Pre-Game Meeting Checklist

Prior to every game, you and your partner must take five or ten minutes to discuss a handfull of issues that are essential to effective teamwork. Do this before every game, even if you've worked with your partner numerous times.

This checklist will help ensure that you don't overlook something important in your pregame meeting. The UmpireBible checklist is adapted from several sources (so it's not original, just useful) and touches on all of the essential topics you need to cover.

CLICK HERE for a downloadable PDF version of the checklist that you can print and carry with you.


Prior to game and on arrival at the field

  • Confirm assignment, game time, field, parking location, colors. Use email or phone your partner at least a day ahead of the game (preferably two days in advance). If your association does not assign slots, then arrange who takes the plate/bases. Arrange to park together so you can conduct your pregame meeting while preparing for the game. Agree on colors (by tradition, the plate umpire calls the shirt color).
  • Arrive at the field at least 30 minutes before game time. Recommended: arrive one hour before game time.
  • Check in with tournament director, coaches, or athletic director. Make certain that the person in charge of the game is aware that you have arrived. For most games this will be simply the home team manager. In tournaments there is either a tournament director or a tournament umpire coordinator.
  • Check condition of the field.
    If weather is a factor, be sure to check the condition of field to ensure that it's playable. If there are issues, discuss this with the person in charge (likely a coach or athletic director). They can cancel the game at this time. Once you have exchanged lineups at the plate meeting, however, the game belongs to you and you are the sole judge of the playability of the field.


Pregame meeting with your partner

  • Catch/no-catch coverageThis will vary depending on whether you are on the big diamond or small diamond, as well as on the size of the crew. Go over all catch/no-catch coverage scenarios. Be sure to cover your infield scenarios, too. For detailed information, see Catch/No Catch and Going Out.
  • Fair/foul coverageWith a two-man crew, this only comes into play with U1 in the A position.
  • Signals & eye contactRun through the signals you'll be using through the game to ensure the crew are all on the same page. PU initiates signals and base umpire(s) return. For more information, see the article Umpire Signs & Signals.
  • Checked swingsDiscuss handling checked swings and "going down" on appeal.
  • First-to-third rotationWhen you have R1 or R1 and R3, on batted balls to the outfield the PU has R1 into 3rd base and beyond. Go over this and also cover the signal you'll use when you get into a first-to-third situation.
  • Touches and tags at 3rd (with runners on)Be sure to cover that with runners on base the PU has all touches and tags at third base. If there is an appeal at third base in this situation, the PU rules on the appeal.
  • PU rotationsCover PU rotations – when staying home, when going to third, and when he has the catch/no-catch.
  • U1 Going outDiscuss U1 "going out." On a two-man crew this will only happen from the A position; with three- or four-man crews you must discuss and clarify the scenarios. For more information see our article Going Out.
  • RundownsDiscuss mechanics of partner coming up to "get this end" of a rundown.
  • Calling balksIf this applies to your level, discuss covering balk calls.
  • Foul ball off the batter in the boxOften seen more clearly by U1; discuss "see it, call it."
  • Overthrows out of playTechnically, overthrows out of play belong to the PU; however, this is another "see it, call it."
  • Running lane interferenceAgain, the PU owns this call; however, especially with a runner on third, U1 might grab the call. Cover communicating that "I've got this one" if you switch up a call like this.
  • Force-play slide violation/interferenceDiscuss the force-play slide rule for your league (this rule varies) and emphasize that PU needs to have eyes on runner going into second when there's a double-play attempt in progress.
  • Swipe tag / pulled foot at 1st baseDiscuss PU either trailing runner (enless other runners in scoring position), or watching from 1st base line extended (1BLX) to help with swipe tag and pulled foot at first.
  • Appeals, touches, tagsDiscuss who owns touches and tags at the bases in all scenarios. The owner of a given base also owns any appeal at that base. While base umpire(s) typically own all runners at all bases, there are situations where the PU has 3rd base, or, if U1 goes out, PU has the runner all the way.
  • Getting the call rightDiscuss your mechanics for getting together if you have a questionable call or a coach's appeal of an error in the application of a rule. Never conference on judgment calls unless you're pretty sure you screwed up and want some cover to reverse the call.
  • Equipment inspection (Little League only)Little League is the only league (that I know of) where umpires are required to inspect bats and helmets to ensure they are rules compliant. Discuss to ensure that you understand the bat regulations for the game's age level.
  • "I have information for you"Occasionally you will see something on partner's call that might help him on a disputed or controversial call. If so, never intrude on your partner's handling of the call. However, you can have a prearranged signal to indicate (subtly) that you've seen something he might like to hear about. If you make eye contact, flash the signal and then your partner can decide whether to conference with you.