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Sports Rules & Facts

Sports Rules List – Outline Sports Rules for Popular Sports

Sports rules governing the size of the playing surface, the sports equipment, the number of players, the length of a game and how the scoring works all seem arbitrary and no doubt evolved as each game become popular enough for the rules to be written down. Here are the basic sports rules including videos which explain the rules for some of the most popular sports played around the world today.

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Sports RulesPlaying SurfaceSports EquipmentTeamGame LengthScoring
American Football rules
Lawn: 120 x 50 m, divided into 5m and 10m zones, goal width: up to 7.2m.Egg-shaped ball, range 71 x 54cm, weight: 400g.2 x 11 players.4 x 12 min.Most points wins
(touchdown 6 points, goal 3 points).
Badminton sports rules13.4 x 5.18m (single) 13.4 x 6.1m (double), net height up to 1.55m.Racket & Shuttlecock: 14-16 feathers, weight: 4.73 to 5.5g.Singles, doubles, mixed.Variable according to sets.Set up to 15 points.
Baseball rulesSquare. Side length: 27,45m, distance from pitcher to batsman: 18m.Ball, Ø7.4cm, circumference 23cm
Bat, Ø7cm, length 107cm.
2 x 9 players.2 x 9 innings per team.Most home runs scored wins.
Basketball rules28 x 15m
Basket height: 3.05m.
Ball, circumference 72-78cm, weight: 510-650g.2 x 5 players
+5 substitutes per team.
USA 4 x 12 mins.
UK 4 x 10 mins.
Most baskets scored wins.
Beach Volleyball rules
Sand court: 8 x 16m (26.25′ x 52.5′), net height: 2.44m (8ft) for men, 2.24m (7’4″) for women.Ball, circumference 66-68cm, weight: 260-280g.2 x 2 players.Variable according to sets.Set up to 21 points, 3rd set up to 15. Each team is allowed up to 3 touches before ball is returned over net.
Lawn Bowls (UK) rulesRectangular, level manicured grass (the “green”). Separate playing strips (“rinks”) 31-40m long.Biased ball weighing ca. 1.5kg, mat 600 x 360mm, jack (small white ball, the target).Singles or teams of 2-4.First to score 21 shots or after 21/25 “ends” of play.
Pool sports rules
Table: 2.54 x 1.27m, 14 colored, 1 white and 1 black ball.Balls Ø57mm, circumference up to 22cm, weight: 170g, cue length: around 1.5m.Singles, doubles.First player to sink all spotted or striped (or red & yellow) balls then the black 8 ball wins.
Bowling rulesLane length: 18.3 m, run up: 4.75m, lane width: 1.5 m.Ball: circumference 21.6cm, weight: up to 7.257kg, 10 pins: 1.35 to 1.64 kg.Singles, doubles, teams.No time limit.Highest number of pins knocked down wins.
Cricket rules
Oval grass field: Ø100-140m, pitch: 20m x 3m wide.Ball, circumference: 22cm, weight: 156-163g, bat: 85cm long.2 x 11 players.1-2 innings per team.Highest number of runs scored wins.
Curling sports rules


