An offensive formation that features three wide receivers lined up on the same side of the field. The formation is designated “trip left” or “trip right” by the quarterback from inside the huddle, indicating which side of the field should have three receivers.
Often using a shotgun formation, the trips formation is really a variation of the spread. The side that is heavy on receivers typically has one wide receiver and two slot receivers, or one wide receiver off the line of scrimmage with a slot receiver and a tight end. A single wide receiver lines up on the “weak” side.
The Trips formation unbalances the formation and automatically creates a strong-side look. This can challenge defenses to match up to it properly, having to cover every receiver on the strong-side, while having to also deal with the isolated receiver or guard against the run.
The Trips formation is an important tool in four receiver sets and is especially effective against zone pass coverage schemes, especially one like Cover 2, where the two deep safeties have too many obligations to cover as many targets.