I am the captain of a quidditch team, "muggle quidditch" if you prefer, experiencing a few more or less regular issues with some of my players. We play a recent sport that puts together athletes from very different backgrounds, I believe this makes it in some ways comparable to youth leagues: while the average player is a college student, most teams don't have a coach, or the coach is just another player, or someone of similar age and experience as other players in the team. This lack of the typical authoritative figure exacerbates problems that are normally solved by the presence of the coach.

So for an example of the problematic "types" of players, I found myself with...

  1. Experienced athletes who have played other competitive sports and have an ego problem.
  2. Experienced athletes who have occasional instinctive outbursts towards opponents and teammates, but otherwise fit in well. In other words, normal athletes.
  3. Less experienced athletes who may be more or less good, with some previous sports experiences - generally at amateur level - who overestimate their abilities.
  4. Unexperienced players at their first sporting experience.

I have found that:

  • on the field 1. and 2. don't mix well with 3. and 4.: the latter don't react well to the more experienced athletes' yelling, sometimes resulting in a buildup of tension, back and forth yelling, loss of concentration, in other cases loss of confidence
  • on and off the field 1., 3. and 4. don't always react well to constructive criticism from teammates and respond either aggressively or by ignoring directions; in the case of 4. specifically, more often than not they'll make up excuses for not trying something, or after failing a first time, and lose confidence

How can I promote and insure a better cooperation for team members and minimize conflict among these different types of players? Is there any method normally used by coaches/captains?

2 Answers 2


I've been through this kind of issue with other sports, and the best solution I know of is to make it clear why you're playing the game. That may sound obvious, but once you get round to asking people, you discover that they actually have significantly different motivations:

  • Some players are there because they want to play the game at the highest level they can and win matches.
  • Some players are there because they think Quidditch is a fun thing to play, even if they're not very good at it.
  • Some players are there because they want to get fitter.
  • Some players are there because they enjoy the social aspect of the club, and don't worry too much about what actually happens in the game.

The thing to remember is that all these are perfectly valid reasons for playing a sport - but the problem is, as you're discovering, it doesn't always work to have people from different categories playing on the same team. The classic example for any "recreational" club is do you always play your best players, or do you rotate the team a bit, even if it means you don't do as well in matches? There's no right answer to that question: it all depends on what your members want.

Once you've worked out the "ethos" of your club, it's then up to the coach (or other clearly designated people) to enforce that ethos: for example, if you decide that you're really just a social club and one of your members is taking the game a bit "too seriously", somebody needs to have a word with them and ask them to relax a bit. Similarly, if you decide you're a more competitive club and a member isn't putting in the required effort, somebody needs to have a word with them and ask them to try a bit harder. In both cases, you have to be prepared to "pull the trigger" if they're not prepared to fit in and tell them that they're not welcome any more. That's always a tough thing to do, but it's the right thing to do if there isn't a fit between a specific person and the club.

(For what it's worth, I've never actually had to ask someone to leave. Generally it becomes pretty obvious when there's a bad fit between a person and a club and they leave at least mostly amicably. And yes, I have once been the person that left when I didn't fit into a club).

The other option is to try to maintain some sort of balance so that everyone gets some time where they get to work on whatever's the important thing for them: for example, you could spend a bit of time working on "skill based" drills for those people that want to improve their skills, a bit of time working on fitness for other people, a bit of time in some deliberately casual gameplay for some of the more casual players, and then a bit of time in the pub after the training session :-) The trick here is to make it clear what you're doing in every drill and why you're doing it - hopefully then people will fit into the "mentality" of the drill and (e.g.) those more casual players will put in a bit of extra effort during the skill drills and the more competitive players will go a bit easy during the casual gameplay.

  • Thanks for the answer, it fits especially well in this sport because of its nature. Do you have any suggestion for a team that would like to maintain a bit of both aspects? Not only because it is in the nature of quidditch to put together the competitive and the fun&social aspect, but mostly because we are a small team and need all of our players to stick around for now. I should note that even the people who are primarily interested in the social and fun side are aiming to do well in competitions, which I tried to stress during practice.
    – Michele C
    Commented Jan 5, 2016 at 12:02
  • 1
    We use the "other option" in PK's answer. Practices are skill drills or scrimmaging drills. Gr 1 tends not to show to skill drill practices. At those players are asked to divide into two groups based on skill level for the drill at hand. Gr 2 and 3 get to work on the skill. Gr 4 doesn't feel rushed, pushed or useless. Scrimmage drills are lead by the captain. It's her responsibility to remind Gr 1 that Gr3 and 4 are: part of the team, working hard, and add value. She must also develop strategies that maximize the abilities of the best players.while not totally sidelining the weaker ones.
    – Val
    Commented Jan 5, 2016 at 19:46

Philip has a lot of good points. I am just going to be blatantly honest - and I am coming from an ex college athlete, coach of basketball/football, and played in similar football/basketball leagues myself (and sometimes get suckered into the player/coach role).

First you are playing quidditch. I highly doubt there are many serious athletes playing in your league. Don't take offense to this because it honestly looks fun but I have seen local teams play and one serious athlete on the field would make the game comical. What you have are athletic people, maybe some who have played high school sports, but if you had "serious athletes" then you would be asking a different question (how can we deal with 2 people scoring 90% of the games points).

Second you have to determine what the goal of the team is and set ground rules. And your goal isn't "to have fun". Because is it fun to lose by 30 points every game? Winning cures a lot of team issues. Losing is hard for some types, devastating for others. With a diverse group losing and not getting along is a total disaster.

