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Kho Kho – Did You Know the Game Has Roots as Old as Mahabharata?

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Which is the traditional game of India which consists of traits such as cooperation, devotion, keenness, self-esteem, speed, and quick thinking? The answer is Kho Kho! This traditional Indian sport is more than a game. It is a personal development tool for the one who loves to take up the challenge. One can clearly say, the Kho Kho game is an inexpensive but highly enjoyable game. In this blog, you will get complete details of one of India’s oldest sports i.e Kho Kho, Kho Kho terminologies, Kho Kho skills, Kho Kho rules, and a lot more.

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Kho Kho is one of the most popular traditional sports in the country. Some of the interesting facts about the game. The position of the players sitting is random; one will never find the same set of players sitting in the same order as when the game starts. The game requires immense stamina and speed. There are many famous Kho Kho players in India who have taken this game to another level. So, are you planning to start a new game? Why wait? Today, we bring you the perfect guide to the Kho Kho game and all the kho kho information.

Tracing the Roots of the Game

It is a tag game of our country. Its roots are as old as the epic Mahabharata, with plans and strategies likely derived from the epic itself. As the tale narrates, on the 13th day of the war, the Kaurava Guru Dronacharya planned the sole tactics ‘Chakravyuh’, a special military defensive plan broke by Abhimanyu. Unfortunately, he died as he had to fight alone against 7 warriors and he was badly injured. His style of fighting reflected the concept of ring play – a defensive tactic in the game. The game during age-old times involved ‘raths’ and chariots and was named Rathera.

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History of Kho Kho Game

Kho Kho KreedOn

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.

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About Kho Kho game

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.

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 player of the opposition who saves himself 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 at the middle of the playing area.
Kho The word Kho is actually a pass given by one chaser to another.
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 chased cannot make the running player out unless Kho is passed back to two teammates or touch 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 Ground Measurement

Kho Kho playing are KreedOn
The playing area dimensions (Credits:KhoKhoskills)

Talking about ground measurement, the playground for the game is 29 meters long and 16 meters wide. At each end of the longer side of the rectangle, it has two areas measuring 16 meters in length and 2.75 meters in width. A wooden pillar of 120 cm is located at the inner center of the line of this rectangle as shown in the figure above. The perimeter of the wooden pillar is between 30 to 40 cm. There is one straight line on either side of the pillar.

There are 8 pairs of parallel lines between these two wooden pillar posts. Each pair of the line is 30 cm away from each other and 2.30 meters away from the next pair. Coming to the equipment, the game requires two watches, whistles, measuring tape, boric powder, and stationery to write results.

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Kho Kho field Size

Total area requirement 30m x 19m (inclusive of the lobby from all sides measuring 1.5m wide.)
Playing Area 27m x 16m inclusive of 1.5m x 16m of free zone behind both poles
Pole Distance 24m Central lane joining two poles measuring 24m length x 30cm width
Cross lanes 8 – intersecting the central lane. Each lane measuring 16m x 35m
Pole Size Height (above ground level – 120cm to 125cm, Diameter 9-10cm)

Kho Kho Rules

Kho Kho KreedOn
There are certain rules to follow in the game (Credits Epilogue)
  • Kho Kho game is played between 2 teams
  • Number of players in Kho Kho: 12. But only 9 of them can compete on the pitch.
  • A standard match encompasses two innings.
  • Each inning will have 9 minutes which includes chasing and running.
  • The chasing team sits or kneels in the middle of the court in a row. Each player sitting next to the other will see on the opposite sides (in an alternative direction).
  • The chasers should end in the quickest time possible.
  • The chaser will touch the nearest possible player on his/her back and say ‘Kho’ to give him 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 should enter the sitting box from the lobby.

Kho Kho Information

Kho Kho KreedOn
The game requires speed and flexibility (Credits State of Mysore)
  • Both teams will comprise nine players. Before the game begins, two captains will have a toss. The toss-winning team decides either to defend or to chase.
  • If the winning team decides to chase, they set up an eight-member team to chase the opponent team in a span of 12 minutes. There will be two innings provided for both teams.
  • The game starts by chasing down the opponent with the help of team members in a straight direction. The defender should not cut the line or change the direction in order to avoid getting out or touched by the opponent. A chaser can give maximum passes (Kho) to his teammate while chasing. After 12 minutes, the team, which takes the best quick time to touch the player chased wins the game.

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Duties of Defender

Defender Kho Kho KreedOn
The defender should save himself from being caught by chaser (Credits:mybloghowtoplaykhokho)

Defenders must be quick enough. The defender should highly possess qualities such as flexibility and speed. Defenders must have a sufficient amount of reflex in the body because it allows them to change the direction to keep the game active in a real way.

