Best Referee Shoes

Engineered for high performance and complete comfort—from the opening jump ball to the final buzzer.

Like your favorite athletes and players, referees need quality shoes too—to move freely and comfortably while making crucial calls during the game. However, common problems encountered include referee shoes that don’t last for several seasons, are too narrow, or simply don’t fit.

With the best referee shoes, it becomes easier to satisfy the demands of this important, challenging, and thrilling job. While finding the perfect referee shoes can be difficult, it’s just as crucial as upholding the rules and the game’s integrity.

Fortunately, whether you’re looking for basketball referee shoes, football referee shoes, or soccer referee shoes, KURU remains consistent in offering shoes for referees designed for comfort and durability. Browse our collection of referee shoes and enjoy officiating games while moving around with ease.

Person wearing blue scrubs wearing black Kuru shoes
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Experts Guide to Referee Shoes

Top features to look out for when picking the perfect pair of referee shoes.

Here are the top things to consider to help you find the best soccer referee shoes, best basketball referee shoes, or best football referee shoes:

  • Cushioning: Throughout the game, you’ll be running a lot like the players, so pick referee shoes with excellent cushioning like KURU. This gives you maximum comfort even when staying long on the court.
  • Traction: The best referee shoes also have excellent traction to keep you from slipping or sliding on the court.
  • Durability: Each basketball season can be long and intense, so you’ll need referee shoes that will last not only the current season but also the succeeding ones. Check for premium-grade and durable materials. Make sure it’s easy to clean, too.
  • Weight: Being a referee requires you to move and work fast, so pick lightweight shoes. This also helps you avoid possible strain and fatigue.
  • Stability and Support: Since you'll have to start, stop, run, and turn a lot during the game, look for referee shoes with reliable support and stability, like our KURU shoes, to avoid potential injuries.

Top Selling Shoes

Our Customer Favorites

"Game changer!

I love this pair of shoes, the arch is the best feature, it supports my flat feet. Light weight, stylish, and vey comfortable."

- Cess G

"Great Shoe for Active person with foot pain!!

I am an active person now at the age where the years of ankle and foot injuries makes being active painful. I am a lacrosse referee and have to work 7-10 games per week. I just got these KURU Quantums and absolutely love them. I am now 5 games into this young season and these shoes provide exceptional support to the arch and ankle. I couldn't be happier with this purchase. Having the right footwear to work the next 2 months and 80+ games is critical to my physical and mental well-being. Thanks for designing a shoe for those of us who really need the full foot and ankle support!!!! Additionally, having the all black color option is great for referees who have to have all black. I'm telling all my fellow refs to consider KURU."

- Active Kevin

Technology for a Natural Fit, Engineered to Fight Foot Pain


With KURUCLOUD’s lightweight EVA foam that offers incomparable shock absorption and cushioning, you’re about to feel the Earth’s smoothest stride. This base layer of KURU’s three-part tech has the perfect combination of support and softness, keeping your feet comfortable and safe while wearing your referee shoes.

KURU Footwear's KURUCLOUD base layer delivers superior cushion and shock-absorption with every step


Our specially patented KURUSOLE technology feels like a gentle hug to your heel with its rounded heel cup design. Its dynamic flexing also provides enough custom heel support, letting you sport your referee shoes with comfort and confidence.

KURU Footwear's patented KURUSOLE technology cups your heel and dynamically flexes with each step


Every pair of KURU shoes is equipped with our ULTIMATE INSOLE, which has a dual-density foam that ensures arch support. The advanced foams also fit your feet’s unique shape gradually by using your own body heat, so you can expect custom support and well-maintained posture.
KURU Footwear's ULTIMATE INSOLE features high-quality arch support and dual-density foam that molds to the shape of your feet

Workplace Foot Injuries

Find out what types of safety or ergonomic hazards referees face that can lead to foot injuries.

Similar to basketball, football, and soccer players, referees also face different risks that can leave their feet injured. In a prospective study among football referees, the incidence rates of injuries during matches were about 20 injuries per 1000 hours.

Referees may experience ankle sprains, rolled ankles, muscle strains, Achilles pain, and low back pain. Tendon injuries are also one of the most common types of injury. Typical sites of body injury include the hip, groin, and lower leg.

In another survey among 71 football referees, 31 or 44% experienced a total of 41 injuries. They reported hamstring strains and ankle sprains as the most common. Meanwhile, for musculoskeletal problems, common locations include the knee, Achilles tendon, and calf.

Most of the injuries happened during training rather than in actual matches. Furthermore, the injuries led to a two-week off from sport. This shows how safety risks and injuries are also a serious concern among referees, and not just athletes and players.

For basketball referees, lower limb injuries are one of the most common risks. For acute injuries, the most affected region is the ankle, while fr overuse injuries, the most affected part is the knee.

Referees with flat feet are prone to developing tendinitis (irritation or inflammation of tendons). Then, they may also experience fatigue faster, especially given the heavy work that the muscles of the lower leg need for absorbing pressure. In such cases, you’ll have to wear referee shoes with better support. The feet can be flattened out too with overly-soft soled shoes.

Moreover, if you have a high arched foot, you are more likely to have pressure issues. Then, you might get callouses. With this type of foot, you’re also more susceptible to toe deformities, and stress fractures. Pain and fatigue are common, especially after highly demanding activities. This is because the pressure is not absorbed well.

Muscle weakness, and poor training and exercise can increase your chances of getting foot pain and injuries. Others also have previous injuries making them more vulnerable to other injuries. In some cases, injuries and illnesses occur suddenly, which is why referees should be physically fit.

Poor choice of referee basketball shoes or soccer referee shoes is also a huge factor. You need proper, well-designed footwear like KURU to reduce risks for injuries.

a man wearing referee shoes stands near a bicycle.

