Kabaddi Rules | How to Play Kabaddi? [Guide for Beginners]

Learn all about the contact sport Kabaddi, how to play by the Kabaddi rules, what each Kabaddi position involves, how to raid and defend successfully, how to score, and everything in between.

Kabaddi World Cup Match Between Thailand vs Japan

Did you know that there’s a team contact sport where every opponent you touch or tackle is out and your team wins points for it? In a way, it’s like dodgeball except there’s no ball to throw and dodge. You just use your bare hands. And you want to know what the best part is?

When you engage in a raid (meaning that your Kabaddi position is the raider), you must hold your breath once you’ve crossed over the line to the other team’s half of the field. But wait, there’s more – What makes this sport truly unique and exciting is that it involves chanting repeatedly while raiding – Isn’t this something else?

So you, the raider, have to hold your breath and chant continuously for 30 seconds maximum while trying to tag the opponents but without getting tackled by the other team. Because if they tackle you and you can’t cross back over to your team’s half of the field, then you’re out. But get this – any other player in your team can revive you (bring you back in the game) if they get one player of the opposing team out.

Chanting Kabaddi during Raids

Chanting has become optional in many non-professional and professional games. But many players still like to chant as it is seen more as a tradition.

Also it can be fun to balance chanting and attacking!

So the opponent is out and you’re back in. The team that scores the most points wins the game – This is Kabaddi, in a nutshell, a relatively simple but dynamic and fascinating game that can be played by everyone – kids, women, and men, and everywhere, because it requires no equipment.

If you’re a sports enthusiast keen on learning about lesser-known sports in the Western world, such as the increasingly popular Kabaddi, then be sure to read on. In this Kabaddi guide for beginners, we cover the basics of Kabaddi, how to play, each Kabaddi position, raiding and tackling techniques, and, of course, the Kabaddi rules that you must follow, because this is a game and you have to play by its rules. So let’s get started, shall we?

First things first,

What is Kabaddi?

Originating in India and still very popular, Kabaddi is an ancient contact team sport, harking back to the Vedic era. Over the last decade, Kabaddi has gone pro, with competitions organized at the state and international levels, and it has enjoyed unprecedented popularity, with nearly half a billion people watching the seasons of the Pro Kabaddi League, established in 2014.

Players Playing Kabaddi

Kabaddi’s popularity among amateur players is also on the rise in the Indian subcontinent. Across the Americas, Europe, Africa, and Australia, more and more people are discovering Kabaddi, how to play it, and how to develop their offense (raiding) and defense abilities.

In terms of how is Kabaddi played, the sport shares some similarities with wrestling ( especially when it comes to the defense i.e. the way the defending players tackle the raider) and dodgeball ( when it comes to the offense, but in Kabaddi, the players of one team get up close and personal with the players of the other team because there’s no ball).

Kabaddi is deeply rooted in India’s culture, and legend has it that even the Enlightened One, Buddha, and the god of love and compassion, Krishna, have played Kabaddi as a recreational activity. Interestingly, in the 1.8-million-word Sanskrit epic “Mahabharata”, the longest poem ever written, the warrior Abhimanyu ( the son of the protagonist Arjuna), was depicted as managing to penetrate the whole maze-like 7-layer formation of soldiers (called Chakra-vyuha), but unfortunately, he couldn’t find his way out. Experts believe that the epic poem might have inspired the game of Kabaddi.

What is the Objective of the Kabaddi?

The objective of the game is to get the entire opposing team out, or as many opponents as possible in order to score as many points for your team as possible. That’s because, like in other games, the team with the most points wins, according to Kabaddi rules. Both teams ( the raiding team and the defending team) can score points but obviously in different ways, as per Kabaddi rules.

The raiding team scores points every time when a raider manages to tag one or more opponents as they chant “Kabaddi! Kabaddi!” repeatedly for 30 seconds. but without getting captured by the other team. If a raider escapes and successfully gets back to their team’s half of the field in one breath, his team scores points ( 1 point for each opponent tagged). The defending team scores points when the defenders tackle and stop the raider from getting back to his side within 30 seconds.

