The Eighth Man

Finding the Right Position for Each Player

USC’s Charlie Capron has changed positions multiple times to suit his team’s needs, playing keeper, beater, and chaser at different times in his career. Credit: Kat Ignatova

 

Being introduced to quidditch is a new and exciting experience for any player.  It is almost like joining a sport for the first time as a child: the possibilities are endless.  However, it can also be a little confusing, especially when trying to determine the best position for a new player.  The Eighth Man is here with some tips to help captains and players alike find the best positional fit for each member of your team.

 

It is a good idea to have new players spend time at each position in practice, getting a feel for the unique roles and duties that each position has.  It’s easy to just assume that certain previous experiences will make a player a natural fit for a specific position, but that’s not always true.  Sometimes, a player will be even better at a position other than the one that seems like an obvious choice.

 

For example, Brady Groves, co-captain of the Utah Crimson Fliers, is a former NCAA Division I baseball pitcher, leading to expectations that he would be a natural fit at beater.  However, it turns out that he is an even better defensive-oriented chaser than he is a beater, and the Crimson Fliers would have lost out on a key part of their team if they had simply stuck Groves at beater without experimenting with him at different positions.  Let new players get experience at many different positions, as your team may miss out on surprising stars if you pigeonhole players into what seems like the obvious fit from day one.

 

Personal preference also plays a role.  If a player enjoys playing a specific position, they are more likely to give their all while playing that position.  They will also remain more focused.  A happy player is more likely to be a team player and make sacrifices for the benefit of the team.

 

However, it is important to note that personal preference should not be the sole determining factor.  The team’s needs at each position should sometimes trump a player’s personal preferences.  If a team is set with players at one position and a player is not skilled enough at their preferred position to crack the depth chart, don’t hesitate to move them to a different position where they can be of more use to the team and get more playing time.

 

Emotions can sometimes cloud a player’s judgment, so it may be necessary to help them to be realistic.  If you have a 5’1, 105 lb player who wants to play keeper, explain to them and help them understand why that isn’t feasible, and work with them to find a position that fits both their needs and the team’s needs.

 

Pay attention to each player’s mindset and specific mentality in practice.  The way they think and what specific areas of play they focus on the most have a major impact on what position they fit best in.  For example, if you have a player who loves coordinating their efforts with their teammates and teamwork and cooperation fuel their play, seeker probably isn’t a good fit for them, as that position is largely dependent on solo effort.

 

If a player enjoys one-on-one situations but gets overwhelmed when entire opposing teams are coming at them, keeper isn’t a good position for them to play.  A player’s mindset can either propel them to a high level of play or hold them back and cause them to underperform, so pay close attention to each player’s mindset in order to find the position that best enables that particular mindset.

 

Physical traits and abilities also play a large role in determining the best position for each player.  If a player is large and physical but lacks endurance, seeker is not a good fit for them. If a player struggles with their throwing accuracy, they will struggle if made to play beater.  Match each player’s physical abilities and traits with the position that best utilizes them, and minimizes the weaknesses that they have.

 

When I first discovered quidditch by joining the short-lived Brigham Young University Quidditch team, it was only a few weeks before the Snow Cup tournament.  I was a large player with a strong arm, but with very little understanding of the complexities of quidditch and not much endurance.  That made me a natural fit for chaser/keeper, as it minimized the challenges caused by my lack of endurance and on-pitch awareness and utilized my size and strength.  My captains recognized this and had me spend a lot of time on-pitch as a keeper and chaser, and I wound up being able to play a valuable role for the team at Snow Cup despite my inexperience.

 

It is important to remember that players can change, and you need to be flexible when it comes to assigning positions.  Santa Barbara Blacktips captain Evan Bell was originally a seeker, but discovered that he was of more value to his team as a beater and chaser.  The position that a player chooses when they first join quidditch won’t necessarily be the position that they always have.

 

Be open to change.  It can also be helpful to be open to changing a player’s position momentarily in specific situations.  If you have a large, physical player who usually plays beater but your team is undersized at chaser and a particular opponent is exploiting that, be open to moving that beater to chaser for that game in order to use their talents and abilities to solve that problem.

 

Finding the best positional fit for each player and for the team overall can be complicated, but if done correctly it can turn any team into a formidable one.

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