Football Offensive Formations

Ok, so hopefully you now know what an offense in football is (hint: it’s the guys with the ball). This page will help you understand more about why the offense stands and squats where they do also known as offensive formations. Some of it is ‘rules’ and some of it is strategy.  The more you watch, the more you’ll start to notice some of the basics.

Offensive Positions in Football Abbreviations

Just to review, the football offense position abbreviations are:

T – Tackle
G – Guard
C – Center
TE – Tight End
WR – Wide Receiver
QB – Quarter Back
HB/FB/TB/RB – All are backs: Half Back/Full Back/ Tail Back/ Running Back


With all offensive formations, you will have a minimum of 6 players that are ALWAYS the same – the five offensive linemen (marked as the T-G-C-G-T) and the Quarterback (QB). The 5 linemen’s purpose is to try and make a gap for a back to run through or keep the defense away from the quarterback long enough to throw the ball to a receiver. The linemen can’t go too far down the field and can’t catch the ball.

football offense

The rest of the team (another 5 guys) can be a mix of receivers, tight ends, and running backs in just about any grouping you can imagine. How many of each will be discussed in the rest of the more basic formations and in the offensive strategy section.

First, let’s answer some of the basics about the offense in football.

How many men have to be on the offensive line in football?

Standard Formation for an Offense in Football

Why do some wide receivers stand off the line of scrimmage?

Shotgun versus Under Center


Offensive Formations

Here are some of the other more well known formations you will hear spoken about when watching football. These are very basic explanations but they will give you the general idea.

i Formation

Spread Offense

Wishbone Formation

Option Offense

Wildcat Formation

Pistol Offense

Tell us what you think!