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Kho kho

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Kho kho
Kho kho playing in Govt middle school, Nallambal, Karaikal
First playedIndia
Team members12 players per side, 9 in the field and 3 extra
EquipmentNone (except the two poles on the court)
Country or regionSouth Asia

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Kho-Kho is a traditional Indian sport, being one of the oldest outdoor sports dating back to ancient India.[1] It is the second most popular traditional tag game in the Indian subcontinent after Kabaddi.[2] Kho-Kho is played on a rectangular court with a central line drawn between two poles which are at either end of the court. During the game, nine players from the chasing team (offensive team) are on the field, with eight of them sitting on their knees at the central line, while three players from the defending team run around the court and try to avoid being touched by members of the chasing team. Each kneeling player on the chasing team sits facing alternating directions from the central line.

At any time, one player on the chasing team (the "active chaser") may run around the court to attempt to tag (touch) members of the defending team, with one point scored per tag, and each tagged defender required to leave the field; however, the active chaser can not cross the central line to access the other half of the field, and also must only run in the direction they took their first step in. The chasing team can get around these restrictions if the active chaser either switches roles with a kneeling teammate (by touching them on the back while saying "Kho") who is facing the other half of the court and therefore has access to it, or runs to the pole at the other end of the court and then switches direction/half. Each team has two turns to score and two turns to defend, with each turn lasting nine minutes. The team that scores the most points by the end of the game wins.[3]

The sport is widely played across South Asia, and also has a strong presence in the regions outside South Asia, such as South Africa and England. It is played most often by school children in India and Pakistan and is a competitive game.[4]


  • Total area requirement 30m x 19m (inclusive of 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 nos. intersecting the central lane. Each lane measuring 16m x 35m.
  • Pole Size - Height (above ground level - 120cm to 125cm, Diameter 9–10cm.)


  • The game comprises two teams with 12 players each (as per the rules of the Asian Kho - Kho Federation 15 players each) in the team while only 9 players actually playing.
  • The match comprises 4 turns consisting of two defence and two chase turns.
  • Every turn is of 9 minutes duration.
  • Every put-out defender brings one point to the chasing team.
  • The high scoring team is declared as the winner.
  • The game consists of defence as well as tracking skills.
  • Defence: Single chain, double chain, ring game, dodging and faking.
  • Chasing: running dives, pole dives, deceiving (judgement) Kho on the pole, delayed Kho, moving into cross lanes, etc.

Score Sheet[edit]


The name comes from Marathi: खोखो (khō-khō),[5] the word kho is imitative of the sound invoked while playing the game.[6]


The origin of Kho-Kho is very difficult to trace, but many historians believe that it is a modified form of 'Tag'/'Catch', which in its simplest form involves chasing and touching a person. Originating in Tamil Nadu, Kho-Kho in ancient times was played on 'raths' or chariots and was known as Rathera.[7] Kho-Kho is featured in the Ancient Indian Sanskrit epic Mahabharata.[3]

The present appearance of the game was an adoption from the time of World War I in 1914. But at that time, there were neither any dimensions of the playground nor the poles which demarcate the central line. The time factor was also missing.

The Deccan Gymkhana club of Pune, Maharashtra so named and baptized by the great Indian leader Lokmanya Tilak & Bhai Narorkar drafted the first-ever rules and regulations which symbolized the metamorphosis of the game soon to follow. This initial stage marked the limitation of the playground and yet sadly lacked the poles demarking the central line in the field. Instead, less experienced players were posted squatting at the ends of the latter and chasers ran around them to return to the midfield.

But, even then the game caught the imagination of the experts in the field. The experts took no time to realize that the game demands the highest degree of quick and brisk movements, very high grade of nerve reflexes and tremendous stamina which are characteristic of a supreme athlete. The game requires all motor qualities alike speed, endurance, flexibility, agility, strength and neuromuscular coordination. As per merit, it is appreciated by press, media and spectators. The first Kho-Kho tournaments were organized in 1914, and the first national championship was held in 1959 at Vijayawada under the auspices of the Kho-Kho Federation of India (KKFI), which was formed in 1955.

The game with its fast pace, so fascinated the spectators that the Governor of Bombay Presidency H.E. Lord Willingdon also admired the merits and potentials of the game. The years 1923-24 saw the foundation of the Inter School Sports Organization, and Kho Kho was introduced to develop at the grassroots and consequently popularize the sport. The move certainly showed the results and the game of Kho Kho mainly owes it to the efforts taken by the Deccan Gymkhana and Hind Vijay Gymkhana.

In the year 1938, Kho Kho moved one step forward when Akhil Maharashtra Sharirik Shikshan Mandal organized zonal sports at Akola which attracted tremendous response from the budding enthusiasts as well as organizers. The team size was restricted to 9 players per team and sport was played without the poles. At the beginning of the match, players used to take 3 rounds of the court from post to post and then started the match. This needed yet another few reforms which were adopted in 1943 as well as 1945.

Kho kho was exhibited in Sweden and Denmark in the year 1949 but it didn't leave any effect on the spectators (foreigner). After coming back in 1949, the poles were featured in the game. Also, the 3 rounds at the beginning of the game were reduced to one round from pole to pole. In 1951, even the one round was eliminated. In the year 1955, Akhil Bharatiya Kho Kho Mandal was established and the first ever All India Kho Kho Championship was organized at Vijayawada, Andhra Pradesh in 1959-60 under the auspices of Kho Kho Federation of India. The years 1960-61 featured Women's Championship for the first time in Kolhapur, Maharashtra.

