Intro to Football: Offensive Formations

If you turn a football game on on TV, the announcers might be saying something
like, ‘The quarterback is in the shotgun position.’ Or ‘They’re in a double back set.’ And it can get kind of confusing
as to what they’re talking about so in this video I want to take a look at
the most common offensive formations and what they look like. The offensive team can either pass or run
from any type of formation and all of them have eleven players on
the field, so I suppose none of them would be any more ‘complicated’ than any other, but you could probably call the I-formation the most basic offensive formation. The Basic I-formation consists of two
wide receivers, two running backs, and one tight end. The running backs will line up with the fullback
behind the quarterback and the halfback behind the fullback. The tight end is on the end of the offensive line
and the wide receivers are out wide. So you can see how the quarter back
and the running backs form this “I.” There are a few variations you can make on the formation while keeping this “I,” like pulling one of the wide receivers in to be
a second tight end. Or the fullback can slightly shift to the left or the right side and this
would be called an Offset I. One thing to note here is that the
quarterback is what we call ‘under center,’ which means he’s directly behind the
center, so whenever the center snaps the ball he’s essentially handing the
ball to the quarterback. We’ll come back to the alternative
for being under center in a minute. But right now, let’s look at another
formation that is pretty similar to the I formation, and this is called the Pro Set Formation. Which is similar to the I formation,
except that the running backs are positioned to either side of the
quarterback in the backfield and again we can have a variation on this where the
wide receivers are shifted or even lineup one-way and then go in motion before the play. The next formation is called the
Single back set. Which just means that there’s one
running back so again there can be a lot of
variations that are used maybe a team has two tight ends
or two wide receivers, or more commonly, one tight end, and three wide receivers And if there are three wide receivers, then this guy here, who isn’t at the end of the line and he
isn’t out wide he is called the slot receiver or he said
to be ‘in the slot.’ The last formation that will look at what
the quarterback under center is called the Trips formation which also
uses three or sometimes four wide receivers. In the trips formation three wide
receivers will line up on the same side of the field. And possibly there will be a tight end
over here to so we can get pretty crowded too confusing for the defense as
to how they’re going to cover all these receivers. Of course the offense also runs the risk
that these guys could run into each other and could confuse
themselves just the same. You’ll also notice here that there is
nobody lined up behind the quarterback so we would say that this formation has an ’empty backfield.’ And one common variation that we’ll see with the trips formation is that the quarterback will not be
under center and if he’s not under center then he will be in the ‘shotgun formation.’ So when you hear that a quarterback is ‘in shotgun’ it means that he is a few feet behind
the center, rather than right up behind him. So rather than handling the ball to the quarter back,
the center will actually snap the ball back a few feet through the air to him. Here’s a great picture with the Aaron
Rodgers of the Packers receiving the snap from the center in the shotgun
position, rather than being right up behind him. And what this does is give the
quarterback a little more reaction time. If the quarterback is under center, he will
get the ball from the center of a few steps backward really quickly which we would call ‘dropping back.’ So he could take a three-step, or a five-step
drop, depending on how quickly he wants to throw the ball. What moving into the shotgun essentially
does, is removes this need to drop back because the quarterback is in essence
dropped back before the ball is even snapped. So lining up in the shotgun formation
makes it easier to pass, and is often used by teams on passing plays, but it doesn’t have to be so there can be a running back, as he saw
in that photo, or two while he is in shotgun so that after the quarterback gets the snap,
he can just turn and hand the ball off to his running back. Now this isn’t all of the formations that
can be used, there are plenty more because remember the offense wants
to throw the defense off anyway they can. Teams will have their favorite formations
that they use most often But they’re going to be constantly moving guys around,
and mixing things up one way or another. So hopefully that’ll be enough of an
intro to formations to know why the offense is always lining up
differently before every play so now the next time you watch a game, you can
try to identify, “Is the quarterback in shotgun or is he under center?”,
“Are they using I formation rather than a single back set?”

28 thoughts on “Intro to Football: Offensive Formations

  1. The formations you show are all illegal formations, since there aren't 7 men on the line of scrimmage. Your "trips" formation is actually an unbalanced quads bunch. The times there are 7 men on the line, a receiver is covered up, making him an ineligible receiver which, as I said, makes it an unbalanced formation.

  2. I've been watching (and enjoying) football with my husband for years, and I'm finally wanting to understand what I'm watching.  This was an excellent first stop for me (now I know what the "shotgun" is, for example).  Thank you so much for taking the time to make this and post it!

  3. One thing I'm struggling with is the names of things.  It is hard to remember or understand what is going on without the etymology.  Is there a video about what all this stuff means or how the names evolved?  For instance, why is it called a "slot" formation etc.?

  4. Title is very misleading . Its handegg, not football and played by you americans only. Wasted my internet on this video and also wasted my precious time.

  5. Im 16. I'm not new to NFL, I watch it very often – but i never really understood properly what anything the commentators were talking about during their pre-match rants :D. And I also never really understood any of the formations they used and why they were used. And this helped! So thank you very much for these videos and keep up the good work! 🙂

  6. I needed this because I will maybe start with fotball Im from norway btw im best as qb I have learnt how too throw and everything its just the formations.

  7. Right off the bat this is inaccurate. The "I Formation" shown in the video is an illegal formation. There are only 6 players on the Line of Scrimmage (LOS). The TE needs to be on the LOS to make this legal… not watching any further because cannot trust that the information is accurate.

  8. Can anyone help an Aussie who doesn't watch NFL, but plays the game?
    When I see others play NFL, they choose Offensive plays by choosing a formation first, and then a play. Why do people choose certain offensive formations? Do they already know exactly what play they want to choose, or do they choose a formation, then decide on an available play?

  9. That trips formation really called quads because of 4 eligible receivers and you have to have 7 players on the line of scrimmage too. You'll notice that some TE's and WR's are always lined up a step behind the line of scrimmage. This is because any player in the backfield is eligible. If he lined up on the line then TE is ineligible.

  10. i dont like your bunched trips formation witht he Te instead of a back… whats the point of a screen if theres no back to run the ball? unless you throwing a bullet to the off reciver.. but thats too predictable (especially because every team in america will contest that with cover 3 and the SS who has hook to curl will ditch their assignment and come down hill blazing along with that outside backer who has the force). the back can block in the TE slot after the snap. your trips is a quad since you got 4 recievers on one side, but since you also have a reciver on the weak side its a empty set. when reading formations WR and TE is the same thing

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