Nassau County Softball Officials Association, Inc.
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Tips & Techniques



WRONG: The calling distance on force plays is 12 feet.

RIGHT: The calling distance on force plays is 15 – 18 feet. Any shorter distance does not allow an umpire a full view of the play. 12 feet is too short a distance to be able to keep the ball in your peripheral, watch the runner, see the fielder’s foot on the base and see the runner’s foot hit the base.


WRONG: The plate umpire warns both teams about jewelry in the coaches’ pre-game conference and then ejects any player in violation of the rule once the game starts.

RIGHT: The plate umpire should confirm that all of the coaches’ players are legally and properly equipped in the coaches’ pre-game conference. In order for there to be a warning, there must first be a violation. NYSSO does not endorse pre-violation warnings. NYSSO fully supports the NYSPHSAA "No Jewelry Rule." Players shall not wear jewelry while playing. Nevertheless, we should show respect to the vast majority of high school softball players who sincerely try to comply with the rules and that very rarely display unsporting conduct of any kind. In NYSSO a player cannot play in a game while wearing jewelry. However, no player should be ejected, disqualified or restricted for wearing jewelry. Simply ask the player to remove any visible jewelry. If she refuses to do so she cannot participate in the game until she complies with the rule. NYSSO has been informed by legal counsel that umpires shall not search players looking for jewelry or order her to remove tape on her ears for inspection regardless what other associations mandate. Please consult your NYSSO Umpire Manual for further guidelines on how to handle issues with jewelry.


WRONG: There is no penalty for wearing metal cleats.

RIGHT: The plate umpire should confirm that all of the coaches’ players are legally and properly equipped in the coaches’ pre-game conference. If a player is discovered wearing metal cleats during the game, the player must conform to the rule before she can continue playing. If she cannot conform to the rule, she cannot play. The team may use an eligible substitute. If there is no eligible substitute, the team may play shorthanded. If the same player is later discovered to be wearing metal cleats again, that player is subject to ejection at that time.


PLAY: With R1 on 1st base, B2 lays down a bunt that is fielded by F1, who throws to 1st base to retire B2. R1 has rounded 2nd base so F3 throws behind her to F6, who is covering 2nd base.

WRONG: The plate umpire is responsible for making a call on R1 at 2nd base.

RIGHT: The base umpire is responsible for making all calls (with extremely limited exceptions) at 2nd base including in this play. The base umpire will turn and move toward 2nd base after making the call at 1st base. If properly employed in the right circumstances, the base umpire may use a “reverse drift technique” on these plays. The plate umpire is responsible for glancing over to 2nd base as R1 approaches to observe any possible obstruction committed against R1. The plate umpire is responsible for the play on R1 at 3rd base should R1 continue all the way to 3rd base.


WRONG: The batter may choose to use either on-deck circle or move closer to the batter’s box to practice her timing.

RIGHT: The batter is required to warm-up in her own on-deck circle. Whether the batter is left-handed or right-handed, she must use the on-deck circle nearest her own dugout. Allowing a batter to warm up near the batter’s box could have dire consequences.


WRONG: The defense is permitted only 3 defensive conferences, so the pitcher must be removed from the pitcher’s position at the conclusion of the 3rd defensive conference.

RIGHT: During a regulation game, the defense is entitled to 3 defensive conferences. On the 4th defensive conference, the pitcher must be removed from the pitcher’s position and is not eligible to return to the pitcher’s position in the same game. If a game enters extra innings, the defense is entitled to 1 defensive conference. On the 2nd defensive conference, the pitcher must be removed from the pitcher’s position and is not eligible to return to the pitcher’s position.


WRONG: 3-foot lane interference may be called on a throw coming home to retire a runner trying to score.

WRONG: 3-foot lane interference may be called on a poor defensive throw where the defender covering 1st base would not reasonably be able to catch the throw.

