How to Become an NBA Referee in 10 Steps?

Basketball is not just about playing in the teams, scoring points, defending, offending, or winning the tournaments! There is much more in basketball that you can pursue and enjoy the game even without playing in the games? Obviously, becoming a referee is one of those methods where you can be in the match without playing. But if you think it is an effortless job to become an NBA referee, then you might be wrong. First of all, you have to face many hurdles to become a referee, and after that, it can be actually and literally tough to make the right decisions every game to build your reputation.

SO, How to become an NBA referee?

To become an NBA referee, you will first have to grasp every single rule of the NBA, gather experience by refereeing in school and college games, become certified, give NCAA exams and then apply on NBA official site.

It indeed seems confusing to become a referee, but if you are an enthusiast to become one, it will be much easier to understand all the things. But first, let’s make things a little easier by expanding every step you will have to take to become an NBA referee. So let’s check out what those steps are!

Also Read: How Much is an NBA Championship Ring Worth?

How to Become NBA Referee in 10 Steps

Here is the complete guide with the proper explanation that can surely help you to understand what you will have to become a referee in NBA. So follow all the steps and work hard to achieve what you want!

How to Become an NBA Referee

1. Gather the courage

The first-ever thing that you will have to do to become an NBA referee is that you will have to gather the courage. Becoming a basketball player might be accessible than becoming a referee because one aspect requires skill, and the other requires determination and hard work. You will have to face failures, hurdles, heartbreaks, and whatnot during your journey of becoming a referee, but know that it will become easier later. You will have to be determined for what you are working so hard and never lost hope. Then there will be no one to stop you from becoming an NBA referee ever in your life. So only pick this profession if you have enough courage in you and you can face different circumstances and consequences during the journey. Otherwise, the future is not too kind.

2. Understand the rules

The foremost and crucial thing that comes into mind when someone talks about becoming a referee is that one will have to understand all the rules that are in basketball. The thing is, there are not only 5-6 rules in basketball that are implemented during the games, but there are many rules that you have to take care of. Not only that, but those rules should be implemented as quickly as possible because the time limit is meager in basketball. Unlike football or cricket, referees usually don’t get much time to decide what has gone wrong in the game and which one should be given the penalty.

That is why it is critical to learn all the rules and practice them in order to reach the level of perfection. If you don’t do that, you will probably lose confidence in what you have learned, and you can also make blunders in the games, which you will surely not want. Also, do not forget that it might take several months, or even a year, to understand all the basketball rules. So yes, you should also have patience if you are willing to enter this field.

3. Join a program

It does not usually matter how hard you try to learn the rules by yourself; there will always be an empty space available that can be filled by joining a program or training related to refereeing. The best thing about joining the program is that you will have a professional to consult. All of your questions and confusion will be answered thoroughly, and it will automatically become easier to understand different rules.

Not only that, but there will be different scenarios in the refereeing that can be hard to understand sometimes. So who will you consult in those situations? A professional will be the most excellent choice in that concern, and it is only possible if you could join a proper or trainee program.

The last benefit of joining a program is that you might get a certificate or degree to show that you have got training through several professionals. That is why you can be a great fit to become a referee in official games.

4. Increase your strength

Basketball players unquestionably have to train hard so that they can perform well on the court. The same scenario goes for the referees. The referee has to run here and there all the time to keep track of the game. But what if you get too tired by running or your stamina level goes drastically down during refereeing the game? It is not acceptable, and you can face the consequences due to that. That is why it is a better idea to train your body and make it strong enough to face the hurdles during the game. It will not only make you fit for the games, but your actual life will become hassle-free too because of the healthier body.

5. Improve Mental Strength

Refereeing is a job where you have to face two teams at once. Some players might not agree with your decisions and might say some offensive words to you. It is indeed not acceptable in the official games, but referees have to be calm enough to face the criticism. Not only during the games, but you might also be criticized after the game too which can change your whole life.

If you don’t actually want that to happen, you will have to make your mind more substantial than before. You will have to ignore all the criticism and allegations and keep moving forward without any hassle. In this pattern, you will be able to cope with the players and other people without even budging.

6. Get certified

Getting certified can be easy and challenging at the same time. If you have studied the rules well enough, you will certainly not face many consequences while offering the tests to the local officiating authority. After passing the tests and exams, you will be given a certificate which will show what you experienced you are and how well you performed during the exams. This little step can play a massive role in getting you a job at NBA officiating department. So never ignore this part!

7. Attend different basketball games

Most of the fans attend different basketball games to watch their favorite player or team play. But this time, the whole scenario is pretty different for you. You will have to attend the basketball games with the sole aim to watch the referee and how he reacts during the whole game. You will have to understand how the referee is moving, his attitude towards the players, what type of decisions are being taken during the game, and how the whole game is being managed with respect and equality.

You will unquestionably not understand it by watching a single game; you will have to attend many games to learn it efficiently. So yes, you will also have to invest your time by sitting comfortably and watching the referee’s acts during the game.

8. Start refereeing for schools and colleges

Now that you have understood how the game is played and how the referee manages the whole game, it is now time to referee the school and college basketball games. It will not be easy to even become a referee in the school or college games; you will have to apply through various sources or find the opportunity to show off your skills. You can also keep a very keen eye on your nearest school or college that has a basketball team. After that, you will have to interact with the school officials and get the details to referee a match. Then you will be actually offered a chance to referee a game based on your experience and skills. This will help you gain the actual confidence and skills needed to referee an official game. It will become easier for you to implement the things that you learned before practically.

9. Pass the NCAA Exams

After passing all the hurdles, the final thing that you will have to do to enter the NBA fields is that you will have to pass the test given by NCAA. As it is an official organization, the test given to you can be quite hard. So please do not take it very lightly and practice all the crucial things that you have learned throughout your journey. You will surely and formidably be able to succeed in the exam and even do better in it. After passing the exam, your chances of entering the NBA fields will drastically improve.

10. Its time!

The last and final step that you will have to do is to register yourself on the official NBA site. After registering for officiating the games, you might be required to prove your experience and such things. You will have to offer all the things, and you will be recurred for the training matches or summer camps to become a referee as a starter. Then who actually knows, you might be able to referee the final game of the NBA championship after going through all these things.


It is undoubtedly a challenging journey, and you might also lose all the interest while going through the whole process. But that is actually what that you will have to avoid. You will have to keep going until you get success for what you struggled for.

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