Ice Rink: 45.7 x 5m, circular target (house): 1.83m radius.Round stone, circumference: 910cm, weight: 17-20kg.2 x 4 players, each player with 2 stonesVariable.Points for each stone closer to centre circle than opponents to win end. Most ends won wins.
Discus Throw rulesCompetition facility: throwing circle: Ø2.50m, launch angle: 35-37°.Discus weight 2kg (men), 1kg (women), circumference 18cm (women) to 22cm (men).Singles.
Greatest distance after 6 throws.
Ice Hockey rulesIce surface: 60 x 30m, goal width: 1.83m, goal height: 1.22m.Puck, Ø7.62cm, weight: 170g, club length: 1.35m.2 x 6 players
+ 9 substitutes per team.
3 x 20 min.Most goals scored wins.
Figure Skating rulesIce rink. Jumps include salchow, toe loop, loop jumps, flip, Lutz and Axel.Runners on skates: 3-4mm wide.Singles, pair and synchronous skating.Short program up to 2:50 mins and Freestyle program up to 4 mins.Judging panel marks technical and artistic merit.
Football / Soccer Rules
Pitch: 105 x 68m, goal width: 7.32m, goal height: 2.44m
most goals scored wins.
Ball, circumference 68-71cm, weight: 396-453g.2 x 11 players
+3 substitutes per team.
2 x 45 mins.Most goals scored wins.
Golf rulesGolf course with 9/18 holes up to 500m long.Ball: Ø41mm, circumference 12.6cm, weight: 45-48g, 5-14 clubs (tradition wooden, steel or modern composite materials).Individual or team.Variable.Fewest strokes to complete course (hole out) wins.
Hammer Throw rulesThrowing circle Ø2.13m, launch angle: 44°.Hammer weight: 4kg (women) to 7.26kg (men).Singles.Greatest distance after six throws wins.
Handball rulesHall: 40 x 20m, goal width: 3m, goal height: 2m.Ball, circumference: 58-60cm, weight up to 475g, (women: 54-56cm, 400g).2 x 7 players
+5 substitutes per team.
2 x 30 mins.Most goals scored wins.
Hockey rulesLawn: 91.4 x 55m, goal width: 3.66m, goal height: 2.14m.Ball, circumference: 22.4 to 23.5cm, weight: 156-163g, stick: 340-794g.2 x 11 players
+2 substitutes per team.
2 x 35 mins.Most goals scored wins.
Nine-Pin Bowling (Skittles) rulesLane length: 23,5m, starting lane: 5.5m, lane width: 1.7m.Ball: Ø16cm, weight: 2.8 to 3.15kg, 9 skittles: 1.85kgSingles, doubles, teamsNo time limitMost skittles knocked down, plus bonus points wins
Shot Put rulesThrowing circle: Ø2.13m, launch angle: 37-41°.Ball Ø95-130 mm, ball weight: 4kg (women) to 7.26kg (men).Singles.Greatest distance after six throws wins.
Polo rulesField: 274 x 192m, goal width: 7.20m, goal height not specified.Ball Ø7-8cm circumference: 22-25cm, weight 130g, club length from 1.29 to 1.37m.2 x 4 players
+3-4 reserve horses per team.
4-8 Chukka, each 7½ minutes.Most goals scored wins.
Roller Hockey rulesSurface: 20 x 40m, goal width: 1.55m, goal height: 1.05m.Ball Ø23cm, 155g weight, club length: 91-115cm.2 x 5 players
+2 substitutes per team.
2 x 25 minutes.Most goals scored wins.
Rugby (Union) rulesPitch 100 x 70m, 2 H-shaped goals: width 5.6m, cross bar 3m high
most points scored wins.
Egg-shaped ball, 28-30cm long, weight: 400-440g.2 x 15 players.2 x 40 mins.Most points wins
(5 for a try plus 2 for a “conversion”. 3 for a penalty kick or drop goal.
Softball sports rulesField: 18 x 65m, distance from pitcher to batter (pitcher bat): 13m.Ball, circumference: 30.5cm, bats thinner and lighter than in baseball.2 x 9 players.2 x 9 innings per team.Most home runs wins.
Javelin sports rulesCompetition facility, starting track: 30 to 36.5m, launch angle: 34-36°.Javelin weight 600g (women) to 800g (men), length 2.20 to 2.30m (women), 2.70 to 2.80m (men).Singles.Longest distance after six throws wins.
Show Jumping rulesCourse with a minimum of 7-11 obstacles outdoors or 6-10 in the hall.Obstacles up to 1.60m high, 2m wide, moats up to 4.50m wide.Individually and in teams.4 penalty points for knocked down obstacles +1 time penalty point per 4 second delay.
Squash rulesEnclosed rectangular court: 9.75 x 6.4m, height: 5.5m.Ball, circumference: 12.5cm, weight: 23.3 to 24.6g, racket length: up to 68.5cm.Singles or doubles.Variable according to sets.Set up to 9 (singles) or 15 points.
Pole Vault rulesRunway length: 45m, width: 1.22m, pole length: 4.50m.Pole weight 35-100kg, length 3.25 to 5.20m. Varies according to size and weight of athletes.Singles.3 attempts per height
5cm increase per jump minimum.
Highest height jumped wins.
Tennis rulesSingle: 23.77 x 8.23m, Doubles: 23.77 x 10.97m, net height: 91.5cm.Ball Ø6.35 to 6.67cm, circumference up to 21cm, weight up to 58.47g, racket length up to 73.7cm, weight 350g.Singles, doubles, mixed, teams.Variable according to sets.Set up to 6 or 7 games.
Table Tennis rulesTable: 1.525m wide, 2.74m long, 76cm high, net height: 15.25cm.Celluloid ball Ø40mm, weight 2.5g, racket around 16cm wide, covering depth max. 4mm.Singles, doubles, mixed, teams.3 or 4 sets.Set up to 11 points.
Volleyball rulesHall: 9 x 9m, net height: 2.43m for men, 2.24m for women.Ball, circumference: 65-67cm, weight: 260-280g.2 x 6 players + 6 substitutes per team.Variable according to sets.Set up to 25 points.
Water Polo rules
Pool: 30 x 20m, 1.8m deep, goal width: 3m, goal height: 0.9m.Ball, circumference: 68-71cm, weight: 400-450g.2 x 7 players
+4 substitutes per team
4 x 7 minutes.Most goals scored wins.

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  • Rules of Sport explained…
  • Sports rules compiled by Joe Connor, last updated August 20, 2019.
  • Spotted a mistake? Want your sports rules added? Please help us improve this list of sports rules by adding your comments below…

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