UMPIRE’S COMMUNICATION SIGNALS
Umpire’s communication occurs in two forms:
non-verbal communications whenever there is a change of base runners
or outs and verbal communication and hand signals that occur when a
fly ball is in flight or during plays.
The non-verbal communications are given in the
form of hand signals and should be given whenever there is a change
in base runners or the number of outs. When there are no runners on
base (i.e. the base umpire is at the A position) no communications
are used prior to the pitch. Hand signals are first used after a
batter/runner is safely on base and prior to the next pitch. The
home plate umpire should initiate the communications sequence.
Following the end of the previous play as the base umpire assumes
his new position, the umpires should make eye contact and the plate
umpire should give the appropriate hand signal for the current
number of outs and the anticipated movement when the ball is put
into play by the batter. The base umpire should echo the hand
signals given by the plate umpire unless signal given is
inappropriate for the current situation.
The approved hand signals are as follows:
Outs: A closed fist indicates no outs, one
or two outs are indicated by extending the appropriate number of
fingers. Do not use the index finger and little finger to
signal two outs, use the first two fingers in the V symbol to
indicate two outs.
Rotation play: This is indicated by moving
the hand in a circular motion or by pointing at third base.
This signal is used when there is a runner on first base or
runners on first and third. The rotation play is used when
there is a base hit to the outfield, a miss-played ball goes
into the outfield or on certain situations in the infield.
Staying home: Indicated by the plate
umpire by pointing down towards home plate. This signal is used
when there is a runner on second base, runners on second and
third or bases loaded.
Infield fly: Indicated by touching the
bill of cap or the top of the mask. This signal indicates that
the infield fly rule is in affect. It is given when there are
runners on first and second with less than two outs or the bases
are full with less than two outs.
With the infield fly in affect two
additional signals are used for certain situations. Plate
Umpire Covering plays at third: Indicated by tapping one
fist into the other palm. This indicates that on a deep fly
ball in the base umpire’s area of the outfield on which the
runner from second may tag and advance to third, the plate
umpire will rotate to third to cover any possible play
there. The base umpire is still responsible for the catch
and tag up at second base. If the fly is down the left
field line the plate umpire can still cover the play at
third but if the fly is down the first base line the base
umpire is responsible for both the tag up at second and the
play at third. If the bases are full, the plate umpire will
use the Staying home signal to indicate that he shall only
cover any possible play at the plate and the base umpire is
responsible for any plays at second and third. Either of
these signals is given following the Infield Fly signal as
NOTE: For tag ups, the plate umpire is
always responsible for the tag up at third and the base
umpire is always responsible for tag ups at both first and
Wipe Off: The Wipe Off is considered a
negative signal and not necessary. When the infield fly rule in
no longer in affect, giving the Rotation or Staying Home signal
alone would indicate the same situation. DO NOT USE THE WIPE
Timing Play: Indicated by tapping either
wrist. This signal indicates that a timing play is possible.
It is usually given when there are two outs and a runner in
scoring position. This is a reminder to the plate umpire that
should the third out not occur as a force at first or a fly
ball, it will be necessary to judge whether the runner touches
home before the third out is recorded.
The hand signals along with verbal
communication that are used while a fly ball is in flight or during
When a fly ball is hit to the outfield,
after reading the flight of the ball it is necessary to
communicate responsibility with your partner. To indicate that
you are going to determine “catch-no catch” tap your chest while
making eye contact with your partner. To indicate that your
partner should determine “catch-no catch”, point at your partner
while making eye contact. Verbal communications are used with
either of these signals to indicate responsibility. Always use
your partner’s name and anything appropriate to convey
responsibility; i.e. “Joe, my ball” or “Joe, you take it”. Your
partner should verbally respond and give the opposite hand
signal to you.
Going Out: With the base umpire on the
first base line (A position) and a fly is hit down the right
field line or is a trouble ball to right field the Going Out
signal is used. This action is indicated by extending your left
arm up and over your head as you start moving down the foul
line. At the same time as you signal and before you turn your
back to the plate umpire, communicate verbally by saying “Joe,
I’m going out”. The plate umpire should respond with OKAY.
Infield Fly: Indicated by pointing
straight up with the right hand. This signal is used after the
ball has reached its apex and either umpire determines that it
is an infield fly (see definition in NFHS or Pro rule book).
While pointing up, call loudly “Infield fly, if fair the batter
is out”. The other umpire should echo this call in a loud
Time: Indicated by extending both arm
above your head with fingers extended. This signal is used
The ball becomes
The ball becomes dead for any
When a coach or
player makes an appropriate request for time.
When there is
Fair/Foul: Indicated by
pointing towards fair or foul territory while facing down the foul line
in question. Note: When the ball is foul, first indicate time followed
by pointing into foul territory. Also for a foul ball it is only
necessary to point when the ball is hit near the foul line. If ball is
hit out of the playing area or is far from the foul line it is not
necessary to point, just indicate time.
Pointing the ball fair or
foul can be done with either the left or right arm as appropriate and
may be done with the mask in the plate umpire’s hand, it should not be
done by pointing across your body.
Strike: May be indicated by
using either the Hammer style or the Point style. With the Hammer, the
upper arm should be parallel to the ground and the hammer motion
(similar to rapping on a door with the edge of your fist) should be in
the general direction of the mound. When using the Point, step or lean
into the direction of the point. For call strike both of these signals
must be accompanied by a voice call. For swinging strikes remain silent
by give the hand signal.
Foul Tip: Indicated by
extending the arm closest to the batter and either tapping the wrist
with the other hand or swiping the wrist with the other hand, followed
by the strike signal. Do not vocalize a foul tip since the ball remains
Out: An out is generally indicated by a
Hammer Style signal with the first accompanied by a verbal “He’s out”.
Usually the out signal is toned down for plays that are not close at all
and the verbal portion may be dropped. As plays become closer, the
signal should become stronger and voice call should have added
emphasis. It is permissible to develop a Punch or similar move to give
emphasis to very close plays.
Safe: A safe call is
indicated by bringing the arms up to a straight out position in front of
the body and the moving to the sides fully extended. This should be
done in one smooth motion. As with the Out signal, when the runner is
safe by a large margin it is not necessary to vocalize the safe, just
give the hand signal. Plays that are closer should be indicated with
both the Safe signal and a vocal “Safe”. Do not say “He’s safe”, just
use the word safe. If the play is very close, the signal an call can be
doubled up. Give the signal with a loud safe and then step towards the
play and repeat the signal and call.
To give the count to the pitcher (or coach when asked) use the left hand
to indicate balls and the right hand to indicate strikes. A closed fist
indicates zero and the appropriate number of balls and strikes are
indicated by extending your fingers. Do not use your thumb. When
giving the count do not flash it around the infield. Give the count
directly towards the mound and hold it long enough for the pitcher to
see it. If a coach asks for the count it is permissible to show the
count towards him. Also give the count vocally with the hand signals
occasionally during the at bat. Usually after the first three pitches
and also when the count reaches 3 and 2. Give the count as 2 and 1, or
2 balls – 1 strike. Never use a whole number (i.e. 31) nor the word
When giving pre-pitch communications
signals, keep the signals below your shoulders and only use enough
movement to get the point across to your partner. Try not to draw the
attention of anyone but your partner. Use only one hand to give
pre-pitch signals. Do not use the Hawaiian good luck gesture (Texan
“hook’em horns”) to indicate a rotation play.