A slot is a narrow opening in something, such as a keyway in a machine or a hole for a coin in a vending machine. It can also refer to a position in a sequence or series, such as a time slot in a schedule or a job description. The word can also refer to a location or position, such as the spot in front of the goal on an ice hockey rink where players line up to take turns shooting pucks into the net. To slot something means to place it into its proper position. For example, she slotted the filter into the machine. To slot someone means to assign them a certain place in a group or program. Visitors can often book their time slot a week or more in advance.
In football, a slot receiver is a wide receiver who lines up inside the 20-yard line and behind the line of scrimmage. They typically run every route in the book, and they must be precise with their timing to make big plays. Because they are so critical in the passing game, it is important for them to have chemistry with their quarterback.
Slot receivers also play a major role in the blocking game, especially on running plays. They can pick up blitzes from linebackers and secondary players, and they can provide protection for the running back on outside run plays by shielding him from defenders.
They can also help with pass protection on screen passes, as well as play fakes and quick hitters. They must be tough enough to absorb contact in the middle of the field, and fast enough to blow past defenders.
Slot receivers are also responsible for the timing of their routes and the release point of the ball. This requires them to be very aware of the defensive alignments on each play and to have excellent hand-eye coordination. They also need to be able to block effectively, as they do not have the same luxury as outside receivers of having a fullback or extra tight end to help them on their blocks.