A slot is a narrow opening in a machine or container into which something fits, as in a phone, a computer or a car seat belt. It can also refer to a time slot in a schedule or program, as when people reserve a place to meet or attend an activity.
Football teams aren’t complete without a player that can line up in the slot, which is the area between the outside wide receiver and tight end. This position is a threat to do just about anything when it comes to passing and running plays, and it requires an incredible amount of practice and skill to master the role.
Typically shorter and smaller than outside wide receivers, the Slot receiver must be able to run precise routes. They are often used to open up big plays down the middle of the field, and it takes an advanced awareness of the field and understanding of which defenders are where for them to be successful at this. Additionally, Slot receivers are a crucial component to any running play that involves the RB and must be able to block well.
The Slot position was first popularized by a former NFL coach named Sid Gillman, who developed a system that placed two wide receivers on the weak side of the defense and a running back in between. This gave the offense a chance to attack all three levels of the defense, and it has become one of the most popular formations in the league today.
Slot players must have exceptional route-running skills to be able to get open on passing plays, as well as an advanced understanding of the field and which defenders are where to run precise timing routes. In addition, they must be able to block, especially on running plays like sweeps and slants. They are usually in a great position to do this, since they’re close to the center of the field and can pick up blitzes from linebackers or secondary players.
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