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Junior Umpire Training

Farm League Junior Umpire Training

Essex County Women’s Softball League, Spring 2024

Field Dimensions and Equipment

  • 35 foot pitching distance, 50 foot base distances, 11 inch ball
  • Always use a safety base (double base with orange) at first base.
  • Girls must wear helmets with facemasks when batting (chin straps are optional)
  • Fair Territory
    • Home plate is in fair territory – a batted ball that hits the plate is not a dead ball.
    • First base (the white part) and third base are in fair territory – a batted ball that hits them is fair.
    • A ball touching any part of either foul line is fair.

League-Specific Rules (Farm)

  • Home team can practice on field until 5:45, visiting team gets field 5:45-6
  • Games start at 6 pm and are 6 innings long, no new inning after 7:30 pm (after May 29 this changes to 7:45 pm)
  • Team forfeits if fewer than 7 players available
  • 10 run mercy rule after 5 innings
  • Coaches cannot be on the playing field to coach their team
  • No bunting or stealing, no running to 2nd base on a walk
  • No dropped 3rd strike, No infield fly rule
  • Unlimited free substitutions (including pitchers)
  • Pitcher’s Circle (PC) = 8 foot radius of pitching plate
    • Ball is dead when pitcher possesses ball within PC
    • Once ball is in PC, runners must return to previous base unless they are at least halfway to next base
    • Pitcher cannot attempt to put ball back in play after ball is in PC
  • Baserunner may not leave their base until the pitch has reached the plate
  • 4 runs max per inning
  • Coach pitch (to own team) to finish inning after 3 consecutive walks by pitcher. The coach cannot field the ball. No base on balls (walks) during coach pitch
  • Only 4 infielders (plus pitcher and catcher) allowed in the infield
  • Outfielders must be on outfield grass and cannot make primary plays within the infield

Pre-game Conference with Coaches

  • Stand behind home plate, facing the pitcher’s plate, and introduce self (and any other umpires)
  • Review ground rules – point out the “out of play” / dead ball areas
  • Remind coaches of key Farm-level rules:
    • No bunting or stealing, 4 runs max per inning, no dropped 3rd strike
    • Ball is dead when possessed by pitcher within pitcher’s circle
    • Coach pitch (to his/her own team) to finish inning after 3 consecutive walks by pitcher
  • Decide and agree on any rule exceptions:
    • Should hit-by-pitch result in a ball rather than awarding first base?
    • Should coaches be allowed to coach on the field with their team?

Keep the Game Moving

  • At the beginning of each half inning, or when a pitcher relieves another pitcher, not more than one minute may be used to deliver not more than five pitches.
  • Say “batter up” to let the offensive team know you’re ready to start the half inning.

Pitching and Batting

  • Strike Zone: That space over any part of home plate, when a batter assumes a natural batting stance adjacent to home plate, between the batter’s arm pits and the knees.
  • Call “no pitch” if pitcher pitches:
    • while time is out / before umpire has put time back in
    • before the batter has taken a position in the batter’s box or before umpire is in position
    • when the batter is not set in the batter’s box yet (no quick pitch)
    • if baserunner(s) have not yet returned to their base from the previous pitch
    • if the ball slips from pitcher’s hand during delivery or backswing of the arm
  • Continue play (call ball or strike) if batter steps out of the batter’s box without being granted time by the umpire and the pitch is delivered
  • Prior to the pitch, the batter must have both feet completely within the lines of the batter’s box. The batter may touch the lines but no part of the foot may be outside the lines.
  • If the ball is a strike (either swinging or it’s in the strike zone) but it hits the batter, it’s still a strike. Call “dead ball” and “strike”.  If this is strike three, call “strike three” (it’s a dead ball and the batter is out).
  • If catcher obstructs (interferes with) a batter’s attempt to hit the ball, the batter is awarded first base. If the ball is still hit fair despite the interference, the play is live. Note: if the batter does not safely reach first base in live play, they are still awarded first base.
  • When a pitched “ball” (not swung at or called a strike) touches any part of the batter (including hands and clothing), the ball is dead and the batter is awarded first base. Exception: If the batter makes no effort to avoid the pitch, they are not awarded first base and a “ball” is called.
  • Call “dead ball” when
    • a pitch hits a batter and the batter made an effort to avoid being hit (award first base)
    • the batter hits the ball a second time (if batter is in fair territory call “out”, otherwise call “foul” and “strike”). Note: if the ball hits the bat while the bat is on the ground, the play is live.

