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).

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    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, 2014 at 2:18
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    "It carries an enchantement..." that I presume isn't strictly necessary?
    – Izkata
    Jul 24, 2014 at 3:11
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    In the films the players wear gloves. Is this a standard issue mistake?
    – Gusdor
    Jul 24, 2014 at 13:03
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    @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, 2014 at 14:37
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    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, 2014 at 20:40

7 Answers 7


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.

  • 1
    I thought about this, but I'm looking at book canon not movie canon. I'll edit accordingly. :) Jul 24, 2014 at 2:10
  • sorry - can't remember if Wood shows the different balls and snitch to Harry in the book.
    – HorusKol
    Jul 24, 2014 at 3:35
  • He does, up to and including a brief demonstration of bludgers. Jul 24, 2014 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. :) Jul 27, 2014 at 17:11
  • @Slytherincess - I've removed the video that someone else had added to my answer
    – HorusKol
    Jul 27, 2014 at 23:27

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)

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    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, 2014 at 8:05
  • **AND they are sometimes quite significantly different...
    – BP_Phoenix
    Jul 24, 2014 at 9:51
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    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, 2014 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. Jul 24, 2014 at 15:03
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    @Zibbobz a bit similar to seeing Hagrid sitting in a pub watching soccer/football with a pint of english Stout?
    – BP_Phoenix
    Jul 25, 2014 at 9:33

Yes, there are cannon examples of practicing with the Snitch

In Prisoner of Azkaban at the first practice that Harry has his Firebolt for, the Snitch is explicitly mentioned:

"Harry, I'm letting the Snitch out!" Wood called.

Harry turned and raced a Bludger toward the goal posts; he outstripped it easily, saw the Snitch dart out from behind Wood, and within ten seconds had caught it tightly in his hand.

Similarly, in a practice in Order of the Phoenix a Snitch is again used:

“All right,” called Angelina, “Fred, George, go and get your bats and a Bludger; Ron, get up to the goalposts, Harry, release the Snitch when I say so. We’re going to aim for Ron’s goal, obviously.”

The reason why golf balls were used in Philosopher's Stone (as mentioned in other answers) was not that snitches are not available for practice; rather the golf balls were used only because it was too dark to practice with a real Snitch. This is explicitly stated by Wood (my emphasis):

"We won't practice 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."

As for how they can handle the Snitch without initiating the flesh memory, there is a relatively simple solution. If it is indeed true that a new Snitch is used for each match (to ensure the ability to resolve a disputed capture) then they must have a leftover Snitch from each match. There should be more than enough Snitches from previous matches to cover practices.

On the other hand, it is also possible that the true resolution here is that JK Rowling did not invent the concept of flesh memory until she needed it for the plot in Deathly Hallows. In fact, this characteristic is not mentioned in Quidditch Through the Ages, which would be a startling omission if the concept really existed.


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

  • Do you have a reference that explains about the golf balls, etc?
    – phantom42
    Jul 24, 2014 at 13:41
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    Yes, a canon citation re: the golf balls would be great. Jul 27, 2014 at 17:22

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?


They could use gloves, so that the snitch doesn't touch their bare skin. I haven't got a reference for this, just a hypothesis.

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    While plausible, some support would be helpful. Can you think of anything from the books to support this?
    – Adamant
    Nov 25, 2016 at 3:41
  • I agree with @Adamant. This is a good hypothesis, it makes a lot of sense, it's just, we really need our answers to be backed-up on this site, we don't operate like a forum or bulletin board, we take ourselves a little seriously here, so best guesses tend to be frowned upon unless you can explain why. Why not take the tour to learn more? As it stands, this would probably be better suited to a comment (although, of course, you do need some rep for that)
    – Au101
    Nov 25, 2016 at 3:58

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.

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    Except that in PS Harry nearly swallows the Snitch and in DH he is very careful to not touch it with his mouth while Scrimgeour is about. Because unlike the film he already knew they have flesh memory. And so years later Harry was given the very first Snitch he caught and it would prove important too given what was concealed in the Snitch. So no, flesh memory isn't forgotten. FWIW I'm not the one who down-voted but I did want to point out the fact the flesh memory doesn't reset. And they used golf balls as some other quotes remind us.
    – Pryftan
    Nov 9, 2017 at 21:19

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