Basic Football Formations
WILDCAT, 4-3, 3-4, SHOTGUN… Before the team can run a play, the players must first line up in a formation. Below are a few basic offensive and defensive formations.
First, if you need to familiarize yourself with the different football player positions, click here. Otherwise, let’s jump right in!
- Remember, the Offensive Line is the Center (C) with 2 Offensive Guards (OG) and 2 Offensive Tackles (OT)
- Very traditional formation
- Looks like the letter I
- 2 Running Backs (RB) lined up directly behind the Quarterback (QB)
- 1 Tight End (TE) and 2 Wide Receivers (WR)
Pro-Set Formation or Split-Formation
- Just like the I-Formation except the Running Backs SPLIT the QB (line up on either side of the QB)
- The QB lines up about 5 yards behind the Center and receives the football by a snap rather than a hand-off
- Usually used with 1 RB, 3 WR, and 1 TE, but any combo is possible
- The QB has more time to throw the ball and can see the defense better
- It “spreads” out the defense creating bigger holes
- This example shows 4 WR and no RB, but sometimes a RB will be used
- More common in College than NFL
- Known as a “trick formation”
- A catch-all formation for when any player other than the QB takes the snap from the Center
- Remember, Defensive Line is made up of Defensive Ends (DE) and Defensive Tackles (DT)
- The Secondary is made up of Cornerbacks (CB) and Safeties (S)
- 4 Defensive Linemen backed up by 3 Linebackers (LB) and 4 players in the Secondary
- Stronger against the run
- 3 Defensive Linemen backed up by 4 LB and 4 players in the Secondary
- Any time there are 5 defensive players in the Secondary.
- The additional defender is called the Nickelback (NB) – 5th player, 5 cents, Nickel, get it?
- Any time there are 6 defensive players in the Secondary (2 Nickels = a Dime)
- Used against aggressive passing plays
And just like that, you have mastered 9 formations!