Kabaddi is a highly popular contact sport, played throughout South Asia, that draws its roots way back to Ancient India. Though played throughout the region, it’s the official game of Punjab, Telangana, Maharashtra, and Tamil Nadu. It’s also the national game of Bangladesh, and one of Nepal’s national sports. Kabaddi is also now gaining popularity throughout Europe, the US and beyond.

The base objective

The main objective of Kabaddi is to score more points than the other team within the time limit. Points are scored from attacking and defending. Attacking is done by sending across a team member, known as a raider, to the other team’s half of the pitch. The raider must touch at least one member of the opposition team to score a point. The other team will be defending, the main point of which is to capture the raider. This is done by wrestling them to the floor, or stopping them getting back to their own half by the time their time limit is up.

Each team has 12 members, though only 7 are allowed on the field at any given moment. The official measurements of a Kabaddi playing surface are 13 x 10m, separated at the halfway point by a white line. It can be played on all manner of surfaces, from grass to a dedicated clay court. Kabaddi is highly popular because it requires no unique equipment, accessories, or kit. This means it’s a game that’s truly open to everyone.

Kabaddi scoring

Teams score a point for every opponent they remove from a game. This can be done when attacking by touching members of the opposition team, and when defending by stopping the raider returning to their own half. Bonus points are available for touching the bonus line in the opposition’s section of the court, and three bonus points are awarded to a team when every member of the opposition is declared out. A point is awarded to the opposite team if a player goes outside the court boundaries.

Busting the jargon

As with every sport, Kabaddi has some key terms you should be familiar with. Here are some of the most common.

  • Super Tackle – when three or fewer defenders remain on the court, yet successfully pin down a raider. Worth two bonus points
  • Super Raid – when a single raider tags three or more defenders, before successfully returning to their side of the court
  • Bonus Point – an extra point given for a raider touching their foot into the bonus line, while the trailing foot is off the ground
  • Do or Die Raid – if a team scores no points on two successive raids, the third is the Do or Die, where they must tag at least one defender, or score a bonus point, or be sent off
  • All Out – if all seven members of the team are sent off to the sitting block, either through being tagged by a raider or pinned by defenders
  • Chant – raiders must chant “Kabaddi” loudly and clearly while they’re in the opponent’s half of the court