Gateball: Rules, Equipment, and How to Play this Exciting Sport

Gateball game

Playing gateball is an exciting and fun team competition, especially if you are looking to try another team sport besides football or baseball.

This guide is for everyone, no matter if you have already played and want to find out more about this game or if you are just a beginner who wants to discover this sport.

This article comprises all about gateball from what this sport is, how to play it, basic rules, and gateball equipment. At the end of the article, you will find a helpful video about how to play gateball.

Let’s start!

What is Gateball?

Gateball is a dynamic, strategy-driven team sport, and free of any physical contact. It can be played regardless of skill level or age. This sport can be played by the youngest to the oldest.

Fun and engaging, this team sport is played in two teams of 5 players each. It’s a great way to have fun, make new friends, or socialize.

This sport is not based on the performance of each individual, but on the way, the whole team acts.

To win in gateball, it is necessary for the team to be united and to have a strong strategy.

Suzuki Kazunobu invented this sport in Japan in 1947. The sport was inspired by croquet. Suzuki took the rules of the sport of croquet and changed them. The final result was gateball.

Nowadays, gateball is practiced by over 8 million people in over 15 countries worldwide. It enjoys great popularity in Asia and South America.

How to play Gateball?

The game starts with the formation of two teams of 5 players each. After the teams have formed, a coin is tossed to determine which team starts the game.
The team that starts the game is called the leading team or attacking team. The other team is called the defending team.
The leading or attacking team plays with the red balls with odd numbers sectionke 1,3,5,7,9.
The defending team plays with white balls with even numbers sectionke 2,4,6,8,10.
Each player is assigned the ball with the number represented on the shirt.
The game starts with the first member of the leading or attacking team. Player number 1 takes the position, places the ball, and strikes the ball.
The aim is for the ball to pass through the first gate with success. If the gateball goes through the gate, the player can then strike their team’s gateball again and try to pass it through the next gate in sequence.

If the ball does not pass through the first gate or is an out ball, then the next player takes the place and starts a new turn. After the player’s ball passes through the three gates, the player is allowed to try to strike the goal pole.

After the first player finishes his game, he is followed by player number 2 from the defending team. After player number 2, follows player number 3, and so on until player number 10.
How to play gateball chart
After the last player with number 10 finishes playing the turn, the game starts again with player number 1. The player who has a turn is called a stroker.
Each time the ball passes through a goal, the player wins a point. If the ball passes through all three gates, you can hit a goal pole and get additional two points.
The game of gateball lasts 30 minutes. This time is strictly set. The team with the highest score at the end of those 30 minutes wins the game.

Touchs and Sparks in Gateball

Touches and strikes are certain outcomes that can appear throughout the game of gateball. It is important for gateball players to know what these two mean. These can be used in the team’s strategy to win the match

The touch happens when the stroker’s ball happens to collide with another ball on the field. The touched ball may belong to his or her team or to the other team. If after the impact, both balls remain inside the inner field, then the stroker gains the right to spark.

But how to spark in gateball?

First, you have to pick up the touched ball. Immediately after picking up the ball, you must indicate where you want to spark. You can indicate this by using the left hand if you are right-handed, or the right hand if you are left-handed.

Then, place your foot on your ball where it stopped. Add the touched ball so that it is in contact with your own ball. Take your hand off the balls and get ready to strike your own ball. The touch ball is hit indirectly and will move.

After you strike, take your foot off the ball.

A little tip here for a super spark. If your ball touches another ball of your team, then think strategically about which direction you strike it. It is best to try to strike it close to one of the gates.

If the ball belongs to the opposing team, try to take it out of the inner field – or make it an “out-ball”.

Touchs and Sparks in Gateball Infographic
Touchs and Sparks in Gateball Infographic

What gateball equipment do you need to play?

Compared to other sports, the equipment you need when playing gateball is quite simple.

You will need the following to play gateball:

1. Gateball set

Gateball set

The gateball set includes 10 wooden gateballs and a target ball or the so-called “jack”. The 10 balls are numbered accordingly from 1 to 10. You will see why these balls are numbered below in the rules of the game.

If you are curious about the size or weight of the gateball ball, you can consult the sport ball size and weight chart.

2. Gateball court

Gateball field
Gateball field

If you are not going to a place that is already set up, then you also need a gateball court.

The gateball court is rectangular and has a width of 65 ft and a length of also 65 ft. The entire court has six zones and a central one.

3. Mallets

Gateball Mallets

A mallet is similar to a hammer made from wood or fiberglass. Its components are a grip, shaft, and head with multiple faces or sides.

The player uses the shaft to handle the mallet and the head to hit the ball. The head is usually made from rubber or hard plastic.

Each player must have a mallet.

To make a great, powerful shot you have to handle the mallet with both hands. One of the hands should be placed at the end of the shaft and the other one in the middle of the shaft.

4. Clothing and shoes

You don’t need clothes and shoes specially dedicated to this sport. Both must offer you comfort and increased mobility during the game.

However, the official gateball rules say that each player must wear his representative number. You can always place an additional number on your T-shirt, or you can buy one that already has your number printed on it.

