Rules of Sepak Takraw | How it is Played?

If you have seen Football and Volleyball, then Sepak Takraw would feel like a familiar game to you. Because it combines the elements from both games, the rules are also quite similar.

Anyway, the Sepak Takraw is a sport native Southeast Asia. It is maybe known as slightly different names in Indonesia, Malaysia and Philippines, but the rules and object of the game remain the same.

Rules of Sepak Takraw

The history of the game stretches back to the 15th century with the game being played in different versions in different regions of Southeast Asia. It was in the 1940s when the first set of formalised rules for the game were introduced and it got the official name Sepak Takraw and a governing body was also formed.

Despite the prejudices between both regions, the game is getting popular in the USA, Canada and other western countries who have always preferred to develop their own games instead of adopting the foreign ones.

Object of the Sepak Takraw

The object of the game is to score 21 points with a 2-point lead to win a set, and a game can consist of 3 or more sets. In the end, upon reaching the decided number of sets, the team with the most number of set wins is declared winner.

The settings remain pretty much the same as in volleyball but the point can only be scored by hitting the ball with your legs into the opponent’s half over the net.

How to Play?

Sepak Takraw is a team sport in which players from both sides are supposed to hit the ball with their legs to score points. It is played in a similar court to Volleyball with a net suspended in the middle, both teams have their halves in which they stand. The ball used in it is different from Volleyball, and players have to stand in the marked areas during the service.

Sepak Takraw rules show no soft corner even for small infringements, and scoring can be difficult to learn if you haven’t heard much about this game. To learn every rule from A to Z in an easy manner, you need only 5 minutes to read every single rule discussed below.

General Rules of Sepak Takraw

  • The game is played between two teams and each team can have 3 players per side.
  • You can have 2 substitutes for players.
  • You can only hit the ball with your feet, head, knees and chest. Touching the ball with any other part of the body is not allowed. You can also prevent the attacking shot by using your back to the incoming ball. In case of
  • every wrong touch, opposition will get a point for this violation.
  • There are three circles in every court, in which the players must stay in during the serve.
  • A maximum of 3 touches are allowed before returning the ball back to the other side of the court. Failure to do so would result in a point for the opposition.
  • You can’t let the ball bounce on the ground, it is too considered as a foul.
  • Points in this game are only scored whenever the opposition commits a foul.
  • The first to reach 21 points with a 2-point lead is declared winner.
  • If both the teams have a 20-20 score, the team that scores 2 consecutive points from here will win the game.
  • The match goes on even after 21 points, if no team has taken a 2-point lead yet.


Which team will serve first is decided through a coin toss.

Time Duration of the Game

There are no time limits, it depends on the number of sets and how long each set lasts and how long the game will stretch. A 3-set game would usually end in less than 90 minutes. Set numbers are usually kept odd so a winner can be easily chosen at the end.

Playing Field

It is played in a court similar to the one we have in Badminton. The court is 13.4 m long and 6.1 m wide. The net is 1.52 m above the ground. Around the net are white markings which indicate out of the bounds area and every time a team sends the ball in that area it is called a foul and a point is awarded to the opposition.

Service circle: The service circles are 0.3m in radius and there are three of them in a court. One is in the center, one on the left while one on the right. The middle one is called a service circle from which a player makes a service.

Playing Equipment

All you need for a game of Sepak Takraw is a ball and a net.

Ball: The ball used in this game is made of a number of synthetic materials and the ball must be approved by ISTAF if it is being used for an international competition.

It has 12 holes and 20 intersections with a weight range between 170-180 grams and a circumference between 42cm- 44cm.

Net: The net used in it is made of fine ordinary cord or nylon with 6-8 cm mesh. It is quite similar to a Volleyball net. The net should be 0.7 m in width and must not be shorter than 6.10 m in length. It is taped at 0.5 m from tap double at the top and sidelines, called boundary tape.

Scoring in Sepak Takraw

As said earlier, the scoring in this game takes place whenever your opponent makes a foul. Here’s what kind of fouls win you a point:

  • Service made by your opponent by jumping off the ground or by outside the service circle.
  • When your opponent touches the net while throwing the ball.
  • The ball fails to get into your half after being hit by your opponent and lands in his own.
  • The ball is hit by your opponent and it lands outside the court boundaries, no bounds area.
  • When your opponent fails to send the ball in your court despite touching it 3 times.
  • The ball touches the arm of your opponent.
  • Your opponent mistakenly caught the ball.

Referee’s Role

Referees have a very important role to play. He is responsible for the coin toss to be held before the start of the game, fouls, and making sure that all players are complying with the rules of the game. No substitution can be made without the referee’s permission.

Famous Sepak Takraw Tournaments

Though the game is still gradually spreading around the globe, international level events like ISTAF World Cup and the King’s Cup World Championships are held every year.

Different nations participate in these tournaments by sending their national teams. The game is now a regular part of sport events like Asian games and the Southeast Asian games.

Governing Body

It is governed by the International Sepaktakraw Federation, commonly known as ISTAF. It was formed in 1988 and its goal was to spread Sepak Takraw into 75 different countries and ultimately make it an Olympic sport. All international events of the sports are held according to the set of rules designed by the federation.