Kabaddi - Quick Guide


Kabaddi - Overview

Kabaddi is a popular team sport, which needs skill and power, and conflates the characteristics of wrestling and rugby. It is originated in India 4000 years ago. It is widely played across the Indian subcontinent. Originally it was intended to develop self-defense. It is a simple and inexpensive game and does need a massive playground nor expensive equipment.

Kabaddi Sport

It is also known as the Game of the Masses because of its simplicity and public appeal. As it requires less expensive equipment, it is very popular in the developing nations. It is an outdoor sport, which is played on clay court, but synthetic surface indoors are being used now-a-days.

Kabaddi is known by various names, i.e., Chedugudu or Hu-Tu-Tu in southern India, Hadudu (for Men) and Chu - Kit-Kit (for women) in eastern India, and Kabaddi in northern India. It is far more popular in the villages of Punjab, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, and Gujarat.


The main objective of this game is to grab points by raiding into the opponent's court and touching as many opponent players as possible without getting caught on a single breath. Each player, chanting “Kabaddi! Kabaddi! Kabaddi” enters into the opponent court and try to touch the defense players nearest to him, while the opponents make tactical coordinated efforts to catch that player.

Opponent Players

Team Size

Every team consists of 12 players, of which seven are on court, and five in reserve. The two teams fight for higher scores, alternating defense and offense. Participants from various countries form teams for major tournaments or championships conducted across the globe. Two teams compete with each other for higher scores, by touching or capturing the players of the opponent team.

A Little History of Kabaddi

Tracing shows its existence since pre historic time. Earlier times it was used not only as an entertaining game but also was used to build physical strength and stamina needed to deal with the day to day work. They used it as a self-defensive tool. A hint about the existence of the game far behind from the pre historic time can be seen nowhere else but in great Hindu mythology Mahabharata, where Abhimanyu’s Chkrabyuha Trap and his defense against that was itself self-explanatory.

Even it is said that Arjuna was very good at this art. He used to go into the enemy’s wall to destroy them and used to come back unhurt. Gautama Buddha was also using this game as a means to know his inner strength and stamina and manuscripts say that through this game only he got his bride.

Kabaddi History

In the year 1918, kabaddi was given national game status. All rules and regulations were also formulated in the same year but officially implemented after 1923 but it took quite a long time (1938) to be introduced into Indian Olympics.

Participating Countries

Since Kabaddi originated in India, the neighboring countries could easily access it and learn the game. Over the years, Asian countries have dominated this game and they are considered to produce world’s best players in Kabaddi.

Apart from India, millions of people from countries like Sri Lanka, Japan Bangladesh, Chinese Taipei, Nepal, Malaysia, Afghanistan, Kambodia, Indonesia, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Oman, South Korea, Thailand, Iran and Pakistan participate in Kabaddi. Most of these Asian countries also have their own Kabaddi Confederation bodies.

Kabaddi is gaining popularity in countries like Argentina, Sierra Leone, Denmark, New Zealand, Canada, USA, Australia, England, Italy, Kenya, Norway, Scotland etc. and have also formed their Kabaddi federations. Countries like Australia, New Zealand, Canada and United States have also picked up the game and it is rapidly gaining popularity amongst the citizens.

Kabaddi - Playing Environment

Kabaddi is a game of excess physical work. Apart from excessive physical work, it requires excess stamina and good tactics. You should know the way to get into other team’s area and come back successfully without getting obstructed by your opponents. But before heading towards the game let’s know the basic necessities that you will require to play this game.

Necessary Requirements

The Court

The court measures 12.5 meter length and 10 meter wide. A mid line is drawn in the court, splitting into two halves. The depth of the court is 1 foot in which sand is filled by removing mud.

Kabaddi Court

Dress Code

Dress Code

The game demands excessive physical work where one has to pull or push another. Therefore, excessive loose-fitting dresses are not allowed. Only a short and a vest is considered to be ideal. In some tournaments like the “Pro Kabbadi League”, players are allowed to wear colored T-shirts to represent their team.


Total numbers of player in each team is 12. Only 7 players are allowed in to the playing court. Rest 5 will be kept as reserved. During the game only the leader is allowed to give instructions to the other players in his team.


Play Duration

The playing duration is different for different genre. For men’s there will be two sections of play, each bearing a time line of 20 minutes. In women’s and children’s category of match the two sections and each half is of 15 minutes each. After the end of one session, the team is allowed to take a 5 minutes break.


There are different types of officials present in the game. Let’s know about them in detail. Six officials are nominated to conduct a Kabaddi Match. Among them, two are umpires, one is a scorer, one is an assistant scorer and one is a referee.

