The Eighth Man

Adapting Popular Sports Drills for Quidditch

LSU is one of many schools incorporating other sports’ drills into their practices more regularly. Credit: Rachel Ortego

Quidditch is a relatively new sport, and as a result, teams are still struggling to figure out useful drills that help sharpen the skills of their players during practices. Many players are under the assumption that since quidditch is so original, it demands equally original drills. The fact of the matter is that aspects of several major sports, including football, basketball, soccer, and rugby, can also be found in ours, and drills from those sports – once adjusted and slightly re-imagined – can prove wildly effective.

 

While many teams are still filled with Harry Potter enthusiasts, more and more teams across the country are trying to appeal to and recruit individuals with previous sports experience – regardless of their feelings about the novels in which quidditch originated. In addition to the their inherent benefit in improving your team, using these adjusted drills can be a great way to give experienced athletes an immediate sense of familiarity and comfort on the pitch. Running around with a broom between their legs for the first time can be overwhelming and moderately embarrassing, so giving them drills that they’ve seen before can help ease their transition and reassure players that quidditch will be the legitimate athletic experience they’re hoping for.

 

 

Angle of Pursuit (Football)

Once your players have learned basic tackling strategies, you need to start working on situational tackling – in a real game, your opponent isn’t going to slowly jog right up to you and let you take them down. This drill simulates the situation where you just made an offensive charge downfield, but lost possession and are now far away from your defending hoops. At that point, it becomes all about angles and cutting off the opposing ball carrier so that you can make your tackle.

 

To run the drill, have everyone begin at the starting line on one side of the pitch. One player (the opponent) on the end of the starting line has the quaffle and, when someone yells “Brooms up,” runs a completely straight line down the pitch. All the other players (the pursuers) should be a few yards apart from each other on the starting line (the first should be about five yards from the opponent and the rest shouldn’t be touching if they extend their arms) and must, once “Brooms up” is called, run at an angle to intercept the opponent. Be sure the pursuers maintain an angle to the opponent consistent with each other, so they don’t crowd or run into each other.

 

This angle work ensures that when you’re finally close enough to make contact with the opponent, you’re in front of them and in a legal position to tackle. The drill goes until the opponent is tackled. If the opponent keeps running in that straight line – without swerving to avoid contact – and makes it through all the players or past the opposing hoops, the pursuers have to do a full lap around the pitch and then get back in line and try again.

 

 

Shadow Drill (Rugby)

To start off, create two horizontal lines that are about five yards apart, so that each player has a partner that is facing them. Everyone then squats down, with their knees bent but their back very straight and their head up. The captain stands behind one line, so that line can’t seem her, but the other can. The captain then points to the left or the right, and the players in the line that can see the captain shuffle in that direction without turning their bodies away from their partners. Their partners then have to shadow this motion, moving along with them, keeping their bodies square in front of them.

 

The captain should keep pointing either left or right, and players should continue moving in one direction until instructed to switch directions. After all of the players seem to have a good handle on this, captains can also point at the line that can see them, at which point they run backwards, or point behind themselves, at which point the line runs forward. During the drill, their partners should constantly mirror their movements, without allowing the distance between them to grow larger or smaller.

 

This drill works for every position. For chasers and keepers, when on defense and covering an opponent, you need to stay tight on them and follow their every move. For beaters, if your team is making an offensive charge and needs you to distract an opposing beater when you don’t have a ball, you’re going to want to stay square in front of them, keeping them from hitting your chasers and forcing them to throw their bludgers right at you for an easy catch. Even seekers, when their team is down by too much to catch the snitch, can benefit from this. You can’t really take down your opposing seeker, but you can stay directly in front of them and keep them from catching it. Footwork can definitely make the difference between a good player and a great player, and this drill helps you learn to mirror your opponent’s footwork perfectly.

 

 

Three Man Weave (Basketball)

This drill is primarily for chasers and keepers. Three players line up about four yards away from each other. The player in the middle (#2) starts with the ball and throws it to the player on their left (#1). Right after throwing, #2 moves to stand in #1’s position, essentially following the ball they just threw. After catching that ball, #1 throws the ball to the player on the right (#3), and then moves towards #3’s spot, again following the ball. #3 then throws it to #2 (who is now in the left spot), and then moves into the center. Keep going in that figure eight pattern – center throws to left, moves left, left throws to right, moves right, right throws to player who started with the ball – and is now in the leftmost spot – and then moves to the center. Do all this while moving in a forward motion down the pitch.

 

When first running the drill, starting four yards apart with each player staying in line with their teammates is fine. Once performance improves, stagger the players – have #1 start a few yards ahead and #3 start even further ahead – to separate them further. Passing skills can mean the difference between a good team and a great team, and this drill helps work on intelligent and rapid ball movement.

 

 

Death Pit (Soccer)

This slightly less serious drill is a knock-off of the “Knock Out” drill often used in soccer. While it is primarily for beaters, it works for chasers and keepers as well.

 

Use cones to make a giant circle – it must be large enough for all your chasers and two beaters to fit inside while still far enough apart from each other to extend their arms and not touch anyone. Arm the two beaters with bludgers, and one chaser with the quaffle. The captain then says “GO” and starts a timer. The goal is for the beaters to clear out the circle as quickly as possible. The chasers cannot intentionally leave the circle – if they do, or if they are beat, they are out of the game and must exit the circle until the drill is over.

 

The beaters have to learn to make beats that bounce off of the chasers in a predictable and controllable manner. Everyone should be close enough for throws to be able to be sharp and precise, and ideally, when the beaters hit their opponents, the bludger will bounce right back to them. If a bludger is thrown outside the circle, beaters cannot throw it until they and the bludger are back in the circle after retrieving it.

 

Naturally, the chasers should try to use the quaffle to block the bludger. They also need to learn to pass it to teammates that may be about to be beat. Most importantly, chasers should, if they know they are about to be beat, make a pass to a teammate, because, otherwise, just as in real games, the beaters will be able to guard the dropped quaffle and render it impossible to get back.

 

 

These are just a few drills taken from professional sports – there are thousands of drills that already exist that can be reimagined for quidditch, so go out and do some research! If you’ve got players with years of athletic experience under their belt, don’t be afraid to ask them to lead an adjusted drill of their own – it can help them feel like a valued member of the team, and their knowledge might help you develop some new game-winning strategies.

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