What Is A Huddle In Football?

A huddle in football in a small tight circle formed by players in the backfield. Between each play, the offense will make a huddle in the backfield in order to communicate the next play without the other team seeing.

In most cases, the huddle is going to be used to call plays, make adjustments, and motivate each other. Additionally, defenses also huddle between plays though defensive huddles are not as frequent and are typically shorter than offensive huddles.

What Happens In A Football Huddle

The reason for football huddles is to allow players to communicate with one another prior to a play. There are many different things that are said in a huddle but the majority are in regards to the coming play and adjustments individual players can make.

Play Calling

The main purpose of a huddle in football is to communicate with the team what play will be run next. The quarterback has a radio in his helmet which allows him to listen to the coaching staff while in the huddle.

The coaching staff will instruct the quarterback as to what play to use and he will then relay that information to the teammates in the huddle.

The quarterback will also let his teammates know what the cadence is for the coming play. This lets them know when the ball is going to be snapped so they will not jump offsides.

Mid Game Adjustments

Another aspect that is spoken of in football huddles is mid-game adjustments. During the game, the quarterback or receivers for example may notice things about the defense.

For example, a receiver may notice that the cornerback covering them is prone to double moves. The receiver may tell the quarterback about this in order to take advantage of it.

The quarterback could use this information and work a pump fake into the next play allowing the receiver to take advantage of a double move against the corner.


Another common theme within the huddle is to motivate one another. Like any other sport football players will encourage one another before the next play.

This may be something as simple as the quarterback saying “let’s score one here” or even a compliment regarding the last play.

Since football players are typically spread throughout the field there are limited chances to talk during a play.

For this reason, the motivating and complimenting of each other typically happens in the huddle when all players are within speaking distance of one another.

Where Did The Huddle Come From?

The name for the football huddle was coined all the way back in 1894 at Gallaudet University.

Interestingly Gallaudet University is a school for deaf students which is ultimately how the huddle was created.

Their deaf football used American Sign Language in order to communicate on the field. The issue was the team Gallaudet was facing was deaf as well. This meant if they used sign language the other team would be able to tell what they were saying.

In order to avoid this, the quarterback Paul Hubbard instructed his teammates to form a tight circle around him. This way they could show signs without the other team seeing.

This was the first known instance of a huddle being used in football.

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