Tibetan Sports and Games

Tibet has many ancient Tibetan Sports and Games. It involves great horsemanship and talents. However, Tibetan also play many of the other more modern sports that the world plays today. Some of the Tibetan sports Tibetans play include polo, horse racing, horsemanship, archery, wrestling, two-man tug of war and yak racing.


Tibetan Sports and Games

Horse Racing

Horse Racing is one of the traditional Tibetan and populer sports.  This sport has been around for as long as horses have been around. It is still one of the favored games among the Tibetans. Annually, this sport arranges in the grasslands and agricultural areas.  The races are usually around ten kilometers long. Young Tibetans participate in the race and they race without saddles on the back of the horses. It takes a great amount of horsemanship.

Horse racing festival is usually held in the grazing area of Tibet and can last over ten days. But they usually don’t last that long, unless it is a big festival that is held every two or three years.  During the festival, there are multiple horse races and entertainment programs. In the festival, People wear unique clothing and demonstrating amazing horsemanship skills.

Horsemanship in Tibet

Horsemanship in Tibet is tested and take part in the competition by grabbing items off the ground such as ceremonial scarfs.  The riders are in full gallop and really show their skills riding the horses. Participators in the events usually wear fancy clothing and decorate their prized horses with many colors and bells.

Horsemanship is also tested by shooting targets while on a horse at high speeds. The top three horse racing festivals in Tibetan area are 1) The Yushu Horse Racing Festival, 2) the Ngachu Horse Racing Festival and 3) the Litang Horse Racing Festival.

Yak Racing

Yak racing in Tibet has become an integral part of the Horse Racing Festival in Tibet. In this event, people race over small distances in a full out sprint against other competitors who are also mounted on a yak.  The person who is riding the yak usually carries a whip to make the yak move faster over the short distance

It is also a common sport in the farming and stockbreeding areas on the grand Tibetan Plateau. They hold yak racing events annually to celebrate the good harvest, and they pray for good weather during the coming year.


Polo is the most ancient team sport. Players sit on horseback with a mallet and it uses to hit a ball into the other teams’ goal and score a point. The objective of this game is to score as many points as possible. As result, more scores means defeating the other team and winning the match. Polo in Tibet can date back to the early eighth century. And, it was a very popular sport for a long time, but now the popularity is decreasing.  The people of Tibet are now trying to restore polo. So, it once again can become one of the popular Tibetan sports like it once was.


Archery is an offshoot of hunting Tibetan sports.  It is very popular in Tibet and Tibetan arranges many Archery contests and challenges. In the competition, watching the top shot is the most attractive part and people enjoy it very much.  Archery in Tibet is not quite the same as other places because of the arrows they use. Tibetan arrows whistle in the wind when shot from the bow.  There is a festival held in the grasslands of Tibet. Where archers can compete and shoot their bows at targets.  In this festival, there are many different types of shooting including short range shooting, long-range shooting and shooting on a horse from a gallop.  The festival usually lasts three days and tents are set up around the archery grounds.


Wrestling is widely considered oldest competitive in the Tibetan sports. A form of folk sport, wrestling style is a popular sport in Tibet. It is a common sight at fairs and local holiday celebrations in many places in Tibet.

This physical activity of challenging each other. It has a long history and tradition. Wrestling classified as military training and combat skill during the king Songtsam Gambo period. Before the arrival of the cold weapons, wrestling had been used as a resort to resolve conflicts and confrontations with hostile tribes. It making it an important form of ‘battleground fight’.

Two-Men Tug-of-War

This is one of the Tibetan sports is more like a game. It is popular as non-competitively for entertainment.  However, it can turn into a test of the strongest man.  In this sport, there are two competitors who hold on to a rope. And try to pull the other competitor over the middle line. The person who pulled the other person across the line wins.  This game is very popular and easy to play. Because all it requires is a rope and two people. It is a common sight as a great pastime activity during festivals in rural and nomadic areas.

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