A punt formation in football that features three blockers in front of the punter and seven players on the line of scrimmage.
Although the word "shield" implies that this formation is used to protect the punter, the formation is actually more about punt coverage than protection. Three large players (usually guards or tackles) are assigned to block anyone attempting to reach the punter, while the seven players on the line are sent downfield to cover the punt. A traditional punt formation uses two players that line up as wide receivers known as "gunners", fast players who are tasked with reaching the player fielding the punt first. In the shield punt formation, all seven players at the line of scrimmage are fast, decreasing the chance of a long return. This also has the effect of applying more pressure downfield which can distract the punt receiver, causing potential "muffed" catches and creating fewer lanes for the punt returner to choose from. One additional advantages the shield punt's simplicity-there is very little to coach about the formation.