A slot is a position on a team’s field that’s reserved for a player who lines up a few yards behind the line of scrimmage. The player, known as a slot receiver, is often the second wide receiver on an offense’s depth chart and is an important part of the passing game. Slot receivers aren’t physically imposing, but their skillset and understanding of the position make them indispensable to an offense.
The term slot can also refer to a physical space on a computer motherboard, used for expansion slots like an ISA or PCI slot or a memory slot. In gaming, a slot may also refer to the number of paylines a video slot machine has. Some video slots even offer stacked symbols, which can increase your chances of hitting a winning combination.
In football, a slot receiver is a player who lines up pre-snap in the middle of the field between the tight end or offensive tackle and the outside receiver. The position gained popularity after former Oakland Raiders coach Sid Gillman introduced the concept in 1963. Slot receivers help quarterbacks stretch the defense by attacking all three levels of the defense, and they’re a key component to any offense.
As well as their responsibilities on the receiving side of the ball, slot receivers must also act as blockers from time to time. They’re a crucial cog in the blocking wheel, and they need to be able to recognize which defenders are around them if they want to be successful in their route running and timing plays.
In addition to their blocking duties, slot receivers are often asked to run the ball as a running back on pitch plays and other types of reverse or end-around runs. They’re usually called into pre-snap motion by the quarterback and then given a quick handoff once the ball is snapped, meaning they have a head of steam and can quickly outrun the defense.
In some cases, the quarterback will ask a slot receiver to run the ball and block as a running back and then catch the ball on a pass from the next play. This is a rare occurrence but one that can be very effective, especially for teams that are short on traditional wide receivers or have an inexperienced one. In these situations, the slot receiver can act as a big decoy and give the running back more room to run.