The 10 Best Basketball Referee Shoes [Ranked For 2023]

It’s not hyperbole to say that some of the greatest athletes in the world can be found on a basketball court. That assessment isn’t just limited to the players themselves.

Basketball referees are some of the best conditioned rule-enforcers in sports. Officiating basketball players requires the officials themselves to run up and down the court for a full 40 minutes in the college game, or 48 minutes in an NBA game.

Referees don’t get substituted out of games either, so they’ll need to be able to go the distance. In order to do that, they require basketball shoes that put them in position to do the best job possible.

With that in mind, we’ll stop the game to blow the whistle for the premier sneaker options for referees.


What to Look For in a Good Shoe for a Basketball Referee

Unlike a basketball player, a referee is usually not going to jump, or stop on a dime to change direction. Instead, they’ll be in constant motion, either running up and down the court, or sliding laterally to get in position to make a call.

With this in mind, their athletic footwear should be made of lightweight materials, and be predicated more on the tenets of what constitutes a good running shoe. They’ll also need to prioritize comfort, since referees don’t get breaks midway through the game.


Top 10 Basketball Referee Shoes

1. Asics GT 1000

When taking a detailed look at the top products on the market for referees, it’s hard to find anything better than the Asics GT 1000. While we don’t believe it was specifically designed for folks officiating a basketball game, it manages to check the vast majority of boxes for referees on the hardwood.

The Asics GT 1000 utilizes cushioning technology that doesn’t sacrifice the classification of this product as a lightweight shoe. FlyteFoam tends to be significantly lighter than many other alternatives, which expertly keeps a referee’s feet feeling comfortable without anchoring them to the ground.

It also features Asics High Abrasion Rubber material, which maintains a durable rubber outsole that will last for a long time.

Total Amazon Reviews: 1,657

Average Amazon Rating: 4.5


2. Nike Air Monarch Cross Trainer

One of the hardest things for a referee or a player can be landing on the perfect size when in the market for a new shoe. Luckily, the Nike Air Monarch Cross Trainer fits true to size, which should streamline the search process notably.

The Cross Trainer is a wonderful selection for officials, as it sports a leather upper with intelligently located apertures that maximize air flow and breathability. It also is well-regarded for its great traction and grip, allowing a referee to stop immediately if a play ends more suddenly than originally anticipated.

One possible downside is that the shoe tends to sound squeaky after prolonged use.

Total Amazon Reviews: 22,450

Average Amazon Rating: 4.4


3. 3N2 Reaction Basketball Shoe

Unlike the majority of basketball shoes, the 3N2 was specifically designed for officials. It also goes by an alternative name; the REF VX1.

Regardless of what people choose to call it, the 3N2’s are an advisable selection. It’s one of the best-looking sneakers a referee can buy, thanks to patent leather that can be maintained easily.

The 3N2 is also a favorite amongst volleyball officials as well, which is helpful since some folks call games in multiple sports. This product is durable enough to serve an official well regardless of the indoor court it’s deployed on.

Total Amazon Reviews: 90

Average Amazon Rating: 4.1


4.  Reebok Zig Energy

Judging a book by its cover is usually not recommended, and that approach might lead officials to look past the Reebok Zig Energy as a legitimate option. That would be a mistake, as this sneaker brings a lot of redeeming qualities to the table.

It possesses a sock liner that enhances comfort, but it can also be removed if a particular official prefers to insert orthotics into their shoe. The sole also deserves a special callout, since it absorbs impact in the heel area, as well as reduces strain on other muscles in the leg.

As alluded to in the introduction, the sneaker can appear to look cheap on the outside, but brings a lot of perks to the floor.

Total Amazon Reviews: 10

Average Amazon Rating: 3.6


5. New Balance Men’s 520V7

The saying “jack of all trades, master of none” comes to mind when assessing the viability of New Balance’s 520V7 shoes. That phrase can seem like it’s derogatory, but can also be applied to an item that does many things well.

The 520V7’s aren’t elite in any one area, but considering they’re the most affordable product on this list, they’re an acceptable proposition. Comfort is its strongest attribute, as a referee will feel as supported in the fourth quarter as they do during the opening tip of the game.

They can also be considered for referees with wider feet since the fit doesn’t tend to be too snug.

Total Amazon Reviews: 8,612

Average Amazon Rating: 4.4


6. Under Armour Charged Assert 8

In the last couple of decades, Under Armour has made a strong charge in the shoe apparel space. Their Charged Assert 8 product is another example of just how far they have come.

It has a “charged” cushioning midsole, which provides relief in an area of the foot many referees focus on. It also comes with a mesh upper, which complements the rest of the shoe’s lightweight features quite well.

Although it fits the overall direction of the shoe, the mesh upper also may not be as durable as some other materials, which is something to factor in as well.

Total Amazon Reviews: 48,062

Average Amazon Rating: 4.6


7. Nike Vapormax FlyKnit

Nike’s Vapormax FlyKnit takes a groundbreaking approach to providing officials with a tremendous amount of comfort. It uses the elements around it to replenish the effectiveness of the cushioning in the product.

It features air bubbles that are meant to increase the amount of shock absorbed, as well as the level of comfort. The Vapormax FlyKnit claims to utilize wind energy to maintain a baseline of air that will keep officials feeling supported with a consistent volume of bounce.

Keep in mind that the Vapormax Flyknit tends to run narrow, which may start them off with a technical foul in the shoe-searching process.

Total Amazon Reviews: 76

Average Amazon Rating: 4


8. Under Armour Charged Rogue Running Shoe

In addition to effectively utilizing the “charged” cushioning methodology described in the Assert rundown, the Rogue Running shoe’s midsole also weaves in Micro G technology. This hearkens back to the system Under Armour released when it first started making basketball shoes.

With the two solutions working well in tandem, this product is a strong choice for referees who may work multiple games in one day. It also comes with a solid rubber outsole that prevents any sort of slipping and sliding during the tilt.

One detail to remember is that these shoes tend to run a little smaller, so it might be wise to initially try on a pair at half a size bigger than what you would normally wear.

Total Amazon Reviews: 736

Average Amazon Rating: 4.5


9. Smitty Basketball Referee Shoes

If an official is looking for a pair of sneakers that will be in their rotation for a very long time, the Smitty basketball shoes deserve an extensive look. They’re one of the most durable shoes on the market, and won’t leave you racing to replace them shortly after they are purchased.

While they serve as a viable option for officials with wider feet, the Smitty shoes aren’t necessarily on the top of many lists because of their comfort.

If the durability aspect of this product appeals to you, it might also be advisable to purchase orthotics to help cushion the bottom of your feet.

Total Amazon Reviews: 1

Average Amazon Rating: 5.0


10. Hoka ONE ONE Bondi Running Shoe

Although the name of this product looks like a typo, the “On-ay On-ay” shoes from Hoka are an intriguing option. They are one of the most pricey sneakers on this list, but provide a unique advantage to those who don them.

The Hoka ONE ONE’s are constructed in such a way that allows runners to actually be propelled forward. This sounds like music to officials’ ears as they try to catch up to a play on the fast break.

They can also hold up outdoors, which is good for officials who like to exercise in a fresh air setting.

Total Amazon Reviews: 990

Average Amazon Rating: 4.5




Photo of author

Andrew Pistone

Andrew has gravitated towards basketball ever since he was a child. Whether it was spending hours in his parents' backyard practicing shots from various angles, participating in spirited CYO games, or playing pickup at the park, he has always had an affinity for the sport. That passion for the game persisted as he got older, playing at the high school level, and coaching via instructional programs that promoted fundamental skill development.