Kho Kho Rules : How to Play [ Scoring, Faults, Skills, Chasers, Defenders ]

Welcome to a detailed and in-depth study of Kho Kho sport with its complete rules and regulations, skills, equipment, terminology, players, team composition, and advanced level kho kho playing strategies with a careful discussion on major Kho kho-related questions and answers in the end.

Kho Kho Rules | How to Play Kho Kho [ Scoring, Faults, Chasers, Defenders ] Expert Guide


Kho Kho is one of the oldest and most popular traditional games of India and the subcontinent.

It is a contact game like Kabaddi. Unlike Kabaddi, Kho Kho is not a game of catching or tackling one raider by all the defenders in their court in a period of 30 seconds so as to prevent him from returning to his court after he touches them.

Conversely, it is a game of chasing and touching a batch of three defenders by one active chaser, within 7 minutes, on the court.

However, in both games, a player has to go out of the game after being touched.

How Kho Kho is Played?

Kho Kho is played on a rectangular court of different sizes. Its court is divided by a center lane, which accommodates 8 players from the chasing team.

The court has two wooden or metallic poles (known as posts) fixed firmly at each inner end of the center line. There is a rectangle area, which every defender and chaser must enter and remain inside its bounds, as long as the chase continues.

There have to be two teams with 12 players on each side. Where 9 players play actively on the court and 3 players wait outside as substitutes.

After the toss, one team becomes defending team and another chasing team. Eight players from the chasing team sit, in opposite directions, on the center lane, in dedicated squares, while one player known as the active chaser chases the first set of three players of defending team on the court.

The active chaser has to follow certain rules while touching the defenders, such as; running in one direction (except Wazir, who is allowed to run in any direction) until he crosses the poles, avoiding contact with the center line since he is not allowed to cross the center line as defenders are, switching his position by tapping his nearest sitting teammate with his palm, and mandatory chanting the word “Kho.”

Players & Team Composition

Once the batch of the first three players is touched and sent out, another batch of three players will come on the court. This goes on until all nine players are touched and sent out, thus ending the first innings.

After that, the chasing team becomes defending team, and the game goes on in the same fashion.

Each team has to play two innings of seven minutes. After four innings, the points are calculated, and the winner is declared.

Equipment to Play Kho Kho

Kho Kho game needs no other equipment than a court, uniforms, shoes, and two poles. This game demands physical fitness, strategy, coordination, flexibility, dodging tactics, diving skills, and quicks reflexes on the court. Kho Kho has its own India-based governing body, namely; KKFI: Kho-Kho Federation of India.

Object Of the Game

The prime objective is to score more points than the opposing team at the end of the match.

For so doing, on the one hand, the chasing team has to touch as many defenders as possible by tagging them during a period of seven minutes, and on the other hand, the defending team has to escape from being touched by the chasing team until the period of seven minutes completes.

How to Play Kho Kho; Step by Step Players Guide

Let’s learn how to play the game.

Step:1 Umpire calls two captains for the toss, and the winner decides to either defend or chase.

Step:2 After the toss, the chasing team enters the court and sets the field with eight players sitting in the opposite direction from each other, in the middle of the court on the central lane, and the 9th player, known as the active chaser, stands next to the pole to start the chase.

Step:3 Now, the first set of three players from defending team enters the court. After their entry, the umpire signals to start the chase, and then the chaser starts chasing them.

Step:4 During the chase, defenders are free to run in any direction and can cross the central lane, while the chaser has to maintain some restrictions.

The chaser is not allowed to cross the center line or come in contact with it. He (except Wazir) cannot change direction either.

Once he has started to run in one direction, he has to maintain it. In order for him to change directions, he must run to a pole and around it.

Step:5 The active chaser can switch positions with his teammates. For that, he has to touch the nearest and oppositely sitting teammate on the back and shout the name of the game, “Kho loudly”.

Thus, he takes the position of his teammate, and his teammate becomes the active chaser and starts chasing the defenders.

Step:6 When all three defenders from the first set get tagged, three more defenders enter the court.

The game ends when all nine defenders have been sent out after being touched. At the end of an innings, teams’ roles are reversed. The team that scores more points at the end of the match wins the game.

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Rules Of Kho Kho Sport Explained

Kho Kho game has to follow the following easy-cum-comprehensive rules. Once you get to know these basic rules, you will become a professional player of Kho Kho.

1. Rule  Court dimension

The field of play is a rectangular court of 27 meters in length and 16 meters in width for senior players (men and women) and 23 meters in length, and 14 widths for junior players (boys and girls).

The court has two soft poles (known as posts) stuck firmly in the ground at each inner end of the center lane.

There is a rectangle area on both sides of the court, which measures 16 in length and 2.75 in width. Every chaser and defender has to enter and remain in this area while the play is on.

Here you also find different lines on the court.

  • Firstly, there are eight parallel lines on the court with 2.30 meters distance between them, and each line among these is occupied by each sitting chaser.
  • Secondly, there are squares where the chasing players sit exactly.
  • Thirdly, there are end lines at each end of the court.
  • Fourthly, there are sidelines on the sides of the court.
  • Fifthly, there is a free zone that is other than the lines.
  • Sixthly, there is an entry zone for players’ entry on the court.
  • Finally, there is a sitting block for substitutes and team officials.

