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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.

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

Softball, like baseball has many situations that happen rarely but that you’ll need to master to be prepared for every situation. You can train yourself with rule books and manuals from the  Referee Training Center, but you should also join a local officials association, such as RAOA, where you can expect real game education, demonstrations and exercises that will prepare you for what you’ll face.

Gear

  • 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 local officiating association, such as RAOA, 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.

Here is a link for to a few online retailers.  Please note, RAOA is not affiliated with any of the them, they are simply suggestions for gear and clothing

Game Fees

Game fees vary widely based on the players’ age group, and competitive level The fees range from $50-$70 for youth games and $80 for competitive high school games.  A softball official working youth, and high school games, with a full schedule, can make several hundred dollars per week outside their normal jobs. College officials make more and game fees increase with the level of competition. 

When you're ready to become an official, head on over to RAOA application page and fill out the form.  You'll be glad you did!