Best Basketball Referee Shoes [2024 Review]

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If you’re looking to further your career as a basketball referee, wearing the prescribed uniform is a must for you. Getting into the NBA professional league is not an easy task. You need to prepare yourself for the work you have to put in running as a referee. This is why wearing the best basketball referee shoes helps out a lot. 

Best Basketball Referee Shoes 

If you’re looking to work in the NBA as a referee, you should know that the NBA forbids referees to sign endorsement deals. NBA basketball officials are responsible for buying their own shoes and it’s harder than you think. 

Referees need to wear basketball referee shoes that are completely black. Any logos should be blackened out or removed. Add to the problem is there are no shoe manufacturers that make the lightest shoes designed for basketball officiating. This makes it harder to find proper footwear. 

If you’re refereeing to the local community, kids, or high school tournaments, it’s important that you look professional no matter what. Black shoes are a standard for basketball referee shoes. It looks more professional than other colors. 

Nike Men’s Air IV Cross Trainer

The Nike Men’s Air IV Cross Trainer sports an all-black colorway that’s perfect for basketball referees. It offers a professional look. It also packs a lot of features that can help you as a basketball referee. 

The Nike logo is colored black so you can even use this for higher leagues like the NCAA and NBA

As a basketball referee, you’ll appreciate the comfort and heel pull tab these shoes provide. You can even use them for other training activities like morning walks, exercise, and jogging to keep you fit and healthy for refereeing. It’s not just a pair of basketball referee shoes. 

The Nike Air Monarch is known as “the king of dad shoes.” This is because of its design and 90s vibe it gives off. 

However, it speaks of quality is known as Nike’s best-selling model. Many buyers even bought another pair because of the quality of these basketball referee shoes. 

The outsole is made of non-marking solid rubber. You won’t leave any marks or residue on the hardwood court as you referee for a game. The rubber outsole extends to the toe box for added protection.

The rubber outsole uses a multi-pattern design suitable to use on both indoor and outdoor basketball courts. You won’t have to worry about buying 2 pairs of referee shoes to use for indoor and outdoor courts. 

The midsole of the Air Monarch IV is made of full-length Phylon. This is from ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA) foam so it’s guaranteed durable. 

The midsole uses Nike’s Air-Sole technology in the entire length. Thanks to this, the running shoe is able to absorb impact because of the pressurized air inside. This is perfect for basketball referees who are required to be on the court for 48 minutes (for pro leagues) and run most of the time. 

Product Specs

  • Versatile running shoe for people with wide feet
  • Patent leather upper features overlays for support and perforations for airflow
  • Foam Phylon midsole and full-length encapsulated Air-Sole unit cushions for comfort and support
  • Mesh running shoe tongue for breathability
  • Solid rubber outsole usable on any basketball court surface

ASICS Men’s GT-1000 7 Running Shoes

The ASICS GT-1000 7 offers a combination of support and stability for well-rounded basketball referee shoes. The GT-1000 7 is a low-rate stability model shoe from ASICS that performs really well. 

Like all the other basketball referee shoes, the GT-1000 7 also comes with an all-black colorway for a professional referee look. 

These shoes boast a lot of stability and could be the lightest shoes. They have excellent stability. 

The GT-1000 7 uses a thermal plastic midfoot unit that’s equipped with a FlyteFoam external heel counter. The FlyteFoam technology provides bounce back and responsiveness through organic super fibers that help reduce pressure off the feet. 

The midsole is made of SpevaFoam and Asics high abrasion rubber. It improves bounce-back ability and increases the support of the shoe. 

These aren’t the right shoes for high-arch feet. Consider buying an orthotics insole if you want to wear these pair. 

Overall, these are the best shoes for NBA referees who like their shoes sturdy and offer balance especially when they’re running around most of the time. 

Product Specs

  • Shaft measures approximately Low-Top from arch
  • Impact Guidance System technology enhances the foot’s natural gait from heel strike to toe-off
  • FlyteFoam midsole technology provides excellent bounce back and responsiveness
  • SpevaFoam midsole material and Asics high abrasion rubber improve bounce-back and decreases midsole breakdown

New Balance Men’s 623v3 Training Shoe

The New Balance 623v3 Training Shoe is a great shoe for referees. Like all athletic footwear featured here, this shoe also comes in an all-black colorway that is perfect for official basketball games. 

The all-black shoes come with a non-marking rubber outsole. You can wear them on an indoor and outdoor basketball surface. 

When it comes to cushioning, 623v3 shoes use special cushioning systems like ABZORB and IMEVA. They are placed in the midsole and works to enhance stability and shock absorption. 

The insole is removable. This allows you to place specialized insoles if you’re having problems with your foot. 

For comfort, the 623v3 uses soft breathable mesh lining, padded tongue, and collar. You won’t feel discomfort in your feet as you referee. 

The 623v3 shoes also use the QUIX flexibility technology and are placed in the durable rubber outsole of the shoe. It helps move your feet freely without worrying about injuries.  

The shoes are durable and can last you for about 1-2 seasons depending on usage and court condition. If you constantly clean your referee shoes for grip, it might even last for more than 2 seasons. 

It uses patent leather and suede materials which are very durable. The outsole is made of durable rubber compound so it won’t lose its traction that easily. 

You’d want to use these shoes for basketball refereeing and comfort wear. You don’t want to use this as a style or fashion athletic footwear as the look isn’t that good. 

The lightweight shoe would work well as basketball shoes. They can be used to do any light tasks such as walking, jogging, or a daily workout as a basketball referee. 

