Short Routes, Big Gains

In football, the offensive formations of the passing game seem to have become more complex, but the basic routes remain the same. Quarterbacks and receivers that can master a few of the shorter routes can become successful at consistently moving the chains and scoring points.

Slant

The key to success with any route involves creating separation from the defender.

My favorite route is the quick slant. The receiver runs about two and a half yards and then quickly plants his feet, turns and sprints at a 45 degree angle. This route only works when the receiver can fire off the ball with such explosion that the defender backpedals (gets caught on his heels) or even turns to run. If this doesn't occur, the defender could easily jump the route. If the pass is great and the catch is made, the pressure is on the defense to make an open field tackle in space. From here, an athletic receiver is one or two moves away from a big play. However, I recommend this route for slot receivers in short yardage/goal line situations.

Curl

This route can be quite effective against zone defenses and/or in short yardage plays. In addition, this route can be run by both outside and slot receivers (and tight ends). From the line of scrimmage, run seven yards and then quickly breakdown and turn sharply to the inside, curling back to five yards. The curl should only be a maximum of five yards wide.

The goal of the receiver is to find the soft spot in the zone, the area between defenders (often on the borders of each zone).

Upon completion of the pass the receiver should be sure to protect the ball; passes in traffic can lead to turnovers if the offense is not careful!

Quick Out

This is also a short yardage route that can be run from anywhere on the field.

The quick out is all about timing; the receiver has to create separation from the defender as the quarterback releases the ball.

The receiver fires off the ball no more than five yards, breaks down and then makes a ninety degree angle cut towards the sideline.

Although these routes are intended for short yardage, an athletic receiver or missed tackle/assignment could mean big gains for the offense. Receivers should learn how to run these routes with precision, practicing diligently with quarterbacks to perfect the timing of passes. These routes may be short by nature, but their potential gains can be huge.

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