How to Use
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How to Use This Book



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    The Jaksa/Roder Baseball Rules Course is to be used in conjunction with The Rules of Professional Baseball: A Comprehensive Reorganization and Interpretation (popularly known as the "Jaksa/Roder manual"). The Jaksa/Roder manual is the only comprehensive baseball rules textbook in existence today.

    There are two separate editions of the Jaksa/Roder manual. The Pro Edition contains professional interpretations only. The Rule Differences Edition identifies rule differences instituted by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS), the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA). You will need the appropriate edition of the Jaksa/Roder manual in order to fully benefit from the Baseball Rules Course. For more help in deciding which edition is right for you, click here. If you do not yet have the Jaksa/Roder manual, you can order one at our website,, or by using the form at the end of the book. Electronic and printed versions are available.

    If you are unfamiliar with the Jaksa/Roder manual, you will want to decide upon one of two approaches for the Baseball Rules Course. You may wish to begin by reading through the Jaksa/Roder manual one time before beginning the course. This approach is not essential, but may be beneficial in that it will expose you to the layout, methods, and wording of the manual. The alternate method is to begin your Baseball Rules Course now. Course assignments will serve as a road map, directing you to read and study the appropriate sections of the manual before entering testing.

    A Study Guide section is provided before every reading assignment. The information in the Study Guide is the same information that I gave students in the Joe Brinkman Umpire School classroom in preparing them for what I was about to teach. The tidbits of advice will alert you to what is important and aspects which might need extra attention. The Study Guide material will greatly enhance your experience of the Jaksa/Roder manual. As you read the Study Guide you may wish to jot down notes that you can reference as you complete your reading assignment.

    The Baseball Rules Course is divided into three levels of testing based on umpiring experience. The Beginner level is for those in their first few years around baseball. If you are in doubt about where to start, make yourself a "Beginner" and see how things go. Additionally, if you are new to baseball's rules, you won't be familiar with much of the terminology in the Jaksa/Roder manual, and this terminology is very important. So, start low and build yourself up. After all, if you find the Beginner level too easy, you can always stop and "promote" yourself!

    The Intermediate level of questioning is where the majority of experienced umpires should start. Even if you consider yourself an expert, you should go through the Intermediate testing at least once. Most rules questions naturally fall under the middle category, and at the very least it is an excellent review. Your course of study will not be complete without inclusion of Intermediate testing.

    The Intermediate questioning also introduces you to the more common of plays, situations, and penalizations that are not covered, or inadequately covered, by the Official Baseball Rules. The Expert level completes this aspect of your instruction. The shortcomings of the Official Rules are carefully enumerated in my book More Than 100 Problems With the Official Baseball Rules. If you have read this book, you will be doubly prepared for such exam questions. If you have not read that book, the information and questions you encounter will probably lead you toward this valuable supplement. Course questions that deal with problem rules contain references to the appropriate sections of 100 Problems.

    Expert questions are for umpires with extensive experience and formal training (which includes umpires who have successfully completed the Beginner and Intermediate levels of this Rules Course). The Expert level deals largely with very rare plays and the baseball concepts that are the most difficult to master.

    To answer the exam questions, just click on the answer that you believe to be correct (or most correct). You will immediately be informed if you have answered the question correctly. The answer box will usually contain some additional information that may help you identify why you got the question wrong. Answer boxes will also often contain on-field tips that relate to the rule. Thus, you may wish to keep a notebook handy during testing. The tips are valuable on-field advice.

    The passing grade for an umpire is 100%--you are not "allowed" to be wrong on the field. As former American League umpire Ed Runge once said,

    "Umpiring is the only job in the world where you are expected to be perfect on the first day - and improve from there."

    Don't be discouraged, however. Every time you expose yourself to a play and its ruling, you are adding to your wealth of experience and greatly enhancing your chances of getting the play right. I like to say that baseball rules knowledge is earned, not learned. Repetition of lessons is like having the play over and over again. The goal is to know the lessons so well that they become a part of the umpire who steps on the field.

    Since you will receive some of your instruction when answering questions, you may find it beneficial to immediately repeat a lesson after taking its tests the first time. To keep from feeling overwhelmed, I'd suggest that you repeat any lesson you are uncomfortable with before moving on.

    Of course, your goal should be mastery of the Baseball Rules Course. There's no way to sugar coat it - I define mastery as getting each exam answer correct very shortly after reading the question. Remember: out on the field of play your answer to a rules question must be immediate and confident (and right, of course).


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    © 2002 Rick Roder