Muscle weakness, and poor training and exercise can increase your chances of getting foot pain and injuries. Others also have previous injuries making them more vulnerable to other injuries. In some cases, injuries and illnesses occur suddenly, which is why referees should be physically fit.

Poor choice of referee basketball shoes or soccer referee shoes is also a huge factor. You need proper, well-designed footwear like KURU to reduce risks for injuries.

Officiating Industry Facts and Stats

We take a look at some facts and stats you might not have known about footwear worn by referees.
Read on to find out more!

Did you know that a reputable NBA official may referee around 60 to 70 games per season? This is equal to about 50 hours of moving around and running in courts.

Football game referees also have to cover up to eight miles while checking every move. A poll among referees showed that 30% of them experience foot pain. Given all the running and quick movements needed, wearing high-quality referee shoes is a must.

Apart from having to know all the rules and when to apply them, you’ll also need some equipment as a referee. These include black referee basketball shoes, black athletic socks, a nice, loud whistle, a striped black and white shirt, and black beltless pants.

Foot Injury Prevention

Learn how to best protect your feet in the officiating industry.

To help keep your feet safe and free from injury, invest in well-made, black patent leather referee shoes, basketball referee shoes, football referee shoes, or soccer referee shoes. Maximum comfort, support, durability cushioning, traction, and durability should all be present in your referee shoes. Make sure your referee shoes have the perfect fit as well, so you can avoid blisters and possible injury from sudden movements.

Lacing can also make a difference. If you have high-arched feet, adjust the lacing pattern by running the laces directly from the second set of eyelets to the third eyelets. This helps loosen the fit over your arch.

If you’re struggling with toe irritation, you can run the end of the shoelace from the bottom eyelet to the top of the other side, and then lace the opposite end in a zigzag. Doing so will lift your referee shoes off your toes.

Perform stretching and different exercises focused on strength and stability too, so that you can avoid foot injury and focus on officiating and maintaining the integrity of the game. Stretches have two types: static and dynamic. With static stretching, you assume a stationary position and then hold it for up to one minute. You’ll feel that stretching sensation without any quick movements.

Meanwhile, dynamic stretching involves moving, so you can warm up specific muscle groups. This is important, especially since you’ll be making quick and sudden movements throughout the game.

Warm-ups for referees include five minutes of joggings, five minutes of accerations, and five minutes of mobilization exercises. These include skipping, moving backward, tripling, and zigzag shuffling. Even a few minutes of walking can be a great dynamic warmup, allowing your blood to pass through the muscles and help prevent injuries.

You can also do core exercises such as jumping forward and backward and then landing on one leg as well as leaning on one leg and then bending your knee. About five minutes of sprints of 10 to 30 meters are also good. Then, you can do butt kicks, where the back of your heels touches your bottom and then the ground. From choosing the right referee shoes to preparing your mind and body, you can protect yourself and your feet in the officiating world.

a man ties the laces of his football referee shoes.

Why Others Love KURU

See What Our Customers Are Saying About Us


I bought my first pair of Atoms two weeks ago. They are a miracle. For the first time in years, I am not wearing orthotics, and my hip pain is gone. I questioned all of the positive ratings, but they are true. My second pair is on the way. Comfy and cute, but most importantly, my hip pain is gone. The shoes are still comfortable after wearing them all day long which is a real game changer. Thank you Kuru."

-- Sara J

"Most Comfortable Shoe

I am 77 years old and referee 5th & 6th grade youth basketball for 8 Saturday's in January and February each year. I will call 4 or 5 full court games each Saturday. Each year I buy a new pair of shoes for these old feet. My Kuru's are the most comfortable shoes I have ever owned."

-- Emmett B.

"Game Changer!

I bought these shoes because I’m on my feet a lot and have high arches and bone spurs. The ATOM not only helped with pain but they’re so comfy and stylish!! 10/10 recommend"

-- Chels


Answers to the most frequently asked questions are just a click away.

What shoes do refs wear?


When it comes to footwear, referees wear athletic shoes that are usually black. They can wear running shoes, cleats, or turf shoes, given that the main color is black.

Do referee shoes have to be all black?


Referees often wear black referee shoes. This helps them blend in with anyone or anything in the court without causing distractions, especially the spectators and players. However, other referees might opt to wear other colors while making sure they’re not distractive.

How do I know which shoe to buy? Which is best for me?


The best shoe for you will depend on your unique foot type and the style you’re looking for.

The best shoes for men and women alike offer adequate arch support and cushion. Whether you’re looking for bright blue shoes, dark blue shoes, or white shoes with blue accents, KURUs line of pain-relieving footwear help alleviate foot pain symptoms for all-day comfort.

How is the arch support of KURU shoes?


KURU shoes deliver excellent arch support without the need for thick inserts or expensive, custom orthotics.

Superior arch support starts with our patented KURUSOLE technology, which delivers natural cushioning and dynamically hugs your heel with every step. Every foot is unique, and our ULTIMATE INSOLES adapt to fit your needs by using your own body heat to custom-mold to the shape of your feet over time.

The corrective nature of our superior arch support is designed to neutralize your weight distribution and place your foot in the best anatomical position. This support can take some getting used to. We suggest slowly breaking in your new shoes over the course of 2–3 weeks.

Are your shoes considered orthopedic shoes?


While our shoes are not currently considered orthopedic by a medical standard, we have received thousands of positive reviews from customers who say their KURU shoes with good arch support helped reduce or eliminate their pain—from plantar fasciitis to bunions.

Each of our shoes feature a wide toe box, superior arch support, shock absorption and patented heel technology, engineered for pain relief.



Shop Our Full Collection of Shoes for Referees

Experience Pain Relief Beyond Belief in shoes specifically engineered to relieve foot pain.