would rather not see the umpires do, but frankly, if an umpire balanced herself on her left pinky and held an umbrella in here right toe while calling a perfect strike zone, would we care???? Or rather should we care? I tink not. Just be strong and right. I have never came done on an umpire who was unoothodox but looked strong, looked comfortable and was accurate.

I'm not sure what mechanics I used on a daily basis. Some things I learned in AFA, some things from ASA, some grand allowances I read in NCAA, a lot of tricks I learned from talking with and watching MLB umpires (you should hear there philosophies). I think our job is simple. Be in place. Be right. Look strong and believable. No organization should have problems with that.
Once had an umpire set up in the RHB slot six feet behind the catcher......for every batter regardless of batter's box being used. Pretty unorthodox. And there was no way this umpire was seeing the right half of the plate let alone the outside corner. However, there was little argument with his calls from the teams or my Asst. UIC or myself. I asked him if anyone ever suggested he move a little closer. He said no. I asked if anyone ever told him to move to the other side when there was a LHB. He said no. And this was at a national!

Unlike the NCAA who inherits previously trained and proven umpires, the other assocations are not always that lucky and often, must train umpires from scratch.

When we train them, it isn't for the routine calls. If every players fielded every ball cleanly and always threw it to the right base in a straight and efficient manner or just made the right play at the right base every time, a blind monkey could do our job. The mechanics taught at the beginning are designed to put the umpire in the best possible starting position to get the necessary perspective for the most common plays. What many umpires do not get right away is that mastering these simple and routine mechanics will also prepare them and put them in a preferred starting position for the goofy, strange or tough plays, or misplays as it may seem.

Yes, sometimes it is boring and may not deserve the same effort. However, umpires get paid for making the tough calls, the bangers, the near impossible to dissect in real time plays. And that is where the real evaluations take place.

Yes, I have worked the "rim" and, in some cases, loved it, but only with a 3- or 4-umpire system. What I have seen in my area are some local HS associations making this their primary set of mechanics for their 2-umpire system. Not good.

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But, then again, I am not and evaluator and I only have 13 beers left.

Smokey
You still have 13 left? And here I thought you were a beer drinker.
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Old Mon Aug 31, 2009, 01:34pm
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IMO opinion there are instances where working outside...being able to adjust...is beneficial even in 2 person..just not as frequent as one might find in 3-4 person.

I like the ability to watch what is going on with the ball and glancing the runners-fielders (fielders and runners usually react to what is going on with the ball). The information can be extremely useful in determining next movement. How far the ball may travel, which fielder is going to pick it up, what direction that fielder may be moving when they get to the ball, who the cutoff will be, how strong the relay throw might be and other information (like being able to see my partners and what they are doing) are all effectively observed without having to turn a back to any pertinent info. The key IMO, is that umpires understand what to look for when, and then proceeding to the area they need to get to in a timely manner. This can usually be done best when using the most amount of information available.

I think it's cool in watching games on TV how many umpires have been able to utilize these concepts, especially over the past 3-4 years.

Last edited by luvthegame; Mon Aug 31, 2009 at 01:39pm.
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Old Mon Aug 31, 2009, 03:57pm
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Originally Posted by luvthegame View Post
IMO opinion there are instances where working outside...being able to adjust...is beneficial even in 2 person..just not as frequent as one might find in 3-4 person.

I like the ability to watch what is going on with the ball and glancing the runners-fielders (fielders and runners usually react to what is going on with the ball). The information can be extremely useful in determining next movement. How far the ball may travel, which fielder is going to pick it up, what direction that fielder may be moving when they get to the ball, who the cutoff will be, how strong the relay throw might be and other information (like being able to see my partners and what they are doing) are all effectively observed without having to turn a back to any pertinent info. The key IMO, is that umpires understand what to look for when, and then proceeding to the area they need to get to in a timely manner. This can usually be done best when using the most amount of information available.

I think it's cool in watching games on TV how many umpires have been able to utilize these concepts, especially over the past 3-4 years.

Funny....I can handle most of the bolded part with one look at the ball as Im going inside... the players tell me everything else..