  • Referee − He has the power to warn, declare point against or disqualify a participant from match. He has the authority to overturn the decision given by umpire.

  • Umpire − Generally the decision of the umpire taken as final.

  • Scorer − The scorer fills the scores data, timings, time-outs.

  • Assistant Scorers − They record those players who are out and those who are survived.

How to Play Kabaddi?

Marking of Lines

In the 12.5×10 meter playground, the outer lines, known as Boundary lines, are marked with colored sands. Playing areas are marked with one meter space from each side of the 10 meters boundary line.

Marking Lines

To separate the territory of each team, a middle line is drawn in such a fashion that it divides the whole court in to two equal 6.5×8 metre sections. The position of baulk lines can clearly be seen from the above picture. They are positioned at a distance of 3.75 meters on the either side of the middle line. On the either side of the middle line, bonus lines are drawn which are present at a distance of 1 metre from it.

Toss and Decide

Tossing of coin is done to determine which team will go first. Sometimes tossing is done with an unbiased dice also.


After winning the toss, the team takes turn and sends players, often known as raiders into opponent team’s sections. The sole aim of the raider is to tag the members of the opposite team and run back into his team side. Each player he touches on the opponent’s side gives his team one point.

  • The team with the maximum score at the end is declared as winner.

  • If a match end in a tie, then two 5 minutes durations are given.

  • If the tie still exists after (20+20+5+5) 50 minutes of play, then the team that scored first will be declared the winner.

The raider needs to repeatedly yell the word “Kabaddi” soon after crossing the mid line and he needs to keep it yelling till he safely returns to his zone. It is worth noting that, under no circumstances the raider should stop yelling the word “Kabaddi”. In case if he does so, he should return to his zone as soon as possible. This will yield no point to his team but will earn a point to his opponent team for successfully defending him.

Kabaddi Raiding

Raiding should be done in proper order by the team. That means in a sequence, each team needs to send its all players to the opposite side. The opponent team can earn a point by not letting the raider return to his section.

Raiding Opposite


In case your team lose the toss, it will be raided by the other team. Then it is the responsibility of your team to stand in front and defend. You should not tag yourself by the raider. Doing such will fetch a point to the raider’s team. To avoid yourself from being tagged, you should run as far as possible from the raider, till he becomes breathless of saying “Kabaddi”.

If he tags you, wait till the raider becomes breathless and as soon as the raider stops saying kabaddi, grab him with your team mates before he touches the middle line. You cannot pull the cloths or hairs of the raider. Rather you can grab him only at his limb or torso.

Alteration between the raiding and defending goes on between the two teams for 20 minutes. After the end of first session players take 5 minute break. After that switching between the two teams take place to either side of the court. The team which gathers maximum point at the end of two sessions wins the match.

Kabaddi - Game Tactics

Knowledge about the game is not enough. Physical force is just 50% of the basic need that a game demands; another 50% is the tactics required to use your physical force efficiently. So let’s discuss about some necessary game tactics that you need.

Raid Mechanisms

The attacking style is known as raid mechanism. One difficult thing in kabaddi is that the raider will be one, while the defender will be many. So the raider must have skilled tactics to tag the opponents and come back safely towards the middle line.

The whole game of kabaddi can be changed in couple of minutes with the help of few good raiders. Therefore it is utmost necessary to understand the raiding mechanism very carefully. The raiding depends upon number of factors. Some of the important ones are −

  • Entry
  • Cant
  • Footwork
  • Settling path of attack
  • Tactics
  • Retreat

A right entry can give a raider a safe exit. The defenders always pre-plan about every move that a raider is going to make. The most important part for a raider is to judge it in advance and make a right entry. After the entry the raider must act quickly enough to finish it come back before he becomes breathless in doing cant.

After entering, the first step for the raider is to judge its defenders very well. He should also see the defenders outside the ring. That is because an ineffective raid may bring a strong defender into the ring and may make their defense stronger next time. He should also have the idea about the various strong defense moves of the players present in that ring. Knowledge of this will help him a lot in saving himself from being caught.

From time to time, the defenders change their system of play. The raider must be able to judge that and act accordingly. Their strategy will vary in accordance with the number of players they are having. For example with 4 number of players they may approach the format of 2-2, 1-2-1 or 1-1-2. It is the raider who should be able to judge that one correctly to make his safe move towards the middle line.

Raid Mechanisms

Situations matter in the game of kabaddi to make your move as a raider. If your team needs to score point then you have to tag any one of them to upbring your team into a safe zone otherwise; coming back into your zone without crossing the baulk line is a wise decision.

