Our Professional Course is made for those who hope to secure positions in affiliated professional baseball, and is also useful for those who choose positions in college and independent professional leagues across the country.
This five-week program is comprised of a variety of essential umpiring practice areas, including…
What sets our Professional Course apart? Many things, including our distinction as the only program that has exclusive agreements with independent professional leagues, and extensive, personal relationships with college-level assignors, too. In fact, several league presidents and league and conference assignors will be in attendance to look for potential umpire candidates, so our program offers both education as well as practical job placement opportunities.
You may think that you need prior umpire experience to attend our umpire school, but this is simply not true! In fact, many of our successful students have had no umpire experience whatsoever, while others come from playing or coaching backgrounds. Regardless of their experience level, each student receives a comprehensive introduction to the intricacies of baseball as if they had never umpired before. We thoroughly teach all subjects in a classroom setting, on-field, through drills and simulated situations. We further stand out thanks to our live games, as we are the only umpire training program to utilize college and high school teams in real-time to help evaluate our students’ skills and abilities.
Over the course of 30 days and 240 hours of instruction, students will learn the art of umpiring through three main components: classroom training, cage instruction, and field work.
On Monday through Friday, students start the day with classroom training. After a comprehensive exam covering the Official Baseball Rules and mechanics of the Two-Umpire System, students will head out to practice their new knowledge, in the cage and on the field.
On most Saturdays, students will report directly to the fields for a full day of field work, cage instruction and games. Sundays are off-days, but the fields are open for student use!
Much like school, classroom sessions for our Professional Course begin at 9 a.m., Monday through Friday. Attendance is taken by roll call, followed by class announcements and a view of the previous day’s coursework. We then discuss terms and methods, along with questions and answers to give you added clarity on what we are studying.
These days will include lectures on rules/interpretations/procedures, as well as readings and discussions of the Official Baseball Rules and various interpretation manuals. We will also cover the Two-Umpire System on the board and electronically, so that you may better understand the mechanics used at school and throughout the first year of your career. We will review this system, which was conceived and developed by Harry Wendelstedt, in a number of formats.
Before the end of each classroom session, we will announce assignments for cage groups, control games and live games. On designated days, classroom sessions will include examinations (the material of which you’ll be familiar before testing), and periodic night classroom sessions are scheduled as needed to ensure that training objectives and course timelines are met.
Your time in the classroom is supplemented by helpful Wendelstedt Extras, such as…
Hands-on experience turns umpires-in-training into skilled, employable assets any league would be lucky to have. A lot of that happens in the cage, where we help our students focus intensely on the mechanics, techniques and theories of developing consistent and accurate plate work. Through drills following regular instruction, you are able to do exactly that. Students are videotaped during cage turns so that they can review their work regularly, and continue to work with their instructor to find improvement areas.
We will go over the proper use of equipment, definition of the strike zone, and fundamental plate criterion before students get started on plate stances, mechanics and judgement development. Through repetition and hands-on instruction from staff, including experienced MLB umpires, students are well on their way to becoming successful umpires in their own right.
During the beginning stages of the course, students will start field training at about 11 a.m. After learning about the Two-Man System, we may head out to the fields earlier on select days. Later on, we will conduct many live games played by both college and high school teams. During these games, reporting directly to the fields may be required, especially on Saturdays.
The first part of work at the fields will include limbering-up and light conditioning, followed by drills for teaching proper mechanics such as stance, voice control, ball and strike, safe and out calls, and proper field positioning. This is also the time when we cover the correct way to handle players and the use of umpire equipment. Proper technique, footwork and mechanics are taught by way of staff demonstrations, and controlled game scenarios are conducted by instructors on each of the fields.
All that practice works up an appetite, so lunch will be catered directly to students on the fields—this way, they can be ready in case games are played through the lunch period. After lunch, additional demonstrations, drills, control and student games will continue until every phase of the Professional Umpire Course is covered. After the first ten days of fundamentals, college and high school games will be umpired, typically from about 3:30 p.m. to about 6 p.m. and occasionally under the lights.
Once all is done for the day, students will come together with staff to discuss common issues on each field. Students will also be provided with advanced techniques, homework, and prep instructions for the next workday. After questions are addressed, students are dismissed to head out and enjoy the rest of their evening.