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Players playing Kabaddi

Kabaddi is an Indian sport, played with two teams of 12 players, with 7 players taking to the court at any one time.

Kabaddi is the ultimate game of cat and mouse, as the defenders have to be far enough away so that they can’t be touched … but also close enough to tackle the raider. So, should he decide to make a run for it ?

Kabaddi Court Dimensions

Kabaddi Court Dimensions

The game is played on a rectangular court. It is generally a maximum of 13m x 10m.This midline divides the court into two and it also includes the baulk lines, the end lines, the bonus lines and the lobby area.


The object of the game is for your team to score more overall points than the opposing team. To score, a team must send a player (known as a raider) into the opposing half of the court whilst chanting the word ‘Kabaddi’ repeatedly.

A raider must only use one breath, and chant the word ‘Kabaddi’ repeatedly to show the referee that he is exhaling and not holding his breath.

Goals of a Raider

The First Goal of the raider is to reach over the baulk line. Failure to do this results in the raider being out, and cannot participate in the next part of the game.

The Second Goal of the raider is to touch as many players as he can and make it back to the midline before he is caught and tackled by the defenders. He can do this in several ways: with a hand touch, a toe touch, a kick, or by trying to escape a tackle and reaching for the midline. He gets one point for every opposing defender that he touches so long as he makes it back to the midline, all whilst repeatedly chanting the word ‘kabaddi’. And any touched defenders are out and cannot participate in the next round of play.

Kabaddi Gameplay

Kabaddi Gameplay

The defenders, (sometimes known as Anti’s), will try and stop the raider returning to the mid line, especially if one of them has been touched. They can use several tactics such as the ankle hold, back hold, front tackle or forcing them off the court entirely.

If the defenders manage to stop the raider returning to his own half of the court, the raider is out and the defending team gets one point. Once a raid has finished, the opposing team must send out a raider of their own within 5 seconds, or the team will lose a point.

Children playing the sport

When a player is out, he must wait in the sitting block and is temporarily unable to participate in the game. Once a raider has been tackled or a point has been scored, they are allowed to revive one of their own players out of the sitting block to re-join the team. This means that every time you score, you can revive one or more players back onto the field of play.

Duration of the Game

The game is played in two 20 minute halves, for a combined playing time of 40 minutes. Highest score at the end of time, wins.

Playing Kabaddi

Rules of Kabaddi

This is a highly strategic sport, and there are some rules that you’ll need to understand before playing or watching a game, for example:

The Lobby – The lobby is an extended area of play, which is denoted by the yellow areas here. These are only active when a defender has been touched, and gives both raider and defender more room to try and score or get the raider out.

• The Bonus Line – If a raider puts one foot in the bonus line with one foot in the air, he will score one point so as he makes it back to the midline. However, the bonus line is quite far from the midline, and reaching for this line makes it easier for a defender to tackle you. The bonus line is only active when where are 6 or 7 defenders on the court.

Super Tackle – If there are three or less defenders on the defending team and they manage to tackle a raider, this is known as a super tackle, and scores two points. One for eliminating the raider and a bonus point for doing so with 3 or less defenders.


Some more rules…

Do or Die Raid – If a team has two unsuccessful raids (i.e. They scored zero both times), the third raid is the ‘do or die raid’. Failure to score on the third raid results in the raider being out.

Pursuit – A pursuit is where a defender charges at a retreating raider with the aim of scoring a quick point off him. This is usually done if the other team is slow to retreat from a raid and a defender is close enough to score a point and make it back to the mid line quickly before the other players realise.

All Out – If in the rare instance a raider gets all the defenders out in one raid, this is known as an ‘all out’. The raiding team gets one point per player and an additional two points. All players are revived after an all out.

To the uninitiated, Kabaddi seems strange, confusing and even ridiculous. But once you understand the rules, it becomes an interesting sport to watch.

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