The First Basic GAME Formations, Circa 1999

Below are diagrams of the first series of GAME formations (sketched between the brackets) I came up with back in 1999. Enlarge image. The brackets in the diagrams reflect the modularity of the formations; in other words one could use any one of the formations below to create completely new formations or integrate them into existing formations depending on how involved a GAME a team is participating in and/or what the team is trying to accomplish.

The three formation modules are, from top to bottom:

  1. a power-speed formation (the arrows that extend horizontally from “LINE” indicate that the line-forwards are positioned out in either direction without indicating the specific players or the spacing between them; the arrow that extends up from the “LINE” indicates that a forward push into the opposition is the goal of the line; the double-ended arrow between the Throwing Backs (ThB) at the bottom of the formation indicates that more players can be inserted in between the rear ThB’s, depending on the GAME and/or goal of the team). By positioning the SC (signal caller) close to the line followed by a “tail” of ThB’s, the SC becomes the initial ball handler who can either keep, hand off or lateral down the line of ThB’s (similar to the flow of rugby), depending on the defensive alignment and degree of defensive penetration. In general, ThB’s positioned towards the front are throwers with great size, mobility and generate considerable power when entering the frontline; ThB’s positioned in the middle are throwers who are elusive, and explosive; ThB’s in the rear are mobile, have good height and have the best power arms to deliver the ball downfield or into other transitional GAME zones. The rear ThB’s tend to be the least mobile of ThB’s and shadow the lateral movements of the ThB’s in front, in order to be in position to throw when required. This formation allows an offense to throw multiple looks simultaneously at a defense and then exploit the defenses’ weakest areas quickly and with forceful impact.
  2. a defense-offense transition formation is a defensive alignment module that creates quick transitions into attack mode through the utilization of quick strike power forwards on the wings and athletic power players with size and mobility in the middle of the defensive line. The three “bubbles” at the bottom of the module are a side in hockey, an American football offensive line and a American football/GAME hybrid backfield consisting of a QB, SC, TWB and B (more on these positions later). The “bubbles” illustrate how the forwards on the wings augment the defensive line but are versatile enough to sprint into the transitional GAME zones in all directions; linking up with and then participating in other (athletic) nodes. The defensive line’s main role is to provide a stiff resistance to counter offensive maneuvers, but like the forwards, the line has the flexibility to charge forward to participate in offensive operations. Behind the line are varying numbers of defenders (D) who are typically aligned in an I-formation. The D’s are primarily defensive safeties who are the key decision makers when leading a quick counterattack.
  3. a power-speed formation on the right wing with ThB’s stacked in a power formation upfront and speed ThB’s in the back. An extra layer of SC’s and B’s follow the ThB’s to create more power-speed combinations in the “tail” of the formation, producing more potential matchup problems for a defense.

Most positions have a corresponding athlete and the skill set (listed to the right of the athletes’ names) that I had in mind for the newly created GAME positions. The positions in the diagram may be unfamiliar to some, so a position index follows the diagram.


Position index for the preceding diagrams:

B=Back: is usually a multi-nodal hybrid position requiring quickness, speed, elusiveness and explosion. Because the B may usually be positioned further back in a given formation, endurance is a key element in the conditioning required for the position. A Back may in certain formations travel 15, 20 or more yards before hitting the frontline.

C=Center: a specific position from basketball, ice hockey and/or a football offensive line.

D=Defenseman: hockey defenseman providing a line of defense as well as lead a counterattack on a change of possession.

F=Forward: right wing or left wing in ice hockey, power or small forward in basketball. The F positions on the wings, in the middle formation module above, can be occupied by any type of forward from any athletic node as long as his skillset fits most of the requirements for the module’s position. Examples of forwards from the various athletic nodes who could fit in this defensive module include: Deion Sanders (CB/WR/KR/PR, American football), Roberto Carlos (wing back, football), Charles Woodson (CB/WR—in college/KR/PR), Scottie Pippen (SF, basketball), Ron Artest (F, basketball), Dwight Howard (C, basketball), Kevin Garnett (F, basketball), Lilian Thuram (centre back/right back, football), Cafu (wing back, football), Larry Robinson (D, ice hockey), Chris Chelios (D, ice hockey), Scott Stevens (D, ice hockey), Raymond Bourque (D, ice hockey), Bobby Orr (D, ice hockey), Claude Makélélé (defensive MF, football), and Hong Myung-Bo (sweeper, football). The F positions on the wings can also be multi-nodal hybrids.

G=Guard: football offensive lineman.

PF=Power Forward: basketball.

QB=Quarterback: football.

SC=Signal Caller: a hybrid multi-nodal position proficient in transitioning into and out of multiple nodes. A SC can, for example, start with a hockey line and/or receive a handoff from a football QB and stay in his node, transition into another node or distribute to another player from another node.

T=Tackle: football offensive lineman.

ThB=Throwing Back: a mobile multi-nodal hybrid position whose primary role is that of a thrower and whose targets are players spanning multiple nodes. ThB’s can range from tall power throwers to smaller, more explosively mobile throwers. and anything in between.

TWB=Throwing Wing Back: a multi-nodal hybrid player who can be positioned within a backfield formation or motioned/positioned to either wing. A versatile and athletic player, the ideal TWB can make throws between and within nodal zones, can catch/maintain possession, and can have tremendous explosiveness. The size of TWB can vary from tall and lanky, small and elusive, to anything in between, just as long as they have the above skillset.

Esthetics aside, the three GAME formations above were inspired by the University of Nebraska’s “I-option” attack, specifically; the I-formation, in general; and the hammer and anvil military tactical maneuver used in ancient battles and in modern frontline operations.

The I-formation was selected as a starting point for formations in THE GAME for several key reasons:

  1. The ability to have multiple options for a multiple number backs when they are attacking the frontline.
  2. Increased speed in hitting the frontline. The backs from the “tail” or rear will be able to read the defense with a running start when hitting the frontline. Conversely, backs towards the front can serve as quick hitting decoys, blockers, throwers, runners or a combination.
  3. Improved deception. The quick hitting action and the fact that the backs are lined up and virtually hidden by the backs in front, increases the ability of the offense to mask their intentions at the start of play and also increase the effectiveness of the subsequent “hammer and anvil” attack.