Requirements to become an NBA basketball referee

Updated February 22, 2017

Just like professionals in any other field, becoming a referee in the National Basketball Association (NBA) requires hard work and a high level of performance. Like the athletes they officiate, NBA referees are the best in the world at what they do, and the expectations of them are high. While it is not easy to do, reaching the top of the refereeing totem pole can be rewarding both personally and financially.

Gaining Experience

The key to being promoted in any job is to gain experience. Many professional referees begin their careers in youth leagues or refereeing junior high and high school basketball games before moving on to bigger and better things. Once you've successfully refereed at every level including the college game, begin preparation for becoming an NBA referee.

Joining a Refereeing Association

Many states offer officiating associations and groups for support and resources. These associations provide news and information to members about classes and clinics to attend as well as opportunities for advancement. They also provide an outlet for you to make connections that can help you as you work your way up the ladder.

Physical Conditioning

As an NBA referee, you will be presiding over some of the best athletes in the world. Professional sports are fast-paced and require all participants to be in peak physical condition. Develop a workout regimen to stay in shape so you can focus on the game and make calls rather than focus on being out of shape, which will cause you to miss calls.

Semi-Professional and Development Leagues

Many states have basketball leagues that are equivalent to the Minor League in baseball. Contact a league in your state and express an interest in refereeing. If you have attended clinics and classes and have a sufficient list of references, you can begin refereeing in these leagues in preparation for the next level.

National Basketball Association

The National Basketball Association has a Referee Operations Department, which is responsible for the recruiting, training and development of referees. Provide this department with your resume and a list of suitable references. If the league is interested, you will be invited to an NBA summer camp and given the opportunity to officiate a game. If selected, you will be placed in a development program consisting of several camps. Up-and-coming NBA officials are required to begin officiating in the National Basketball Development League. If you are successful at this level, you will become a member of the NBA officiating staff.

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