USA Softball and NFHS Pair to Offer Free Online Umpire Course

May 05, 2020, 12:57 p.m. (ET)

USA Softball and The National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) paired up six years ago to create a training program for umpires, focusing on three subjects – interference, obstruction and game management. This instructional video, along with all NFHS softball training courses, is now being offered for free online. All state and metro organizations who are members of NFHS will be able to access the content on the online NFHS Learning Center through July 1, 2020. The decision was made due to the large number of individuals working from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The courses, normally offered for a fee of around $30 - $40, include 10 different sports along with softball.

The softball course developed by USA Softball for the NFHS was made available in 2014 and is the brainchild of Sandy Searcy, NFHS Director of Sports, Kevin Ryan, USA Softball Director of Umpires and Theresia Wynns, NFHS Officiating Liaison to Publications Committee.

USA Softball of Ohio is encouraging USA Softball umpires to go to the website and take the courses during the downtime. Searcy, who also serves as a USA Softball Council Member and a member of the USA Softball Board of Directors, says many officials have already taken advantage of the courses.

“While we anxiously await the re-opening of schools and a return of high school sports and performing arts, this down time can be used in positive ways to take advantage of educational opportunities,” said Searcy. “In the past five weeks, over 2,000 softball umpire courses were completed, which is more than the total number of softball umpire course taken in 2019. The response has been nothing short of amazing.”

Jerry Fick, USA Softball of Ohio Fast Pitch Umpire-In-Chief said recruiting and training new umpires through the Ohio High School Athletic Association (OHSAA), a member of the NFHS, has been appealing for umpires looking to get their foot in the door.

“We’ve found that by recruiting together we both get more results and the concept of a single training class for both certifications is attractive to those getting started in umpiring,” Fick said. “This results in more new umpires coming into both programs and new high school umpires are much more likely to get involved in USA Softball rather than other non-interscholastic programs.”

“Due to the timing of our seasons we train new umpires on high school rules and then convert them to USA [Softball] after the OHSAA season is over,” Fick added. “Fortunately, the rules are getting close together and [USA Softball] mechanics are the same as NFHS/OHSAA.”

Future collaborating projects between USA Softball and NFHS are also being planned to be released online. These will include rules and mechanics but will mainly focus on mechanics, according to Ryan.

The NFHS Learning Center was founded as the online Coach Education Program in 2007 with two courses – “Fundamentals of Coaching” and “First Aid, Health and Safety” – and now has more than 70 online courses.

USA Softball continues to offer industry-leading umpire training programs in the classroom and on the field. Some of the programs offered by USA Softball include Local Association, Regional and National Umpire Schools, Umpire Mechanic DVDs, Case Book with examples of plays for all rules, monthly Plays and Clarifications, Advanced Fast and Slow Pitch Camps, and Biennial Umpire-In-Chief Clinics. You can find these resources, along with the USA Softball National Umpire exam on USASoftball.com.