Game officials spend a lot of time on their feet. Even if you’re not actively running around a field or court, you’re still standing up and putting stress on your feet. Aching feet can be hard to deal with for anyone, but this kind of pain can be especially hard on referees. When you’re not comfortable, you can’t focus your attention on the game at hand, you have limited mobility, and you get tired faster.

The solution is to avoid painful or ill-fitting shoes and invest in a proper fit—after all, your shoes are a part of your equipment just like a jersey or a whistle would be. While most feet can fit into your average officiating shoe, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the shoe is going to be comfortable for you. There are different foot types, and one shoe can’t possibly fit them all and still be comfortable. Keep your games comfortable and free of distractions by knowing your feet and your footwear. Here are a few of the more common foot problems that referees could have and some recommendations for what to wear to keep the spring in your step.

Flat Feet

While having little to no arch isn’t necessarily a problem in itself, you could develop tendinitis and tire out faster. With no arches to absorb the pressure placed on them, your lower leg muscles are putting in a lot of extra work. If you have flat feet, you need a supportive shoe or insert—and maybe even a customized prescription orthotic. Avoid soft-soled shoes, which allow your feet to flatten out more, or poorly fitting arch supports that can create more problems. Also, avoid arch “cookies” that try to build up the arch of your foot: you’ll just end up hurting yourself.

High Arches

Pressure is also a problem for people with high arches, but this time it’s because the feet don’t flex as well. Referees with high arches can develop callouses and are more prone to stress fractures, toe deformities, and pain and fatigue. High arch problems can be helped with soft insoles and by placing additional soft insoles inside of the shoe.

Consider adjusting how you lace up your shoes as well. High arches, high or bony insteps, and bony tops of the feet can all benefit from shoes that are laced from the bottom, directly through the second and third eyelets, and laced normally but loosely over the arch. For toe pressure relief, run one end of the lace from the bottom eyelet to the top eyelet of the opposite side and lace the other one up in a zig-zag pattern. This helps lift the shoe off of your toes.

Heel Problems

You can’t forget about your heels when considering how shoes fit. No matter how good or carefully your refereeing shoes are picked out, if they won’t stay on your foot, they won’t help you perform optimally. For shoes that are sliding up and down or off of your heel, try a heel-lock lacing pattern for a more snug fit. Lace up your shoe as normal in the zig-zag pattern, but create vertical loops at the top two eyelets. Tie the laces through these loops and cinch the upper part of the laces extra tight around your ankle.

Game Officiating on the Go with ArbiterMobile

You’re on your feet a lot, and while providing resources for supporting and training referees, so are we. The great ArbiterSports technology that’s supported game officials for so long is available in your pocket with ArbiterMobile. Access everything about our product suite from your mobile device so that you can stay on your toes and impress your assigners. For more information on ArbiterMobile or any of our other products, contact or call 800.576.2799.