Product Specs

  • Patent leather upper for flexibility and durability
  • ABZORB and IMEVA for improved cushioning
  • Traditional lacing keeps the fit snug
  • All-around shoes good for referees who like to do workouts

Reebok Men’s ZigWild TR 5.0 Running Shoe

Reebok ZigWild TR 5.0 is part of the ZigWild shoe line which is categorized as running shoes. The referee shoe comes in an all-black colorway making it a good option as a referee shoe. 

The main feature of the shoe is Reebok’s ZigTech outsole technology with a particular zigzag pattern. 

The zigzag pattern works in absorbing the impact from the heel strike and distributes the energy to the rest of the foot. It relieves some of the pressure from your heel area and gives you a better running movement. 

A polyurethane foam comprises the midsole of the ZigWild TR 5.0. The lightweight materials provide comfort and flexibility inside your referee shoes. The reduction of the bulkiness improves your court feel as your feet are low to the ground. 

A removable sock liner offers additional cushioning and support for your foot. If you have problems with your foot like experiencing pain you can replace the sock liner with specialized orthotics. 

The upper part of the shoe is made of lightweight mesh. It’s breathable and provides great comfort. 

The shoe looks bulkier because of the zigzag outsole design but thanks to it that the traction of the shoe is excellent. You’ll feel comfortable as you move around the court as if you’re “walking on clouds”. 

Product Specs

  • ZigTech outsole provides great traction and impact absorption
  • Lightweight mesh shoe tongue for breathability and comfort
  • Underfoot cushioning gives support to the midsole area
  • Low-cut ankle collar for increased mobility 

PUMA Men’s Cell Regulate SL Sneaker

The PUMA Cell Regulate SL sneaker is made for running. It caters to people with neutral foot motion. However, it’s also a great sneaker for basketball referees. 

The shoe comes in an all-black colorway with the word PUMA barely visible on it. 

The PUMA Cell Regulate uses EverTrack rubber which improves the durability and traction of the rubber outsole. It grips consistently on indoor and outdoor courts and adds additional cushioning for comfortable wear. 

An ArchTec midsole guides the foot for a natural transition from the touchdown to the toe-off phase. A 10CELL support at the heel area gives additional comfort.  

There’s also a Softfoam dual-density footbed for added cushion. Basketball referees will feel worry-free and comfortable as they officiate a game. 

The shoe uses a lace-up closure system to ensure the shoe will lock in your foot in place. An elastic band around the forefoot adds a fit snug and support and doesn’t feel uncomfortable around the forefoot area. 

The upper is made of breathable mesh that’s soft and flexible for a fresh and comfortable feel during officiating. The shoe also has a great look so you can wear them for fashion and casual occasions. Overall, the PUMA Cell Regulate sneaker is a solid pickup for basketball shoes. 

Product Specs

  • EverTrack rubber outsole for durability and traction on the base of the shoe
  • ArchTec midsole makes moving a lot easier and comfortable
  • Softfoam dual-density footbed for added cushion
  • Lace-up closure system ensures the shoes are a snug fit

Qualities of the Best Basketball Referee Shoes

As a basketball referee, these are the features that you should consider when choosing the best basketball shoes. 

Well-cushioned insoleImproved comfort
Good tractionGood mobility
Basketball referees wearing their shoes


Basketball referees should prioritize comfort over everything else. After all, you’ll be on the court for at least 48 minutes (professional league game-time) just like basketball players. 

Wearing uncomfortable shoes can affect how you call the game for basketball players. Look for the upper part of the shoe and insole and what materials they’re made of to know if shoes are comfortable. 

Some of the best basketball referee shoes also feature exclusive technology that they claim adds to the level of comfort of the shoe. Look for reviews of this to check if they’re true or not. 

Basketball referee overseeing a game wearing the recommended shoes


Basketball games are long and unlike basketball players, referees aren’t allowed to sub out. They will be on the court for the whole duration of the game. There are breaks at every end of a quarter, halftime, and timeouts. However, your shoes will be used throughout the game. 

You need the best basketball referee shoes that are durable that can last you for one or two seasons. You don’t want to officiate in a game with a broken pair of shoes. Bring another pair of shoes if you want to be on the safe side. 

Look for materials that are durable but keep in mind that it also needs to be comfortable. 


If you want to move up and officiate in higher leagues then you should follow proper shoe guidelines in terms of how the best basketball referee shoes look. Wearing all-black shoes for officiating is the first step of refereeing in the NCAA and NBA. 

Basketball referee wearing the recommended shoes while overseeing a game

Related Questions

Here are some frequently asked questions about the best basketball referee shoes.

What Shoes Should Referees Wear?

Referees should always wear predominantly black shoes. On top of that, these shoes need to have black laces and no accessories. Lastly, they must be clean and in great condition; referees cannot officiate a match with partially broken shoes.

Can Referees Wear Shoes of Any Dark Color?

No, referees can only wear shoes that are predominantly black. This means that the shoes are allowed to have little traces of different colors. However, these traces cannot be too big; this could make the shoes no longer predominantly black.

Can Referees Wear Soccer Shoes?

Yes, referees can wear soccer shoes as long as they meet the requirements. For instance, although soccer shoes are allowed, they cannot have metal, aluminum, steel, or plastic cleats. Therefore, as long as these shoes don’t have cleats, they are safe to use.


Basketball referee shoes should be comfortable and easy to wear. Think of them as shoes for jogging or running like basketball players use. The best basketball referee shoes should look professional to make you look like an authority. 

Tim Frechette is an avid athlete, having played sports like soccer and basketball his entire life. He brings a wealth of athletic knowledge to his writing.