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Volleyball but with feet instead of hands and arms

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April 1, 2021


Sepak takraw is a sport that’s most common in Asia and Southeast Asia and is typically not a familiar sport to many western countries.

Sepak takraw — also known as kick volleyball — is a very old sport, credited with starting up in the fifteenth century by Topend Sports

Despite having a number of distinctions, this sport seems to share a similar appearance and method as volleyball. But, while they may look like alike, sepak takraw is different because players use their feet.

Created in Southeast Asia, sepak takraw is played with two teams of three players. According to bangkok.com, the three positions of these players are called left inside, right inside and back or “teukgong.”

The sepak takraw court is comparable to the size of a badminton court and the net stands at 1.5 feet tall. The ball is the size of a grapefruit and was traditionally made of woven bamboo or rattan back when the sport first started.

The rules for scoring in sepak takraw are similar to volleyball as well. The team with the ball gets three touches to put it over the net on the other side of the court without it hitting the ground.

The first team to 15 or 21 points — depending on what was chosen beforehand — take the set. Whoever wins the best of three matches wins the game. 

Players start by serving the ball to the other team. This is done by keeping one foot in the “serving circle” while the other kicks it over. 

Volleyball rules apply for the rest of the rally, except that hands and arms cannot be used. 

There are a number of basic kicks that players employ to keep the ball aloft. Among some of these are the sole kick, instep kick, knee kick, shin kick, shoulder kick and head kick.

A spike — a hit that sends the ball directly to the ground and results in a point — is notoriously hard to do in sepak takraw because it requires one’s feet to be above the net to achieve such an accomplishment.

Professional sepak takraw players can spike and land on their feet. The move typically resembles a bicycle kick like in soccer, which leads one to land on their back unless they can maneuver fast enough.

BBC said that, while the sport is wildly popular in Southeast Asia, it is still relatively unknown worldwide. 

This could change if the International Sepaktakraw Federation (ISTAF) can get the sport included in the Olympics.

For now, sepak takraw isn’t in the Olympic lineup. However, one sporting event that has focused attention on sepak takraw is the Southeast Asian Games (SEA).

According to the SEA Games website, sepak takraw has been a part of the games since 1965 where the name “sepak takraw” was coined.

There are many names for the sport but it was decided for the SEA Games it would combine the Malay word for “kick” and the Thai word for “ball” to create “sepak takraw.”

The next SEA Games will be this year from Nov. 30 to Dec. 11 in the Philippines.

Spierings can be reached at [email protected].