3N2 Blog

What Makes the Best Basketball Officiating Shoes?

Cover the court in comfort and style with 3N2’s guide to the best basketball officiating shoes.

25 Sep 2019

There’s no denying that basketball referees have a physically demanding job. They’re on their feet, running up and down the court, up to five miles per game. Quick, lateral movements, stopping and starting, turning and changing direction, constant movement with very little rest; all in a day’s work for a ref. As officials move up through the competition ranks, the physical demands increase proportionally and the stakes get higher. Games can be won or lost on a call, so – as a referee – you must be able to change position quickly to clearly see the action and make the right call each and every time. With such a crucial role to play, good footwear is imperative. Your basketball referee shoes should help boost both performance and comfort. After all, you can’t do your job well if your feet are hurting and keeping you from reacting quickly and agilely. So, what makes a great pair of basketball officiating shoes? Here are some important considerations when choosing a referee shoe:


Stability and Support

Referees do a lot of stopping, starting, and turning throughout the course of a game. A stable shoe with good support can help you protect against rolling your ankles or suffering other injuries during those quick, direction-changing movements. Stability and support are also important while logging all those miles running up and down the hardwood.



Lightweight shoes are a must. Heavy shoes cause excess strain and fatigue and prevent you from quickly changing position with the players as they move around the court. You need to be fast and agile to do your job well, so choose shoes made of lightweight materials that can keep your feet from feeling sluggish and heavy.



Basketball season can be long and grueling, often featuring tourneys and multiple back-to-backs. Your shoes need to be able to hold up. Choose shoes made of durable materials that will go the distance while keeping you looking professional on the court. Easy cleaning is a must.


Comfort and Breathability

As mentioned, basketball referees spend a lot of time running and a lot of time on their feet. To do the job well, your head must be completely in the game the second the ball is in play. There’s no time to be thinking about your aching feet, so you need comfortable shoes that help you keep your focus on the game. Breathable materials that allow good airflow help to keep your feet cool, which adds to your overall foot comfort.



You can’t make the calls if you’re slipping and sliding on the court. Look for shoes with great traction to keep you on your feet during quick directional changes and abrupt stops and starts.



Flexibility in your shoes can help you run with a more natural motion, giving a fluid heel-to-toe movement and helping to reduce fatigue.



A referee’s shoes should be similar to players’ shoes as far as cushioning goes. You may not be jumping like the players, but you’re running like they are and your shoes need ample bounce and cushion from the constant heel impact on the floor. Good cushioning also helps to keep your feet comfortable and reduces overall fatigue.



Basketball officials are often required to wear black shoes with no visible or contrasting logo or brand name. They are also prohibited from receiving compensation for their footwear or signing with sponsors. These rules limit the choices available for referees, but there are great looking referee shoes to be had if you know where to look.   Style always takes a backseat to stability and comfort but it’s an important factor nonetheless.



3N2 Officiating Shoes

3N2’s officiating shoes check all of these boxes and more. With superior materials, attention to detail, and innovative design, 3N2 referee shoes will keep you in the game in comfort and style. Here are our top picks for basketball officiating shoes:


3N2 Reaction Referee Patent

Featuring wear-resistant patent leather that’s easy to polish, 3N2’s Reaction Referee Patent is a comfortable and durable choice. Knee and joint stress are reduced with our specially designed midsole. Lightweight construction helps reduce fatigue and enhance comfort and a non-marking outsole goes easy on indoor courts. The black on black color combo meets league requirements while still looking great. Available in sizes 6-15.


3N2 Reaction Referee VX1

Our next generation of high-performance referee shoes, the “REF VX1” features revolutionary in design, performance, and durability. Weighing in at a mere 8 ounces, the REF VX1 is feather light to help keep you moving quickly. Classic patent leather is reimagined in a sleek, modern style that is easily polished between games. Ventilated construction keeps your feet cool in the heat of the game. The compression-molded EVA midsole provides support, cushion, and unrivaled comfort. The Micro Fabric leather upper is second to none in durability and flex resistance, providing a long-lasting shoe that allows for fluid movement of the feet.


Your job as a basketball referee is demanding and rewarding. You need shoes that can perform while you’re chasing fast breaks, running up and down the court, and dodging fans, cheerleaders, and cameramen. Some refs choose running shoes, while others opt for regular basketball shoes, but neither of these options will address the full spectrum of referee needs. Basketball officiating shoes are the best choice, as they’re designed with your specific needs in mind. Wearing superior footwear will help you stay on top of your game and make the right calls (and to keep your cool when the fans disagree with those calls.) 3N2 is proud to supply the best officials with the best gear. Have a great season!