Monday, February 15, 2016

Trying to Be Well-Rounded Makes You Worse at Quidditch

By Austin Lillis
Many quidditch players struggle to find their place on the pitch, even when they are not lacking in knowledge, athleticism, or passion for their team. The trait that changes someone from “just another player” to a key part of a team is their identity. Quidditch has four positions that interweave so heavily that it is easy for players to lose sight of where they can be most useful. Players get caught up in trying to imitate too many styles without realizing the potentially negative impact that has on their own skill level. 

This is especially important to deal with in practice, where it is easy to waste time trying to improve a skill or style that is secondary, tertiary, or low in importance for that player. A counterargument may be that most elite players have become extremely well rounded. They have a variety of skill sets and perform well in almost any situation. Watching them play, however, will remind you that they have a specific style of gameplay that they adhere to in serious games. They have an identity as a player.

Each position in quidditch has several main gameplay styles attached to it on offense or defense. Being aware of them can be a good indicator to where a player should fit in and focus their time, rather than trying to be good at everything.

Chasers & Keepers
  • Contact Players
    • Offensively: These players feel most at home running through or spinning off of the opposing defensive players. Most larger players are associated with this gameplay style, but it is probably best used by players who, regardless of size, are quick and hard to take down. Awareness of beaters is critical to succeeding on offense.
    • Defensively: These players tend to be the best at stopping an opponent in their tracks. They are commonly placed as point defenders and are relied on as a defensive playmaker.
    • Value: These athletes should be the most reliable members of your team. If the team takes care of them, opens up areas with the aid of beaters, and gives them a chance to shine, they will be the safest chance for scoring each and every time. If your team holds bludger control well or disrupts the enemy, the contact players should be the ones given the ball to drive and finish.
    • Who should not do this? People who get hurt easily, players who are not aware of bludgers, and players who hesitate on the field should not try to be contact players.

  • Playmakers
    • Offensively: Playmakers are the ones who control the flow of the offense and try to situate their team around the opposing defense. A good playmaker can instantly make a decision following an opposing beater or chaser mistake or mismatch and get the ball where it needs to be. Top-notch playmakers are good at both passing and driving, and oftentimes they are the best contact players on the team. Most teams use the keeper as the playmaker since they come in most contact with the ball on offensive startups.
    • Defensively: This depends on the position of the player, but a good playmaker can read what the offense does just as well as they read defenses. They will reposition themselves to pluck off airborne balls or be set up to engage opposing players who receive a ball. A smart playmaker will also direct their teammates to cover any noticeable weak spots that get opened up during the movement of the ball.
    • Value: These athletes are the start of every play, and they need to be fully aware of the skills of all of their teammates. They are the beginning to every offensive play and need to be aware of everyone on the field. Playmakers watch and shut down the passing game of any unorganized team and can limit the scoring opportunities of the opposing team.
    • Who should not do this? People who do not have a good understanding of the game, players who do not possess the speed or accuracy to capitalize on opportunities, or players who panic easily under pressure should avoid being playmakers.
  • Cogs
    • Offensively: Cogs are those often underrated players who make everything happen in between. They are always in a good spot to draw defense out, make a dump-off pass, or be near a hoop in case a defense leaves them open. Most wingers function as cogs.
    • Defensively: Cogs fill in the gaps left by beaters and the keeper. In a zone defense, they pick up where they are needed. In a man-to-man defense, they will hang on to their counterpart as well as they can to make scoring opportunities as limited as possible for the offense.
    • Value: Good cogs fill out a great team’s offense. In higher-level play, it is rare for a contact player or playmaker to have the freedom to score in a simple situation. Cogs offer tactical options in passes and movement of defenses. They can draw out a beater or chaser far from the play action, or if they are ignored by the defense, they can set up closer to a hoop for a catch and score.
    • Who should not do this? People with star-player mentality fail in this position. These folks need to be the ultimate team players and do their best to create point differential, no matter how it is done.

  • Duelists
    • Offensively: These beaters do best with bludgers in their hands. They are comfortable bringing their ball to their opponent’s side and either forcing the opposing beater back or beating them to get bludger control. They can be instrumental in tearing apart a defense, but they also run the risk of leaving their side of the field undefended.
    • Defensively: Duelists like meeting the ball and opposing beater at the front of the field and are still comfortable in a situation involving opposing beaters.
    • Value: A top-notch duelist will dominate the pitch the entire time they are in. They can dismantle a defense more consistently than anyone else, and they are also the most crucial part of the defense, especially when operating under the belief that drives are harder to stop than passes for chasers. This is also the riskiest style of beating, however, as things can go downhill quickly and leave the defense wide open.
    • Who should not do this? Players who do not have quick reflexes, cannot block or catch bludgers, or do not have a strong throwing arm should avoid this style.
  • Snipers
    • Offensively: They stay on their side of the field and wait, or they harass the enemy beaters.
    • Defensively: These beaters tend to be less mobile and rely on their ability to take long shots. They can be devastating at shutting down an offense if they are consistent.
    • Value: They tend to excel in duel situations, even if they do not actively seek them. They can cover a much larger range of the field than most beaters, which lets them get unexpected beats that can likely get a team to fail at getting their ball to a teammate.
    • Who should not do this? Lazy players who rely only on their sniping, people with weak arms, or players who are not aware of enemy team movement should not attempt to fill the sniper role.

  • Speed Beaters
    • Offensively: These players will get in the way of opposing beaters and try to make their lives difficult.
    • Defensively: Beaters like this use their speed to quickly tap out pass options. They are happiest when the opposing team is mostly running back to their hoops before setting up again. They are less likely to force a quick turnover, but they are extremely consistent in shutting down attacks.
    • Value: They safely shut down pass options with little risk of losing their bludger, and they are extremely frustrating for an opposing team to deal with. When paired with a strong duelist, they can shut down almost all scoring opportunities.
    • Who should not do this? Slower players, players who do not pay attention to the ball if they are not near it, players with weak endurance, or players who are easily drawn out of position are not good choices to be speed beaters.
  • Tactical Beaters
    • Offensively: These beaters harass or stay near ball action.
    • Defensively: Tactical beaters try to cut the distance evenly to most pass options but do not actively try to beat them. This tactic opens the beaters up to take advantage of poor passes or generally get a quick turnover.
    • Value: This gameplay style is riskier than speed beating, but it is much more likely to get a turnover from the opponent.
    • Who shouldn’t do this? Players who are either slow or weak with decision making and awareness or players with bad positioning should avoid being tactical beaters.

Players who find their own niche gameplay style have a significantly higher success rate. If they practice within a role they are comfortable with, they will be a much greater asset to a team than if they try to be a jack of all trades. Teams are strongest when they cover individual weaknesses, and players with clear identities have more value and will be more efficient in whatever role they fill on the pitch than those without defined specialties.

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