Football Flying Wedge

Football Flying Wedge

The flying wedge was an offensive tactic and play previously used in American football, among other sports. This tactic proved to be extremely successful and became one of football's most iconic formations. However, it was eventually banned from football altogether due to its dangerous nature and the number of injuries it caused.

How Does a Flying Wedge in Football Work?

The flying wedge utilizes momentum and brute force to be so effective at protecting the ball and destroying defenders. In the flying wedge formation, blockers would link themselves together in a triangle or wedge formation surrounding the ball carrier and run forward at full speed. This makes it almost impossible for a defender to reach the ball without dangerously throwing himself directly into the wedge and through multiple offensive players running straight on at high speeds.

History of the Flying Wedge

The flying wedge play was originally drawn from military formations used in ancient times. In 1892, Harvard football coach Lorin F. Deland introduced the tactic to football. It proved to be extremely effective but frequently resulted in severe injuries; head, neck, and spinal injuries were most common. Numerous players even died from the injuries sustained from their participation in the flying wedge. The long line of injuries, deaths, and overall violent nature of the play eventually led the NFL to ban its use in 2009.


When was the flying wedge banned in professional football?

The flying wedge formation was officially banned from the National Football League in 2009. The decision to ban this offensive formation was based on the dangers it posed to defensive players attempting to stop the ball. Additionally, it is forbidden to link arms or hands with players on your team for the purpose of blocking.

Who invented the flying wedge in football?

The flying wedge in football was first utilized in 1892, by Harvard football coach Lauren F. Deland. Deland first used this formation against Yale football, with the intention of drawing Yale offsides and earning themselves a penalty. However, this tactic was not successful, and Yale football remained onsides despite the unorthodox formation.

Is the flying wedge banned from other sports?

Yes, the flying wedge is banned from both American football and rugby. In both sports, the formation has led to unfair offensive strategy numerous head, neck, and spinal injuries. While the formation is no longer used in sports, it is used for other applications such as policing. Police officers have been known to utilize this formation to break up large crowds, often with riot shields and protective gear.