In the context of airport coordination, a slot is an authorization to take-off or land at an airport on a specific day during a specific time period. Air traffic controllers use slots to reduce the risk of repeated delays caused by too many aircraft trying to take off or land at the same time.
In professional football, a slot receiver lines up just inside the backfield, a few steps off of the line of scrimmage. Because of this, they often have to be much more agile and flexible in their route running and timing plays than outside wide receivers. Additionally, they also need to be good blockers, especially for running plays in which they aren’t the ball carrier.
Depending on the pre-snap alignment, a Slot receiver can be asked to run a variety of different routes on both passing and running plays. They tend to be shorter and faster than outside wide receivers, and they must have excellent route running skills in order to beat the coverage from defenders who are much bigger and longer than them. On running plays, Slot receivers are in a position to be great blocking targets for the ball carrier on sweeps and slants.
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The Slot receiver’s most important skill set is his ability to read the defense and anticipate what defenders are going to do before they make their move. He needs to be very fast and have excellent hands, but he also must understand the flow of the offense and be able to change routes on the fly, even when his team is in a hurry. Additionally, he must be able to run precise routes and know exactly which defenders he can and cannot beat on each route. If he can master all of these things, he can be a very valuable receiver for any team.