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Referee Uniforms

Referee uniforms are available in different styles depending on the sport in question.

Referee basketball uniforms are instantly recognizable. [©Jupiter Images, 2010]
©Jupiter Images, 2010
Referee basketball uniforms are instantly recognizable.

Referee Uniforms

Referee uniforms distinguish referees from players, coaches and other officials with attire that sets them apart from everyone else. Since a referee has the authority to make calls about the plays in many sports, referee uniforms also help them to be easily recognized. Referee uniforms also set a professional tone for the referee and the uniform helps them to communicate an authoritative message to teams, coaches, fans and other referees.

Types of Referee Uniforms

There are referee uniforms for a number of different sports including baseball and softball, basketball, soccer, football, lacrosse, wrestling and volleyball at junior high, high school, college and professional levels. High school sports with referees include gymnastics, swimming/diving, track and field, water polo and wrestling. Components of the referee uniforms include a shirt or jersey, black shorts, referee socks and black shoes. Black full-length pants can also be worn in colder weather. Individuals should check with their league or sports organization about the specific requirements regarding referee uniforms.

United States Soccer Federation National Referee Program states that their referee uniforms typically comprise a gold jersey with black pin stripes, black collar and black cuffs (for long sleeve jerseys), black shorts, black shoes and approved uniform socks.

Alternate jerseys are available in red with black pin stripes, black with white pin stripes, blue with black pin stripes and green with black pin stripes.

Referee uniforms may also consist of a hat, cap or alternate head covering, if required for medical or religious reasons. A badge should also be worn to identify the referee. Assistant referee uniforms should also match each other.

Referee uniforms for soccer and many other sports rarely have white shoes they are almost always black either flats or cleats. In soccer, a beginning referee starts out wearing a gold jersey, and with more experience, they can wear another color green, red black or blue. Referee socks and shorts are also required.

Other accessories include:

  • Digital watch
  • Pen and paper
  • Referee reports
  • Rain gear
  • Referee bags
  • Whistles and lanyards


Referee uniforms for other sports may have different guidelines. Referee uniforms for the United States Volleyball-certified referee consists of a white shirt with an official embroidered emblem on the left sleeve with an optional pocket on the left and a Velcro patch on the right chest. Fabrics and emblems need to be approved.

Other components of the uniform consist of navy blue pants or shorts. Referees of this sport wear white shoes and white socks. Belts should be navy blue or black. A sweater or jacket may also be worn.

In basketball and wrestling, many referee uniforms include a V-neck gray shirt with black pin stripes. They are made from lightweight, durable material that helps to keep the referee cool during a grueling game.

Referee uniforms are periodically updated, and the requirements may change from time to time. According to Associated Press, the National Football League (NFL) replaced the traditional black and white stripes in 2006 with a style that has wider white stripes and thin black stripes that flair out at the shoulder and upper arm. They are also made of a lighter-weight material. Although some consider the new style to be more of a fashion statement, an NFL spokesman said that the move was not primarily to keep up with the latest styles, but to upgrade the performance quality and to allow for additional layers in colder weather.

Referees at outdoor events have to be prepared to work in extreme weather. In the cold, they may be able to wear a long-sleeve shirt or a jacket. Referees at indoor competitions work in climate-controlled environments including arenas and gyms. Indoor referees can comfortably wear a short-sleeve shirt year-round. Depending on the sport, there may be different guidelines for various referee uniforms.

Where to Find Referee Uniforms

Uniforms can be purchased at local sports uniform shops, through the mail and at various Web sites that specialize in referee uniforms.

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