Individual prizes were introduced in the year 1963. Vishwanath Mayekar won the first Man of the Tournament named "Ekalavya Award". The Woman of the Tournament "Rani Laxmibai Award" was claimed by Usha Anantham of Mysore.

The years 1969 and 1970 featured the Junior age group competitions at Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh. Youth under 18 Years and Boys under 16 Years of age were two new categories introduced where the best youth player of the tournament was honoured by "Abhimanyu Award". Junior Girls under 16 Years tournament was held in 1974 at Dewas, Madhya Pradesh, where two more categories Sub-Junior Boys under 14 Years and Girls under 12 Years also commenced. The best Sub-Juniors Boy & Girls was awarded "Bharat Award" and "Veer Bala Award" respectively. In 1970, Arjuna Award was awarded to Shri Sudhir Parab from Gujarat.

In the year 1982, the Kho Kho Federation of India organized Men's and Women's Yearly Championship as Federation Cup. Kho Kho was featured in the Asian Games, 1982 for the first time in New Delhi. It was appreciated by Asian countries. After looking at its grand success Sports Authority of India and Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, Govt. of India deputed their coaches all over the country to develop the sport of Kho Kho scientifically at grass root level.

Looking back at its success, it was one of the main featured during 12th South Asian Games, 2016 held at Guwahati, Assam from 5 to 9 February 2016. It happened just because of the sincere efforts of Shri Rajeev Mehta, President, KKFI & Secretary General, IOA. The participating countries were Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal and host country India. This tournament was well organized under the leadership of Shri. M. S. Tyagi, Competition Director (Kho Kho). All the Asian countries appreciated and ensured of introducing the sport in their respective countries. 1st Asian Championship took place at Calcutta, West Bengal in 1996 followed by the 2nd Asian Championship in the year 2000 at Dhaka, Bangladesh. The 3rd Asian Championship was held in the month of April 2016 at Indore, Madhya Pradesh. The participating countries were Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal, Korea and host country India. The test series was played between India and England in January–February, 2017 at different venues in India namely Mumbai, Rajasthan and New Delhi.[8]

In 1999, The Asian Kho Kho Federation was established during the 3rd edition of the South Asian Games. Member countries included India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Maldives. The 1st Asian Championship was held at Kolkata in 1996 and the second championship at Dhaka, Bangladesh. India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Nepal, Japan, Thailand were participants of this championship.

In 2013, the Kho Kho Federation of England was formed by Brij Haldania, who had played competitively for Rajasthan before settling down in United Kingdom. With the aim of developing the game to an international level, he built relationships with M.S Tyagi (Kho-Kho Federation of India), Sudhanshu Mittal (Asian Kho-Kho Federation) and Rajeev Mehta (Indian Olympic Association). With the collaborative efforts of these individuals, the sport has reached new heights. In 2018, the 'International Kho-Kho Federation' was formed to govern and guide the sport of Kho-Kho globally

In July 2022, the player draft for "Ultimate Kho Kho" was completed, which will be a six-team franchise-based Indian Kho Kho tournament. Its inaugural season will run from August 15 to September 4, 2022.[9]


A kho kho playing field is rectangular. It is 27 by 16 metres (89 ft × 52 ft) in length nio. In the middle of these two rectangles, there are two wooden poles. The central lane's dimensions are 24 m × 30cm. There are eight cross lanes which lie across the central lane, whose dimensions are 16 m × 35cm. It makes the small rectangles and each of them are 16 m × 2.3 m (the two rectangles of near by the wooden poles are 2.55 m wide), at right angles to the central lane and divided equally into two parts of 7.85 m (25.8 ft) each by the central lane. At the end of the central lane, the free zone tangent to the post-line, two smooth wooden posts are fixed, 120 cm to 125 cm high from the ground, and their circumference is 28.25 to 31.4cm. The equipment used in kho kho are poles/post, strings, metallic measuring tape, lime powder, wire nails, two watches, types of rings having inner circumference of 28.25 and 31.4cm, score shots (like a whistle, for instance), and equipment to record the results. However, for unofficial games, only lime powder (or any substitute) may be used as long as the cross lanes, centre lane and field boundaries are clearly distinguished. The strings, as well as the rings, are for the sole purpose of properly demarcating the same.


There are usually two referees standing on the opposite sides of the rectangular field. Both carry a stopwatch and each of them is responsible for giving a decision on their opposite side of the field (because they can watch the game play in front of them more clearly than when it is on their same side). The referees decision will be the final for every outcome.

See also[edit]

Other articles of the topic Sports : National Collegiate Athletic Association, Basketball, SmackDown Women's Champion
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  1. Hard Bound Lab Manual Health and Physical Education, p. 41
  2. Peter A Hastie (2010). Student-Designed Games: Strategies for Promoting Creativity, Cooperation, and Skill Development. Human Kinetics. p. 52. ISBN 978-0-7360-8590-8. Search this book on
  3. 3.0 3.1 Nag, Utathya (2022-06-24). "Kho Kho, a kabaddi-like sport linked with Indian epic Mahabharata - know all about it". Archived from the original on 2022-06-24. Retrieved 2022-06-24. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  4. ahmed, usman (14 August 2011). "Trip down memory lane: The games we play…". The Express Tribune. Retrieved 4 June 2020.
  5. "kho-kho". Lexico UK English Dictionary. Oxford University Press. n.d.
  6. Molesworth, J. T. (James Thomas) (1857). "A dictionary, Marathi and English. 2d ed., rev. and enl". Retrieved 27 April 2020.
  7. "To develop a tapping skill test for kho-kho female players".
  8. Kho-Kho Federation of India,
  9. "143 players picked in the Ultimate Kho Kho Season 1 players draft". TimesNow. Retrieved 2022-07-15.