How To Referee Basketball: Guide To Being A Good Officiating Ref Every Game

Not everyone who loves basketball wants to be a player. There are many roles to play in a basketball game and one of the most important roles is that of the referee. 

If you want to learn how to be a basketball referee, then this is the place for you. We are going to be looking at all the things you need to know and do in order to be able to referee a basketball game.

How To Referee Basketball Guide To Being A Good Officiating Ref Every Game

Check out our below information and soon, you will be able to referee every basketball game flawlessly! 

Understanding The Referee Role

Referees are an important type of official who help ensure that a basketball game is played correctly and fairly.

They are the ones who officiate the game – the ones who call fouls and any violations of the rules during the game, plus they also award points and overall help control the game.

Because of this, there’s a lot of responsibility that comes with being a basketball referee – along with a lot of training! 

Basketball referees have to meet a lot of requirements and criteria before they can officially be hired as a legal basketball referee.

Not only are there physical and mental demands in order to stay active and concentrated during a game, you also need a certain uniform and undergo referee training so you can become familiar with all of the rules and regulations that comes with basketball

So, let’s go over some of the steps you can take to become a great basketball referee. 

Warm Up 

Basketball referees have to be just as active as the basketball players because they have to be running up and down the court, positioning themselves in the frey so they can get a good view of any potential fouls.

Because of this, you will want to warm up before the game starts otherwise you run the risk of injuring yourself. 

So, as the players are warming up, you should be too. It’s also important that you stretch after the game too. 

Overall, keep good care of your body by warming up and stretching before and after the game. This will help you stay fit and healthy, prevent injuries, and also ensure that you can keep up with the players to properly perform your officiating duties. 

Even if you are part of a refereeing team and you only have to cover a certain area of the court, it’s still important that you look after yourself, warm up and stretch before the game starts. 

Be Confident 

As the referee, you will be the main authority on the court and the one who can dictate the flow of the game. You are the one calling the fouls and violations, awarding points – so be confident in your actions. 

Players will complain and argue with your calls but stick with your gut and don’t let others influence your decisions.

The only ones you can discuss your calls with are any other officiates or referees working on the same game – not the players or managers or coaches. 

Also, it’s okay to admit it if you’ve made a bad call. We are all human and even NBA official referees will make mistakes from time to time but don’t let this doubt cloud your judgments.

You can confer with other referees but if you are on your own, make your calls how you  see fit and if you do make a mistake – don’t make any excuses.

It’s better to own up to it and take on board this learning experience so you can do better in your next game. 

How To Referee Basketball Guide To Being A Good Officiating Ref Every Game (1)

Know Your Stuff 

This is the most important part of being a good referee in basketball – knowing the rules! 

Referees are there to officiate games and that means you need to know the rules and regulations inside and out. If you don’t know the rules, then you can’t possibly be a good officiate!

You will miss important fouls and violations if you don’t know what counts as a foul and what is considered a legal move. 

You should also brush up on how rules differ from league to league. Basketball games played in high school are different from college basketball so make sure you know what rules apply to what type of basketball you are refereeing. 

This is a hugely important step to being a good basketball referee because the whole point of being a referee is to call out fouls, award points, and to keep the players under control.

Call out bad behavior, illegal moves and know what kind of punishments you can deal out for different types of fouls. 

Not only that, but you will also need to know all the hand signals and whistle blows that referees make to certain players and officials in the game to signal what call you are making. 

This may be a lot to learn but once you have it all down, you will be able to effectively and confidently referee any basketball game. 

Safety First 

A part of the duties of a referee is also to ensure that gameplay is safe and that all rules are being followed. 

If there’s a player who is putting everyone else’s health and safety at risk by playing roughly, then call them out on it before someone gets hurt! 

Stay Impartial 

Staying impartial is a key part to being a good basketball referee. 

Your job is to call out faults and flaws no matter who is committing them and you cannot favor one team over another. So, this means you will have to put your personal feelings to one side and be fair to all players on the court. 

Referees who cannot do this end up being crooked and poor referees so avoid making this mistake and stay impartial no matter which teams you are refereeing! 


So, that is our guide on how you can be a good referee in basketball! Check out the above advice and take it on board. Next time you are refereeing a basketball game, put the above advice into action and see just how you improve as a referee! 

Good luck! 

Steven Anderson