As discussed in this question, Harry has good physiological skills which (along with good magical ability) help him be very skilled at Quidditch. It made me wonder if there was any evidence that he was skilled at any Muggle sports.

I don't recall if there was any mention of him playing anything while at Muggle school prior to book one.

I haven't read the books in a while, and haven't read all of the extra material (Pottermore, Cursed Child, etc.), so please forgive me if this has an obvious answer.

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    Who the heck has voted this as opinion-based? It's got a book answer, ffs.
    – Valorum
    Commented Oct 23, 2017 at 21:14

2 Answers 2


It seems that he was fairly good.

He was starting to feel definitely sick now. He remembered being picked for teams during sports lessons at his old school. He had always been last to be chosen, not because he was no good, but because no one wanted Dudley to think they liked him.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone - p.89 - Bloomsbury - Chapter 7, The Sorting Hat

Make of this what you will, but certainly my own understanding is that he wasn't prodigiously good at Muggle sports, in the way that he is at Quidditch, otherwise I would expect something more like 'he had always been last to be chosen, even though he was very good'. But clearly he was pretty decent.

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    @Valorum Yes exactly, quite good. Whereas obviously in Quidditch he's a prodigy. He certainly weren't that, he was, as you say, quite good. I tried my very very best to put that as clearly as possible, but unfortunately in English we have a tendency to use things like 'not very good' to mean 'bad' rather than not 'very good' which could include bad, but also average, good, moderately good, anything other than very good really :P
    – Au101
    Commented Oct 23, 2017 at 21:04
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    You forgot "indifferent" and "fair-to-middling on a good day" but I'll forgive you
    – Valorum
    Commented Oct 23, 2017 at 21:13
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    "Dudley's favorite punching bag was Harry, but he couldn't often catch him. Harry didn't look it, but he was very fast." (Philosopher's Stone). So we can assume both speed and agility. Commented Oct 24, 2017 at 9:17
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    @Valorum: That's not necessarily the case. "I punched Tom. Not because he stole my bike, but because he kissed my wife" This does not imply that Tom didn't steal my bike. Tom stole my bike, but that's simply not the reason why I punched him. Similarly, Harry could've been bad at all sports but the reason for him being picked last was related to Dudley, not Harry's (lack of) skills.
    – Flater
    Commented Oct 24, 2017 at 15:34
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    @Valorum: There are plenty of use cases where "not because" doesn't mean it's wrong but rather that it's simply not the reason. More elaborate English.SE answer that touches on the ambiguity.
    – Flater
    Commented Oct 24, 2017 at 16:29

Harry does not think he is a good swimmer.

Harry dreads swimming in the second Triwizard task:

He wasn’t a very good swimmer; he’d never had much practice. Dudley had had lessons in their youth, but Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon, no doubt hoping that Harry would drown one day, hadn’t bothered to give him any.

Goblet of Fire, Chapter 25: "The Egg and the Eye"

Before Hogwarts, Harry had no opportunity to learn sports.

The Dursleys have a long history of excluding Harry from fun extracurricular activities:

Every year on Dudley’s birthday his parents took him and a friend out for the day, to adventure parks, hamburger bars or the cinema. Every year, Harry was left behind with Mrs Figg, a mad old lady who lived two streets away. Harry hated it there.

Philosopher's Stone, Chapter 2: "The Vanishing Glass"

Dudley "encouraged" Harry to run.

Although Harry never had opportunity to learn sports skills, running from Dudley seems to have kept Harry in good aerobic condition:

On the other hand, he’d got into terrible trouble for being found on the roof of the school kitchens. Dudley’s gang had been chasing him as usual when, as much to Harry’s surprise as anyone else’s, there he was sitting on the chimney.

Philosopher's Stone, Chapter 2: The Vanishing Glass

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    He most certainly would have done team sports and PE at school though. They're part of the National Curriculum.
    – Valorum
    Commented Oct 23, 2017 at 20:39
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    @Valorum As a bare minimum they won’t make you fit though. Commented Oct 24, 2017 at 9:07
  • @Valorum, it's fairly easy to spend 15 years in school not playing football :)
    – Separatrix
    Commented Oct 24, 2017 at 13:06
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    @Separatrix - They can put you on the field but they can't make you play.
    – Valorum
    Commented Oct 24, 2017 at 13:30
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    @Valorum Just walking slightly whilst watching the ball, then gravitating back to your original spot seems to fool them.
    – wizzwizz4
    Commented Oct 24, 2017 at 17:27

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