Duties of Chaser

Chasers in KhoKho KreedOn
Team in Yellow jersey are chasers (Credits Mybloghowtoplaykhokho)

Chasers are the opponents of the defender, whose aim is to touch the defender. It is recommended for every chaser to keep a close eye on his defender. This helps them to give a perfect pass (Kho) to their team member in order to touch the defender and bag points. It is essential to block the opponent in various ways to gain points in an easy manner.

Kho Kho Skills

Kho Kho KreedOn
(Credits: DNA)

Judgment of direction is one of the foremost skills one must hone while playing the game. This skill proves how fast and attentive you are. You must be very responsive to your teammates. This is required while getting up from the square. This game burns your calorie. One must run fast. It’s not just a relay, it includes a single chain running, zig-zag running, and straight running.

Role of Referee

KhoKho KreedOn
Match Officials (Credits YouTube)

The referee must give a thorough look at the score sheets and playing area. The referee must coordinate with the umpires, in order to perform their duties well. If a player purposefully obstructs the conduct of the play or behaves in an ungentlemanly or mischievous manner, the referee can penalize the defaulting player. A referee can announce the warning by calling the chest number of the runner or chaser and showing a Yellow Card. It shall be recorded by Scorer-1 by marking the chest number in the warning column. The referee can announce the ‘forbidden’ from participation in future play in a similar way as a warning by displaying a Red Card.

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Kho Kho Federation of India

The game’s primary sports body is known as the Kho-Kho Federation of India (KKFI). It has its branches in all the states and it has been conducting Mini, Junior, and Open National Championships for both genders, in many parts of India.

Kho Kho Tournaments in India

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India hosts many competitions (Credits: dfordelhi)

There are many tournaments played in India namely, National Championships, National Women Championship, Junior National, Sub Junior National Championship, All India Inter-University Championship, School Championship, Mini School Championship, Primary Mini School Championship, and Federation Cup. As per some media results, after the success of the Pro Kabaddi League (PKL) in India, another traditional sport from our country is set to get a league of its own this year. The League will be called Ultimate Kho Kho.

Awards in India

There are special awards given for the players who show prolific performance in the game. Janaki Award is given to a girl (Under 18) for her stellar show in the game. Veer Abhimanyu Award is similar to Janaki Award but it’s awarded to a boy who comes under the age of 18. The Karnataka government once recognized Ekalavya Award for the game.

Kho Kho Players


Following are the major Kho Kho players in India:

  • Balasaheb Pokarde
  • Raju Buchannagari
  • Sagar Potdar
  • Shreyas Raul
  • Akshay Ganpule
  • Sudarshan
  • Deepak Madhav
  • Abhinandan Patil
  • Satyajit Singh
  • Suresh Sawant
  • Muneerbasha Ahamadjohn
  • Dhanwin Khopkar
  • Sibin Mailankil
  • Jagdev Singh
  • Tapan Paul


These women Kho Kho players are the gem of India:

  • Nasreen
  • Kajal Bhor
  • Priyanka Bhopi
  • Aishwarya Sawant
  • Pornima Sakpal
  • Krishna Yadav
  • Nikita Pawar
  • Apeksha Sutar
  • Sasmita Sharma
  • Eshita Biswas
  • Mukesh
  • Maya
  • Parveen Nisha
  • Kalaivani Kathirkaman
  • Nancy Jain

Kho Kho Images

Kho Kho game KreedOn
Source: Pinterest


kho kho game KreedOn
Image Source: traditionalsports



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How is Kho Kho played?

The game is played on a rectangular field with two teams of twelve players each. One team tries to tag the players of the other team while avoiding being tagged themselves. The chasing team aims to tag the players and make them “out” while the defending team tries to avoid being tagged and stay in the game.

What is the objective of Kho Kho?

The main aim in Kho Kho is for the chasing team to swiftly tag the defending players, while the defending team strives to evade being tagged and thwart the efforts of the chasers.

What equipment is needed to play Kho Kho?

Kho Kho is a simple game that doesn’t require any special equipment. Players wear comfortable sports clothing and shoes suitable for running and moving swiftly on the ground.

Are there any variations of Kho Kho?

Indeed, Kho Kho exhibits diverse versions like ‘Ranga Kho,’ ‘Ceylon Kho,’ and ‘Satara Kho.’ These adaptations encompass distinct rules and styles of play, yet they preserve the fundamental principle of pursuing and tagging.

Is Kho Kho suitable for all age groups?

Yes, Kho Kho is a versatile game suitable for a wide range of age groups, from children to adults. It can be adapted to suit different skill levels and fitness levels, making it an inclusive sport.

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Akshay Badwe
Akshay Badwe
The God taught me to love everybody but the most ones I learned to love are the athletes. Desire, determination and discipline takes me to a great deal of love towards sports. One can call me an avid sport maniac because I love to pen down some glorious content on sports. Being from journalism background with experience in media from couple of years I would like to keep this legacy going and now joining Kreedon gives me one more platform to explore the new world. I am always up to have a word on sports with a coffee.



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