RIGHT: The batter-runner is out for 3-foot lane interference if while she is running the last half of the distance to 1st base she runs outside (to the right of) the 3-foot line or inside (to the left of) the foul line and in the umpire’s judgment she interferes with the fielder taking the throw at first base. 3-foot lane interference does not occur if a poor quality throw that has no reasonable chance to retire the batter-runner, strikes the batter-runner while she is within or outside the three-foot-lane. To have interference there must be an act of interference. If there is a poor quality throw with no reasonable chance to retire the batter-runner, three-foot land interference should not be called. An umpire using common sense, good judgment and thoughtful reasoning will not call any runner out it there is not a legitimate chance to retire such runner.


WRONG: A team automatically and immediately forfeits the game when there are no uniformed coaches remaining.

RIGHT: If someone claims to be a certified coach desiring to take over a team because of ejections or any other reasons, the plate umpire will have the coach sign his or her lineup card to that effect. It is not reasonable to expect someone to show documentation at the game site, so we accept that they are a certified coach based on their signing the lineup card.


WRONG: As long as both umpires agree, they can work whatever mechanics they want.

RIGHT: Umpires must adhere to the mechanics within the NYSSO manual. Though NYSSO does not endorse clone or spot umpires, NYSSO does provide specific mechanics in virtually all situations. In situations that are not covered, umpires must use common sense, sound judgment and thoughtful reasoning. Uniformity in mechanics is important for many reasons, not the least of which is to make sure that all calls are covered, no calls are double-covered and no calls result in opposite double calls or no calls at all. It is detrimental to unnecessarily deviate from mechanics, such as the plate umpire stating that he or she has all fair/foul calls down the line and all fly balls unless the umpire goes out. Practicing inaccurate and substandard mechanics leads to confusion, missed calls and a break down in mechanics, particularly when an umpire works with someone he or she has not worked with previously. That occurs at the sectional level and as we move into regional and state competition.


WRONG: The pitcher may not have the ball concealed within her glove when she steps on the pitcher’s plate.

RIGHT: The pitcher may step on the pitcher’s plate with the ball in her throwing hand or in her glove. The pitcher does not have to present or show the ball before pitching.


WRONG: The plate umpire shall bellow “Mercy Rule – Line it up” when the game is officially over due to a run rule.

RIGHT: Eliminate the term "Mercy Rule" from your vernacular. Define a run rule as the "Run Rule." High school players feel disappointed enough after a one-sided loss without hearing the term “Mercy Rule." There is no need to bellow out, "Mercy Rule, Mercy Rule! The game's over!" If necessary, simply professionally announce without fanfare, “Ball game” or if there seems to e any doubt, follow up by saying "The game is over because of the mandated run rule.


WRONG: The plate umpire is always the game’s umpire-in-chief and what he or she says goes.

RIGHT: Umpires should not shrink their responsibilities when they are aware that another umpire has made or is about to make a blatantly incorrect ruling. Do not cop out as a base umpire under the guise, “Well, the plate umpire is the umpire-in-chief for the game and what the plate umpire made the running, especially when you are the more experienced umpire. Consider the following: You know that the plate umpire has erred in making a ruling but you don’t say anything and neither do the coaches. The game continues and the same play occurs with the same incorrect ruling. This time, however, the misapplication of the rule goes against the team who benefited from it earlier. Now, the coach comes out to protest the ruling and you admit that the previous ruling was incorrect. How do you think the conversation is going to go with the other coach? Similarly, think of the disservice you do to all other officials who may have that same play in a future game and is subject to the, “Well last week the umpire said…?”

*****************************************************************************************************************************The Tie Breaker Rule has been suspended from use at the Upstate NYS semis and finals for the next two years.  We will still use this rule, starting in the top of the tenth inning, in our own Nassau County games as well as any Downstate Regional held in Section 8.

There are two new bat constructions that are approved for use by ASA.  One has a uniformly textured finish on the barrel end and the other has a rotating handle grip (Easton Mako Torq).  Remember, a bat that you shake and can hear a rattle must be removed from use.  A bat that makes a funny sound when hitting the ball is not necessarily non-approved or defective.  For two piece bats check locking mechanism.

