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Real-life Quidditch: No flying, but lots of strategy, tackling and athleticism
(Courtesy of the U.S. Quidditch Association)
If you've read the "Harry Potter" books or seen the movies, you know Quidditch is a sport played by wizards and witches that involves flying around on broomsticks.
In 2005, students at Middlebury College in Vermont invented the real-life or "Muggle" version, which resembles a combination of basketball and rugby with elements of hockey and dodgeball mixed in.
The sport is gaining serious momentum; hundreds of colleges and dozens of high schools have teams. There's even a 16-team pro league, Major League Quidditch (Chicago does not have a team as of yet), as well as international competitions.
To make sense of the organized chaos you will see if you ever watch a match, RedEye picked the brains of Matt Coyle and Chloe Streif, co-captains of the Columbia College Quidditch team.
Quidditch is played on a grass field with a soft boundary area that is 60 yards long and 36 yards wide; this is where most of the action takes place, though the hard boundary area is 84 yards long by 48 yards wide. There are three hoops of varying heights on each end of the field. The corners are similar to those of a hockey rink in that they are curved. There are areas designated as keeper zones and penalty boxes.
Five balls are in play during Quidditch matches: The Quaffle, which is a volleyball; three Bludgers, or dodgeballs; and the Snitch, a tennis ball. The Quaffle is used to score points, while the Bludgers are used to "knock out" other players temporarily. The Snitch is the ball that must be caught to end the game.
Each player must have a broom between his or her legs at all times. Padding that makes a "knocking sound" when a referee hits it with an object is not allowed. So no football helmets, shoulder pads or anything of the sort. Cups are allowed, as are padded helmets. The brooms cannot be used to contact other players.
1 Keeper (green headband): Guards the three hoops
"There are multiple ways you can play a Keeper," said Coyle, who plays the position for Columbia. "For example, I have a Keeper on my team who is almost 6 feet tall and has the lankiest legs I've ever seen, so he runs and is almost like a fourth Chaser. Meanwhile, my strategy is to hang back and be a quarterback, call out plays, call out what I see on the pitch, tell people to pick up other Chasers, things like that."
3 Chasers (white headbands): Try to score points with the Quaffle
"They need to have good stamina and endurance so they can run really fast to get over to the other side of the pitch," Streif said. "They also need to be able to catch the ball very well as well as fake out other Chasers, and have good aim for scoring."
2 Beaters (black headbands): Throw Bludgers to "knock out" opponents
"They're going to be a little better with aiming, especially aiming at moving, smaller targets like feet," said Streif, a Beater for Columbia. "They do a lot of ducking and dodging and also need aggressiveness and awareness. They also have to be able to catch the Bludger so they can avoid being knocked out."
1 Seeker (gold headband): Tries to catch the Golden Snitch
"The Seeker is probably the hardest position to play," Coyle said. "You need to have the endurance of a Chaser and not be discouraged when you get beat because a strategy a lot of teams do is they employ a defensive Seeker to try and get points back. When they do that, it's Seeker on Seeker with a potential Beater to try and stop the opposing Seeker from scoring."
PLUS: The Snitch
Each match has one Snitch, a person dressed in yellow who wears a sock with a tennis ball attached to the back of their waistband. To "catch the Snitch," a Seeker has to grab the ball as they would another player's flag in flag football.
The Snitch is a volunteer, and often a player from one of the teams in the match. That person is expected to be impartial in preventing Seekers from grabbing the ball. In tournament play, the Snitch is usually a person who is not on either team competing at the time. There are also certified snitches available through the U.S. Quidditch association, which often is the preferred situation if teams can accommodate one for matches.
Note: Only Keepers and Chasers can handle the Quaffle. Only Beaters can handle Bludgers. Only Seekers can catch the Snitch.
THE GENDER MAXIMUM RULE
Quidditch, including governing bodies such as U.S. Quidditch, prides itself on being inclusive. To that end, it employs what is known as the gender maximum rule. According the U.S. Quidditch website, no more than four players per team who identify as the same gender can be on the pitch at a time; that number increases to five when Seekers are in play.
Furthermore, "USQ accepts those who don't identify within the binary gender system and acknowledges that not all of our players identify as male or female."
HOW IT'S PLAYED
The team that scores the most points wins. Teams score points in two ways: when the Chasers throw the Quaffle through one of the hoops from either side of the hoop (10 points), and when a team's Seeker catches the Snitch (30 points). The Snitch enters the game at the 18-minute mark of each match. The match ends when the Snitch is caught.
The match starts with the Quaffle and Bludgers at midfield, and on the referee's signal, each team races to get possession.
