Home Plate Umpiring Essentials

How should I position myself behind home plate?

The short answer: Becoming comfortable in the Slot position behind home plate is the most important thing you can do to ensure you get a good view of the ball as it crosses the plate area.



Position yourself in the Slot position to get the best view of the ball to call balls and strikes


-  The Slot position is the area just behind the catcher, where you are lined up in the open space between the batter and the inside corner of the plate. You will line up to the left or right of the catcher depending on whether the batter is batting on the left or right side of home plate.


-  You may choose to stand a bit further back from the catcher than shown in the graphic.


-  Keep your front foot a bit forward of your back foot to gain a better view angle over home plate.


-  In contrast to the Slot position, it's tempting for beginning umpires to stand directly behind the catcher as it feels safer. But your view from this position, especially in the lower portion of the strike zone, is obscured by the catcher.


-  When the catcher needs to move quickly behind you to retrieve a live ball, you should reverse pivot on your front foot to allow the catcher to quickly get past you. This technique is called "opening the gate".


-  From the Slot position, follow the ball with your eyes (not head) as it leaves the pitcher's hand and arrives into the catcher's glove. You should look diagonally across the plate as the ball crosses it to help you better see the strike zone including the outside portion of the plate. Stay still from the moment the pitch is thrown until you make your call.


Next up: How do I make the calls from behind home plate?

Site Glossary
Definitions from the Little League Rule Book and terms used on this site.
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