What would I do?

  • Well I would make it clear that the team should try to improve through out the year. Winning or losing - everyone wants to get better at a new game.

  • I would make sure that we have a talk as a team and be honest about the diverse abilities. You don't need to point anyone out. But I would make sure that there are different types and abilities and they might be treated different. The fact is it is impossible to not treat them different and by being honest you can weed out the people who will quit or just bitch all the time.

  • Make sure you practice - at least once a week. A lot of practice should be scrimmaging with as even teams you can make. By doing this you will get a good idea what you games might look like and you can talk about strategy. It is very likely during the first couple of practices/games your "athletes" will dominate the balls team structure. By practicing you can find ways to get others involved.

  • You cannot just shackle groups 1 & 2 so that groups 3 & 4 can get "their turn". Everyone playing is fine but groups 1 & 2 should obviously be in the game more than the others. I would emphasize hustling and playing hard with groups 3 & 4 and make sure that if they are working on the field that their playing time increases. Also you cannot tell groups 1 & 2 to give the ball or whatever to groups 3 & 4. If a play is logical it is logical If you have to do something illogical to get someone the ball or "their turn" then they will never learn how to play right and groups 1 & 2 will quit.

  • The goal with a team like this is after 30-40 games that groups 3 & 4 are integrated. If you practice more this can maybe be done in 15-20 games. As a coach it is your job to push groups 1 & 2 hard so that groups 3 & 4 follow their lead. Groups 3 & 4 don't need to be pushed they just need to understand that if they are just standing around doing nothing, they will be taken out.

  • Groups 3 & 4 have to realize they aren't as good RIGHT NOW. But they will never be nearly as good if they don't play with better players. If you use basketball as an example. If I have 2 good players on the floor and 3 mediocre players the mediocre players might not get the ball as much or score as much as the good players but they will start to pick up the speed of the game. And the whole point is, if I have 5 mediocre players on the court against a good team it serves no purpose as they won't be able to do anything. They will turn the ball over every 10 seconds and get massacred. Depending on how good your league is having just groups 3 & 4 and everyone "getting along" could end up being a nightmare experience during the games.

  • And I will note that it is a given that you let groups 1 & 2 play more especially at first. But if you are smoking another team groups 3 & 4 should get a bulk of the playing time. I would keep 1-2 good athletes on the field at all times to "help" but when you are up big the others get the experience. If you are playing a far worse team this is a confidence booster for the ones not as athletic.

  • As a coach your biggest tool is playing time. Mismanaging this can make for a bitter team. You will have to do a good job at playing groups 3 & 4 a lot less against really good teams at first. It is useless for them to be on the field if they can't contribute positively. It is demoralizing. They will actually learn more watching the habits of good players. At the same time groups 1 & 2 should play as little as possible against the really bad teams as it isn't rewarding for an athlete to run around slower/clumsy people. It teaches them nothing and can create tension in your league. I would treat the beginning 5-10 mins of each game as you were playing a good team no matter what (unless you have played the team before) and then scale down based on score.

  • Thanks for the answer! We sadly have a few issues re: some of those suggestions. Few chances of competitive play (~12 competitive games a year), ~ 0.8 practice a week due to a number of reasons (personal priorities and logistics mostly), a small roster (scrimmaging can usually happen with smaller teams -> different game dynamics). I'm trying ways to motivate them to train individually to make up for it, with mixed results. I love the idea of focussing my attention on pushing only/mostly the top players and have them lead the others by example: focus on fewer players -> result on entire team.
    – Michele C
    Commented Jan 6, 2016 at 23:19
  • I'm also curious which local teams you have seen! Btw we indeed don't have a majority of "real athletes" over our entire league(s), but I would say top teams especially in the USA do. 2 players scoring 95% happens, but not in our case: e.g. we have a twice national american football champion (it's like saying US rugby champion, sure...) as chaser, but a beater lineup that averages below many other teams. "Star players" at beater have a bigger impact, but the question "why is one guy managing to stop all the plays from the other team single handedly" is not as pressing as the one you mention :)
    – Michele C
    Commented Jan 6, 2016 at 23:20
  • 1
    @MicheleC - From the looks of it if quidditch was played at a pretty high level it seems that certain positions would require A LOT of running - A LOT. I would focus on making sure everyone is in shape and basically tell them that they will be taking out if walking too much on the field. I would expect that even the athletes will over estimate the shape they are in. A sport like that can be really hard to coach if everyone is dragging ass. If players are too out of shape you don't even understand their skill level and they certainly can't improve.
    – Coach-D
    Commented Jan 6, 2016 at 23:22
  • I was also thinking about a little 150lb 5'4" running back that I used to play with. We are both older now but there is absolutely no way anyone would catch him in an open field. I am a very fast person - still can run a 4.7ish 40 and I would literally have no chance grabbing his flag let alone get within 4 feet of him... I have seen a few practice after our Bud football league games locally. Honestly I wouldn't mind playing but I would want great competition - and the guys I saw playing... hmmmm. I can see why you have your issue though.
    – Coach-D
    Commented Jan 6, 2016 at 23:26
  • The good thing is and I didn't even think about it in my post - I really think you have nothing to worry about. Your non-athletes will be dying after 10 mins and you might have trouble getting people to go IN the game.
    – Coach-D
    Commented Jan 6, 2016 at 23:28

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