How Many Players Are There in Kabaddi?

According to Kabaddi rules, each team consists of 12 players. However, no more than 7 players are allowed to be on the playing field and play at any given time. Each of the 7 players is assigned to a Kabaddi position. The other 5 players of a team are reserves, Note that reserves do not substitute players declared out.

A Kabaddi match consists of two rounds. The duration of each round is 20 minutes and there’s a 5-minute break between rounds. So the standard duration of a Kabaddi match is 40 minutes.

Note that both teams take turns to raid and defend in any Kabaddi match. This means that if a team is the raiding team in the first round, then that team will be the defending team in the second round of the same match, and vice-versa. Make sure to keep in mind that Kabaddi players alternate between offense and defense, i.e. raiders and defenders ( also called anti-raiders or antis) within the same match. So it’s more than obvious that Kabaddi players need both raiding and defending skills, because they play as raiders for 20 minutes and as defenders/antis for the other 20 minutes.

What Do I Need to Play Kabaddi?

One of the perks of playing Kabaddi is that players don’t need any kind of equipment and this has partly contributed to its public appeal. Several other sports, such as ice hockey and cricket require a lot of equipment, and this can be quite costly. Compared to cricket, for instance, Kabaddi is budget-friendly and accessible to everyone. In terms of Kabaddi clothing, no special uniform is required, but it’s a good idea to wear a T-shirt or jersey and shorts that allow for freedom of movement.

To start playing the game, you need to know a bit about Kabaddi, how to play, the Kabaddi rules, and what each Kabaddi position involves, and of course, you need the pitch/court/mat. To become a great Kabaddi player, and even go pro, you’d need:

  • A competitive spirit, but be sure to play fair
  • Physical fitness and stamina, strength and agility
  • Focus and vigilance (valid for the offense and defense alike)
  • To be able to anticipate the opponents’ moves & be quick to react
  • Teamwork skills, as Kabaddi is a team sport after all

Once you’ve played Kabaddi for some time, you’ll be able to develop and hone your defending and raiding skills, master the Kabaddi techniques, and improve your tactical agility. Note that during the match, only the leader of a team can give instructions to the other members of his/her team.

How Do I Play Kabaddi?

Kabaddi is played on a designated Kabaddi court/field/pitch between two teams of 7 players each and the players take turns to raid one another.

The field is divided into two halves, one for each team. The Midline is the most important line in Kabaddi because it’s what separates the teams’ turfs

To delineate the entire play area, you can use chalk or cones.

  • In professional men’s Kabaddi, the rectangular playing field is 43 feet (13 meters) wide and 33 feet (10 meters ) long
  • In professional women’s Kabaddi, the rectangular field is 39 feet ( 12 meters) wide and 26 feet (8 meters) long

Note:

If you’re playing Kabaddi recreationally, for fun with your friends, then you don’t necessarily have to set up a pitch with these exact measurements.

In addition to the midline, the other lines in Kabaddi are:

  • The Baulk lines – a baulk line, parallel to the Midline is placed on each half of the field. The distance between the midline and each baulk line is 13 feet.
  • Bonus Lines – a bonus line, parallel to the Midline and baulk line, is placed on each side, 3 feet (1 meter) from the baulk line. According to Kabaddi rules, the bonus line is in play only when the defending team has 6 or 7 defenders on the field.

The decision regarding which team goes first involves tossing a coin, rolling a dice, or any other random way. The team that goes first gets to choose if they want to play as the raiders or the defenders in the first round.

Read more details about Kabaddi Court measurement!

What is Raid in Kabaddi?

A raid in Kabaddi is essentially the attack that the offense engages in. Note that in a Kabaddi raid, only a single player from a team crosses over the line, and tries to touch one or more opponents. This player is known as the raider. The raiding team cannot send multiple raiders at once. That’s because only one raid at a time is allowed.

