Recruit, Retain & Celebrate Sports Officials

How To Become A Softball Umpire

Softball is one of the most popular American sports. It has a long history dating back to the late 19th century and since its inception, the sport has become one of the most widely played throughout the U.S. Although softball is generally associated exclusively with female players at the scholastic and collegiate levels, it has long been popular among men as well as coed teams in the amateur and recreational space.

Why Real Officials Love What They Do

The Field Feels Like Home

People often ask me how I maintain a smile throughout almost every game, however it is quite unintentional. I just cannot erase the pleasure from my face. Refereeing soccer is more than a hobby or a job; it is my passion and it is ingrained in me so deeply that it is a part of me. The confidence I feel on the field has spilled over into almost every aspect of my life, and it has propelled me to believe that any dream is within my grasp. And without any rhyme or reason, the place where I feel the most at home, pacified and comfortable is on that soccer field.

Mandy LoveYouth, amateur, high school, college, and former professional soccer official from Bowling Green, Ky.

I Can Be a Role Model.

It offers a chance to lead by example. Even after coaches/fans express their disappointment in my calls, I still have the eyes and hearts of the players on the field looking to me for leadership and how to show good character and convictions.

Glenn BushouseSoccer official from Richland, Mich.

It Gives Me Goose Bumps.

Working games still gives me goose bumps. As soon as I arrive and begin preparing for the game, my day, my life, enters a new and exciting realm. When I enter the field, there’s more bounce in my step, my senses are heightened, and my competitive juices start flowing. I can’t find that feeling anywhere else.

Jeff AdlerYouth soccer official, Foster City Calif.

Things To Consider

Physical Demands

Expect normal physical demands. As the players’ competitive levels increase, the physical demands will rise. You will be required to jog several times to properly position yourself. You will stand several hours on end, occasionally in high heat.

Mental Demands

Softball umpires, regardless of level, need to know the rules and understand the game. Visual awareness is necessary to observe the pitches in a 3D environment. Mental toughness is important to handle criticism from coaches.

Training

You should join a local officials association where you can expect ongoing classes, demonstrations and exercises that will prepare you for what you’ll face. Most associations have an intensive introductory course for new umpires to get you ready for your first season.

Different organizations have different requirements, but most require at least attendance at a meeting to go over any current rule changes. Additional requirements may be a written test with a minimum passing score, payment of fees for the upcoming season and association meeting attendance.

Equipment

  • Polished, black athletic shoes. Either turf shoe or flat-bottom.
  • Black socks.
  • Heather or navy slacks, depending upon area. Check with local association.
  • Powder blue shirt. Some associations wear a red or navy golf shirt.
  • Black leather belt.
  • A fitted cap.
  • Officiating tools: pencil, flipping coin, indicator and a ballbag.

If you umpire fast pitch you will need these items:

  • A mask with a throat protector.
  • An inside chest protector.
  • A cup (for men).
  • Protective plate shoes.

Estimated cost: $450. Once you join a local officiating association, there may be veteran officials who are willing to give or sell you “hand–me–downs” to help you get geared up at a reduced cost.

Game Fees

Game fees vary widely based on the players’ age group, competitive level and the state you officiate in. You can expect the fees to range from $10-$50. To maximize your income, you can work a combination of levels several days a week, including weekend tournaments where you can work games all day. An official with a full schedule can make several hundred dollars per week outside their normal jobs.

Assistance

Ask a respected veteran official to be your mentor. That mentor will help answer your questions and provide crucial support. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about situations and rules. The more you talk about being a softball umpire, the more you will learn about it.

Certification

Here’s the path for starting and continuing your officiating career

Youth Level

Many officials start at the youth level. Contact your local recreation department leaders. Your local association should also help you make contacts to get games.

For information, contact:

USA Softball

Upgrading

After working youth games, you may feel you have the skills and confidence to work higher levels of competition. You may also start at this level if you have a good grasp of the rules and/or experience as a player. For Jr. High games, ask your association leader or contact your school district. For high school games, you’ll need to work with an assigner through your local association. Any work with sanctioned school games requires you to be registered through your state, to prove you’re competent.

High School

National Federation of State High School AssociationsAfter working youth games, you may feel you have the skills and confidence to work higher levels of competition. You may also start at this level if you have a good grasp of the rules and/or experience as a player. For Jr. High games, ask your association leader or contact your school district. For high school games, you’ll need to work with an assigner through your local association. Any work with sanctioned school games requires you to be registered through your state, to prove you’re competent.

The National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) is the nation’s governing body for high school athletics. Through them you can get all the information you need from your state to register and start the process to work High School sports.

Begin your High School soccer officiating journey at highschoolofficials.com

In most cases, your state association can put you in contact with a local officials’ association. Local associations assign games, many times offer mentoring programs and assist in training.

High school athletic directors, association assigners and other officials can also you get games.

Plan to attend local camps and clinics. They are focused on helping officials learn and improve.

College

The National Intercollegiate Soccer Officials Association (NISOA) is an organization of more than 5,000 soccer officials which trains, certifies and provides qualified soccer referees for the college soccer community throughout the country. The mission of NISOA is to assist in the development of soccer as a major sport in the United States and to improve the quality of officiating at the college and high school levels. For more information about NISOA, its membership requirements and local chapter locations, visit NISOA.

National Association of Sports Officials

You may also consider joining NASO, the only nation-wide officials support organization. As a member-driven community; NASO exists to unite, celebrate, develop and protect all officials so that they can reach their goals and take pride in their contributions to the benefits that sports provide society.

Learn more about NASO at NASO.org.

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