The slot is the area of the field between and slightly behind wide receivers who line up on the outside. Those who play this position are usually smaller than their outside counterparts, but possess good speed and excellent route-running skills. They must master all passing routes, including those to the inside and outside, deep, and short. They also must block on running plays in which they aren’t the ball carrier.
Because of where they are positioned on the field, Slot receivers must have really great hands. They should be able to catch errant throws and make adjustments quickly in the middle of a pattern. They’re often called on to run some sort of a “split” pattern on reverses or end-arounds, so they should be very versatile as well.
In addition to their on-field abilities, Slot receivers must have very good strength and conditioning to maintain their size and speed as they age. They’re also frequently asked to play on special teams, especially when injuries or weather issues arise. This can take a toll on their bodies and their spirits, making it important for Slot receivers to keep themselves in shape to play at the highest level for a long time.
While they may not deal crushing blocks like offensive linemen do, Slot receivers must still be able to prevent defenders from getting to ball carriers. They can also need to act as a running back on some plays, such as pitch plays or reverses, and they must be quick to react to the snap.
As a result, Slot receivers must have great footwork and the ability to break away from defenders, as well as be able to find open space. They must be able to run precise patterns, as opposed to the more “out-there” routes that outside wide receivers must master.
They can be extremely effective as receivers, as evidenced by the success of players such as Tyreek Hill, Cole Beasley, Keenan Allen, and Juju Smith-Schuster, who all have racked up huge numbers from this position. The success of these players shows that the slot is an increasingly important position in modern NFL offenses. Moreover, the increasing popularity of this position has given rise to coaching strategies that focus on developing players who can excel in it. Those who learn the ins and outs of this position will likely have long and successful careers in the league. This is because Slot receivers are a valuable asset for any team that employs them. Without a doubt, the most successful teams in the NFL feature a strong group of Slot receivers. They’re not only highly productive, but they also help to balance the defense and make it more difficult for opposing teams to stop their attack.