What is Sepak Takraw?

When we think of sports, the first few ones that come to mind are probably the usual – basketball, football, tennis, and volleyball. But have you heard of sepak takraw?

What is Sepak Takraw?

Native to the Southeast Asian region, sepak takraw is a sport also known as ‘kick volleyball’. Sepak means “to kick” in the Malay language, while takraw translates to “rattan ball” in Thai. Just as the name, “kick volleyball” suggests, it is essentially similar to volleyball. The only difference is instead of using your hands, you use your feet to kick. Another notable difference is the ball used in the sport – players use a ball made of made rattan!


It is believed that sepak takraw actually originated in Malaysia in the 15th century. But it wasn’t until the 16th century when its neighbouring country, Indonesia picked up the sport as well. Years have passed and finally, in 1940, the net version of the sport spread across Southeast Asia and took the region by storm.

U.S. Air Force and Royal Malaysian Air Force airmen compete in volleyball as part of Cope Taufan 2012 at TUDM Butterworth April 12, 2012. The airmen competed in soccer, volleyball and sepak takraw, a traditional Malaysian sport, as part of a camaraderie and friendship building event. Sports have long played and important role in building esprit de corps and physical fitness in both countries militaries. Cope Taufan is a live-flying exercise designed around dissimilar basic fighter maneuvers and dissimilar air combat tactics training. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Matt Summers)

Today, it is enjoyed by many, even beyond the borders of Asia. Although the sport originated in Southeast Asia, sepak takraw is also making waves in the West.

How Does it Work

Despite it being called kick ‘volleyball’, players are allowed to use more than just their feet to kick the ball. They can also use their head, chest as well as knees to touch the ball. Although a rattan ball to the head doesn’t sound like much fun!

The rules and setup are similar to that of volleyball. In sepak takraw, there are two teams with two players in each team. Players can only touch the ball using their feet, head, chest and knees to try and kick the ball past the net to the opponent’s side, just like in volleyball.

For those who want to get started on the sport, it’s pretty simple. For leisure purposes, it can be played almost anywhere as long as it’s a wide and open space, preferably an indoor or outdoor court where you can set up your net! After that’s done, you’re ready to go. Don’t forget to put on your kicking shoes and have a ball!

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