Author: John Carbon
Originally Published: October 4, 2004

Formationing is one of the most important strategies employed by today’s football coaches. The ability to “hit them where they ain’t” is more important than any form of trickery. In fact it is much simpler than to install and apply since it only involves changes in positions by one or two players on offense.

The great Homer Smith once said, “It is up to coaches to put their players into relationships with defenders that will help them win.” I like the fact that I can run off defenders with simple formation adjustments. This allows me to target defenders and make the most of mismatches.

I am a Dr. Keuffel follower so I like to run the straight series. We base all our plays around a core formation. The core is the following:


Out of this formation we will then move the strong end out or move the fullback to a slot/flanker position. In many cases we will replace the fullback with a wide receiver type. We make sure that all formations we use let us run our bread and butter plays. As with most single wing coaches we run wedge, seam buck, sweep, off-tackle, wingback reverse and sweep pass.

We always start the game in the traditional unbalanced single wing. We will start formationing as soon as we can identify a opponents weakness on defense. This can be as simple as running away from a stud defender to finding a mismatch between a a corner back and one of our speedy receivers.

Here are the seven formations that we are using at this time.

  1. Single Wing Base
  2. Yale
  3. Twins
  4. Trips
  5. Pro
  6. Reed Right
  7. Reed Left

While the Yale formation and tight single wing formation have obvious advantages I would like to go over the other formations advantages.

Base Tight Single Wing Formation


Yale Formation


Let’s Start with Twins Formation

The first advantage is the quicker corner for the off-tackle play. It also creates a three vertical threat making it hard for three deep secondary to play any type of invert. Its also important to notice that in the past I would face defenses that loved to blitz the cornerback to the wingback side and this formation made this a not so good idea.

Trips Formation


Trips is a great formation if you want to create conflict for a linebacker. If a team runs a three deep secondary the advantages of trips is obvious. The potential to get the inside slot open in a underneath route and the ability to soften the off-tackle play.

Pro Formation


Pro has all the advantages of the twins and the ability to make the wingback reverse softer to attack. This formation also makes it hard for a single safety to help both corner backs on pass plays. It also forces the defense to move out of any 8-man front.

Reed Formation


The Reed formation allows you to pull linemen a bit more liberally and create the same problems as the trips and pro formations.

John Carbon