Sepak Takraw (Kick Volleyball, or just Takraw for short) is a sport native to Southeast Asia, resembling volleyball, except that it uses a rattan ball and only allows players to use their feet and head to touch the ball. A cross between soccer and volleyball, it is a popular sport in Thailand, Malaysia, Laos and Indonesia. Played on a badminton doubles-sized court, the game evolved from a hacky sack-type practice, into the aiming of a kick into a high, suspended net. Eventually, competitive takraw developed, pitting teams of players versus each other across a volleyball-type net.
Modern competitive takraw allows three players to a team, one to serve, one to gather the ball, and one to deliver the ball at high speed across the net; the killer (like the 'spiker' in volleyball.) Modern contests play to 21 points.
In Thailand, the game is simply called Takraw (Thai: ??????, meaning "ball" or "basket"). It is also thuck thay (Lao: "twine" and "kick"), or sepak takraw (Malay: "kick" and "takraw" from Thai)
Similar games include bossaball, footbag net, footvolley, jianzi and sipa. Another version of the sport involves the use of bamboo scoops to both toss and catch a ball in a simple game of "catch."
The most prestigious tournament of this sport is the King's Cup World Championships, the most recent of which was held in Bangkok, Thailand. As of 2006, there have been 21 King's Cup tournaments.
Thailand currently has the most successful national team in the world, winning 19 of the 21 King's Cup World Sepak Takraw Championships title throughout the years and four Asian Games men's team gold medals in 1994, 1998, 2002 and 2006. Malaysia has the second most successful national team, winning two King's Cup titles and the inaugural Asian Games men's team gold medal in 1990. Myanmar is a new and upcoming force in this sport, as they have reached the final stages of major tournaments like the Asian Games and Southeast Asian Games. There has also been considerable growth of the sport in Vietnam as well as in Korea, Japan, China.
A sepak takraw game is played between three regus, or teams, each regu consisting of three players and one substitute. Each game is composed of three sets in the same manner as badminton. Only three players from each side are allowed inside the court during play but a substitution can be called anytime during the game. However, once a substitution is made, no further substitutions are allowed for the duration of the game.
In a formal competition, there are two kinds of matches: the regu competition and the team competition. In a regu competition, two regus play a game consisting of three sets and the regu with the mosts sets won is declared the winner.
A team competition is more complicated. Each team fields three regus so that a sepak takraw team has a total of 12 players. The first regus of each team will play a three set game and the winning regu earns a point for its team. The second regus of each team will then play and the winner of this second game will earn a point for its team. If the winner of the first and second regu games belong to the same team then the match is finished and the third regus need not play. If however, the winner of the first regu game is not the same team that won the second regu game the third regus will play for the deciding game.
The regu competition is most often played during local events and during physical education. However, in a larger event the team competition is generally preferred.
Played in a court 20' x 44' (13.4m x 6.1m) similar to a doubles badminton court. The net that divides the court stands 5' (1.52m) at the centre and 5' 1" (1.55m) at the posts for men; 4' 8" (1.42m) at the centre and 4' 9" (1.45m) at the posts for women.
Traditionally hand-woven, the takraw ball is made of rattan stems or hard plastic. A ball weighs approximately 250 grams.
Two teams compete for higher scores by spiking a ball into the opponents' court. Each team gets three chances to kick, knee, shoulder or head the ball back to the opposing team. Like in volleyball, there are passes, sets and spikes, but the strokes must be made soccer-style: no hands or arms allowed.
A sight to behold is the smash, in which a player executes a bicycle kick to fire the ball into the opponent's court with great force. In contrast to soccer bicycle kicks, in which the players usually land on their backs (which would be both painful and dangerous on the hard sepak takraw pitch), sepak takraw players are agile enough to land on their feet again.
The same rules apply as for international volleyball, with the following exceptions:
- players are prohibited from using their hands;
- a player or a team can touch the ball 3 successive times;
- the players position of the defensive team is not rotated
The match is composed of three sets. The team winning two out of three is declared the winner. All three sets are played in a rally manner. The first two sets are played to 21 points. The team reaching 21 points wins the set. If both teams reach 20 points, the match is extended until a team wins by two points, up to 25. The third set is played for 15 points in rally manner. If both team reach 14 points, it is extended until a teams wins by two points, up to 17.
Hoop takraw is a variation being played in Thailand, where it is known as lawd buang or lawd huang. The play is similar to circle takraw, especially in its ballet-like moves and the emphasis on creativity, but the goal is to put the ball into a basket-shaped net with three hoop openings in a triangular formation suspended some five to six metres above ground. Each team is given an allotted time, usually 20 or 30 minutes, to put the ball in the basket as many times and as gracefully as they can. Like circle takraw, points are awarded for difficulty, so players break out their full repertoires of such expert manoeuvres as cross-legged jump kicks and other artistic kicks behind the back or with the sole of the foot as well as strikes with the elbows, shoulders and forehead.
Another version of the sport involves the use of bamboo scoops to both toss and catch a ball in a simple game of "catch."External Links
- A Traditional Southeast Asian Sport
English Sepak Takraw Association
Sepak Takraw Information (Association Berlin)
Takraw in Thailand
Rattan takraw balls
Sepak Takraw in Cologne and Europe