The Best Basketball Referee Shoes

Jan 15th, 2021

The best basketball referee shoes for you depends on what you want in an on-court referee shoe. Pick which comment sounds most like you, and we'll tell you which are the best.

"Comfort is Most Important to Me"

Asics is a running shoe brand built on comfort. Any of the big name brands don't make a specific basketball referee shoe. However, as you do a great deal of running each game, it makes sense to consider a running shoe. Of course, it must look something in the ballpark of a traditional basketball referee shoe.

The Adidas Alphabounce+ was hand-picked by our product committee team after we were each pleasantly surprised by just how comfortable they were. In weight, Asics is the lightest, followed by the new 3n2 VX1, and then Adidas.

The top 5 basketball referee shoes combining comfort and weight are:

  1. Asics GT 1000 9
  2. Adidas Alphabounce+
  3. 3n2 VX1 Patent Leather
  4. Smitty Basketball Referee Shoes
  5. 3n2 Reaction Patent Leather

"A Professional Look is a Must for Me."

If a professional look is about either all-black shoes and/or having traditional patent leather, both 3n2 styles, cover those 2 criteria. If you don't like patent leather, Smitty looks most like a traditional basketball referee shoe. The leather is a rich black with a white S on the heel. Shoes with mesh, Asics and Adidas, won't have the darker black. Between the 2, Asics are a richer black than the Adidas.

The top 5 professional looking basketball referee shoes are:

  1. 3n2 VX1 Patent Leather
    3n2 VX1 Patent Leather
  2. 3n2 Patent Leather
  3. Smitty Basketball Referee Shoes (#1 if you don't like patent leather)
  4. Asics GT 1000 9

"I Have a Wider Foot. Most Officiating Shoes are Too Narrow for Me."

Fortunately, you have options. 3n2 Reaction Patent Leathers have 2E (wide) options. Smitty's Basketball Referee Shoe has a "friendly" D width. I am between a D and 2E shoes, so narrow D's don't work for me. The Smitty shoe fit me best.

The top 5 basketball referee shoes for wider feet are:

  1. 3n2 Patent Leather (D and 2E width options)
    3n2 Reaction Patent Leather
  2. Smitty Basketball Referee Shoes (Friendly D)
  3. Adidas Alphabounce+ (True-to-Fit D width with some stretch due to the mesh)
  4. 3n2 VX1 Patent Leather (True-to-Fit D width with no give due to the patent leather)


3n2 Reaction Patent Leather are the only shoes available in size 6-7.5 (men's) or 7.5-9 (women's).

"The Shoes I want should Last Multiple Seasons. I Don't Like Getting a New Pair Each Season."

The hands-down winner here are the Smitty basketball referee shoes. All the features, from the midsole down to the sole are extremely durable and made out of quality materials - including genuine leather.

The Top 5 Basketball Referee Shoes in Durability are:

  1. Smitty Basketball Referee Shoes
    Smitty Basketball Referee Shoes
  2. 3n2 VX1 Patent Leather
  3. 3n2 Patent Leather
  4. Asics GT 1000 9


So, which are the best basketball referee shoes? Of the 5, only 3 are made specifically for basketball referees.

If you prefer patent leather and are a D width, the best is the 3n2 VX1 (if a 2E, the only choice is the 3n2 Reaction). If you don't like patent leather, the best is the Smitty's.

If you are thinking non-traditional, it's a jump ball - Asics or Adidas. Both are comfortable and light weight. The Asics has a more professional look. The Adidas has a better range in fit.

About the Author

Picture of Jim Kirk

President Jim Kirk

Jim is a leading expert, educator and author on umpire gear, safety & appearance. After playing baseball at Centre College, he worked as a high school umpire during the Elbeco shirt years. He became involved in E-Commerce while working on an MBA in the early 2000s and bought in 2006, He eventually led it to the leading umpire gear & attire retailer worldwide and a “Best Places to Work in Louisville” honor in 2020. He maintains long-standing relationships with Minor League Baseball Umpire Development & Training Academy and the National Association of Sports Officials (NASO). He serves as an adviser to UMPS CARE Charities, the charity of MLB umpires, served as a 2-term board of director from 2012-2018, and was named their 2015 Ambassador Award recipient. A supporter since the inception of the Wounded Warrior Umpire Academy, he was named to their Board of Directors in 2020.


Be the first to comment on this article!