I saw WAY too many newer and lazy umpires misuse staying out side in the last couple of years.... ESPECIALLY in two man.
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Old Mon Aug 31, 2009, 04:10pm
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Quote:
Originally Posted by luvthegame View Post
IMO opinion there are instances where working outside...being able to adjust...is beneficial even in 2 person..just not as frequent as one might find in 3-4 person.

I like the ability to watch what is going on with the ball and glancing the runners-fielders (fielders and runners usually react to what is going on with the ball). The information can be extremely useful in determining next movement. How far the ball may travel, which fielder is going to pick it up, what direction that fielder may be moving when they get to the ball, who the cutoff will be, how strong the relay throw might be and other information (like being able to see my partners and what they are doing) are all effectively observed without having to turn a back to any pertinent info. The key IMO, is that umpires understand what to look for when, and then proceeding to the area they need to get to in a timely manner. This can usually be done best when using the most amount of information available.
I agree with your key, but AFAIC, you don't need to keep your eye on the ball when it isn't necessary, overrated and, as previously noted, impossible to do. Turning my back to the ball is no big deal, never has been.
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Old Mon Aug 31, 2009, 05:23pm
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Funny....I can handle most of the bolded part with one look at the ball as Im going inside... the players tell me everything else..

I saw WAY too many newer and lazy umpires misuse staying out side in the last couple of years.... ESPECIALLY in two man.

Which parts can't ya handle?
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Old Mon Aug 31, 2009, 11:57pm
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Quote:
I saw WAY too many newer and lazy umpires misuse staying out side in the last couple of years.... ESPECIALLY in two man.
True, far too many umpires look at this as an opportunity to be lazy. Not a good route to take at all.

Or maybe they are afraid of using ASA-established mechanics on a non-ASA game? Maybe they are afraid of taking their ASA-training elsewhere and getting in trouble for it?

Quote:
Funny....I can handle most of the bolded part with one look at the ball as Im going inside... the players tell me everything else..
I wish that I could do that. I still can't figure out how to tell which is the best possible angle on a play without seeing every element of the play develop from A to Z. Good for you.

Smokey
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Old Tue Sep 01, 2009, 12:19am
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I agree it is misrepresented, but also in another manner as you suggest. The selling point has been keeping the elements in view. Not possible. Isn't going to happen no matter what mechanics a working umpire is using. A spectating umpire, sure, s/he can to this, but will never be in a proper position to make a call.
I disagree. With knowledge of the potential plays ahead, along with the knowledge of what routes need to be used to get to those plays (easily), an umpire can see all of the elements at the same time and be well ahead of the play with little effort.

Quote:
I am not of the belief seeing the ball is as important as seeing the runners and defenders and observing their actions. Knowing where the ball is at any time is important, but that doesn't mean it is necessary to see it rolling to the gap, bouncing off the fence and watching some OF stab at it.
I cannot put any importance on any one element. Without getting specific, I believe that seeing the whole field at the same time allows me the latitude to make informed decisions as the play develops. I don't rely on any person (defense or offense) to solely tell me where to go or more importantly, where I don't need to go.


Quote:
Once had an umpire set up in the RHB slot six feet behind the catcher......for every batter regardless of batter's box being used. Pretty unorthodox. And there was no way this umpire was seeing the right half of the plate let alone the outside corner. However, there was little argument with his calls from the teams or my Asst. UIC or myself. I asked him if anyone ever suggested he move a little closer. He said no. I asked if anyone ever told him to move to the other side when there was a LHB. He said no. And this was at a national!
Is this a comment on the ASA training and advancement of umpires in the ASA ranks? Be careful, many of us believe that ASA does a fantastic job of training officials and choosing those who are qualified to work at the national level.

BTW, how is Dudley these days?

Quote:
Yes, I have worked the "rim" and, in some cases, loved it, but only with a 3- or 4-umpire system. What I have seen in my area are some local HS associations making this their primary set of mechanics for their 2-umpire system. Not good.
Yes, ABSOLUTELY, staying outside can be hazardous to one's officiating if done at the improper times. At the two-person games, it should be used only at particular situations, and only if both umpires understand the system.



Quote:
You still have 13 left? And here I thought you were a beer drinker.
Yep, I ran low. No worries, I got another 36-pack on the way home tonight. BTW, what I do to beer can't really be considered drinking...

Smokey
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