Trips Formation Football

Football formations play a crucial role in the success of an offense. One such formation that has gained significant popularity is the Trips formation. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the intricacies of the Trips formation, its advantages, and some of the best plays to run out of it. Whether you are a coach or a player looking to understand this formation better, this article will provide you with valuable insights and strategies to excel on the field.

Understanding the Trips Formation

Trips Formation in Football

The Trips formation is characterized by three wide receivers lining up on the same side of the field. This offensive strategy, initially popularized by Joe Gibbs and the Washington Redskins, aims to create confusion and exploit defensive weaknesses.

Why the Trips Formation Works

The Trips formation proves effective due to its ability to create mismatches and flood the defense on one side of the field. By aligning three receivers in a clustered formation, the offense puts pressure on the defense to make challenging decisions. This formation forces the defense to either commit additional defenders to the Trips side, leaving other receivers in one-on-one matchups, or cover the Trips side with fewer defenders, creating opportunities for open spaces.

Key Elements of the Trips Formation

While the basic Trips formation features three wide receivers, there are variations and combinations that can be utilized to maximize its effectiveness. For instance, the “Shotgun, Trips right, slot left” formation indicates that the tight end and two wide receivers would line up on the right side of the field, while two receivers would line up on the left side of the field. The quarterback typically positions himself at least five yards behind the center, ready to execute the play.

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Trips Formation Plays

To fully unleash the potential of the Trips formation, teams have developed a range of strategic plays. Let’s delve into some of the best plays commonly employed when utilizing the Trips formation.

1. Smash

Smash Formation

The Smash play is a versatile concept that provides answers against multiple coverages. In this play, the Trips side features a single wide receiver running a corner route, while the running back executes an arrow route into the flat. Meanwhile, the other receiver on the Trips side runs a deep dig route, and the remaining receiver runs a shallow cross.

The Smash play effectively exploits the defense by creating a high-low read for the quarterback. Against zone coverage, the outside receivers often find themselves in one-on-one matchups, with the safeties focused on deep routes. This play offers ample opportunities for receivers to find open spaces and make significant gains.

2. Box

Box Formation

The Box play is designed to create confusion and exploit the middle of the field. By sending three out of the four routes toward the middle, the offense forces defenders to navigate through crowded areas. This play aims to create mismatches and open spaces for receivers to exploit after the catch.

In the Box play, the outside receiver runs a deep post route, while the other receiver on the Trips side executes a go route down the sideline. Simultaneously, the inside receiver runs a shallow drag route from right to left, while the remaining receiver runs a dig/in route about ten yards downfield.

3. Skinny Post Attack

Skinny Post Attack Formation

The Skinny Post Attack play is particularly effective at attacking the defense at multiple depths on the Trips side of the field. By stretching the defense vertically and horizontally, this play forces defenders to make challenging decisions in coverage assignments.

In the Skinny Post Attack, the outside receiver runs a deep fade route down the left sideline, often creating a one-on-one matchup. On the Trips side, the inside receiver runs a skinny post route, the middle receiver executes a deep hitch route, and the remaining receiver runs a deep post route. This play aims to exploit the open spaces and create confusion within the defense.

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4. Scissors

Scissors Formation

The Scissors play exemplifies how the Trips formation can utilize crossing routes to confuse defenders and create open spaces. This play involves two receivers on the Trips side running mirroring routes, crossing each other at certain points. The other two receivers run clear-out routes to take advantage of the free space created by the crossing routes.

In the Scissors play, the receiver closest to the line of scrimmage on the Trips side runs a deep post route, while the other receiver runs a deep corner route. Simultaneously, the receiver closest to the line of scrimmage on the opposite side executes a shallow drag route, and the remaining receiver runs a straight go route. This play aims to exploit the confusion caused by crossing routes and create opportunities for receivers to make big plays.


The Trips formation has revolutionized offensive strategies in football. Its ability to create mismatches, flood the defense, and exploit open spaces has made it a go-to formation for many teams. By utilizing plays like Smash, Box, Skinny Post Attack, and Scissors, teams can maximize the potential of the Trips formation and achieve success on the field.

Remember, the key to success lies in understanding the strengths and weaknesses of the defense and adjusting your game plan accordingly. With proper execution and creativity, the Trips formation can become a powerful weapon in your arsenal. So, get on the field, master the Trips formation, and dominate your opponents with strategic precision.

Elvis Cook
Elvis Cook

Hello, I'm Elvis Cook, the author of As a former football player, I bring a unique perspective and firsthand experience to the content I create. Having played football myself, I have a deep passion and understanding of the game. My personal experiences on the field have shaped my love for football and ignited a desire to share my knowledge and insights with fellow enthusiasts.

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