No Huddle


I’m a big fan of college football and in the last few years, there has been a shift in how many teams communicate during the game. It is a shift that provides a lesson outside of sports.

For years, all teams called plays pretty much the same way. Coaches would send in a play with a player or with a signal to one player on the field, often the quarterback.  The team would circle up in some fashion to huddle around the player that would share the play from the coaches.

This is how plays have been called on the field for teams for decades. Only when time was critically short in the half or the game might a team run plays without a huddle. This would be done by a number of short-cuts, such as calling more than one play in a huddle so that you could skip a huddle or two. Huddles also kept the plays secret from the other team, as a team could openly say the play out loud in the privacy of a team huddle.

Sounds like a great way to communicate. Like in business, “how it has always been done” if often never questioned. But is there a better way for a football team or any other organization?

In recent years, many football teams now operate without huddles. They have learned to communicate differently and even more efficiently. They have developed systems of signals that still keep their play calling secret, even when on display for the other team to see. Coaches for these teams have found that skippng a huddle can be more efficient. No-huddle offenses allow teams to run plays faster, limit the time the other team can make substitutions, and have more time to make adjustments to the called play.

Do all teams run a no-huddle system? No. Many teams have great success while still using huddles. However, my point is that just because a way you communicate seems to work well does not mean it should never be questioned, reconsidered, or improved upon. 

Just as with technology, there is room for innovation in how we communicate and how we use these innovations for greater success.

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About the Author

Glenn S. Phillips works with leaders who want to leverage technology and understand risks within. An author and blogger, Glenn is often quoted in national media, plays a really ugly tuba (it even has a bullet hole) and is a fan of dark chocolate and great puns.