by Brennen Lutz | March 6th, 2013
When some teams are starting out, it becomes necessary for some players to fill more than one role. One popular version of these “utility players” is the chaser/seeker hybrid. Although this is indeed one of the most common types of utility players, it is difficult for teams to effectively use such players, and it is even tougher for players to excel at both positions.
Harry Greenhouse’s versatility is an asset to No. 4 University of Maryland | Photos by Deanna Edmunds
Harry Greenhouse, a chaser/seeker for No. 4 University of Maryland (College Park, MD), is among the few utility players competing at the highest level. According to Greenhouse, a benefit of playing both positions is the overlap in the skills required for each: “The incredible physicality that the chaser position has translates well to how one will have to deal with [the] physicality [as a] seeker. Playing seeker heightens your sense of urgency, so I can translate that to chaser in order to be able to play with more tenacity…Seeking as well requires tons of aggressiveness, which works with my style as a chaser.”
Chaser/seeker CJ Yunger, a recent grad of Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Blacksburg, VA), echoed Greenhouse’s comments: “I think the most positive impact that it [playing chaser/seeker] has on my playing is the endurance that I’ve built up from playing more. I would usually be doing a bit more in practice and getting into better shape, which helped with both facets of the game.”
If a team is going to use a player as both a chaser and a seeker, it is important to make sure the player is prepared to fill both roles. The player’s chasing should not impact his or her playing as seeker, and if it does, the team should certainly review whether the player needs to fill both jobs. Greenhouse explained, “Honestly, even though I play both [positions], I would not recommend teams having too many hybrid players.”
Yunger disagreed, mentioning the merits of the hybrid player and that “The more you know about the different positions, the better player than you can become.” He continued:“If you have an extremely athletic player on your team that is your best chaser and your best seeker and you need that snitch pull to win a game, then go with your best option and put him in. In the end, the more knowledgeable that your team is as a whole on the multiple positions, the better your team can be.”
In addition, Yunger feels that the hybrid can mitigate the impact injuries can have on a roster. “You never know when a situation may occur in which someone will get hurt,” he said. “If a team has relied on only one seeker and no other players have had experience, then an injury can significantly hurt your chances of catching that snitch. If you have prepared chasers on your team for seeking and they understand the position, then you have a much better chance at catching that snitch.”
Although Greenhouse cautions having too many hybrid players, he does acknowledge the advantages these players offer the team:“If a team has a chaser/seeker hybrid, they can use them as a second line chaser…maybe first line determining how fit the player is, and then sub them in as the on-pitch seeker. Or they can use them as a chaser full-time and they can be the first seeker sub for the starting seeker.” Greenhouse recommends that teams use the second option of using utility players as full-time chasers who serve as a seeker sub because before the snitch returns, a good chaser is more useful to the team than a seeker. If the player is a great off-pitch seeker, teams should use their player as they see fit. Yunger confirmed this use of chaser/seeker players, saying “It varies depending on the team and the situation, but I think the best use of a chaser/seeker player is to have someone who is experienced and powerful at seeking as a backup for when/if your primary seeker becomes tired.”
Still, Yunger feels that chaser/seekers are incredibly useful: “Knowledge of the sport you’re playing is one of the most crucial elements to becoming a great player,” he said. “I am a firm believer that learning and understanding every element and position of the game can help you become a better player.” If possible, teams should try to have at least one or two players who are able to fill multiple roles because this gives teams extra security. It can become counterproductive when many players want to play multiple positions at a competitive level.
A player who can play both positions effectively will make their team’s strategy more versatile. “As nice as having a utility player is, a utility will rarely be able to perfect either craft. Sometimes you can get a dominant player at both, but it is difficult,” Greenhouse said. “Both positions will take a lot out of you, and it will be very hard for a single player to take on a lot of both responsibilities, especially with a tournament’s length.”