The rules say that the number must “be 0.32 inches in or more in height” and placed on the chest and back, or chest only.

Gateball Rules

The rules of gateball are relatively simple, but require skill and a dedicated team.

Gateball Ground Rules

  • The land must have a flat surface and a rectangular shape. The field must not have obstacles or bumps.
  • The field is divided into the inner field and the outer field. The inner field measures 49 ft in length and 65.6 ft in width. The outer field can be described as a fixed area between 19.6 inches and 3.2 ft in width outside the inner field. The outer field must be clearly visible.
  • The gate is defined as a U-shaped element. There must be a total of three gates on the field. Each gate must be marked on top with the representative number. They must be clearly visible on the field and have a 0.39 inches diameter. The legs on the U-shape must have a distance between them of 8.6 inches wide and 7.5 inches high.

    Each gate has a front side and a back side. The front side of the first gate means the part that faces the fourth line and the back side is the one facing the second gate.

    The front side of the second gate is the one that faces the first line and the back is the one that is towards the third line.

    The front side of the third gate is the one that faces the third line and the back is the one that is towards the first line.

  • Each gateball court must have a free zone. Only the players, managers, and referees can stay in the free zone.

Gateball Equipment Rules

  • Each player must have a stick or mallet. The mallets must have a T-shape and be 19.6 inches or longer, including the grip. Each side of the head of the mallet must have a minimum of 1.37 inches and a maximum of 1.96 inches in diameter. However, the front side face must have between 7 inches to 9.5 inches in length.
  • Each ball must have a visible number from 1 to 10. The balls with the number 1,3,5,7,9 must be red. Balls 2,4,6,8,10 must be white. Each ball can have a diameter of 3 inches with +/- 0.02 inches and a weight of 1 oz with +/- 0.03 oz. The ball number must have a height of 1.96 inches to be visible.

Gateball Team Rules

  • Each team must consist of five members. Also, each team must have up to three substitutes.
  • Each team has a manager. The manager does not play. The manager has a non-playing role.

Gateball Manager, captain, players Rules

  • The manager is the head of the team. The manager is responsible for everything related to the team, including the comments or actions of the five players.
  • The manager can assign a substitute to a team member and register the absence of a player.
  • The manager is allowed to question the referee. Questions must be addressed to the referee immediately. The manager is not allowed to ask the same question twice.
  • The captain is the representative of the players and is responsible for their behavior, actions, and comments during the match.
  • The captain’s duties are: to submit the playing order sheet, choose the waiting area, and sign the record sheet at the end of the game
  • The captain can take the place of the manager when the manager is not present.

Gateball Clothing Rules

  • Both players and substitutes must wear numbers to be identified.
  • The numbers must have a height of 3.9 inches or more.
  • The number can be worn on the chest or back, or only on the chest.
  • The manager must wear the identification on the upper arm to be easily identified as a manager.
  • The captain must wear the same as the captain an identification on the upper arm.
  • The whole team must have the same uniform
  • The entire team of horses and the manager must wear athletic shoes

Gateball Terms

• Stroker – This term refers to the player who hits the ball

• Touch – Touch is when a ball hits or touches another ball on the field and affects its direction and location.

• Spark – The moment when the stroker places his ball and the touched ball under his foot. Then the stroker indirectly hits the touched ball by striking the stroker’s ball.

• Mallet – Mallet represents the piece of equipment with which the player hits the ball. The mallet has a U shape and a shaft.

• Turn – A turn represents the player’s moment to enter the game and hit the ball.

• Foul – Foul is a violation of the rules of the gateball.

• First ball – It is the ball with number 1 hit by the player with number 1 of the leading team or attacking team. It is red.

• Second ball – Represents ball number 2 hit by player number 2 from the defensive team. It has a white color

• In-ball – A ball that after a strike remains inside the inner field. An in-ball is a ball that sits anywhere on top of the line of the inner field, next to the line, or barely touching the line. Even if the ball is out of the inner field but touches a small part of the inner field line, it is considered an in-ball.

• Out-ball – A ball that after a strike leaves the inner field.

Is gateball still popular?

Gateball is still popular in many countries, particularly in Asia and South America. It has more than 8 million players worldwide.

Gateball popularity continues to grow. The world enjoys this sport and practices it as a leisure activity.

It has its own world championship that is held once every four years.

The 12th World Championship was held in São Paulo In Brazil on September 21–23 in 2018.

Final Thoughts

Playing gateball is a great activity that brings people together. Players of all ages can play this fun and exciting team sport.

Although it can be seen as one of the weird sports in some countries due to its low popularity, gateball is a sport with immense success in countries throughout Asia and South America.

Now that you have the information about gateball game, you can start playing it. Have fun!

If you have other questions about the game or the gateball equipment, please let me know in the comments section below.
Related video – How to play gateball:


About the author: Madalina Salceanu

MadasFounder of, Madalina Salceanu channeled her passion for sports in a blog about sports apparel and equipment. Madalina likes to research daily and discover the latest sportswear trends. Keep reading...

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