5 Best Basketball Referee Shoes In 2024

No time to read? If you want to know what my choice is for the best basketball referee shoes, then I’d recommend Nike Men’s Air Monarch IV Cross Trainer as the best one.

Apart from the basketball players themselves, the referees get their share of hard work during a game. They are expected to uphold the integrity of the game by keeping on top of every player’s moves and having the ability to make quick decisions and fair calls. The right footwear will make a difference in keeping up with the demands of this very exciting job.

In this article, I’ll review the following shoes for basketball referees:

Becoming A Basketball Referee

A love for the game is definitely a must since this job is physically, mentally, and emotionally demanding. You can pick up good information on basketball officiating from the Basketball Officiating Course of NFHS (National Federation of State High School Associations). Officiating for recreational games is a great way to apply what you have learned. From here you can decide to continue to pursue officiating professionally or keep doing it for enjoyment.

There is a rigorous selection process for becoming a referee in the NBA (National Basketball Association). An experience in officiating is required and demonstrating that you’ve officiated at games in the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) Camps, high school, intramurals, etc is a good start.

What To Expect?

Teamwork and communication are the two key things that basketball players must maintain during a game in order to be successful. The same is true with the referees who are on the floor. You need to work as a team and help each other out. One play or incident can be viewed differently depending on where a person stands. Referees provide each other with their points of view to ensure that the game is played fairly. Hence, you need to be very good at listening in order to process all the information that you receive from your colleagues as well as the players. Watch this video where veteran referees in the NBA talk about how important communication, teamwork and listening are.

Referees need to have sharp eyes and strong minds to keep themselves focused on spotting actions that warrant a call. You will have fans and players giving their own views and interpretations. They won’t hesitate to shout at you to make those heard. You must keep your wits about you and apply your best judgement.

Finally, being a referee is physically demanding. You have to keep yourself physically fit so you can keep up with players as they run across the court otherwise you may miss a move that warrants a foul call. NBA officials are weighed three times a year so you cannot neglect your fitness.

What to consider when buying basketball referee shoes?

Finding a shoe that you can comfortably use for both fitness training and during the game is a great plus. I’ve summarized the things that you need to look out for when buying basketball referee shoes.

  1. Color

Basketball referees wear black trousers and black footwear. Except perhaps for very exceptional cases in the past in the NBA, referees wear all-black shoes. All decorative decals must be black. To ensure that your shoes can be used for games in any league that you will be officiating, it’s best for you to get a plain black pair.

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  1. Traction

Look for a shoe that has a great grip to avoid slipping while you run around the hardwood floor or concrete surface. A rubber outsole with plenty of grooves and indentations is durable and provides great traction. 

  1. Cushioning

With all the running around expected during games, your feet will take a beating without proper cushioning. Look for shoes that have a shock absorbing midsole. Materials like EVA (ethylene vinyl acetate) or similar variations such as the phylon from Nike provide adequate cushioning.

  1. Lightweight

Balancing traction with ease of movement is important. A lightweight shoe will make it more comfortable to move around. Running shoes are generally lighter in weight than basketball shoes and for this reason, the shoes that I have shortlisted are all running or training shoes.

  1. Price

While an expensive pair of shoes is not always the best, you wouldn’t want to scrimp too much. Best value for money is what you should look for. A pair of shoes that meets all the previous criteria will give you optimal performance. If you find one at a good price then go for it!

My 5 Top Recommendations

Now that you have enough information, let’s take a look at the best available shoes for reffing basketball.

1. Nike Men’s Air Monarch IV Cross Trainer

The Nike Men’s Air Monarch IV shoes give your feet total support without sacrificing comfort. The upper is made of leather with strategically placed perforations to help with breathability. A mesh shoe tongue and heel pull tab makes it easy to put on and take off. 

The midsole is made of Phylon foam and a full-length encapsulated Air-Sole unit. Phylon is compressed EVA that was heat expanded then cooled in a mold. The combination of these two technologies ensure that your feet are buffered from shocks. These materials are lightweight and responsive. The outsole is made of rubber, durable and provides great grip on various surfaces.

The all-black variant of this low-top shoe has a clean and classic look.


  • Breathable and comfortable leather upper
  • Lightweight and responsive
  • Great cushioning from the Phylon and Air-Sole unit in the midsole
  • Durable rubber outsole with herringbone pattern for great traction


  • The shoes may produce a squeaking sound that can be distracting.

