Strike 3 Mechanic

NOTE: This page is pure commentary by Michael Leavitt. Your mileage may vary!

Michael Leavitt 160Whether you are watching baseball or softball, there is nothing so distinct as the called third strike. That is, if the umpire behind the plate has crafted a distinct mechanic to reward the pitcher for their awesomely positioned pitch.

SAD TRUTH

Many amateur umpires have not yet taken the time to master the "Strike 3" mechanic. Why? There is just too much else to worry about when learning to become an umpire. To do it right requires timing, balance, verbal tone, loudness, and grace. To do it wrong, requires very little effort.

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ABOVE: Utah umpire Randell Silcox on a Strike 2 call.

DO YOU WANT TO IMPROVE OVERNIGHT?

If you want to improve your game overnight, then study other umpire's movements on the "Strike 3" call and then get yourself in front of the mirrror. Your credibility will increase amongst all of those  that view your plate games. Don't worry, I have collected over 70 different MLB umpire call-outs. Surely there is one professional that you would like to emulate!

DOES YOUR STRIKE 3 MECHANIC NEED HELP?

That is a really a difficult, and introspective, question to asnwer. If you don't confidently answer "No," then this information will be very beneficial. Ask yourself... Is your Strike 3 call different from Strike 1 and Strike 2 calls? Is your voice loud enough? Are you balanced when performing your mechanic body movement? And are you confident when making the Strike 3 call?

It may very well be that you not really worked on this part of your umpiring game? If so, then start immediately. The Strike 3 mechanic is something you really improve quickly.... and eventually master.

MECHANIC - USA SOFTBALL

As softball umpires know, USA Softball has an approved mechanic for nearly everything we do on the ballfield. They allow very little variance so that we have a consistent umpiring product. This is one of the reasons why I really enjoy officiating for USA Softball. I have high expectations for myself, as well as whatever partner I am currently working with in my USA Softball games.

What does the USA Softball 2017 Official's Manual say when it comes to our strike mechanic?

2017 Umpire Manual P. 36 - "In fast pitch, on a called third strike, both a strong verbal call and signal should be given. For further emphasis, if desired, verbalize the words, "strike three."

Malcolm BoylesThat is not very much guidance, is it? This is where I was thankful for my attendance at a recent National Umpire School where Malcom Boyles was one of our National clinicians. Malcolm Boyles stressed that this is the one mechanic that we should master for the benefit of our plate games.  He also shared that the third strike call-out should be "distinctly different than our strike one and strike two calls!"

After teaching us this concept, Malcolm watched each one of us call balls and strikes and show off our plate mechanics. He also let us know how awful many of our current "Strike 3" mecahnics were looking and challenged us to go back to our games and practice, practice, practice. It as very intimidating to preform in front of Malcom Boyles. What was hard for me, upon returning home to Utah, was finding good examples that I could try to emulate. I scoured the internet, with only limited initial success. My collection is now a goldmine of great value to me. I am sharing it here in a private portion of this USA Softball of Utah Umpires website, reserved for current USA Softball umpires that are registered and approved on this site.

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ABOVE: Malcolm Boyles evaluating Utah umpire Tyler Cappadonia

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ABOVE: Malcolm Boyles kindly critiquing Utah umpire Michael Leavitt, while demonstrating a much better Strike 3 technique, with Ralph Andersen and Tyler Cappadonia looking on.

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 NOTE: This page is pure commentary by Michael Leavitt. Your mileage may vary!

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