This is my review of the best basketball referee whistles in 2021.

If you are a player or a fan, you might not think much about the referee’s whistle. You really only care about it when you hear it because you know that something important has happened and play must stop.

For a referee, it is probably their most important tool. Not only are they important to refs, but coaches as well. During practice, it is an integral tool in getting the players’ attention.

So, what’s the big deal with whistles? Can’t I just buy any old whistle from my local box store?

Well, you can, but there really are some things to consider when buying whistles, such as durability, ease of use, comfort, and volume.

There are also different types of referee whistles. There are the old traditional pea whistles, which are plastic or metal and have a cork pea-shaped ball inside them. There is the newer type of pealess whistles and there are even high-tech electronic whistles.

Let’s take a look and see what type of whistle works best for you.

Quick Summary

  • If you are a referee or a coach looking for the traditional tried-and-true pea whistle, the Crown Sporting Goods SCOA-001 Stainless Steel Whistle is a great choice. It is durable, loud, and takes very little breath to create that classic whistle sound. The stainless steel also gives it that nice traditional look.
  • If you are a referee and you have ever had the pea in the whistle get stuck and then you missed that big call, you might want to go with a pealess whistle. The Fox 40 Sonik Blast CMG Official Whistle is a wonderful choice for a pealess whistle.
  • If you really like to try new technology, there are electronic whistles available. A good one to try is the Windsor Three Tone Electronic Whistle.

Who Should Get This?

If you are a coach or a referee, a whistle is a must-have! You really can’t do your job without it.

For a referee, you will blow your whistle more than speak. You need it to start play, stop play, to call fouls, and possibly even break up fights. You want something that is loud, reliable, comfortable, and easy to use.

For a coach, you really need a whistle to get your player’s attention in practice.

While you may have a little more leeway as to the performance of the whistle you choose, it is important that your players hear the whistle when doing drills or in a scrimmage game.

Take some time to figure out which type of whistle will work best for your situation. There are lots of options out there, so let’s take a look at some of the different features.

Best Basketball Referee Whistles: What to Consider?

Volume

How loud is the whistle? Will players be able to hear it over the game or the crowd noise. This is very important. If the players can’t hear your whistle, what’s the point?

Comfort

You want a whistle that is comfortable on a lanyard around your neck or in your hand. You also want to make sure it is easy to blow.

Durability

Find a whistle that is durable and will stand up to rough use during a game or practice. Will it hold up even if you drop it on the floor?

Reliability and Ease of Use

When the time comes to make that call, you want to be sure the whistle works and that you can easily use it.

Best Basketball Referee Whistles: Top Picks

Here is my top recommendations along with detailed review of each whistle.

1. Crown Sporting Goods SCOA-001 Stainless Steel Whistle


This is a great classic stainless steel pea whistle. The kind of whistle you usually envision a coach or referee using.

What we like:

  • Stainless steel is very durable.
  • It is loud and clear with a bold crisp sound.
  • Easy to blow, requires less breath than pealess whistles.
  • It comes with an adjustable lanyard to help with comfort.

What we don’t like:

  • It has a pea, which can get stuck when you’re trying to make that important call.

Check Price on Amazon

2. Fox 40 Sonik Blast CMG Official Whistle


Fox 40 is one of the original creators of pealess whistles. Pealess is the way to go if you are a referee because there are no worries that it will fail due to the pea getting stuck. Pealess whistles are designed to mimic the sound of a pea whistle without the hassle of having a pea inside it.

What we like:

  • No pea and no moving parts.
  • It’s really loud, about 120+ decibels of high shrill pitched sound that can be heard over any crowd noise. In fact, it can be heard over a 1 mile away.
  • 100% high impact ABS plastic that is unaffected by moisture.
  • Can’t be overblown. The harder you blow the louder it is.

What we don’t like:

  • You may have to blow with more force to get the volume that you want.

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3. Windsor Three Tone Electronic Whistle


This is the new wave of technology. Electronic whistles can mimic the sound of pea and pealess whistles and since you don’t have to have them in your mouth, you are able to use your voice at the same time. These whistles are also more hygienic since they do not get saliva inside them.

What we like:

  • New technology.
  • Provides mouth free whistling.
  • Gives a consistent sound every time.
  • You won’t get out of breath.
  • Very hygienic.

What we don’t like:

  • It’s not as loud as traditional whistles, only about 105 decibels.
  • It needs batteries (but they do last for about 1000 blasts).

Check Price on Amazon

Useful Tips and Resources

As you can see, the referee whistles come in different types and it may be difficult to decide which type is best for you. Fortunately, they are not too expensive so if needed you can try some out and see what works best for you.

If you are going to try them out, start with the least expensive which are the pea whistles. If you find you are unhappy you can try the pealess whistles which are just a little more expensive. The electronic type is the most expensive so you may want to try those last.

These different whistles do have uniques sounds. You can check out this video if you would like to see a comparison of pea, pealess and electronic whistles.

Final Words

Let’s face it, a referee whistle is as much a part of basketball as any other equipment. For a referee or a coach, it is a tool that helps to let the players know what is going on in a game or in practice. Referees use their whistle more than they speak and coaches use them to reinforce their teaching methods.

Sure you could play a game if the referee didn’t have a whistle but it would be very difficult to know when play started and stopped and it might be hard to hear the referee over all the other game and crowd noise.

When searching for the right whistle be sure to consider what you will be using it for and what environment you will be using it in.