Presently bonus line game is in vogue. The bonus depends upon the number of antis that you have on the other side of your zone. If the number of antis are 6, then just by crossing the bonus line you can earn a point for your team. Otherwise, you have to go deeper inside the zone to score.


The most unique feature of kabaddi is its cant. Beginners often find themselves in difficult position in doing this. The rule says you have to chant the word “kabaddi” as soon as you enter the defending zone and should continue till you come back to your side by crossing the middle line. If the player fails in this at any moment during his raid, he will be out of the match. So indirectly the duration of cant can be used as an I-measurement tool of kabaddi.

Kabaddi Cant


A raider can use right, left, or central zone for his entry into the court. However; his entry depends upon the following factors very strongly −

  • The position of the raider at the time of his act as team’s defense system.
  • The direction of attacking side.
  • His moving direction.
Kabaddi Entry

A player fighting for right corner should start with an anti-present in the right side and similarly for left and corner size. Starting of the cant should be made before entering to the defending zone. This is because if the raider makes any delay in the cant process after entering the defending zone, then under late cant penalty he may be debarred of the match.


The movement of the foot of the raider during his raid is most important. The footwork however depends upon the following factors −

  • Position of the body
  • Stance of the raider
  • Speed with which he moves
  • Agility
  • Style of movement

The raider should bring speed in his movement during the raid. He should keep in his mind that the work should be finished as soon as possible as the loose of breath will lose the cant process and his team may get penalized. Footwork can be divided into four categories basically.

  • Leading leg raid
  • Natural method
  • Reverse step raid
  • Shuffling raid
Kabaddi Footwork

Necessary skills

A man needs skills to have mastery upon techniques. There are broadly two categories of skills that a kabaddi player needs to learn are offensive skills and defensive skills. For example, during a raid, a raider must try to touch the antis with the maximum use of his limbs. It will make easy for him and for his team to score points. Some touches that are legal in kabaddi are;

  • Foot touch
  • Toe touch
  • Thrust
  • Squat leg
  • Kicks
  • Touching of hand through upper limbs


After the starting of the raid, until and unless the raider returns to the home zone safely, the raid is not accepted as successful. This is known as retreat. Before going to the opponent’s zone, the raider must pre-plan his retreat.

No room for pursuit should be given by the raider to his antis. As soon as the raider comes back from the raiding, he should position himself in his team’s defensive system. For example if a player is supposed to defend his team at right corner, but if he returns from the raid by left corner, then the antis may attack quickly and the team’s defensive system may jeopardize.

Kabaddi - Governing Bodies

All India Kabaddi Federation (AIKF)

To increase the popularity of kabaddi as a sport in India, All India Kabaddi Federation (AIKF), was founded in 1950. Since its establishment, the AIKF has been working towards improving the standards of the game. For this purpose, it conducts National level kabaddi championships regularly since 1952, as per the rules and regulations. The first men's national tournament was organized in Madras (Chennai) and the first women's national tournament was held in Calcutta (Kolkata).


Amateur Kabaddi Federation of India (AKFI)


The Amateur Kabaddi Federation of India (AKFI) is the central institution to administrate and promote Kabaddi in India. It was established in 1973. Beside this, AKFI aims at improving the standard of the sport in the neighboring countries of India.

It also organizes international kabaddi tournaments for both men and women in India. Along with it sub-junior and junior nationals and zonal competitions are also organized to promote the game at the local level. Mr. Janardhan Singh Gehlot is the current AKFI President. He is also the president of the Asian Amateur Kabaddi Federation (AAKF) and the International Kabaddi Federation (IKF).

Kabaddi - Tournaments

Many countries have their own organizing bodies and they conduct championships at national level to pick the best players who can represent their nation at the international level. Most of these international tournaments are conducted in Asian countries.

ASIAN GAMES 1990, 1994, 1998, 2002, 2006, 2010, 2014 INDIA
WORLD CUP 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 INDIA
SAF GAMES 2006, 2010 INDIA

Pro Kabaddi League

Pro Kabaddi League

Pro Kabaddi League (PKL) is a professional Kabaddi league of India. This tournament is played on the same format as that of Indian Premier League(IPL).The first edition of Pro Kabaddi League (PKL) started in 2014 with eight franchises. It consisted of players from all around the world. It is monitored by the Mr. Charu Sharma, Managing Director of Mashal Sports. This tournament is backed by the Amateur Kabaddi Federation of India (AKFI), Asian Kabaddi Federation (AKF) and International Kabaddi Federation (IKF).