What Are Basic Sepak Takraw Rules And Scoring?

In order to play sepak takraw kicking game like a professional, we first have to learn sepak takraw rules. After learning sepak takraw rules, then we will be on our way to learning how to play sepak takraw like the pros. 

Sepak Takraw Rules

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What is Sepak Takaraw?

Sepak Takraw literally translates to “Kick the ball”. Some trace the origins back to 15th century South Asia, and some trace it back even further. Sepak Takraw is a kicking sport that originated in South Asia. It combines the rules of soccer and volleyball.

Two teams of 3 players faceoff until one wins by scoring 21 points (must be at least a 2 pt. lead).

The sepak takraw that we know today was formalized in the mid 20th century when the International Sepak Takraw Federation (ISTAF) governing body was formed. This governing body standardized sepak takraw rules so that everyone could agree on how to play sepak takraw.

Sepak Takraw around the world

There seem to be several variations of sepak takraw across the globe.

In Malay it is called “sepak rega”;
in the Philippines, it is called “sipa”;
in Vietnam, it is called “cầu mây”.

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Sometimes referred to as “kick volleyball”, this foot-focused game is similar to other kicking games such as Jokgu, footbag net, football net, and more. There are slight variations between these sports, but the spirit remains the same. Teams are to volley a ball until one or the other “faults”(more on these later). “Faults” result in points, and points result in winning a game.

Sepak Takraw is a sport played on a court that is 13.4 m x 6.1 m. The court is divided by a net about 1.5 m from the ground. It is played with a hollow ball about the size of a grapefruit. The ball is typically made from rattan, plastic, or rubber, and it is required to have 21 intersections and at least 12 holes.

While sepak takraw holds some popularity all over the globe, it is far more popular in Asian cultures. It is probably most recognizable due to the martial arts style acrobatic kicks. Players commonly perform “spikes” (see article “Sepak Takraw Terminologies Commonly used”) and “roll spikes” to score points.

How to Play Sepak Takraw

How to play sepak takraw is fairly simple. Each team occupies one side of the court. A coin flip decides which team serves first.

A team will serve for an entire set (set = 21 pts.).  After the first set is completed, the other team serves for the next set. The team that wins two sets first is the winner.

The set begins when the setter/bowler/tosser tosses the ball to the Tekong who kicks the ball over the net to the opposing team. The setter and striker must stay in their designated space until the ball crosses the net. Teams have 3 touches to return the ball over the net.

The touches that are allowed are the same as in soccer. Players are able to use their entire bodies with the exception of the arm – from shoulder to fingertip.

Points are scored as one team commits faults, which brings us to the rules of the game.  

Sepak Takraw Rules

The sepak takraw rules are simple, especially if you are familiar with volleyball and football (soccer). The object is to score points against the other team by touching their side of the court with the ball, or by the other team committing a “fault”.

A “fault” is committed when one team does one of the following:

  • Kicks the ball out of bounds
  • A team exceeds 3 touches before returning the ball across the net
  • Touches ball with arm or hand
  • Tekong (server) makes contact without being on the ground on a serve
  • Tekong does not make contact on serve
  • Touching the net
  • The ball hits the ceiling or ground
Sepak Takraw Rules

Source: “Point!” by Andrew Blight – Under Commercial use license

Sepak Takraw is often compared to both football and volleyball for good reason.

Again, sepak takraw rules are similar to football (soccer) ball contact rules, players are not allowed to touch the ball with arms or hands – everything else is fair game.

The sepak takraw rules that overlap with volleyball rules are the 3 touches, not touching the net, and not allowing the ball to touch the ground on your side of the court.  

The first team to get 21 pts. – leading by at least 2 pts – is declared the winner of the set. The team that wins 2 sets first is declared the winner.

Sepak Takraw Scoring

Knowing how to keep score is fundamental when learning how to play sepak takraw. Scoring is simple: Avoid faults.

The previous section outlines sepak takraw rules. A point is scored whenever one or more of the sepak takraw rules are breached.

If a team lets the ball hit the ground on their side, then the other team receives a point. If a player touches the ball with their arm or hand, the other team gets a point. If a player touches the net, then the other team gets a point. If a team doesn’t return the ball within 3 touches, then the other team gets a point – so on and so forth…

Each set (game) is played to 21. Teams must win by two points. In the event that neither team has won by two points, the first team to 25 wins the game. Teams play the best out of three sets, and teams’ alternate serving with each set.

Now you have the basics!

Having this outline of how to play sepak takraw and sepak takraw rules will help you learn to play in no time. If it seems confusing on paper, don’t worry. It will all make sense once you get out there with some friends and start playing!

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