Once a goal is scored, the Keeper of the team that was just scored on takes possession, and play resumes from there.
Beaters throw Bludgers at opposing players to get "knockouts" or "beats." When that happens, a player who has been "beat" must run to their end of the field, touch one of their hoops and "remount" their broom.
Any player who is holding a ball when they are "beat" must immediately drop the ball.
WHAT TO EXPECT
Whether it's at a college tournament, such as the one Columbia College held Nov. 12, or any other organized event, there are common threads in Quidditch matches.
The game is hella physical. Players are allowed to tackle each other, stiff arm and do almost anything to dislodge a Quaffle or Bludger from an opponent or to keep the other team from scoring. You do not have to give up possession of a ball unless you are "beat," however.
As far as contact, players are not allowed to tackle an opponent who cannot see them. You also cannot lift an opposing player off the ground or tackle a player who is in midair.
Eat. Watch. Do.
Players who commit fouls are sent to a penalty box, sometimes (resulting in power plays). If the infraction is severe enough, players can be ejected.
"Last year at a tournament we had three or four concussions within three or four games," Coyle said. "... It's a friendly atmosphere, but it's really intense."
You won't see robes. At least, the players don't wear them. Even though the sport is based on a fictional wizarding pastime, shorts and jerseys are required. As for the spectators, anything goes with clothing.
Communication is key. "If [teams] can fake out and spin around Bludgers and other Chasers very well and if you see them scoring quite easily, [you know they're a good team]," Streif said. "[Good teams have] great communication, they're passing [the Quaffle] back and forth and spinning around other Chasers, and they make it into the hoop without somebody getting beat."
The scores can get up there. Coyle said he has seen college teams can score in the 150- to 200-point range, while Major League Quidditch matches can see one team score around 300 points.
"Harry Potter" knowledge is not required. "We have players who have never seen or read 'Harry Potter,' some of whom are captains," Coyle said.
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Two Beaters use bludgers to help bolster their team’s offense and defense. The bludgers knock people out of the game temporarily. If a player is hit with a live bludger, they must let go of any ball they possess, dismount their broom, and tag a hoop before re-entering play. There are only three bludgers and four beaters, so it often takes strategic coordination for a team to have control of the bludgers.
Courtesy of UBC Quidditch
All of this can get complicated while on the pitch, so having a Head Referee is often present to oversee the game. For a full game, you’ll also need a Snitch Runner , who should be an unbiased third party participant with officiating power. A full game also includes a minimum of three Assistant Referees (who mostly watch bludger play), one Snitch Referee (who supervises play surrounding the Snitch Runner), two Goal Referees (to verify whether the quaffle fully passes through the hoops and to reset the hoops should they move out of position), and a Scorekeeper and Timekeeper (who record goals, penalties, and other important game information). Learn more about officiating here. To read the rules in their entirety, check out the rulebook selected for the 2020-21 season – USQ 13 – by reading the rules here.
Whether you’re a high school student, university or college student, or someone in a town or city looking to get active and get competitive, there’s a team for you! Search for a team in your area! Don’t see one? Email [email protected] to get connected with a team or get resources to start your own.
Quadball Canada was created July 1st 2014 to lead, promote and advance the sport of quadball in Canada.
Quadball Canada and its activities are not licensed by, sponsored by, or associated with Warner Bros., J.K. Rowling, or their affiliates. ‘Quidditch,’ ‘Harry Potter’ and all related names, characters, and indicia are trademarks of and © Warner Bros. – Harry Potter publishing rights © J.K. Rowling.
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The Magic Of Quidditch on College Campuses
Quidditch — a once fictional sport — first appeared in J.K. Rowling’s debut novel Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone . Originally played by witches and wizards, Quidditch is a mixed-gender contact sport that blends elements from rugby, dodgeball and tag.
Due to COVID-19, the current season and US Quidditch Cup 13 are temporarily suspended . The event is currently slated to resume in 2022–2023 and will be held in Richmond, Virginia .
Discover the rules and history of Quidditch on college campuses, the top college Quidditch teams in the world, and more!
The History of College Quidditch
The non-magical College Quidditch was founded in 2005 at Middlebury College by two students, Xander Manshel and Alex Benepe. Both students were looking for a physically intense sport to play with their friends on the weekend.
To date, there are currently 210 active US teams , five of which are considered “official.”
While over half of these teams are at the college level, the sport is enjoyed and played by millennials and generation z alike.
Some participate because of their love for the Harry Potter movie and book franchise. Other college students mention the sport’s physical nature and friendship-building as their main reasons for playing.