2. 3N2 Men’s Reaction Basketball Referee Officials Shoe

3N2 is a high performance athletic footwear and apparel company based in Orlando, Florida. The Reaction Basketball Referee Officials Shoe also known as REF VX1 is one of the few that is specifically made for officials on the hardcourt.

It has a Micro Fabric genuine patent leather upper. Apart from being durable and wear-resistant, this unique choice of material makes it stand out in a sea of normal leather and mesh shoes. The patent leather is easily polished and will always look sharp in any game. It has a lace-up closure to secure the shoes to your feet.

The midsole is made of a lightweight, compression-molded EVA which absorbs shock very well and reduces the stress to your knees and joints during prolonged standing.

A non-marking rubber outsole rounds it all off and provides the traction that you need to run across the court effortlessly. The REF VX1 is one of the lightest shoes, weighing only eight ounces. Also recommended for volleyball referees.


  • Unique and wear-resistant patent leather upper
  • Breathable and comfortable
  • Lightweight


  • Runs narrow. Buy half size larger if you have wide feet.

3. HOKA ONE ONE Men’s Bondi 6 Running Shoe

HOKA ONE ONE pronounced as “Ho-Ka On-ay On-ay” (not the number one repeated twice) is an athletic shoe company founded in France in 2009 and is now based in California. The company manufactures running shoes which have maximum cushioning, wider soles, lightweight materials, and a “rocker” in the midsole to give runners momentum and support even in the most punishing trails.

The Men’s Bondi 6 running shoe is the most cushioned shoe in their road-shoe lineup. The cushioning is provided through a full-length EVA midsole and a padded insole. Instead of leather, the upper is made of mesh for optimal breathability and comfort. A rubber outsole with deeply etched patterns provides exceptional traction. All of this in a lightweight package that doesn’t compromise your movement.

Perhaps the star of the Bondi running shoe is the Meta-Rocker. This is a special shape that reduces the height difference between heel and toe and designed to drive runners forward. Expect a smooth transition as you run after the nimble basketball players so you can remain in the thick of the action.


  • Breathable and comfortable mesh upper
  • Lightweight and responsive
  • Maximum cushioning keeps your feet well-protected from shocks
  • Rubber outsole with excellent traction


  • More expensive than other options

4. Under Armour Charged Rogue Men’s Running Shoe

A lightweight low-top shoe with a breathable mesh upper. The Under Armour Charged Rogue Men’s running shoe does not compromise on support and comfort in spite of it being one of the more affordable options in this lineup.

The midsole uses a combination of Micro G and Charged Cushioning. The Micro G is the cushioning technology used in the first Under Armour basketball shoes launched in 2010. These are two of Under Armour’s superior cushioning technologies which are lightweight, shock absorbing and extremely responsive. An external heel counter keeps the back of your foot in place and a solid rubber outsole provides great traction on court. This shoe will remain secure to your foot as you chase after the player going for that fastbreak. The sockliner is removable so you can use your own shoe inserts if you need to. 

These shoes tend to run small so I recommend that you buy half a size bigger than your usual size.


  • Breathable mesh upper
  • Lightweight and responsive midsole. Very comfortable to wear.
  • Affordable


  • Runs small. Buy half size bigger than your usual size.

5. ASICS Men’s GT-1000 8 Running Shoes

ASICS are best known for their running shoes. The Men’s GT-1000 8 running shoes are comfortable, lightweight, responsive and provide great stability. The FlyteFoam used in the midsole gives great bounce and responsiveness to each step and doesn’t weigh you down. FlyteFoam is 55% lighter than standard foam. 

It has the Impact Guidance System (IGS) Technology which combines a set of ASICS technologies – the TRUSSTIC technology in the middle part of the sole for stability and better control of motion and the DuoMax Support System which can help counteract overpronation by providing firm cushioning to the foot arch area.

The upper is made of mesh which offers exceptional breathability and fit. The outsole uses the ASICS High Abrasion Rubber (AHAR) for outstanding durability.

The sockliner on this shoe is removable so you can wear your orthotics without making the shoe too tight.


  • Breathable mesh upper
  • Lightweight and responsive midsole. Very comfortable to wear.
  • Caters for both neutral and overpronation


  • Runs narrow. I’d recommend ordering a width up.

The Awesome Choice

Basketball referees do a lot of running during games and it is important that the shoes they wear are comfortable and supportive. While there is a requirement to stick to all-black shoes, there is no shortage of options available from different athletic brands. My choice for the best basketball referee shoes is the Nike Men’s Air Monarch IV Cross Trainer. These shoes are very comfortable and provide great support. They have the best value in terms of price and style.