IFL 101: Introducing the offensive basics of indoor football

1:17 | NFL
The first fan-run pro football team

This post originally appeared on the Salt Lake Screaming Eagles' website.

Shawn Liotta, a longtime football coach, coaching instructor and speaker, is educating fans on the Indoor Football Football. Though his Teaching Modules, Coach Liotta will dissect the X's and O's, terminology and other facets of indoor football to educate fans and help them make the right calls.

The Indoor Football League has many rules that both restrict and benefit the offense, helping to contribute to high-scoring but well-defended games.

Offensive Basics and Player Identification

The offensive unit in the IFL consists of eight players: Three offensive linemen, four eligible receivers or backs, and a quarterback in a legal formation.

The player who snaps the football is designated as the center and the players aligned on the offensive line to each side of the center are called guards. These players are all ineligible to release downfield to catch as pass. This is in contrast to the rule in the Arena Football League where these players if eligible by declaration as a tight end may receive a pass downfield.

Terminology varies from team to team but for our purposes of these lessons we will designate the eligible receivers as X, Y, Z with the H representing the running back.

If you want more insight into the actual terminology that Coach McCarthy will be using with our players to install his offense in 2017, join our front office today as an official assistant coach.

Spacing

The offense must have four stationary players who are aligned on the line of scrimmage, three of which are linemen who are ineligible receivers.

The stationary receiver must be aligned at least three yards from the guard. All backs and receivers will remain eligible receivers regardless of alignment and motion, provided that at least one player is aligned as a legal stationary receiver at the snap.

Offensive Box

The offensive box is the area from shoulder to shoulder of the offensive guards and extending five yards deep into the offensive backfield.

A maximum of two offensive players including the quarterback are permitted in the box prior to the snap and must be in a set position for one second prior to the snap. No player may be motioning inside the box at the snap of the ball. The offensive box disappears at the snap of the ball.

Formations

The offense may align in a variety of formations which we will cover in great detail in upcoming lessons. Offensive formations can be categorized in the following groups. Stay tuned as we take an in-depth look at each formation.

2 x 1 – A formation with one running back aligned in the backfield with the quarterback and two receivers on one side of the formation and one receiver on the backside of the formation.

3 x 0 Trips – A formation with one running back aligned in the backfield with the quarterback and three receivers aligned to one side of the formation with no receivers on the backside. This is commonly referred to as a trips formation.

3 x 1 Empty – An empty set formation with no running back aligned in the offensive box and three receivers to one side of the formation and one receiver aligned on the backside.

2 x 2 Empty – An empty set formation with no running back aligned in the offensive box and two receivers on each side of the formation. This is commonly referred to as a balanced empty set.

4 x 0 Empty – An empty set formation with no running back aligned in the offensive box and four receivers to one side of the formation and no receivers aligned to the backside. This is commonly referred to as a quads formation.

Big – A formation that takes advantage of a loophole in the IFL offensive box rule where a team can align multiple running backs in the backfield as long as their alignment is greater than five yards. A team can align in a formation that has a quarterback and a stationary running back inside the five yard offensive box with other running backs aligned in a deep tailback position six yards from the ball in what would be determined a legal alignment.

Bunch or Stack – A formation that utilizes multiple receivers in a compressed, bunch, or stacked alignment pre-snap.

Motion

Up to two players may be in lateral or forward motion prior to the snap. All players must be set for one second prior to these players going into motion and they may not cross the line of scrimmage prior to the snap.

Players may not be in motion in the offensive box at the time of the snap. A player legally in motion is eligible to receive a handoff or receive a pass. A player in motion may not block one of the three defensive linemen aligned on the line of scrimmage.

A player in forward motion may not go in motion at stop abruptly at the line of scrimmage in an attempt to draw the defense offsides.

There are several types of motion used by offenses in the IFL and we will take a further look at the advantages of each of these motions in an upcoming Teaching Module. Forward Motion, Later Motion, Jet Motion, Short Motion, and Loop Motion are all types of motions that a diverse IFL offense will use to put stress on the defense.

Shotgun

The quarterback may align in a shotgun alignment or take the snap from under the center. The quarterback must be aligned in the offensive box to take the offensive snap.

Click here to download the Screaming Eagles app for iOS or Android.​

SI Apps
We've Got Apps Too
Get expert analysis, unrivaled access, and the award-winning storytelling only SI can provide - from Peter King, Tom Verducci, Lee Jenkins, Seth Davis, and more - delivered straight to you, along with up-to-the-minute news and live scores.