Kabbadi 101: How to Play Kabaddi, Rules of Kabbadi, and more

Written by: Kaushik Jethva

Last Updated: November 22, 2023

illustration of kabaddi game
Illustration of Kabaddi Game

Kabaddi, often referred to as the “national game” or “national sport” of India, is a highly competitive and physically demanding sport that originated in South Asia. This traditional Indian game has evolved over time to become a modern sport that is now played not only in India but also in many surrounding Asian countries.

Today, kabaddi is recognized by national sports, as a popular and competitive sport that requires a combination of strength, agility, and strategy. With its roots in eastern India, kabaddi has now become an internationally recognized sport that is played by both men and women at all levels of competition. In this blog, we will explore the rules and techniques of playing a kabaddi match, and provide tips and strategies for those who want to learn and excel at this exciting game.

1 History of Kabaddi

Kabaddi is a contact sport that originated in ancient India, and it has been played in various forms for centuries. The exact origin of Kabaddi is unclear, as there are different theories about national game and its evolution.

One theory suggests that Kabaddi was first played in the state of Tamil Nadu, India, around 4,000 years ago. It was known as “Kai Pidi,” which translates to “holding hands.” The game was played by two teams of seven players, and the objective was to cross the opponent’s half of the court while chanting “Kabaddi, Kabaddi.” The player who was able to cross the line without getting caught by one breath the defenders scored a point.

Another theory suggests that Kabaddi was first played in the state of Maharashtra, India, during the 17th century. It was known as “Hu-Tu-Tu,” and the game was played by two teams of twelve players each. The objective of play was to tag the opponent players while chanting “Hu-Tu-Tu,” and the team that tagged all the opponents first won the game.

In the early 20th century, Kabaddi was popularized as a competitive sport in India by Indian freedom fighter and sports enthusiast, Subedar Major Deba Prasad Mukherjee. He modified the basic rules’ of the game, including reducing the number of players from 12 to 7 and introducing a new rule where a player had to take a breath and tag an opponent in one go.

Kabaddi gained international recognition when it was included in the Asian Games in 1990. Since then, Kabaddi has been played in various countries, including Bangladesh, Pakistan, Iran, Nepal, and Sri Lanka. It has also become a popular sport in the Pro Kabaddi League in India, attracting a large number of spectators and viewers worldwide.

Today, Kabaddi is played in various forms, including Circle style, Standard style, and Beach Kabaddi, and it continues to evolve as a popular sport in many parts of the world.

2 Rules of Kabaddi

Kabaddi is a popular contact sport played between two teams of seven players each, in which the players take turns to raid the court of the opposite team and try to touch as many players as possible without being caught, while the side of the court of the opposing team tries to stop the raider and eliminate them from state game by holding them back.

The kabaddi players’ aim of the kabaddi game is to score points by tagging as many opposing team players as possible and returning back to the home team to get a side of the court. The team that scores more points at the end of the game wins.

The kabaddi match is played in a rectangular playfield, which is divided into two halves by a centre line. Each team defends one half of the court, and the goal is to cross the centre line and touch as many opposing kabaddi team players as possible before returning to the own half of the court.

The defending team tries to stop the raider by tackling or holding them back, and if successful, the defending team scores one point. However, if the raider is able to touch one or more opposing team players and return to their own half without getting caught, the opposing team earns two extra points each for their team.

Each team gets extra points and a chance to raid and defend alternatively, and the game is played in two halves of 20 minutes each, with a five-minute break in between. The teams switch sides at halftime, and the side that defended first in the first half gets to raid first in the second half.

The raider can earn bonus points for their team by touching specific parts of the opposing team players’ body, such as the head or torso, or in other games, bonus points by crossing the back line of the opposing team’s court. If the raider earns a bonus point, their team also earns an additional point.

The defending players can earn a sitting block by holding the raider back while the sitting block is on its own side of the ground, which also earns a point for their team.

The governing body of the kabaddi game is the International Kabaddi Federation (IKF), which sets the basic rules and regulations for the game, including the minimum age for players, the size of the court, and the scoring system.

In modern kabaddi, teamwork and strategic planning are crucial, and the team that scores the most points by the end of the game is declared the kabaddi court winner. The game continues until the end of the second half, and if the scores are tied, the game goes into extra time, where the team that scores the next point wins.

3 Kabaddi Ground Measurement for Men and Junior Boys

The standard size of a Kabaddi ground for men and junior boys is 13m x 10m. The playing area is rectangular in shape and is surrounded by a boundary line of 2m in width. The court is divided into two equal halves by a mid-line, and each half of spare ground is further divided into two equal bays by a bonus line, which is located 7m from the mid-line. The line dividing each bay is called the baulk line, and it is positioned at a distance of 5m from the mid-line. The area between the baulk and bonus line and the mid-line is called the lobby. The centre of the mid-line is marked by a circle with a diameter of 1m, and this is known as the centre circle.

4 Kabaddi Ground Measurement for Women and Junior Girls

According to the regulations set by the International Kabaddi Federation, the standard size of a kabaddi court for women and junior boys and girls is 10 meters wide and 13 meters long. The court is divided into opposite halves or two equal halves, with a midline marking dividing the court into two parts.

Each half of the court has a bonus line, which is 3.75 meters away from the midline. These bonus lines are parallel to the midline and run across the length of one meter of the court.

There is also a baulk line, which is 1 meter away from the centre line of the bonus line and runs parallel to the midline. This baulk line marks the starting point for the raider, who must enter the opponent’s half from behind this line.

  • The playing area is further divided into one point the following zones:
  • Raider’s zone: The area between the baulk line and the opponent’s end line.
  • Defenders’ zone: The area between the bonus line and the baulk line.
  • Lobby: The area outside the bonus line and between the two end lines.

5 Kabaddi Court Measurement for Sub Junior Boys and Sub Junior Girls

  • The court should be a square with a length of 11 meters on each side.
  • The playing area should be marked with white lines, 5cm in width.
  • The court should have a midline, which divides the court into two equal halves.
  • The end lines of the court should be marked by lines that are perpendicular to the side lines and 15cm in length.
  • The bonus line should be marked at a distance of 3.75 meters from the midline. The bonus line should be parallel to the midline and 5cm in length.
  • The player’s lobby, where players wait before entering the court, should be marked by a line that is 3 meters away from the midline on either side.

6 Variations of Kabaddi

There are several variations of Kabaddi that are played in different parts of India and the surrounding Asian countries. Some of the popular variations of Kabaddi are:

Sanjeevani Kabaddi: In this variation, if a player is out, he can come back to the game if one of his teammates tags him.

Gaminee Kabaddi: In this variation, there are no teams, and each player plays for themselves.

Circle Kabaddi: In this variation, the court is circular in shape, and there is no mid-line.

Beach Kabaddi: In this variation, the game is played on a beach or a sand court.

7 Wrapping Up

Kabaddi is a thrilling sport that combines elements of strategy, agility, and teamwork. It is also a game that asks for great stamina. That is why we recommend eating low-calorie healthy breakfast everyday.

Whether you’re a seasoned athlete or a beginner looking to try something new, Kabaddi offers a unique and exciting opportunity to compete and connect with others. By following the tips outlined in this guide, you’ll be well on your way to mastering the art of Kabaddi and experiencing all the exhilaration and satisfaction that comes with it. So gather your team, take a deep breath, and get ready to dive into the world of Kabaddi. You never know, it might just become your new favourite sport!


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Kaushik Jethva
Written by: Kaushik Jethva author

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Updated: November 22, 2023
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