A slot is a narrow notch, groove or opening, as in the keyway of a lock, a slit for a coin in a machine, or an electrical connector. The term can also refer to a position in a series, sequence or set. There are many different types of slots, each with its own benefits and drawbacks.
The slot is a vital part of the offense, and a good one can help stretch out defenses, giving quarterbacks more options when passing. A slot receiver can also block well enough to keep defenders off the ball carrier, so it’s important to get on the same page with the quarterback and understand the defensive game plan.
Slot receivers often run routes that correspond with other receivers to confuse the defense, and they’re usually smaller and tougher than wideouts. Their main job is to absorb contact in the middle of the field, but they must be fast enough to blow past defenders on outside runs.
They can also act as a running back on some plays, including pitch plays, reverses and end-arounds. This requires a lot of practice and coordination between the player and the quarterback to be successful. They must be quick enough to beat coverage from defenders and make breaks for big plays.
Because they’re closer to the line of scrimmage, slot receivers are more vulnerable to big hits from different angles than other receivers. They also need to have excellent route running skills and the ability to read the defense, which is why it takes so long for them to develop into starting players.
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