A starting lineup in sports is an official list of the set of players who will actively participate in the event when the game begins.[1] The players in the starting lineup are commonly referred to as starters, whereas the others are substitutes or bench players.

The starters are commonly the best players on the team at their respective positions. Consequently, there is often a bit of prestige that is associated with being a starter. In both baseball and basketball, it is common for players' positions to be denoted by a number as well as by a name. In that instance, the associated number is used as well. If a common abbreviation is known, the abbreviation is listed after the associated number.

Starting lineup in specific sportsEdit

American footballEdit

In American football, a team starts with 11 players on offense, 11 players on defense, and a special teams squad of 11 players for punts, kickoffs, and extra point attempts. Very often most of the special teams players are starters or bench players for offense or defense. An example of this is Devin Hester of the Chicago Bears. He is their prime kick returner but also is a wide receiver.


  1. QB -- Quarterback
  2. RB -- Running back
  3. C -- Center
  4. LG, RG—Left and right guards on either side of the center
  5. LT, RT—Left and right tackles on either end of the five man offensive line
  6. TE -- Tight end
  7. WR -- Wide receiver -- Teams can have up to three receivers on the field so long as there are no more than 11 offensive players.

Defense: Traditional football defense is the 4-3 (4 defensive linemen plus 3 linebackers) formation. However, the 3-4 (3 defensive linemen plus 4 linebackers) formation is becoming more popular among professional and NCAA Division I teams.

  1. DT—Depending on formation a team may have up to two defensive tackles. If there is only one he is called the Nose Tackle (NT)
  2. DE—A team has two defensive ends
  3. LB—A team can start three or four linebackers based on formation
  4. SS -- Strong safety
  5. FS -- Free safety
  6. CB—Teams usually start two cornerbacks

Special Teams:

  1. K -- Kicker
  2. P -- Punter
  3. PR -- Punt returner
  4. KR -- Kick returner
  5. LS -- Long snapper

The National Football League counts how many times each player takes the first snap of the game.[citation needed] This statistic reflects offense and defense only, not special teams. (Every game starts with a kickoff, which would be a special teams play.) A player gets credited with only one start if he should happen to be on both the offensive and defensive starting lineups (as has happened several times in recent years with Troy Brown of the New England Patriots, who played both wide receiver and defensive back.) Yet, this is not the official starting lineup. The list of players to start the game is usually determined by the head coach of the franchise and not the league.

In American college football, the official record of the game includes a "Game Participation" chart which shows the starting lineups and the other participants. The starting lineups reflect the two teams' offenses and defenses, not the kickoff teams.

Australian rules footballEdit

In Australian rules football, a team starts with eighteen players on the field:

  1. F - Three forwards (one Full-forward, two Forward pocket)
  2. HF - Three half forwards (one Centre half-forward, two Half-forward flank)
  3. C - Three centres (one Centre, two Wing-men)
  4. HB - Three half backs (one Centre half-back, two Half-back flank)
  5. B - Three backs (one Fullback, two Back pocket)
  6. Fol - Three followers (one Ruckman, one Ruck rover, one Rover)

Canadian footballEdit

In Canadian football, a team starts with 12 players on offence, 12 players on defence, and a special teams squad of 12 players for punts, kickoffs, and extra point attempts. As in American football, most of the special teams players are starters or bench players for offence or defence.

Because of substantial differences between the two codes—most notably the larger field and only having three downs to advance the ball 10 yards instead of four—offensive formations are somewhat different in the Canadian game. Most notably, tight ends are almost completely absent in Canada.

  1. QB — Quarterback
  2. RB — Running back
  3. FB — Fullback; this position is more frequently seen in Canada than in the U.S.
  4. C — Centre
  5. LG, RG — Left and right guards on either side of the centre
  6. LT, RT — Left and right tackles on either end of the five-man offensive line
  7. SB — Slotback, a similar position to the wide receiver, but lines up closer to the interior linemen and just off the line of scrimmage.
  8. WR — Wide receiver; teams can have up to six receivers on the field so long as there are no more than 12 offensive players.

Defences are broadly similar to those in the U.S., with the extra player used as a defensive back. Since most of the positions are essentially identical to those in American football, only the main differences will be listed here.

  1. S — Safety, plays mainly deep pass support. Unlike the American game, only one safety is typically on the field at any given time, and even in formations with two safeties, there is little distinction between strong and free safeties.
  2. DH — Defensive halfback(s), generally assigned to cover the slotback(s) when in man-to-man coverage. Most formations will use two halfbacks.
Special teams

Positions generally similar to those in the U.S.

Gaelic football & hurlingEdit

Gaelic football and hurling, as well as ladies' Gaelic football and camogie, use the same starting lineup.[2] Teams consist of one goalkeeper and fourteen outfield players (underage teams may play 13-a-side, omitting the full back and full forward positions). Teams lineup in six lines, with the goalkeeper furthest back and the full-forward line closest to the opposing team's goal. Players play on the left or right of the field looking in the direction they are attacking. Position numbering is fixed and positions are set up so that every attacker has a corresponding defender: for example, a right corner forward (jersey number 13) will be marked by a left corner back (4). Players sometimes swap positions during a match and there are sometimes tactical variations in formation, such as dropping one of the six forwards back to provide a third midfielder. Up to five substitutions are allowed during normal time (and another three if there is extra time), from a bench of 9 or sometimes 11 substitutions; substitutions are not numbered in any particular order.

  1. Goalkeeper (jersey number 1)
  2. Right corner back (2) -- full back (3) -- left corner back (4)
  3. Right half (or wing) back (5) -- centre back (6) -- left half back (7)
  4. Two midfielders (or centre-fielders) (8, 9)
  5. Right half (or wing) forward (10) -- centre (centre half) forward (11) -- left half forward (12)
  6. Right corner forward (13) -- full forward (14) -- left corner forward (15)

Rugby LeagueEdit

A Rugby league football starting lineups is

  1. 1 - Fullback
  2. 2 and 5 - Wingers
  3. 3 and 4 - Centres
  4. 6 - Stand-off
  5. 7 - Halfback
  6. 8 and 10 - Front row forwards
  7. 9 - Hooker
  8. 11 and 12 - Second row forwards
  9. 13 - Lock forward

Rugby UnionEdit

Rugby union starting lineups consist of:

  1. Two Props - 1 (loosehead) and 3 (tighthead)
  2. Hooker - 2
  3. Two Locks - 4 and 5
  4. Two Flankers - 6 and 7
  5. Number Eight - 8
  6. Scrum-Half - 9
  7. Fly-Half - 10
  8. Two Wings - 11 and 14
  9. Two Centres - 12 and 13
  10. Fullback - 15

See alsoEdit


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