Kabaddi, one of India’s indigenous sports, has grown in popularity over the last few years, thanks to the advent of leagues like Pro Kabaddi.

Since the advent of Pro Kabaddi, the sport once regarded as a game of brute physical strength, has been revolutionized with a larger focus on player fitness, agility, temperament and strategy. 

Along with these innovations, kabaddi has also had numerous transformations in terms of how the sport is played today as opposed to yesteryear.

Here we have a closer look at how the contact sport is played in today’s day and age.

How to play kabaddi

Two teams, with seven players each, face-off on a large quadrilateral mat, which is divided into two equal halves. 

A player from the attacking team needs to go into the opposite half, touch as many opponents and return to their own half to score points. This play is called a raid and the attacking player is called a raider. Each raid can last for a maximum of 30 seconds.

All the players that the raider tags before returning to his side are declared out and are sent outside the playing area. They can only be revived when their team scores points.

Meanwhile, teams can also score points by stopping the raider through a tackle before he goes back into his own half or touches the midline.

Teams take turns to conduct raids and the side with the most points at the end of the match wins.

If all seven players of a side are out, the team is declared ‘all out’ and the entire squad returns to the mat for a new play. The opposing team is rewarded with additional points for handing all-outs.

Rules of kabaddi

While the rules for traditional kabaddi played on mud in rural parts of India vary, modern competitive kabaddi follows a standard blueprint that has been adopted by top leagues and tournaments like Pro Kabaddi, Kabaddi World Cup and the Asian Games. 

Kabaddi court: Size of playing area 

According to kabaddi rules, the size of a kabaddi court for professional men’s kabaddi is 13m x 10m. For women, the court is slightly smaller and measures 12m x 8m. However, the measurements may vary slightly for international and local matches. The midline divides the playing area into two halves, marking each team’s territory. Opposition raiders must cross the midline to initiate a raid. 

Baulk line

Parallel to the midline at 3.75 metres in each half is the baulk line. The raider has to cross the baulk line with one foot while keeping the other foot in the air to make their raid valid. Only after a raid has been validated can the raider attempt to score points. 

Bonus line

One metre parallel to the baulk line is the bonus line. The bonus line, though, is only active when there are six or more defenders on the mat. To earn a bonus point, a raider must cross the bonus line with one foot while the other is in the air. Only after he does this can a raider retreat to his half with a successful bonus point attempt. 


The lobby is the rectangular and differently coloured area on each side of the court. This area gets active only when raiders and defenders have been in contact with each other. If there is contact then the raider can enter and use the lobby to aid his escape while the defenders can do the same to tackle the retreating attacker. 

However, if players enter the lobby without any contact, they will be out of the paying area and have to leave the mat to sit on the bench till they are revived. 

Duration of a kabaddi match

The duration of a game of kabaddi is 40 minutes. There are two halves of 20 minutes each and both teams switch sides at halftime. 

However, in case of a knockout match if the game ends in a tie, an extra seven minutes will be added to decide the outcome of the contest. The seven minutes are divided into two halves of three minutes each with a one minute break in between the two. 

If there is still no clear winner at the end of extra time, the match is decided via Golden Raid.

Golden Raid

Before the Golden Raid, a fresh toss will be conducted and the team that wins it shall have the chance to raid. Both teams will then field seven players each with the baulk line acting as the bonus line. 

If the player crosses the line, bonus points will be awarded to the raiding team along with the touches the raider makes on the defenders. If the player raiding first scores even a single point, his team wins the match.

The out and revival rule are not applicable during the Golden Raid and only points scored are counted. If any player is suspended temporarily during the tie-breaker, that team will play with less number of players. Such players shall be counted to award bonus points.

If the game is still tied after both teams have had attempts at Golden Raids then the outcome of the match will be decided by the toss of a coin.

How many players in kabaddi

Each team has seven players on the mat along with five substitutes. A team can make a maximum of five substitutions during the game. 

Kabaddi point scoring system

A raider has to touch a defender in the opposition half and then safely get back to his half to successfully score a point. Each player he touches is considered a single point and that concerned player will have to leave the mat, if the raider makes it back to his half successfully after earning a touch point. 

Furthermore, the raider must continuously chant the word ‘kabaddi’ while attempting the raid for it to be valid. A raider has a maximum of 30 seconds to complete a raid and can also score bonus points as mentioned earlier if they successfully cross the bonus line with one foot in the air and the other across the line when six or more defenders are on the mat.

If the defenders manage to tackle the raider before he crosses the midline, the defending team earns a point and the raider is declared out. Each raid point that a team scores helps them revive their players in the same order of their dismissal. 

Empty raid

If the raider fails to score point(s) off a raid it is regarded as an empty raid. 

Do-or-die raid

A third successive raid following two empty raids is a do-or-die raid. The raider has to score a point, failing which he’s declared out.  


When a team manages to get all the players of the opposition out, they are granted an additional point (2 in Pro Kabaddi). All seven players from both teams irrespective of their order of dismissal then return to the playing area after an all-out. 

Super Raid 

If a raider successfully manages to touch three or more defenders in a single raid, it is called a Super Raid. A bonus point and two defenders dismissed is also regarded as a Super Raid. 

Super Tackle 

If the defending team manages to tackle a raider with three or less defenders on the mat, it is called a Super Tackle. Teams earn one extra point for each Super Tackle.