Press "Enter" to skip to content

Football 101 – The Single Wing

“Football 101 is a series that will take an in-depth look at formation, coverages, passing concepts and much more to give fans a better knowledge and understanding of the game. This is a guest post by Darrin Sheffer.”

To follow Coach Sheffer, he’s @DarrinSheffer on Twitter.


In this article I will be discussing the Unbalanced Single Wing Offensive attack and one of the most commonly used plays in this offense, the “Power” play.


The Unbalanced Single Wing formation is a double tight (2 Tight Ends/Y) shotgun formation with a four back backfield:

  • A Wingback (WB) 1 yard behind and 1 yard outside of the Power Side Y
  • A Fullback (FB) 1 yard behind the offensive line and aligned in between the Play Side Guard and Inside Tackle
  • A B-Back (BB) 3-4 yards deep aligned between the Center and Play Side Guard
  • And a Tail Back (TB) 4-5 yards deep aligned between the Center and the Quick Side Guard

Instead of using the terms “Weak Side” vs “Strong Side” on the offensive line, many Single Wing coaches use the terms “Quick Side” and “Power Side”. The offensive line is made up of (from left to right):

  • Quick Side Guard
  • Center/Snapper
  • Power Side Guard
  • Inside Tackle
  • Outside Tackle



The Single Wing Offense does offer quite a few advantages to any team. 1st, the unbalanced formation forces the opposing defense to compensate and do things that not all teams are used to doing. 2nd, since this offense is mainly a rushing offense and rarely passes the ball, success and failure do not hinge on having a decent QB who can sling the ball around. Another advantage is that you can use multiple forms of misdirection and “hide” the ball carrier from the defense.

If you run a shotgun based offense this could be an easy “Red Zone” package to add. When you do decide to throw the ball the Play Action passing attack will be deadly because the defense will be committed to stopping the run game. Lastly, and possibly the biggest reason I love this offense is that it isn’t very common. For example, you might be the only team in your league to run the Single Wing which means that your opponent will only have 1 week to prepare for an offense that they are not familiar with which in my opinion gives you a huge advantage.



The Single Wing offense is one of the oldest offenses in what we know as Modern American Football, being most widespread during the 1st half of the 20th century. The Single Wing all but disappeared when offenses such as the Wishbone Option, Wing-T and Pro-Style became more commonly used. The last bastion of this offense seemed to be a few high school teams, but even then it was extremely rare to see. Over the last 20 years however, the Single Wing seems to be making a comeback. It still isn’t a commonly used offense, but it isn’t as obscure as it used to be.

Many coaches may recognize this offense is similar to the “Wildcat” offense that hit the NFL a few years ago. While you may not see this offense on Sundays or even College Saturdays, this offense is slowly trickling its way from the Youth Levels into the HS level


Power Play

If there were one play in all of football that seemed to be built for the Single Wing Offense, it’s the Power Play.

Many coaches know that the major rules for a Power play as “Down, Down, Kick-Out”. In the Unbalanced Single Wing Power (see diagram above) you will see the FB be the “Kick-Out” block, the WB, TE, Inside and Outside Tackles will all Down Block to the left. The Play Side Guard will pull and “Wall-Off”, usually taught to make their path tight on the WB’s backside to cut off any Linebacker flow. The BB will follow the FB and be the lead blocker for the TB who will take the direct snap and follow the BB.

I love this play from this formation because in all of my days playing, watching and coaching football I have never seen another play get as many blockers at the Point of Attack as the Power from the Single Wing.



This is an offense that most of your opponents are not familiar with while still giving the appearance of being a modern shotgun attack. You can misdirect AND outnumber the defense at the Point of Attack at the same time while setting up the Play Action Pass. So whether you are trying to compensate for a lack of good QB play or just looking for a new Red Zone package you should give the Single Wing a good hard look.


To see more great content from Coach Sheffer follow him on Twitter @DarrinSheffer.

Be First to Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *