A slot is a narrow opening, usually in a machine. It can be a keyway in machinery or a vending machine. Slots are also used to manage air traffic at busy airports.
Slot receivers are also known as slotbacks. Unlike wide receivers, slot receivers have shorter routes and tend to be more nimble. These receivers are typically used in place of the fullback or tight end.
The word slot is also related to the German Schloss, which is the name for the rectangle between the face-off circles in the offensive zone. Slot receivers often run quick routes to the middle of the field. They are also effective in the catch and run game.
Slot receivers can line up on either side of the offense. Depending on the position, they can be used for quick outs or to block defenders. This role can also be used as an outlet receiver for the quarterback.
In the NFL, slot receivers are becoming more prominent. Players like Tyreek Hill can stretch the defense vertically off pure speed.
Besides being an outlet receiver, slot receivers can be used to block defenders and pick up defensive linemen breaking through the line of scrimmage. Slot receivers can also be used to help protect the quarterback from being sacked.
If a team has more than eleven players on the field at a time, the slot can be used for a quick out or to block defenders. Typically, a pass to a slot receiver is short and runs the opposite direction from the running back’s route.