A narrow notch, groove, or opening, such as a keyway in a machine or a slit for coins in a vending machine. In sports, a player who lines up in the slot is often described as “the second wide receiver” because they line up close to the offensive linemen, but behind the line of scrimmage and closer to the sideline. The slot also allows for easy motions and shifts in formation, allowing the quarterback to read the defense better.
Generally speaking, the best slot receivers are speedy and have great hands. This is because they often run complex routes that require a lot of elusion and evasion. They also need to be able to work well with the quarterback, because they receive a lot of short passes that are thrown behind the line of scrimmage.
While it’s true that the slot is a popular position in football, it hasn’t always been so. Back in the day, most teams used a traditional wide receiver formation that placed one wideout on the outside and two on the inside. However, legendary coach Chuck Davis saw the potential of the slot and started utilizing it extensively when he became the head coach of the Raiders in 1966. He required that his slot receivers have speed, good hands, and be precise with their routes.
This style of passing allowed the Raiders to dominate in the 1970s and ’80s, when they won three Super Bowls under Davis’ leadership. In fact, he is considered the godfather of the modern slot position in football, and many of today’s most effective receivers play in a similar fashion.
In addition to their speed, slot receivers must have excellent hand-eye coordination and be able to catch the ball with both hands. They must also be able to run various route combinations and attack different depths of the defense. For example, they might start out running a simple flat route but then break upfield on a deep out or post route. This allows them to cover a large percentage of the defense and make it difficult for the cornerback or safety to stick with them.
Aside from the skill set of a good slot receiver, another thing that’s important is their durability and overall strength. Since they’re usually playing against bigger, stronger defensive players, they need to be able to hold up under physical punishment. To this end, they need to have a high level of strength and endurance, which is why they’re often coached to take extra care when eating and drinking before and after practice.
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