2. Team Composition Rules

In Kho Kho, there have to be two teams with 12 players on each side. Where 9 players play actively on the court and 3 players wait outside as substitutes.

When the game starts, 8 players of the chasing team sit on the center lane of the court, and 9th player, known as the active chaser, chases the defenders.

The defenders have to enter the court in a set of 3 players. After all the three defenders are touched and thus gone out, a fresh set of three defenders enter the court.

The third set is the last set of defenders, and after they are touched, the chasing team becomes defending team, and defending team plays like a chasing team.

3. Duration of Match Rules

Every Kho Kho match consists of four innings. Each team plays two innings, and each innings lasts for 7 minutes.

Each team gets 7 minutes for chasing (one inning) and 7 minutes for defending (second innings). Thus, a match may last for 28 minutes, excluding the break time.

4. Starting of the Match Rules

It is customary to start a Kho Kho match with the toss. The umpire calls the captains of both the teams and asks one of the captains to choose the side of the coin, and he then flips the coin.

The toss-winning captain may either choose to defend or to chase.

The leftover choice is automatically imposed on the toss-losing team. The winner of the toss must raise his arm and reveal his decision by pointing his finger to either the central lane (an indication of chasing first) or the sidelines (an indication of defending first).

After his decision, teams are designated two names. One team becomes defending and another chasing. The chasing team enters the court first and settles the field. Eight chasers sit on the central lane, and the 9th player act as an active chaser.

Then any three players from defending team enter the court. The umpire signals the start of the chase, and thus game comes into play.

5. Scoring Rules In Kho Kho

You can score points in a Kho Kho game in two ways. One while chasing your opponents and the other while defending yourself from the chaser.

While chasing, you have to tag or touch each defender without going against the rules. If you do it, you get the point.

And if you tag your opponent by either pole dive or skydive, you will get two points.

While defending, you have to stay safe from being tagged by the chaser for a period of three minutes. You have to stay on the court and must abide by the rules of the game for those three minutes.

For each escape, you get one point. The team with the maximum number of points at the end of the fourth innings will win the game.

6. Rules for Chasers & Defenders

Dos and Don’ts for the Chasers and the Defenders

To play in a fair way and avoid any fouls, the following points must be kept in mind while playing Kho Kho.

  • The defender has to take his designated seat as soon as he is sent out of the court after the chaser touches him.
  • As soon as the game starts, no chaser is allowed to leave the field of the court. If he leaves the court, he commits a foul.
  • The active chaser or the attacker cannot cross the central lane during the chase. He must not trespass this line and go to the other side of the court. If he does so, he commits a foul
  • No body part of the chaser is allowed to come in contact with the central lane.
  • If he wants to go to the other side of the court, he has to go to the poles first.
  • While giving a “Kho” the chaser must come from the backside of his teammate and shout the word “Kho” in a louder voice so that the defenders and umpire can easily hear it.
  • If the chaser gives “Kho” from the front side or chants any other word than “Kho”, he is supposed to have committed a foul.
  • The teammate of the chaser must not stand up until the active chaser simultaneously chants “Kho” and tap him. In case he stands before being given a “Kho”, it is considered a foul.
  • It is not permissible to give a “Kho” by touching a chaser’s legs, extended arms, or any other part of the body than his back.
  • After the active chaser gives a “Kho”, his teammate (the one who has received the Kho) must immediately vacate his position (square) and run behind the defenders, and the previous active chaser occupies his position in an instant.
  • In case the chaser, while sitting at the position of his teammate, falters, it is not a foul. But he, while sitting, causes restrictions or obstructions in the way of defenders; it is a foul.
  • The attacker has to run in one direction once chosen to run to. He can only change his direction after he reaches near the pole so as to say the free zone.
  • If he changes his direction before reaching to free zone, he is at fault.
  • The sitting chasers cannot, in any way, obstruct the way of the defenders until they receive a “Kho”.
  • If they hinder the way of the defenders, they are supposed to have committed.
  • Chasing and touching are only at the disposal of the chasing team.
  • Defenders have to run and escape themselves from being touched. If the defenders try to chase back the chasers, they are at fault.
  • A defender has to go out if he is touched by the chaser without violation of rules.
  • Umpire’s whistle will send the touched defender out of the court.
  • In an attempt to chase the defenders, the chaser must not go out of the court.
  • Defenders cannot go out of the court either. Going out of the court is a foul.
  • It is not permissible to deliberately push, pull, hit, or kick the defenders while touching them.
  • If does so, it amounts to misbehavior.
  • No foul point is given to the other team. Simply, there is no advantageous points in Kho Kho.

Kho Kho Skills; Fundamental Skills to Play the Game

One has to be better than his opponents to outshine them on the court. Here are a few simple tips to improve your game.

