While referees are not the first thing many people think of when talking about athletic footwear, refs need shoes too. The officials have to make key calls in key moments, and they need to be able to freely move around the court in order to make that happen.
Choosing the best basketball referee shoes can be difficult. However, for the average official, footwear selection is just as significant as attending rules interpretation meetings. When making such a selection, there are numerous factors that must be considered, including comfort, width, and overall durability.
While choosing the color of your referee shoe is easy – they must be black – there is more to a shoe than look. Using a wealth of information, we have analyzed countless shoes and created a list that covers the best of the best.
- The Asics GT 1000 8 provides officials with the cushioning of a high-performance court shoe with the lightweight durability of a running shoe. If you happen to be one of those with a wider foot, this is the shoe for you.
- For absolute superior performance cushioning, the Reebok Zig Energy has a uniquely designed sole to take the stress off the leg muscles. The Zig Energy provides a comfortable fit and comes with a removable Ortholite foam sock liner.
- The Under Armour Charged Assert 8 is one of the lightest shoes on the market, and it still offers optimal cushioning thanks to the Charged Cushioning midsole. With its solid rubber sole, Assert 8 offers a nice balance of support, flexibility, and weight.
Who Should Get This?
According to this New York Times article, “the average college basketball official runs about four miles a game, and they are not taking their sweet time.” It is imperative that you have proper footwear that not only provides comfort but durability as well. Bad shoes can result in bad feet, and that makes for an uncomfortable season.
As a referee, you should look at your shoe purchase as an investment in your health, comfort, and performance. Whether you are an NBA referee or work at the youth league level, quality basketball referee shoes can make a long season seem shorter.
While each of our selections here exhibits comfort and durability, it is worth noting that these shoe choices are not for basketball players. Players do a lot more jumping than officials and need shoes specifically designed for such activity.
Best Basketball Referee Shoes: What to Consider?
A referee that logs three to five miles of running per game needs a shoe that’s comfortable. It has to feel good on the foot and offer superior cushioning. Imagine an avid runner. Someone that logs several miles per week is going to select a shoe that provides great cushioning and support. It’s the same for the basketball official.
Choosing the right size seems like a given, but many miss that mark. If you buy a shoe that’s too small, you will end up with a shoe that’s too tight and uncomfortable. A shoe that’s too big will result in blisters and can increase your first for foot or ankle injuries.
Have your foot measured by a professional and add at least a half-size. That will give you a chance to try shoes on and provide you a feel for the fit. You can learn more about selecting the proper referee shoe size here.
The miles on your shoes will add up over the course of the season. You’ll need a pair of shoes that can not only provide that comfort and cushioning, but that can continue to deliver game after game. Your shoes must be durable enough to last through, not just the current season, but the next as well.
Best Basketball Referee Shoes: Our Picks
1. Reebok Zig Energy
If you consistently work several games per week, you need a shoe with superior comfort and cushioning. You will find the Zig Energy from Reebok is an outstanding choice in that area.
While the shoe has a unique appearance, do not let the design fool you. This is a shoe that provides exactly what a busy basketball referee needs across comfort, cushioning, and durability.
What We Like:
- The Ortholite foam sock liner can be removed and replaced with custom orthotics. For an orthotics user, this is a huge plus as many shoes on the market are not able to accommodate.
- The ZigTech sole is as unique looking as it is valuable to the referee. The zig-zag-shaped sole is designed to absorb more impact when the heel strikes the court. The sole also helps propel you forward in a way that reduces strain on the leg muscles.
- The Zig Energy has a synthetic mesh upper and tongue that allows the shoe to breathe.
What We Don’t Like:
- The upper is synthetic, which gives the Zig Energy a cheaper look.
2. Under Armour Charged Assert 8
Working a number of basketball games per week, you simply do not want to be bogged down by a shoe that feels heavy or cumbersome. The Under Armour Charger Assert 3 is incredibly light on the foot to the point that you will float up and down the floor.
The upper is a lightweight mesh with the Charged Cushioning midsole and rubber outsole. You will find the Assert 8 a great blend of comfort, stability, and lightweight durability.
What We Like:
- At 9.9 ounces, the UA Charged Assert 8 is extremely light.
- The lightweight mesh upper offers outstanding breathability.
- The shoe is built for comfort with an EVA sock liner and the Charged Cushioning midsole.
What We Don’t Like:
- The mesh upper can break down quicker than leather or synthetic ones.
3. Asics GT 1000 8
There are many basketball referees who have slightly wide feet. If you are one of them, the Asics GT 1000 8 is a great choice. The footwear comes with the AHAR – Asics High Abrasion Rubber – outsole for extra durability. The rearfoot Gel technology cushioning system provides great cushioning as well.
What We Like:
- The rearfoot Gel technology absorbs impact and cushions the foot.
- The Flytefoam midsole technology adds to the cushioning effect.
What We Don’t Like:
- The GT 1000 8 does not run true to size and tends to fit small.
- The shoelaces can be a tad on the short side.
Useful Tips and Resources
After putting in a few days’ work, your shoes will be in need of some refreshing. A few miles per game adds up to some sweaty feet, which then leads to sweaty shoes. If you take care of your shoes, they will take care of you. This article from Asics addresses how to clean running shoes, which is essentially for referees.
You want to get the most from your shoes, especially as a referee. Durability is incredibly important when choosing your footwear. However, sometimes your shoes need extra help. This slideshow from Shape magazine offers some great tips on how to increase your shoe’s lifespan, including buying two pairs and rotating them.
Basketball officials spend an hour or two running up and down the court in a typical game. Some referees can work six to seven days per week and log double-digit miles.
The right shoes can cut down on that wear and tear in a way that makes a huge difference in your overall health. Be sure to select the footwear that best fits your needs.
See a shoe that didn’t make our list? If you have a favorite shoe for basketball referees, let us know what makes it so great in the comments below!