In sport, a huddle is when a team gathers together, usually in a tight circle, to strategise, motivate, and/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 and inspire his fellow team members to achieve success. Similarly after an event a huddle may take place to congratulate one another for the teams success (or 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 strategise before each play and is led by either the quarterback or linebacker. It is also popular in basketball, football and cricket.
Originally huddle was unknown to world of cricket. It was the Indian Cricket Team that used the huddle formation to great success during the 2003 Cricket World Cup and made it popular. This became known as the Great Indian Huddle. The English Cricket Team has imitated this technique with recent success, notably in the 2005 Ashes series.
The modern-day circular huddle, in which the players all face inward in a tight circle, was invented by Gallaudet University
quarterback Paul Hubbard in 1894. Gallaudet was the first school intended for the advanced education of deaf and hard-of-hearing students. 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.
Former University of Illinois Coach Bob Zupke is also credited with the invention of this formation.
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.
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 parcipitants 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.
Though seemingly random, huddles can have several forms. In American Football, the huddle originated prior to the first collegiate football game in 1869. Prior to the 1890s, football players didn’t form “huddles,” they just stood around discussing the play far enough from the other team that they could not be overheard. As American Football became more organized and formalized, so too did the huddle. Bill Hargiss
is often credited with one of the first uses of the huddle while coaching the Oregon State Beavers
against the Washington Huskies
in a 1918 game in Seattle
. Another instance of its use was when the huddle was formed by Paul Hubbard, a deaf player who went to Gallaudet University
in Washington, D.C.
To avoid having the other team see his sign language between plays, he and his team huddled together to conceal the signs. Deaf Athletics Home Page
. Retrieved on 2008-04-22..
Association Football (Soccer)
In Association Football
the huddle has been used before games by Brazil
and club teams such as Celtic F.C.
and Derry City
In contrast to other sports, the huddle is a specific tactic in Australian football
, used by the team kicking in after a behind is scored
, or some delayed stoppage. All players in the backline gather together about fifty metres from goal. Then, the players individually lead away from the huddle in all directions. The technique means that there will be several leading players, making it difficult to defend the first kick-in. It also allows teams to run set plays for the second and third kicks. The huddle was developed during the 1970s, and is still used today by many teams.