How Is College Quidditch Played?
A Quidditch team is made up of seven athletes who play with brooms between their legs at all times — and run instead of fly.
Matches are played on a large oval field with three ring-shaped goals of varying heights on each side, between two opposing teams of seven players each.
The positions are also the same as in the book and include:
- Chasers (goal scorers)
- Keepers (goal defenders)
- Beaters (who “knock out” other players)
- Seekers (who try to catch the “snitch”)
- Snitch Runner (who carries the “snitch” on their waistband)
Top College Quidditch Teams
Every year, the USQ (the governing body of US Quidditch) ranks all teams using complex calculations and algorithms . Here are the top college teams from the 2019-2020 season:
1. Maryland Quidditch
The University of Maryland’s team is currently ranked #1. They’re considered one of the best college teams and have won four consecutive regional championships.
2. NYU Quidditch
The New York University team is currently ranked #2. The team advanced for the first time to the semifinals in 2019.
3. Michigan Quidditch
The University of Michigan team is currently ranked #3. They’re the highest-ranked college team from the Great Lakes region.
4. Harvard Horntails
The Harvard University team is currently ranked #4. They welcome any Harvard student at any level to join their team.
5. Texas Quidditch
The University of Texas at Austin team is currently ranked #5. They’ve participated in the Quidditch Cup four times and won the championship title in 2019 .
The Gender Rule
Another element that US Quidditch shares with the fictional version from the Harry Potter universe is that teams aren’t separated by gender. Each team is allowed up to four players who identify as the same gender, regardless of sex assigned at birth.
USQ has an advocacy branch called Title 9 ¾, created to ensure gender equality, diversity and inclusivity within the sport. Title 9 ¾ gets its name from both the fictional train platform where young witches and wizards could board the Hogwarts Express to get to their Wizarding school, and from the US law Title IX, which ensures the prevention of gender discrimination in sports.
Many college student activists see the gender rule as progressive, as it favors work ethic, dedication and performance over gender stereotypes.
What is the Quidditch Cup?
The first Quidditch Cup was held at Middlebury College in 2007 — Middlebury also happens to be the inaugural national champions. Since then, the event has been held annually across the US in various locations.
This premier event hosts about 80 teams across two divisions — collegiate and community, all competing to be crowned the National Champions in their division.
Learn More About College Quidditch
The ins-and-outs of college Quidditch can be confusing for first-timers coming to the sport. Luckily, there are many options out there to familiarize yourself with the fictional and real-world versions of Quidditch:
Start by Watching the Harry Potter Films
All of the Harry Potter films can be found across multiple streaming platforms . You can also purchase the boxed set of DVDs or Blue-Rays from sites like Amazon or Target .
If you’re down with commercials, you can always catch one of the films during a cable TV marathon . Note: if you plan on watching the films, Quidditch only appears in the first 6 of the 8-film series.
Check Out Some College Quidditch on YouTube
YouTube has several college Quidditch videos from the official World Cup and individual schools in the league. Most of these videos show students engaged in the game, but also feature one-on-one interviews with students talking about their personal experiences on the field.
Read the Books!
Last but not least, you can always read or revisit the Harry Potter books for a more in-depth description of the game and its nuances.
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How to Play Muggle Quidditch
Last Updated: September 2, 2023 Approved
This article was co-authored by wikiHow Staff . Our trained team of editors and researchers validate articles for accuracy and comprehensiveness. wikiHow's Content Management Team carefully monitors the work from our editorial staff to ensure that each article is backed by trusted research and meets our high quality standards. wikiHow marks an article as reader-approved once it receives enough positive feedback. In this case, 88% of readers who voted found the article helpful, earning it our reader-approved status. This article has been viewed 415,818 times. Learn more...
If you love the Harry Potter book series written by J.K. Rowling, you’d probably jump at the chance to play Quidditch. Although the Muggle version of this sport doesn’t involve flying broomsticks, it’s still a fun way to exercise and celebrate your favorite book series.
Things You Should Know
- To play, you’ll need a broomstick for each player and four balls: 1 quaffle (a volleyball) , 2 bludgers (dodgeballs) , and 1 snitch (a tennis ball) .
- Players score points by throwing the quaffle through one of their opponent’s hoops , which is worth 10 points, or by capturing the snitch, which is worth 30 points.
- If a player hits an opponent with a bludger, they are out; that player must run and touch one of the hoops before they can return to play.
- There are different positions in Muggle Quidditch—the seeker chases the snitch, keepers defend the hoops, chasers try to score, and beaters use the bludgers to disrupt their opponents.
