New soccer referees have the option to order a starter kit or get their uniforms and equipment separately. Here’s what you should do and where to find the individual items.
Referee Starter Kit Pros and Cons
The main advantage to getting a referee starter kit is hopefully price. You sometimes get a discount for buying everything together, but some places charge the same as buying the individual items separately.
The main disadvantage to getting a starter kit is you often have little to no choice of the specific items. For example, the flags in many kits are usually the lowest quality offered, and you’ll end up replacing them quickly.
The best thing to do is to read the guides on this site covering each equipment item, see what each kit offers, and then price out buying as a kit versus separately.
Note: Check return policies, including shipping costs. If it’s your first time buying referee uniforms, there’s a good chance you’ll need to send something back.
Can existing referees use the starter kit?
Current referees can absolutely buy starter kits or other referee uniform packages. For example, a referee who wants to add a color or get a long sleeve shirt might also need new socks and shorts at the same time.
Note: If your referee organization sponsors starter kits to help new referees, they may not let you buy at the same price.
What should be in a referee kit?
Each manufacturer has slightly different kits, and some have multiple options with just the basics or additional options. Here’s what you’ll need as a referee.
Soccer Referee Jersey
Ask the refs in your areas what color referee shirts they use. You’ll usually need to have two or three colors to start with.
Which colors are popular depends on where you are and what colors are popular with teams. Referees in hot places also frequently avoid the black referee jersey.
If you don’t get a velcro patch in your starter kit, don’t buy one from the referee store unless it’s only a dollar or two. You can get regular velcro and cut it to size plus have enough for several years or several referees worth of patches.
Shorts and Socks
Shorts and socks are pretty simple since you get black shorts and referee socks with two stripes in the middle. Here, you’re just looking for fit, quality, and price.
Note: Referee shorts have pockets and a specific cut. Player shorts are generally not acceptable.
Referee Wallet and Cards
Some referees do prefer to use write-on cards instead of a wallet and notebook.
For some reason, the whistles in the starter kits are almost always bad. You usually get the cheapest plastic whistle that just isn’t anywhere near loud enough.
Buy your whistle separately, and you’ll probably need to try a few before you find one you like.
Like whistles, most starter kits give you the cheapest possible flags to keep the overall kit cost down. They’ll be usable, but you’ll want to switch to a more comfortable and professional-looking set of soccer referee flags after a season or two.
You don’t need a bag with a soccer referee logo, but you should make sure you have a bag without a club logo. It’s not a good look to go ref games and have gear from one of the teams that’s playing.
The bags in the kits are fine if you need one. Any backpack or player’s bag without a team logo will do.
Most starter kits don’t have watches, but you will need two. Check out Best Soccer Referee Watches for some ideas.