Huddle

The Minnesota Vikings offense in a huddle, September 2012
England huddle to celebrate victory over India in Mumbai, March 2006

In sport, a huddle is an action of a team gathering together, usually in a tight circle, to strategize, motivate or celebrate. It is a popular strategy for keeping opponents insulated from sensitive information, and acts as a form of insulation when the level of noise in the venue is such that normal on-field communication is difficult. Commonly the leader of the huddle is the team captain and it is the captain who will try to inspire other team members to achieve success. Similarly after an event a huddle may take place to congratulate one another for the teams success, or to commiserate a defeat. The term "huddle" can be used as a verb as in "huddling up."

The huddle is commonly used in American football and Canadian football to strategize before each play; the offensive team's huddle is almost always led by the quarterback, and the defensive huddle is typically led by one of the linebackers. It is also popular in basketball, football, volleyball and cricket.

The huddle became more widely used in cricket after the India national team used it to great success during the 2003 Cricket World Cup. The England team has imitated this technique with some success, notably in the 2005 Ashes series.

Types

Circular

Baker Wildcats huddle up during a game

The modern-day circular huddle, in which the players all face inward in a tight circle, was invented by Gallaudet University quarterback Paul D. Hubbard in 1894. Gallaudet was among the first schools intended for the education of deaf and hard-of-hearing students, and the first intended for their postsecondary education. When quarterbacking, Hubbard realized that his hand signals could be read by opposing players, a particular concern when Gallaudet played other schools for the deaf. To remedy this, he had his players form a circle so that his sign-language signals could be sent and received without anyone on the sidelines or on the opposing team seeing.[1]

This type of huddle is still in common use today, typically between plays in American Football as the quarterback assigns the next play to the offense.

Typewriter

The typewriter huddle is a huddle formation created by former Florida State Head Coach Tom Nugent in the mid-1950s. It is typically used between a coach and multiple players, or when a quarterback or other player wants to create an image of being separate from the team, dictating to them, rather than being a part of the group, as with the circular huddle. The players being spoken to are arranged in two or more rows, the front row often kneeling or crouching. The player or coach speaking can then be assured that he has the attention of the entire audience, something that often is not possible if that person is in the center of a circular huddle. Though allowing players breathing room and providing space for more participants than a circular huddle, it is not as secure, as observers on the sidelines may be able to see hand signals or read the speaker's lips.

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