Please note, when playing a DP game, the word FLEX is not necessary in the #10 slot on the lineup card.  What is necessary is an indication in writing of the defensive position played by that starting FLEX. The umpire should always be informed when the FLEX replaces the DP or when the DP plays defensive for the FLEX.  In both cases the game has switched temporarily to a 9 player game.

The NYS Softball Committee and the NYSSO Umpires' group continue to stress all liability and safety concerns involved in girls' fastpitch softball.  Dugout Conduct rules, On-deck batter rules, Dugout and Coaching conduct rules,  the Concussion Rule, Field/Bats/Helmet Inspection Procedures, Jewelry Rule, Good Sportsmanship promotion.

ALWAYS ask at the pre-game plate conference, "Coach, to the best of your knowledge, are your players legally and properly equipped and is your field set up properly?  No on field playing action should be going on during plate conference.

At all levels of play (V, JV, Modified) the practice of having bats and helmets lined up for umpires' inspection before the pre-game plate conference has been stressed again at the coaches meetings. If you still have to go into dugouts to do this, both umpires go into each dugout together - no splitting responsibilities!

It is the strong belief that angle beats distance in making calls in softball.  Our NYSSO group recommends a distance best for calling force plays to be 15 - 18  since 12 feet is too short a distance to be able to keep the ball, runner, fielders foot and runner's foot in your peripheral vision.  They recommend 8 - 10 feet as a good distance to observe tag plays. You don't want to get so close that you become part of the play.  

Websites for your use are:                                             


We have a run-rule at all levels after five innings. V=12, JV=12, MS=15. No visiting team can win by the run rule-rule in the top of any inning (5,6, or 7).  There is no such thing as the wording -  mercy-rule.  Never "bellow", "MERCY-RULE".  Simply announce, "Run-Rule, Let's line up." or, "Run-rule, that a game."

Our authority and jurisdiction to make rulings ends when we leave the field of play after the game has ended to exit the facility.  Incidents that need to be examined or reports of misconduct can be written up and forwarded to NCSBOA and BOCES.  If, during game play a coach, spectator or player is ejected, filing is also required.


Do not allow an on deck-batter to stand near home plate and take swings to loosen up or to time the pitches while the pitcher is taking her warm-ups.  On-deck batter may choose to use their opponents on-deck circle to face the back of the batter.

Fourth conference pitcher removal confusion TBA.

For the 2016 season, may "RESPECT" for the players, coaches, and your fellow umpires be the key component to a FANTASTIC SOFTBALL SEASON FOR ALL!


FIELDS with trees hanging over the outfield fence area in fair ground that a hit contacts - Presently, Mineola and NHP- If umpire judges the hit would have gone over, HOMERUN! Otherwise, we don't want an outfielder trying to catch a batted ball off a tree and a ground rule double will be awarded. .
Southside High School - the track is more that 200 feet in fair territory outfield. Any fly ball landing initially on the track in fair ground is a HOMERUN. Balls rolling or bounding onto the track in fair ground call for a two base award from the time the ball entered the track. In foul ground, remember, a fair ball rolling into foul territory and then onto the track is a "ground rule double" by book rule. The size and positioning of the painted pitcher's circle at South Side will be allowed for play.
Freeport High School - Cones or other distinctive markers are to be placed on the outfield grass to mark the area of shot putt event. Balls entering that area are considered a GROUND RULE DOUBLE. Umpires do have the power to suspend play at times if necessary when this track event is going on. Umpires also have the right to list Freeport as a field they do not want to work at if having a problem with field conditions at that school
Rath Park (Carey HS ) - Allow the fence and sandbags to be playable on the third base side or/ use the imaginary extension of the backstop on the third base side, which is much closer to the foul line, to mark dead ball territory. Also, mention any dip in the outfield grass beyond first base and also the presence of some wooden posts in foul ground outside the first base line foul territory.
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