Kabaddi: A Popular Indian Sport


Kabaddi is a type of contact sport that is popular in Southern Asia, most especially in India. It is played across the country, and it is the official game in the states of Bihar, Maharashtra, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, and Telangana. In addition to India, it is also a popular activity in other countries. In fact, it is the national game of Bangladesh and among the general sports of Nepal, where it is imparted in all state schools. 

Kabaddi is also a popular sport in other countries with Indian and Pakistani communities, such as in the United Kingdom. If you are curious about this sport and want to learn more, read on as we’re giving you more information about kabaddi. 

Brief History of Kabaddi

There were theories from different sources that state that kabaddi came from the Vedic period of ancient India. However, these were unverified. In addition to that, the game was also said to have been popular among the Yadava people. There’s also an abhang, which is a form of poetry by Tukaram which stated that the god Krishna played the game during his childhood. The Mahabharata also contains an account of Arjuna being able to sneak into antagonistic areas taking out enemies unharmed, which was a passage said to parallel the gameplay of kabaddi. Aside from that, there were also records of Gautama Buddha having played the game as a recreational activity. 

Even though these claims are quite conflicting, the modern game of kabaddi is a combination of the game played in different forms under different names or titles in the Indian continent. India was first credited with the popularization of kabaddi as a competitive sport, with the first organized games that occurred in the 1920s. It was along with the introduction of the program of the Indian Olympic Games in 1938, the formation of the All-India Kabaddi Foundation in 1950, and when it was played as a demonstration sport during the inaugural 1951 Asian Games that was held in New Delhi. These were the developments that helped in formalizing the sport for legitimate international competition, which has been played traditionally in villages.

After the game of kabaddi was demonstrated again at the 1982 Asian Games in New Delhi, it was then added to the Asian Games program in 1990. 

How is Kabaddi Played?

a serious game of kabaddi

Kabaddi is a game played between two teams on opposite halves of a field or court. Its overall objective is to score more points than the opposite team within the allotted time. To do this, each team needs to attempt to score points by both attacking and defending. 

When attacking, the offensive team will send across a raider to the other team who must touch or tag out as many members of the opposition as possible to score a point, then return to their own half of the court without being tackled by the opposing team members, in a single breath. The defending team needs to capture the raider by wrestling them to the ground or preventing them from returning to their own team by the time their breath is up. 

The Players and Equipment Needed in Kabaddi

As mentioned earlier, kabaddi is played by two opposing teams. Each of these teams needs to have twelve players. However, only seven players for each team are allowed on the field of play during the game. 

The court or playing surface of kabaddi needs to measure 13 meters by 10 meters. It is divided into halves by a white line, with one team occupying each half. The game can be played on different kinds of surfaces, from a dedicated clay court to spare ground where the surface has been drawn using chalk. 

Unlike other sports and games, there is no special equipment, clothing, or accessories needed to play kabaddi. This makes it a great game for everyone. 

How is Kabaddi Scored?

raider being prevented by the opposing team in a game of kabaddi

The scoring in the game of kabaddi is very simple. One team will score one point for every opponent that they will put out of the game. There are different ways to put out an opponent, as we’ve also mentioned earlier. One is while attacking, which is done by the raider touching opposition members to put them out. The other way is while defending, which is done by preventing the raider from returning to their side of the court. 

In addition to that, there are also bonus scores in this game. A raider can get an extra point when he or she touches the bonus line in the opposition’s half successfully. There are a total of three bonus points for a team when all of their opponents are declared out. A point is also given if any part of an opposing team member’s body goes out of the boundary. 

At the end of the game, the team that has the most points wins. If ever the score will be a tie at the end of the game, then it is deemed to be a draw. 

Important Rules of Kabaddi

Here are some of the important rules that should be followed when playing kabaddi:

  • The matches are categorized in age and weight due to the physical nature of the sport.
  • There should be six officials looking after each match. This includes a referee, a scorer, two assistant scorers, and two arbiters. 
  • The match should last two halves of twenty minutes with a half break time of five minutes.
  • Before the game starts, there will be a coin toss. The winner will choose whether to have the first raid or not. At the start of the second half, the team that did not raid will then start with a raid. 
  • To successfully win a point, the raider needs to take a breath and run into the side of the opponent, and tag one or more members of the opposing team. After that, he or she should return to one half of the pitch before inhaling again. 
  • To prove that the raider did not take another breath, he or she needs to continue to yell the word “Kabaddi” repeatedly. When the raider fails to do this even for a moment, it means that he or she should return to their own side of the court without any points. The opposite team will then get the point. 
  • When preventing the raider from going back to their side of the court, the defense team may only grab their limbs or torso. They are not allowed to grab the raider’s hair, clothes, and other body parts. Also, the defenders are not allowed to cross the centerline. 

Kabaddi exemplifies the importance of teamwork and unity in sports, where success hinges on the cohesion and spirit of the team. How Can Coaches Foster Team Spirit and Cohesion? delves into strategies and practices coaches can employ to build these essential qualities, crucial for achieving victory in team sports like Kabaddi.


Kabaddi is certainly a unique sport, but it sounds really fun and entertaining. It can help enhance a lot of skills, such as agility and breathing, and it can also improve teamwork. It is a perfect game for those who are searching for a simple sport that does not require any special equipment or gear to play. We hope this helped you learn more about the game of kabaddi. For more unique sports, check out our list of Unusual Sports You’ve Probably Never Heard Of.

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