Base Running

  • A batter-runner must touch the orange/foul portion of the base on her first attempt at first base. After touching the orange base, she must then use the white/fair portion of the base. The defensive player must touch the white/fair portion of the base when making a play. Exception: On any force out attempt from the foul side of first base the defense and the batter-runner may use either the white or orange portion of the base.
  • The batter-runner is out when she:
    • enters the team area (bench) after hitting a ball in fair territory or after a base on balls
    • runs outside a 3 foot lane on either side of the first baseline intending to interfere with the throw to first
    • steps back towards home plate to avoid or delay a tag by a fielder
    • interferes with a fielder attempting to field or throw a ball, or interferes with a thrown ball
    • makes contact with a fair batted ball before reaching first base (while out of the batter’s box)
    • touches white portion of first base bag and collides with fielder catching ball at first
    • doesn’t touch all bases in reverse order when she must return to a base
    • overruns first base, attempts to run to second base and is tagged with the ball while not on the base
  • The base runner is out when she:
    • passes a preceding runner before that runner has been called out (the ball remains live)
    • is struck with a fair untouched batted ball while not in contact with a base and before it passes an infielder excluding the pitcher (also, ball is dead)
  • The baserunner is NOT out when she:
    • does not run in a direct line to a base, provided the fielder in the direct line does not have the ball
    • is touched with a hand or glove of a defensive player and the ball is in the other hand
    • overruns first base and returns directly to the base
    • is hit by a batted ball while in contact with a base (live ball)
    • is hit by a thrown ball (keep playing it live)
  • If a runner dislodges a base, that runner and trailing runners are not required to touch the base out of position
  • Two runners may not occupy a base at the same time. The runner who first legally reached that base is entitled to the base (unless forced to advance). The trailing runner may be put out by tagging her with the ball.
  • The runner can be tagged out if she overruns first base and then attempts to continue to second base
  • The ball is dead if it gets lodged in the umpire’s gear or clothing or the offensive player’s clothing. Runners are awarded the base they would have reached in the umpire’s judgment.
  • The runner must return to their base on a batted foul ball or if batter is hit by pitch.
  • When a ball is overthrown into dead ball territory, all runners shall be awarded 2 bases based on the position they were in when the ball left the fielder’s hand.
  • Know the situation – force outs vs. non-force (tag) outs!

Umpire Signals

The right hand is the "action" hand and the plate umpire uses the action hand to signal things like play, strike, out, fair ball (i.e., live ball), infield fly, and so forth. He uses his left hand for controlling the game or when pointing to a partner, when controlling the pitcher, and for holding the indicator and the mask.


There is no signal for a called ball. Instead, simply verbalize the call, "ball". Call the ball while still down, then come up. On ball four, don't point to first base, just say "ball." If the batter doesn't head toward first base, you can simply say to him "that's four."


Signal strikes with your right hand. Use the traditional clenched fist ("pounding the door"), or signal with your hand/finger shot out to the side. On a called strike, verbalize sharply; everyone should hear. On a swinging strike do not verbalize; simply give the signal.


Extend both arms together in front of you and then give a quick, sweeping motion outward, roughly parallel to the ground, palms down. On close plays, you can also verbalize the call, "safe", or "he's safe". This helps sell a close call. You can also verbalize information to help sell an extremely close call, things like "Safe - he's under the tag", of "Safe - he pulled his foot." On obvious calls ("stadium calls") don't verbalize the call.


Form a hammer with a clenched right fist and deliver a quick, sharp blow. Some degree of personal style is allowed on the out call, as long you are not distracted from seeing any continuing action. If necessary, verbalize and signal additional information to sell a close call, like "off the bag" or "on the transfer."

Fair Ball

Point the right hand toward fair territory. Never verbalize "fair ball." On a close call, to emphasize the call, stab your arm into fair territory multiple times emphatically.

Foul Ball

The signal for foul ball is the same as for "Time" or other dead ball situation: Raise both hands and call loudly "Foul." Make the call loud and sharp, so everyone hears. Note that, once verbalized, you cannot reverse a call of foul ball.


Point at the pitcher with the right hand with a stabbing motion and call "Play."

You must put the ball back in play following every time the ball goes dead, whether foul ball, hit-by-pitch, called "time", or other reason. When the pitcher has the ball and is ready (he must have engaged the rubber), and the catcher is in the catcher's box and is also ready, point and call "play". Under no circumstances should you allow the pitcher to go into his windup until you have called "Play".


Raise both hands and call "Time" in a loud voice. Make the call loud and sharp. It is essential that everyone on the field hear you.

time (with a small "t"). There are occasions when time is out, but "Time" has not been called. An example is when the pitcher is ready but the batter is not yet set; in this case, the plate umpire might put up his hand as a stop sign to the pitcher, signaling him to wait. It is important to understand that when you put up a stop sign like that you have called time. So you must put the ball back in play.

The count

Indicate pitch count using the left hand for balls and the right hand for strikes. On fields that do not have scoreboards, give the count frequently; always give the count on an "action" pitch (with three balls and/or two strikes). Call the count loudly, so both benches (and base coaches) can hear it clearly. Finally, don't abbreviate the count by verbalizing things like "twenty-two" for two and two, or saying "full count" when the count is three and two.

umpire signals

Umpire Signals