The fascinating evolution of kabaddi over the past few years has changed the game dramatically. Since the speed of the game has increased exponentially and teams have elaborate plans for each match, it may seem that the team executing their plans better is the one who holds an upper hand. However, the element of spontaneity still has a huge part to play and nothing can substitute the natural instinct that players train relentlessly to sharpen for match situations.

The ability to make decisions in an instant is critical in raiding according to Rohit Baliyan.

Right use of the mind

“Instantaneous decision making is the most important thing for any raider,” Rohit Baliyan told “You must have seen that our coaches take timeouts mid-game and advise us to go in for a bonus, touch point or empty raid based on their reading of the game. At the same time, defenders from the opposition would also be guided and made aware of a raider’s probable plan. That’s why we need to use our brain accordingly to calculate the probability of getting caught.

“It’s a game where anything can happen, and we need to keep our focus and our heads in the right place. This helps us in understanding a void in the defensive tactics based on their positioning in the Corners or the Covers.”

Season 6’s Most Valuable Player (MVP) Pawan Sehrawat explains how he makes a mental note of his plans before going for a raid.

“I may decide to execute a Kick on the Right Corner, for example,” shared the ‘Hi-Flyer’. “During the raid, I’ll try my best to execute that move. If it works out, well and good… But if you keep trying to execute the same move repeatedly during a raid, defenders will eventually get a read on you and you will be caught.”

Pawan Sherawat felt that reading subtle cues from defenders helps a raider know how to attack.

However, even though a raider might go in with a fixed plan, Sehrawat insisted that an accurate reading of the defence and the ability to adapt accordingly is a must for consistent success.

“There are subtle things you pick up during a raid. For instance, when two defenders are forming a chain, you can tell a lot by looking at how they hold each other's hands. If both have their palms tightly clasped, you can expect a chain tackle to come your way. But if one is holding the other's wrist, possibilities are that they’ll let go at the last moment and try out a Thigh Hold. You can also tell a lot from their face and other cues. So, it’s important to read these things and make sure you react accordingly.”

Practice makes perfect

From a defender’s perspective, Bengaluru Bulls’ Mahender Singh highlighted how training with raiders during practice and refining different tackles eventually helps them understand what’s going on in the mind of a raider.

Bengaluru Bulls’ Mahender Singh surprises a raider with a Diving Thigh Hold.

“A raider makes the same moves in training that he will perform on the mat,” Mahender said. “He moves the defensive chains around as well. He keeps performing his moves and that gives us an idea of how to deal with a similar move in a match. We practice every skill.

“The raider gives us an indication of his possible movements, so we come to know exactly when and how to target him. That’s how we sharpen our instincts so we can be more spontaneous since there is no time to think when we’re actually in a match.”