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How to play Kho Kho game?- Rules and all other details

Kho Kho is one of the oldest games played in India as the game’s roots date back to Mahabharata.

Ritesh Pathak Author

Updated - 13 August 2022 6:39 pm

Kho Kho is one of the oldest games played in India as the game’s roots date back to Mahabharata. The famous tale of Arjuna’s son Abhimanyu fighting in the ‘Chakravyuh’ somehow resembles a game of Kho Kho. While in the old-age times the game involved ‘raths’ and chariots and was named Rathera, it is more simplified now with individuals competing without any weapon.

The game is being played in the country for more than three decades but the rules, regulations, and history is still known to only a few. The modern-day game was invented in the Indian state of Maharashtra. The Deccan Gymkhana of Pune tried to lend a sense of reliability and recognition to the game by introducing certain rules and regulations to make it more formal. As a result, countries such as Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and the Maldives also participated in the game.

The Asian Kho Kho Federation first came into existence in 1987 at the time of the third SAF Games in India. The Kho Kho game gained international credit with the first Asian Championship which was held in Kolkata in 1996. The second championship was held in 2000 which added further shine to the game. And now the country is all set to host a league, Ultimate Kho Kho, featuring top players of the sport.

So, as we get ready to watch thrilling action, let’s go through the rulebook of Kho Kho which will come in handy when we watch the matches.

Kho Kho Game Terminology

Pole A specially made wooden cylindrical construction erected firmly at both sides of the playfield.
Chaser The sitting team tries to catch the opponent team member who is running. Chaser sit-in square over cross lines with an alternative back.
Runner The opposition player who trying to save himself/herself from being caught by the chaser.
Central Lane Two parallel lines from one pole to another.
Cross Lane The parallel lanes cutting the central line in the middle of the playing area.
Kho The word used to pass the baton of chaser among team members.
Early Getup When the sitting chaser gets up before getting a Kho.
Late Kho When active chaser delays in the touch for giving Kho to another.
Changing The Direction When active chaser goes in the wrong direction against rules.
Minus Kho A violation of directional fault in which the chaser cannot make the running player out unless Kho is passed back to two teammates or touched to a pole.
Lobby The free space area around the playfield.
Free Zone The area by the sides of pole lines in which the direction rule is not followed and a runner can move in any direction.
Square Square-shaped area by the cutting of center lane and cross lane used for sitting of the chase.

Kho Kho rules

  • A game of Kho Kho is played between two teams.
  • Number of players in a Kho Kho team is 12. But only nine (8 from the chasing team, 1 from defending team) can compete on the field.
  • A standard match encompasses two innings. Each inning will have 9 minutes which includes chasing and running.
  • The chasing team sits or kneels in a row in the middle of the court. The eight players of the chasing team are made to sit facing opposite directions. For example: If Player 1 is facing North, Player 2 must face South.
  • The chasing team tries to finish an inning as quickly as possible.
  • If the chaser is looking to pass the baton to his/her teammate, he/she must yell ‘Kho’ and tap on the back of the teammate to give them a chance to chase.
  • The team that takes the shortest amount of time to touch the player chased, is adjudged as the winner.
  • The runner or the chaser is decided by toss.
  • The captain of the chasing side may end the turn before the allotted time.
  • The side that scores more wins a match.
  • When a defender is out, he/she should enter the sitting box from the lobby.


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