Learning the Rules
- The quaffle can be passed between players on the same team.
- Not keeping your broomstick in position (i.e., between your legs with one hand on the stick) is a foul.
- Failing to dismount a broomstick and tag a hoop after being hit with a bludger is a foul.
- If any player besides the seeker touches the snitch, this is a foul.
- Any kind of rough playing, such as shoving or hitting, may result in a foul.
Setting up the Court
- Goal posts are placed on a line 18 yards (16 m) from the centerline.
- The keeper zone starts 12 yards (11 m) from the centerline and reaches to the end of the field.
- 2 Get pipes for the goal posts. You need 6 pipes or poles; 2 of each length: 3 feet (0.91 m), 4.5 feet (1.4 m), and 6 feet (1.8 m). You can find these at a local hardware store, craft store or even some toy stores. You may need to use scissors or a knife to cut down pipes that aren't the right lengths. If you want to stick the posts in the ground, either make them about .25 feet (0.076 m) longer or use a piece of rebar as an anchor.
- A person's gender is the gender they identify with, which may not necessarily be the gender they were assigned at birth. Quidditch welcomes players of all genders and gender identities.
Playing the Game
- You can only toss the quaffle through the front of the hoops.
- Other beaters can be hit with bludgers by the opposing team. However, beaters cannot hit the player carrying the snitch with a bludger.
- In the event a bludger goes out of bounds, the ref can quickly retrieve it.
- All players, including beaters on the other teams, need to stop playing if they're hit by a bludger. The one exception is the person carrying the snitch, as they're not technically a player for either team.
- The player carrying the snitch is not permitted to leave the field during the game, but needs to work hard to evade the seekers. This is why it's important to choose someone very agile to carry the snitch.
- Remember, the snitch is the ball attached to the carrier's waistband. You must grab ahold of the ball to catch the snitch.
Using Basic Strategy
- The seeker needs to pursue the snitch, so pick someone who's very fast. If someone runs track, for example, they could be the seeker.
- Players with experience playing basketball or volleyball may be good chasers, as it involves pursuing, kicking, throwing, and passing a ball.
- Anyone who's played dodgeball or a similar game would make a good beater, as they'd be able to hit players with bludgers.
- If anyone has experience as a goalie in a game like soccer or hockey, they would make a good keeper.
Video . By using this service, some information may be shared with YouTube.
- The volleyball used as the quaffle can be deflated to make it easier to grip, as Gripping Charms do not actually exist. Thanks Helpful 1 Not Helpful 1
- Quidditch does not have innings or periods like other sports. It's played in a single round. Thanks Helpful 1 Not Helpful 1
You Might Also Like
- ↑ https://letterpile.com/books/How-to-Play-Quidditch-from-Harry-Potter
- ↑ http://quidditchcanada.com/how-to-play/
About This Article
You’ll need 15 total players to play Muggle Quidditch. Before playing, tape 6 hula hoops to pipes and arrange 3 on each side of the field. Collect a volleyball for the Quaffle, 3 dodgeballs for the bludgers, 1 tennis ball for the snitch, and 14 brooms. Break 14 players into 2 groups of 7, and have final player tie the tennis ball to their waist - the game ends when one team gets the tennis ball! Score as a chaser by throwing the volleyball through the hoops, and have beaters throw the dodgeballs at the other team to temporarily tag them “out.” To learn common strategies to help your team win the game, keep reading! Did this summary help you? Yes No
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How to Play
Much like its Harry Potter counterpart, quidditch is a co-ed sport where Chasers score with the Quaffle, Beaters strengthen the offense and defense, Keepers protect the hoops, and Seekers end the game. Even though w e are stuck on the ground like normal athletes, we do have “brooms” in the form of custom PVC pipes that we must keep between our thighs while playing. Listed below are the four positions you can choose to play, and don’t worry, you can play around with each position until you find the right fit. And if you have any questions feel free to contact us, we are more than happy to help out!
Each team has 3 chasers on the field at all times. Wearing white headbands, their main objective is to put the quaffle (or better known as “a volleyball” to muggles) through one of three hoops.
Both teams have 2 beaters on the field at all times wearing black headbands. With 3 bludgers (or “dodge balls”) their goal is to defend the hoops as well as assist the other players by throwing balls at the other team. If hit with a dodge ball, you must tag back in at your hoops.
Each team has 1 keeper wearing a green headband. The keeper’s job is to protect their hoops as well as assist in quaffle play. Keepers are safe from bludgers in their zone.
For more information on the official rules check out: https://www.usquidditch.org/about/rules
Contact us at: [email protected]