  • Judge the direction of the defenders is the foremost skill in Kho Kho. One must possess this skill to become a better Kho Kho player.
  • Being attentive and alert is the second most important thing to learn. It helps in both chasing and defending.
  • You must possess the skill of coordination and teamwork. This game demands collective efforts.
  • The ability to run faster than opponents makes you better than them.
  • While performing as the chaser, you can easily catch opponents with speed, and also, while being a defender, you might not get caught by the chaser.
  • You must possess quick legs for dodging your opponents and running in a zig-zag or straight direction.
  • An athletic approach is needed for catching the defenders or beating the chaser.
  • You have to be physically fit and energetic to respond on the court.
  • Last but not least, you have to acquire the skills of pole diving, sky diving, choosing the right direction, and giving a sudden as well as a fake Kho.

Kho Kho Vs. Kabaddi; A Comparison

Seemingly both the games look identical. However, there are some striking differences between both games. Let’s check what those differences are.

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a. Court

Both the games are played on rectangular courts. The size of both the court varies. A Kabaddi court is smaller than a Kho Kho court and measures 13 meters long 10 meters wide. While a Kho Kho court measures 27 meters long and 16 meters wide.

In Kabaddi, players from one team have to enter in opposite court to score points. Whereas, in Kho Kho, the players of one team sit in a line, and one player chase the players of another team who run around the sitting players.

b. Team Composition

Both games have 12 players on their respective teams, but all the players are not allowed to play on the court at the same time.

In Kabaddi, out of 12 players, only 7 players play on the court and the remaining 5 players act as substitutes.

In Kho Kho, out of 12 players, 9 players play on the court, and the remaining 3 players act as substitutes.

c. Manner of Playing

Both games involve chasing and touching. In Kabaddi, the raider goes to touch the defenders in their court and return to his court without being caught.

On the other hand, in Kho Kho, the chaser runs behind the defenders to tag them. In Kabaddi, the raider may be tackled by the defenders, but in Kho Kho, the defenders must not touch the chaser.

Defenders have to run and escape from the chaser.

In Kabaddi, the defenders, after being touched by the raider, or the raider, after being tackled by the defenders, have to go out of the court.

While, Kho Kho, only the players of defending team go out of the court after being touched by the chaser.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Who is the Wazir in Kho Kho?

Wazir is one of the 9 players on the chasing team. He is the one who is allowed to move in any direction he seems beneficial while chasing the defenders.

Except for the Wazir, no active chaser is allowed to change his direction before reaching the free zone while chasing the defenders.

The Wazir is considered a key player because he is free to move in all directions, which makes it easy for him to tag the defenders quickly, thus bagging much-needed points for his team.

Simply, he is a trump card for the team.

2. What is the Responsibility of Defenders?

All the defenders play a significant role in their team’s victory. Their aim is to run all the way to the court.

They are responsible for saving themselves at least 3 minutes from being tagged by the chaser and thus earning points for their team.

It is necessary for the defenders to be quick, flexible, resilient, tactful, and brilliant at moves.

They must possess the skills to dodge the chaser and keep on wasting his time.

3. What is the Responsibility of Chaser?

Chasers are the key to grabbing points for their team. They are in striking contrast with the defenders. Their aim, in opposition to the defenders, is to chase and touch the defenders.

Among nine chasers, one chaser performs as an active chaser. An active chaser is one who chases and tries to touch the defenders. Active chaser keeps on changing after receiving “Khos”.

All the chasers have to be vigilant and always on the alert. They have to maintain a very keen eye on the movement of the defenders and may tag them when they are given “Kho” the active chaser.

In case any sitting chaser is dull and inattentive, he is not able to tag the defenders.

4. What is the Role of a Referee in a Kho Kho Match?

A referee is responsible for starting and restarting the match. He is also the sole authority to announce points, fouls, and faults and to send any defender out of the court.

He penalizes the offenders and keeps a keen eye on the activities of the players of both teams. Simply, an umpire is an ultimate authority in a Kho Kho match.

5. How Substitution works in Kho Kho?

It is the umpire who allows the substitution. Substitution takes place after the request of either captain or coach.

The defending team can only substitute before they enter the court. While the chasing team can substitute players at any point. The substituted chaser cannot directly start chasing the defenders.

He must wait for the “Kho”.

6. What is the rule for a tie Match?

In a match, the league system, if both the teams have scored equal points, after the end of the fourth innings, this match is declared a draw, and no team wins the match.

On the other hand, in a knockout match, if both teams score equal points, after the fourth innings, an additional inning of either chasing or defending is played so as to decide the winner.

If they still have an equal score on the board, the method of the minimum chase is applied.


Kho Kho is a game of chasing and touching. This game is played on a rectangular court, with 9 active and 3 substitute players on each side.

The game consists of 4 innings, each innings lasts for 7 minutes, and thus an entire match lasts for 28 minutes.

The active chaser from the chasing team chases, and the 3 players of defending team run to escape from being chased. The chaser chases the defender, and thus the defender has to go out of the court.

This chasing and touching process goes on until all the 9 players are touched or the time of the game gets over.

The chasing team will act as the defending team as soon as all the nine players from defending team are touched and sent out. The team with more points at the end of the fourth innings wins the match.