A slot is a narrow opening in a machine or container. You put coins in the slot to make it work. You can also slot things into other objects. You might slot a piece of furniture into the living room or a jar into a bowl.
Slot receivers, often called slot backs in American football, are a type of wide receiver that line up closer to the quarterback and use the waggle (movement before the snap) to run routes. In addition, they may carry the ball from time to time in pitch plays, reverses and end-arounds.
The position requires a wide range of skills and responsibilities, including route running, chemistry with the quarterback, blocking, and timing. They also need to be tough enough to deal with defenders on the outside while being fast enough to get past them.
Most teams have at least one slot receiver on the roster, with some teams having two or three. This can be advantageous, as a slot receiver is usually not expected to block or run the ball, but they still need to be quick enough to get open and able to move quickly when they do.
They are not expected to be a high-volume receiver, but they are an essential part of any team’s offensive game plan. They are used to help set up other players, especially running backs, in the open field. They are also used in flexbone formations, where they are sometimes paired with another player in the middle of the field.
As with all receivers, a slot receiver needs to be fast and have good hands. They should be able to read the defense’s coverage and have a feel for where they are in space. This means they need to be able to react quickly and have excellent vision, so they can make quick decisions when they see a defender coming their way.
A slot receiver needs to have good chemistry with the quarterback, so they can sync up and make quick decisions when they see an open field. This can be an important skill for a slot receiver to have, because it can mean the difference between making a big play or not.
They can also be very effective in a flexbone formation, where they are used as extra receivers to take advantage of the fact that a flexbone is much more compact than other formations. They are often used when the team’s offense is struggling to get the ball down the field.
If the team’s offensive system is geared towards the run, they can also be very effective in the slot. They’re also very accustomed to dealing with defenders on the outside, so they can be a valuable asset in the running game.
The biggest advantage that a slot receiver has over other receivers is their speed. They are often able to break through the first wave of defenders that come at them. This means that they can make a lot of big plays in the NFL.