What are the Spread Air Raid Formations and Personnel?

A wise man once told said it takes 10,000 hours to become a master of your craft. When you select a field you want to master, that’s a big step towards the 10k. Baby steps in mastering our craft as coaches involve understanding the foundational pieces of the game of football


I wanted to take the time to share knowledge with everyone about which plays to run vs certain fronts, what tempos to use, basic personnel and offensive structures. The spread academy is a forum where I take questions and give answers right on a live stream so that we can all become more knowledgeable together.This forum allows us all to come together and grow towards our 10k hours.


One baby step in understanding offensive football is mastering formations. A formation is a way that an offense lines up on the field to execute a play. 


A 2X2 formation is a formation where you have two receivers on each side of the formation and one running back. Different coaches have different names for particular personnel. Some of the common nicknames in football for 2×2 formations are Ace, Duo, and Open.



The L or X receiver is the backside Wide receiver split out in the 2X2 formation. The Z or R receiver is the strong side split out wide receiver. The H or F receiver is the hybrid weak side inside wide receiver, While the Y is the inside wide receiver to the strength of the offensive formation. There are a myriad of ways to determine who is on and off the ball from a receiver standpoint in each formation. The talent in your receiving core and your talent in the receiver room depends on who is on the ball.


I personally prefer keeping my Y on the play side and on the ball. We have a rule system that we use, and having my Y receiver structured that way makes things easier for everyone. The Y receiver is usually the most physical receiver and shouldn’t have trouble getting rid of defenders attempting to jam.


My rules are quite simple for who is on and off the football. If the Y is on your side then the Y receiver is on the ball and the WR adjacent to him is off the ball. If the H is to your side, the H is off the football and the receiver adjacent to him is on the ball. This allows for the offense to remain consistent and eliminate the thinking. We also keep our Y on the line of scrimmage when he is split because we consider him an attached tight end just moving out a few feet.


Another very common formation that you often hear is 3X1 formation. Several nicknames have also been accrued for this look. You may have heard coaches say trips, trey, trio etc., it all depends on what you want to call it, and how the three receiver side lines up. 3×1 is a formation with three receivers to the play side of a formation and one receiver to the weak side. There is also one running back in the backfield when a team lines up in a 3×1 formation.



A simple way to determine how the back aligns is another very important aspect of an efficient offense. In our offense we have the back line up to the opposite side of where he is going. If we are running outside zone to the left we have our back line up to the right side of the formation pre-snap.


Understanding personnel

Personnel is an important caveat to coaching offensive football. There is a universal numbering system that is used to explain the number of skill players on the field. The first number in the numbering system of football personnel tells us the amount of RB’s that are in a personnel group. The TE’s group makes up the second skill set that is in the personnel numbering system.


There are a total of 5 skill players that are on the field excluding the quarterback that make up the total number of personnel in the numbering system. The receiver group is not counted in the two digit numbering system; whatever amount of numbers remaining out of 5 is how many receivers that are in the personnel group.


10 Personnel

‘10’personnel is a grouping where you have 1 running back, 0 tight ends, and 4 wide receivers. As we spoke earlier this particular grouping is very popular for 3×1 or 2×2 looks because we have four wide receivers and one running back.


11 personnel


11 personnel is a grouping where we have 1 running back, 1 tight end and 3 wide receivers. When a team runs 11 personnel they often line up in a formation with an attached tight end. As the personnel groupings change the actual players in the game also change.

Other Personnel Groupings

When you shift to some sort of a 21 personnel grouping, usually a receiver type player is subbed out and another running back subs in. If we shift to a 22 personnel grouping we sub out a WR body and bring in another tight end.


If the Y is lined up in a sniffer position, or a fullback position it’s usually considered 20 personnel. If a Y or TE body is lined up in a wing position, attached to the line of scrimmage, or split out wide often times that considered 11 personnel.


What is your favorite personnel grouping? Let me know in the comments below.

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