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Shotgun formation

From Academic Kids

The Shotgun formation is an alignment used by the offensive team in American and Canadian football. This formation is used by many teams in obvious passing situations, although other teams do use this as their base formation. In the shotgun, instead of the quarterback receiving the snap from center at the line of scrimmage, he stands at least 5 yards back. Sometimes the quarterback will have a back on one or both sides before the snap, while other times he will be the lone player in the backfield with everyone spread out as receivers. One of the advantages of the shotgun formation are that the passer has less time to set up in the pocket which gives him a second or two to locate open receivers. Another advantage is that standing further back from the line before the snap gives the quarterback a better "look" at the defensive alignment. The disadvantages are that the defense knows a pass is more than likely coming up(although some running plays can be run effectively from the shotgun) and there is a higher risk of a botched snap than in a simple center/quartback exchange.

The formation got its name after it was used by a professional football club, the San Francisco 49ers, in 1960. Combining elements of the short punt and spread formations ("spread" in that it had receivers spread widely instead of close to or behind the interior line players), it was said to be like a "shotgun" in spraying receivers around the field like a scatter-shot gun. Formations similar or identical to the shotgun used decades previously would be called names such as "spread double wing". Short punt formations (so called because the distance between the snapper and the ostensible punter is shorter than in long punt formation) don't usually have as much emphasis on wide receivers.

At times the formation has been more common in Canadian football, which allows only three downs to move ten yards downfield instead of the American game's four. Canadian teams are therefore more likely to find themselves with long yardage to make on the penultimate down, and therefore more likely to line up in the shotgun to increase their opportunities for a large gain.

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