Take the 2-minute tour ×
Science Fiction & Fantasy Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for science fiction and fantasy enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

In Deathly Hallows, Scrimgeour tells Harry, Ron, and Hermione the following regarding the Golden Snitch:

‘Correct,’ said Scrimgeour. ‘A Snitch is not touched by bare skin before it is released, not even by the maker, who wears gloves. It carries an enchantment by which it can identify the first human to lay hands upon it, in case of a disputed capture.’

Deathly Hallows - page 108 - Bloomsbury - chapter seven, The Will of Albus Dumbledore

I re-read Quidditch Through the Ages and parts of Deathly Hallows and Philosopher's Stone and couldn't find an answer to this question. Anyone who's played a sport before will know that an integral part of learning the game is, obviously, handling the necessary equipment for a given position, i.e. a Seeker might need to practice catching hundreds of Snitches in many, many practices to really get a feel for the position and the game.

Are there practice Snitches of some sort for Seekers to use? Are there any canon references of what equipment Seekers use to practice? For example, in Philosopher's Stone, Harry is picked for the Gryffindor Quidditch team when McGonagall sees him catch Neville's Remembrall -- I can't recall offhand any other scenes like that one, where a Seeker is catching an object other than a Snitch, but perhaps I'm overlooking something?

So, how can a Seeker practice if the Snitch can't be touched prior to a Quidditch match?

I'm aware of the scene in Order of the Phoenix, in the chapter Snape's Worst Memory, where James Potter is showing off for either Lily or a group of girls by playing with a Snitch and repeatedly letting it go and then quickly grabbing it up before it can get away. I don't think this is a particularly good example to use to answer my question because James was actually a Chaser (Yes, I know he's named as Gryffindor's Seeker for the year 1969 in the Philosopher's Stone film, but canon/J.K. Rowling both have him assigned as a Chaser.). I don't recall if it's explained where he got that Snitch from.

ETA: I'm looking for an answer based in book canon: The seven novels, Quidditch Through the Ages, J.K. Rowling interviews, or information from Pottermore, for example. I would want to know where in canon it says a Snitch can be used more than once in game play (which would include practices or scrimmages).

share|improve this question
10  
Since according to that tidbit, each match would be using a brand new snitch, there would definitely be a lot of used snitches lying around. They've got to be used for something! –  Shisa Jul 24 at 2:18
1  
"It carries an enchantement..." that I presume isn't strictly necessary? –  Izkata Jul 24 at 3:11
3  
In the films the players wear gloves. Is this a standard issue mistake? –  Gusdor Jul 24 at 13:03
1  
@Gusdor They are partial gloves; they protect the palms, backside, and knuckles, but the fingertips are bare. These types of gloves are very useful when tactile sensation is necessary (rock climbing, playing an instrument, catching/throwing a ball during a sporting match, etc). –  TylerH Jul 24 at 14:37
1  
So, a purely speculative question - does the enchantment that the snitch carries have anything to do with its ability to act like a snitch? As described, it sounds like the enchantment (and thus the necessary pre-game handling) exists solely as a scoring aid, but the snitch is otherwise mechani-magically automated. –  LJ2 Jul 24 at 20:40

5 Answers 5

I think they have practice Snitches provided by Madam Hooch.

When Wood brings Harry out to explain, he has a crate with all four balls, and the way he describes the Snitch suggests that a Seeker would practice with a Snitch at some stage.

“We won’t practise with the Snitch yet,” said Wood, carefully shutting it back inside the crate. “It’s too dark, we might lose it. Let’s try you out with a few of these.”

He pulled a bag of ordinary golf balls out of his pocket, and a few minutes later, he and Harry were up in the air, Wood throwing the golf balls as hard as he could in every direction for Harry to catch.

Philosopher’s Stone, chapter 10 (Hallowe’en)

Although Harry uses golf balls as a temporary substitute, Wood clearly expects him to practice with a real Snitch. (I can’t find a quote about real Quidditch practice though.)

Wood picks up and shows off the Snitch. In movie canon, Harry holds it as well. Since they aren’t fussed about handling it (and Wood would know about flesh memories), I assume this one won’t be used in a real match. Ergo, practice Snitch.

It also makes sense to have a separate supply of Snitches for practice and for competition. It‘s almost certainly forbidden from tampering with the Snitch to make it easier to catch for your team’s Seeker, and the best way to keep the competition Snitches locked up until the games.


At least, that’s what I thought. But we learn later that the Bludgers used in practice and in matches are the same balls, even though they’re just as tamper-prone:

“But the Bludgers have been locked in Madam Hooch’s office since our last practice, and there was nothing wrong with them then….” said Wood, anxiously.

Chamber of Secrets, chapter 10 (The Rogue Bludger)

I still think they’re getting practice Snitches from Hooch, which are separate from game Snitches.