Each opponent tagged by the raider is automatically out. If the raid is successful and the raider makes it back over the line without getting tackled by the defending team, then his/her team wins 1 point for each opponent tagged out. This is extremely important — the raider must start chanting out loud “Kabaddi! Kabaddi! Kabaddi!…” incessantly as soon as he enters the opposing team’s half of the field, according to Kabaddi rules.

So while chanting continuously, and therefore in one breath, the raider tries to touch the opponents with his hand or foot in order to score points for the raiding team ( 1 point for each opponent touched). And guess what – at the same time, the raider must be extra vigilant to not get tackled by the opponents, and all of these within 30 seconds maximum, as Kabaddi rules also say that a raid must be complete within 30 seconds.

Because if the defenders/antis do grab the raider by the limbs or torso and manage to stop him/her from crossing back over the midline then the raider is out. Not only that, but the defenders win 1 point and can revive one of their team members previously put out.

Kabaddi Position Explained

The raiding team

When a team is doing the raiding, there’s only one Kabaddi position, and that’s of course, the raider. However, each member of the raiding team is assigned to this Kabaddi position during the 20-minute round. Now, according to Kabaddi rules, each player must play as the raider in sequence; otherwise, the opponents win 1 point.

  • The Raiders – These players start chanting out loud “Kabaddi! Kabaddi!” as they enter the opponent’s turf and focus on tagging as many opponents (imagine 1 raider against 7 defenders or less, if one or more is already out). At once, they try to figure out a way to escape, all within 30 seconds and in one breath. The goal? Fetching points for their team, including touchpoints and bonus points.

If the raider stops chanting even for a second, he/she is automatically out. Kabaddi rules also say that if the raider fails to cross his foot over the baulk line, he/she is also declared out by the referee. But if the raider gets past the baulk line and reaches the bonus line, the raiding team gets 1 Bonus point, on top of touchpoints, as long as the raider gets back in one breath. Note that if the raider has one foot on the bonus line but the other foot on the ground, the bonus point is not awarded ( the other foot must not touch the ground to get 1 bonus point).

The defending team

  • The Covers – The role of these players is primarily to save their team’s star raiders from getting tagged out. Their key moves are the waist hold and the double knee hold.
  • The Ins – The role of the players assigned to this Kabaddi position is to form a defensive chain by holding hands with the Corners to help them better maintain their balance
  • The Corners – This Kabaddi position is the most important for the defending team, because the raiders typically try to tag these players first. A Corner’s role is to initiate the tackles and their key moves include the thigh hold, dash, and ankle hold.

Kabaddi, How To Play: Other Kabaddi Rules You Need to Know

  • The raiders can only be grabbed by their limbs or torso, not by their clothes, hair, etc.
  • Any team that gets the entire opposing team out scores a “Lona” ( 2 extra points)
  • If there are 3 or fewer defenders who successfully tackle a raider, the defending team scores a “super tackle: point”
  • There are 6 officials that oversee each Kabaddi match: 2 umpires, 2 assistant scorers, 1 scorer, and 1 referee.

Find Out More About Kabaddi: How To Play Like A Pro

Professional Kabaddi players have mastered both standard ( hand touch, foot touch) and more advanced raiding skills and techniques to score more raid points, escape easier to safety, gain a competitive edge, and blow the viewers’ minds. Some of the most fascinating to watch at the pro level include:

  • The Scorpio Kick – The raiders go directly for the Covers ( the opponents assigned to this Kabaddi position). executing a back/front kick to score points
  • The Frog Jump – The raiders execute a jaw-dropping jump over a defender or a chain of defenders to both escape and score points for their team
  • The famous Dubki – Another difficult but sensational move that requires strength, speed, and agility, Dubki sees the raiders duck low to the ground to escape a chain of defenders and score points.

The Bottom Line

So there you have it, folks – all you need to know about Kabaddi, how to play it, and the basic rules of Kabaddi. We hope this Kabaddi 101 for beginners but eager to learn how to play Kabaddi the right way has been inspiring and helpful to you. Roses are red, violets are blue, Kabaddi may just be the sport for you, so let us know if this much is true. Please do – share your Kabaddi playing experiences, and tell us if you agree that Kabaddi rules!