The Eighth Man

The Bludgerless Beater

Michelle Wesolowski, a Kutztown beater, tries to wrestle away bludger control from Hofstra’s Alex Leitch. Credit: Deanna Edmunds

Every beater has dealt with situations where they have no bludger. The way a beater handles such situations often defines them as a player. Many beaters end up sitting idly by, waiting for their partner to come to the rescue. Playing without a bludger is difficult, and many beaters just give up on it until they get support.

 

But the best beaters will keep playing the game. They put themselves in a position to help their team even without bludger control, or attempt to win back bludger control by themselves. Below is a list of the five most useful things a beater can do without a bludger.

 

 

1. Just hit them

It may seem ineffective, since you’ll often get beat before you even reach your target, but the more hits you can dish out to an opposing beater, the more you will tire them out. A tired beater will make weaker, less accurate throws, which will benefit your team in the long run. If you repeatedly come at your opponent to tackle them, one of two things will happen – either they’ll be timid and leave themselves vulnerable to your teammate coming up to beat them on their blind side, or they’ll get irritated and start throwing bludgers at you with more venom. When their throws get too predictable, they become easier for you to dodge or catch, potentially regaining bludger control in the process.

 

 

2. Be Annoying

This one is tricky to pull off, but it’s one of the more effective ways to take an opposing beater out of a play. Essentially, when the other team has bludger control, go up with your offense and get in one of their beater’s faces. You don’t need to try to hit them or strip the ball, just distract them from the play. If it doesn’t work, and they are still following the quaffle, you can always try to strip the ball or shove them around a little bit to get their attention back. If they attempt to beat the quaffle carrier, use physical contact to send the throw offline.

 

To avoid the beater just throwing the ball at you and moving on with the play, it helps to show “catching hands”. Beaters tend to not throw at an opponent who looks to be in position to catch a ball. Many beaters also don’t like throwing at non-threat players, preferring to save their throw for potentially threatening quaffle play. Finally, remember that if you’re getting in the face of one beater, it is possible that the other beater will try to beat you when you’re distracted. Keep the second beater in the corner of your eye at all times, and, as she throws, be prepared to turn and catch.

 

 

3. Be Sneaky

This is another distraction ploy. While your team is on defense, casually make your way to the back of the other team’s hoops and wait. When your team is on offense again, make sure the other beaters see you. This will force them to keep a constant eye on you in order to avoid an easy giveaway. This is great for your offensive chasers, who are now facing less attention from the beaters. When the chasers are about to make a play, make a lot of sudden movements and noise to create a key moment of distraction. This will often give your team the lane it needs for an easy goal, or, at the very least, force a beater to make a long throw, which you can pick up and carry gleefully back to your hoops. But remember, being sneaky is good, but if you are too sneaky, you can disappear from the game completely.

 

 

4. Play Defense

You might ask how you play defense without a bludger. Well, it’s simple: you position yourself in very inconvenient spots for the opposing team. This was a lot easier under Rulebook 5, where it wasn’t technically illegal to just stand in front of the short hoop. With rule 3.1.2.4 in Rulebook 6, this is no longer permitted. Instead, you can position yourself near chasers, blocking their view, as long as you do not initiate any contact or get in the way of their natural movement. You can move more slowly when going through key areas, such as the one in front of the small hoop. This is a rather risky tactic, as referees can call illegal play and yellow card you for it. But, as long as you’re not making contact or putting yourself in the way of the quaffle on purpose, you should go unpunished.

 

 

5. Getting a Bludger

While this may seem like the most obvious, there are actually a lot of ways to accomplish it, most of which are difficult to do on your own. Forcing a throw then catching it is one method, and quickly stripping the bludger from someone when they’re not looking is another. Probably the most effective way is to wait until the other beater has to throw, then race them to the loose ball. If you follow your chasers on offense, a beater will throw at them eventually. Be ready for it, and be ready to get physical to gain possession. If you don’t get it quickly, their other beater will be over to help very shortly. My best advice if you get your hands on a loose bludger at any point is to throw it back towards your hoops and let your teammate — if she’s not on offense with you — guard it until you to get back.

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