Top 5 Best Referee Basketball Shoes (2021 Guide)

Have you recently become a basketball referee and you’re looking for a good pair of basketball shoes? Well, you have come to the right place.

Our team of reviewers, composed of referees, sports experts, and even physical therapists hunted down 5 of the best basketball referee shoes available out there. Here is what we found.

In this guide, you’ll learn:

  • The characteristics of a good referee shoe
  • What makes referee shoes special
  • What to look for in a good pair of referee shoes

And much more!

Now that you know what is in store for you, it’s best for you to continue reading to know our top-rated basketball shoes for referees. You can start your search by looking at the table below:


#1 – 2007 Nike Air Force 1 High Top Basketball Shoes


#2 - CHAMARIPA 329B02 Elevator Basketball Shoes


#3 – Nike Lebron XVII Cd5007-003 Low Basketball Shoes

#4 - Nike Bianco Viola Nero

#5 - Nike Marxman PRM High Top Basketball Shoes

Our Overall #1 Rated Pick

Updated On June 29 2021


2007 Nike Air Force 1 High Top Basketball Shoes

Among the many basketball shoes for referees we bought and tested, the Nike Air Force 1 rose on top. 

Aside from having the best support, a good shoe also has to be comfortable to wear for at least 50 minutes. The sole of the shoe has remained the same since it was first released in 1981. It has remained durable and comfortable over the years.

Our Top 5 Best Referee Basketball Shoes

The team searched, bought, and reviewed many excellent referee basketball shoes on the market. However, the five models listed below are our top picks from the bunch.

What Basketball Shoes Do Referees Wear?

When watching a game of basketball, the first thing you’d probably notice is the players. Not many people think about the people who make sure that the game itself runs smoothly. That is, the referees.

Just like the players themselves, referees do have their own set of equipment. Aside from the striped uniform and the black pants, the shoes are also very important. Unfortunately, basketball referee shoes can be a bit hard to find. 

Although basketball referees don’t exert themselves as much as the basketball players themselves, they do have to move a lot. Mostly, they need to get a good view of where the action is, and if you’ve watched basketball, the action tends to move around quite a lot. 

The average college-level basketball referee is expected to do about 5 miles’ worth of running in each game. Worse still, they have to be quick on their feet, too. Unlike basketball players, basketball referees do a lot less jumping, so officials only need to account for that.

Basketball referees need shoes that can let them run around comfortably for the entire game. Also, they need to be the right color, which is black.

Why do Basketball Referees Wear Black or Yellow Shoes?

The reason why basketball referees are made to wear all black or yellow shoes is mostly due to impartiality. Referees are not allowed to take on endorsement deals with any brand, unlike the basketball players themselves. This means they are responsible for purchasing their equipment, and as you’ll soon find out, finding good referee shoes can be very difficult.

On top of being black, the logos on each of the shoes must also be removed or covered. This makes it difficult for referees to find a good pair of shoes, which are not only good for running but also able to support certain basketball moves.

What makes it even more difficult for basketball employees is that no brand or manufacturer specializes in making referee shoes. On top of this, because most shoes only have a lifespan of about 70 hours or so, referees are forced to go through about 10 pairs of shoes per season, especially so for the bigger leagues.

How to Clean Referee Basketball Shoes

Although finding a good pair of referee shoes can prove difficult, cleaning them up and keeping them in good shape is relatively straightforward. Making sure you have a clean pair of shoes ensures your shoes last longer, but it can also let you do your job well. Here’s how you can keep your referee shoes in the best shape possible.

  • Remove Excess Dirt

The first thing you’ll want to do is remove any dirt or debris, especially on your soles. You can use a soft brush, an old toothbrush, or a piece of cloth. Remove as much of the excess dirt as you can, but try to avoid using too much pressure, especially on the more delicate parts of the shoe and the soles.

If you’ve been wearing your basketball referee shoes outside, you should also take this opportunity to remove any pebble stuck on the sole. These small rocks can make it difficult for you to run or might even cause you injury.

  • Use Soap

Once you’ve cleared the dirt, you can start washing your shoes. You can mix soap with warm water and use a washcloth to wipe your chosen footwear. Do not use any harsh detergents. You should also avoid putting your shoes in the washing machine. Once you’re done, rinse your shoes properly.

  • Dry it

Before storing your shoes, make sure that it has properly dried to avoid damage or bad smells. You can use a dry piece of cloth and gently pat your shoe dry. You may also air dry it or put it in front of a fan. Avoid putting your shoes in the dryer.

  • Clean the Laces

Make sure you remove the shoelaces when you wash your shoes. Take this opportunity to check them for any damage or wear. If your shoelaces are too worn out, it’s a good idea to replace them. Luckily, replacing shoelaces is easier than replacing the whole shoe itself.

  • Air the Insoles Out

If your insoles are starting to get funky, you should take them out and air them until they dry properly. If they still smell after that, you can wash them the same way you would wash the rest of your shoes. Just make sure that it has properly dried before you put them back. Otherwise, it will stink up again.

What Should You Look for When Buying Referee Basketball Shoes?

As mentioned, multiple times already, finding a good pair of basketball referee shoes is pretty hard. Regardless, it’s important to get a decent pair to not only do your job properly but also to prevent injury. Here are some of the things you need to watch out for when choosing the right referee shoes.

