Your Strike Zone Do’s & Don’ts

By Ken Enderley

As umpires, your strike zone should vary, depending on the level of play that you are officiating for.

MLB umpires have that magic box on the television screen that everyone watching can see where the pitch entered or did not enter the strike zone. We do not!

Here are some tips to help you master your strike zone:

  1. Do your best to be consistent. No pitches over a batter’s head should ever be called a ‘strike’, unless the batter swings at it. We hear coaches/managers yell “Don’t swing at that pitch over your head,” but the batter usually does.
    Strike 1.
  2. Any pitch that bounces in front of the plate or on it is never to be called a ‘strike,’ unless the batter swings at that pitch.
    Strike 2.
  3. Do not use the letters-to-the-knees-type strike zone for the batters. Nowadays, especially in the lower divisions, the shirts do not fit the players properly (parents always get the bigger sizes, they’ll grow into it). In this case, the letters are not always in the same place. Use shoulders-to-knees and width of the ball on either side of the dish to widen your strike zone.
  4. Do not change your strike zone because the pitcher is not throwing strikes. Managers and coaches will ask you to widen your strike zone. Don’t!
  5. In upper divisions, your strike zone should be armpit-to-knees. This is preferred for high school-and college-aged players.
  6. Do not let the catcher ‘frame the pitch.’ In this case, their hand is not quicker than your eyes. Tell the catcher not to ‘frame the pitch’ — this prevents a lot of grief! The coaches only see the ‘framing.’ They don’t see or choose not to see the initial location of a pitch.
    Strike 3.

Do remember that you have the best seat in the house when calling balls and strikes!

Do continue to hone your skills and expand your knowledge!

Do not take any negativity personally. You cannot please everyone!

Ken Enderley began umpiring when he was thirteen years old. He’s been a volunteer LL umpire, since 2001, in Rockland County, NY and joined the Rockland ASA chapter in 2006. His continuing knowledge of baseball and softball rules as well as umpire mechanics has enabled him to teach both adult and youth umpires. Ken is currently Co-Director of the Lower Hudson Valley Umpire Association. You can follow them on Instagram at lhvua.