As well as preventing tampering, it means that every team can practice with a real Snitch. Otherwise the teams are waiting to catch a Snitch in a real match, or reliant on deep pockets to buy practice Snitches.


As for the nature of practice Snitches, I suspect they’re just regular Snitches put aside for practice purposes. They still carry a flesh memory, but it’s never recalled. (At Hogwarts, the first person to hold the Snitch may well have left the school, or perhaps just be the Quidditch coach.)

(But I know nothing about sports – perhaps they are very different, as @BP_Phoenix suggests in the comments)

share|improve this answer
1  
I know that in other sports, more specifically Rugby, that there are different balls produced for training/practice and those used in actual international tests or 1st class matches. are they are sometimes quite significantly different. I can almost guarantee the same can be said for golf/cricket balls, not sure about other sports –  BP_Phoenix Jul 24 at 8:05
    
**AND they are sometimes quite significantly different... –  BP_Phoenix Jul 24 at 9:51
1  
Golf Balls Thank you. Now I have a mental image of Dumbledore teeing up at the ninth hole, checking the cross-wind and hoping for a bit of backspin. –  Zibbobz Jul 24 at 14:18
    
Maybe practice snitches are ones that have already been used in a real match. Perhaps only the professional league does the special treatment of a snitch. –  David Starkey Jul 24 at 15:03
1  
@Zibbobz a bit similar to seeing Hagrid sitting in a pub watching soccer/football with a pint of english Stout? –  BP_Phoenix Jul 25 at 9:33

It's simple: the seeker practices with a used snitch - or practice snitches are made (Scrimgeour could be talking about competition standard snitches never being touched before a game).

Looking at the box of quaffles and bludgers that Wood opens in the first movie shows that they are all quite battered (indeed, the box is rather beaten up, too). This box contains a snitch.

share|improve this answer
    
I thought about this, but I'm looking at book canon not movie canon. I'll edit accordingly. :) –  Slytherincess Jul 24 at 2:10
    
sorry - can't remember if Wood shows the different balls and snitch to Harry in the book. –  HorusKol Jul 24 at 3:35
    
He does, up to and including a brief demonstration of bludgers. –  Shadur Jul 24 at 11:45
    
I think it would actually bolster your answer (not that you're not getting a nice amount of upvotes!) to remove the movie clip. It's inconsistent with book canon, and while it looks cute, it doesn't match the events as they unfold in Philosopher's Stone. In the answer above yours, alexwchan provides book canon verification that Harry began practicing his Seeker position with ordinary golf balls. Just some food for thought. :) –  Slytherincess Jul 27 at 17:11
    
@Slytherincess - I've removed the video that someone else had added to my answer –  HorusKol Jul 27 at 23:27

Put simply I would imagine that for practice the same snitch is used over and over again as it would not matter who had caught it first during practice.

As said in your quote the "flesh memory" is used only to settle disputes during a game and I believe is rather poor method, what happens if it is fumbled or bumped by a different player?

share|improve this answer

It's actually even simpler than we're making it out to be.

In a proper tournament game there would(of course) be a separate practice Snitch for teams to practice with, and the tournament snitch would be provided by whatever wizarding body governs professional Quidditch (FIQA?).

However, Hogwarts is not a professional Quidditch organization, and so they don't need to practice quite as many regulations. Keeping the Quidditch set locked up seems like enough to prevent tampering (most of the time).

So while there would certainly be a practice Snitch for professional players, for a school it seems this isn't quite as important.


Also, given that they put the ball away after every time it's caught, there's no reason we can't believe that the "flesh memory" is reset after a certain length of time, or after putting it back in a proper Snitch-holding case.

share|improve this answer

Seekers practice using objects that represent the Snitch, e.g golf balls. It is not just the task of catching the Snitch that makes an excellent Seeker. It is determined by a lot of things. In the case of Harry, for example, genetics help to make him a good Seeker. As well, his courage on the field was displayed when he survived Quirrell in his first Quidditch match, and also when he was courteous enough to rescue the Remembrall from Malfoy for Neville.

Harry is a natural Seeker, and to be a good Seeker you need different skills, such as good balance, speed, co-ordination, and great eye sight. It's not just a matter of catching a Snitch -- Seeker skills can be learnt in other ways, as well.

“We won’t practise with the Snitch yet,” said Wood, carefully shutting it back inside the crate. “It’s too dark, we might lose it. Let’s try you out with a few of these.”

He pulled a bag of ordinary golf balls out of his pocket, and a few minutes later, he and Harry were up in the air, Wood throwing the golf balls as hard as he could in every direction for Harry to catch.

HP and the Philosopher’s Stone, chapter 10

share|improve this answer
    
Do you have a reference that explains about the golf balls, etc? –  phantom42 Jul 24 at 13:41
    
Yes, a canon citation re: the golf balls would be great. –  Slytherincess Jul 27 at 17:22

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.