  • The Color

One of the most important aspects of a basketball referee shoe is the color. The shoes must be a solid black color with no other markings. If you do find a good shoe, but has logos or other markings on it, you can always either remove them or paint over them yourself. What’s important is you get a pair of shoes that is a solid black color.

  • The Upper

The upper is the part of the shoe that is above the sole. You need an upper that is shaped exactly like your foot. You don’t want an upper that chafes or binds the wrong way, so look for material that is smooth or breathable.

  • Ankle Collar

The ankle collar is the part of the shoe that wraps around your ankle. You’d want a pair of shoes whose ankle collar doesn’t restrict your movement but still supports your ankle and the Achilles tendon. Avoid shoes whose ankle collar slides way too much to avoid chafing your legs.

  • Outsole

This is the part of your shoe that meets the floor or the court. You’d want an outsole that gives you good traction and support, but still flexible enough not to lock your movements. You should also look for a footprint shape that is similar to yours for added stability while running.

  • Flex Grooves

Most running shoes have grooves under the ball of the foot, allowing the shoe to bend with the feet. A good flex groove is not a major requirement but having one on your referee shoes can make your job a lot easier.

  • Comfort

Aside from being able to officiate a game, referees also require comfortable shoes to protect their feet. This is because they work with a distance of around 4 to 5 miles. With that in mind, shoes that have midsoles made with the latest technologies should provide proper support and cushion, perfect for those long hours standing and running across the court.

Pick #1: 2007 Nike Air Force 1 High Top Basketball Shoes

The 2007 Nike Air Force 1 High Top Basketball Shoes are a great callback to a more iconic time, proving that any shoe with a good design is timeless. Nike’s Air Force 1 Collection has been in production for over 30 years, but it remains true to its original design, which offers superb air cushioning and excellent durability.

The robust ankle strap and ankle collar not only provide a secure fit, but it’s also very comfortable, helping make a long season feel a lot shorter. The leather material for the most part makes the Air Force 1 easier to clean, hence easier to maintain. This helps add to its already phenomenal durability.

Of course, given that it’s an older design, the Air Force 1 is a bit dated. We found it a bit bulky for our modern tastes, but the comfort you get from this iconic shoe more than makes up for it.

Pick #2: CHAMARIPA 329B02 Elevator Basketball Shoes

If you’re the type who finds their short stature an issue, then Chamaripa’s Elevator Basketball Shoes are a good item to try. This particular brand isn’t well-known, but it does offer decent support, especially for the ankles.

The shoes also feel lightweight, despite having thicker soles than normal shoes, making it easier to move around in them. This trait is also the shoes’ most endearing quality as the team found them to be light as a feather.

The upper is also designed to be breathable. We could even say goodbye to our sweaty, stinky feet while wearing these shoes. Although, the material itself leaves much to be desired when it comes to durability.

Pick #3: Nike Lebron XVII Cd5007-003 Low Basketball Shoes

The Nike LeBron 17 Basketball Shoes are excellent footwear for basketball players but can also be great as referee shoes. This pair of shoes employs two types of cushioning technology that helps give the wearer both impact protection and responsiveness whilst running on the court.

We also found that the Nike LeBron 17 has an articulated outsole and a specialized traction pattern, giving anyone running on the hardwood court more confidence, both for players and officials. One problem we did encounter with this model, however, is that it runs a bit too snuggly for our tastes. So we recommend you get a shoe about half a size larger than usual.

Although there are better basketball shoes out there for the price, as referee shoes, they are pretty much perfect.

Pick #4: Nike Bianco Viola Nero

Another Nike shoe with a classic design, the Bianco Viola Nero remains faithful to the older designs reminiscent of the Air Force 1 Line. This model is what retro models would look like done right. You get a classic design without sacrificing comfort and durability. Its design is also versatile enough that you can practically use them at a fancy dinner party after officiating a basketball game.

It’s a very comfortable shoe, perfect for running up and down the court for an entire game without causing much fatigue on your feet. It also provides excellent traction, which is a must on a slick hardwood floor.

Of course, given that it’s made mostly of leather material, it does crease easily, and such creases can turn into weak spots that can ruin the shoe’s otherwise excellent durability.

Pick #5: Nike Marxman PRM High Top Basketball Shoes

The Nike Marxman PRM High Top Basketball Shoes are marketed as lifestyle shoes but still work rather well as basketball referee shoes. The high cut offers excellent ankle support, though it does this by sacrificing a bit of flexibility.

The shoes themselves are designed to give all-day comfort when worn and should be more than capable of maintaining that comfort for basketball referees. One downside we’ve noticed, however, is that these shoes run a bit narrow, so if you have wide toes or like to have a lot of room up front, give this one a hard pass.

Our Top Pick: 2007 Nike Air Force 1 High Top Basketball Shoes

When it comes to basketball referee shoes, it’s important to not only have excellent support. You also need something comfortable to wear for at least 48 minutes at a time. That’s why we chose Nike’s Air Force 1 High Top for our number one pick.

There’s a reason why the shoe’s design hasn’t changed in more than 30 years. It simply works. It has remained consistent all throughout its service, providing comfort to both players and referees alike. It’s not the most perfect pair of shoes out there, but it’s darn well close.

Check out its low price on Amazon.

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