Sepak Takraw Rules

Sepak Takraw
Photo credit: Pal2iyawit /

Sepak Takraw is a volleyball-like game that originated in Southeast Asia. With a literal translation of ‘Kick Ball’, 3 players compete against their opposition on a volleyball style court with a net across the middle.

Unlike volleyball, in Sepak Takraw, players are not allowed to use their hands to play the ball and are required to use their feet, head, knees and chest to touch the ball. Popular across Southeast Asia, it is particularly popular in Malaysia where it is locally known as 'Sepak Raga' and Thailand where it is called 'Takraw'.

The game’s history stretches back to the 15th century with slightly differing versions of the game being played in different parts of Southeast Asia. It was in the 1940s, however, that the first set of formalised rules were introduced and the game took the official name of Sepak Takraw with, ISTAF, the International Sepak Takraw Federation governing the sport worldwide where it is growing in popularity year-on-year. Outside of Southeast Asia, the game is particularly popular in the USA and Canada and other western countries where there are significant southeast Asian communities.

Object of the Game

The object of the game is for one team to score more points than their opposition by causing their opponents to commit a fault, resulting in a score being awarded. However, in a slightly different version of the game called 'Chin Lone' played in Myanmar (Burma), teams actually play together, the game being considered more of an art in which the aim is not to beat any opposition, but to keep the ball aloft in increasingly interesting and graceful ways.

Players & Equipment

Each of the two teams in Sepak Takraw consists of three players, each playing a specific position. These are the ‘Teukgong’ which is the player who stands furthest back on the court and an Inside Left Inside and a Right Inside who play closer to the net on each side of the court.

The ball used in games are made of a number of synthetic materials and all balls must be approved by ISTAF if being used in competition. Balls are ‘woven’, and must consist of 12 holes and 20 intersections and be with the regulation size and weight

Games are to be played on a court that is similar to a double sized badminton court with dimensions of 13.4 x 6.1 metres with a net stretched across the centre at a height of 1.5m for men and 1.42m for women.


Scoring in Sepak Takraw is relatively simple with a side receiving a point every time their opponents fault. Faults (which result in a point for the opposition) include:

  • The Tekong jumping off the ground to make the service
  • The Tekong not licking the ball when making service
  • An Inside player touches the net whilst throwing the ball
  • The ball fails to cross to the opposition's half
  • The ball goes over the net but lands outside of the court boundaries
  • Playing the ball more than 3 times in a row
  • Touching the ball on the opposing side
  • The ball touches the arm
  • Holding or grabbing the ball
  • The ball touching the ceiling or any other object

Winning the Game

A game of Sepak Takraw is won by the first side to win two sets. Each set is is won by the team that is first to reach 21 points. If a set is tied 21-21, then a tie breaker shall be played in which the first team to open up a two point lead or reaches 25 points is declared the winner. Because of the fast and athletic nature of the game, it takes a good degree of physical fitness, flexibility as well as teamwork for a team to be successful in winning a match.

Rules of Sepak Takraw

  • Games of Sepak Takraw shall be played by two teams of three players.
  • Games should be played on a court that fits the regulation size and markings as set out by ITSAF, with an official Sepak Takraw ball.
  • The team to serve first is decided by a coin toss before the match commences.
  • Play begins when the server is thrown the ball by a teammate and must then kick the ball over the net whilst keeping one foot in the service circle.
  • Players may only touch the ball with their feet, head, knees and chest. Touching the ball with the hand or any other part of the body can result in a fault and a point for the opposition.
  • Each team is allowed a maximum of three touches of the ball to return it back over the net without letting it touch the ground.
  • Failure to return the ball over the net before it hits the ground results in a point to the opposition.
  • Points are always scored in Sepak Takraw by the opposition faulting, and they can do this in a number of ways (see above).
  • The first team to reach 21 points wins a set. The first team to win two sets is declared the winner.