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Football Pass Types

What are the types of passes in football? Here is a complete list of pass types in football and when they are used in games.


What are Football Pass Types?

In football the offense's goal is to score on the defense and for that to happen it is imperative for the offense to keep the defense guessing as to what they will do. One way offenses accomplish that is by running a variety of different passing plays. Passing plays are plays where the quarterback throws the ball to a wide receiver instead of handing it off to the running back. Pass types are the different variations of pass plays.

Pass types can differ based off of distance, purpose, and speed of the routes run by the receivers. By reading this article you'll get to know some pass types and get a better understanding of how the passing game works in football.

Long Pass

The NFL classifies a long or deep pass as one that travels over 15 yards.

Hail Mary

A hail mary is the most well known type of deep pass. It is given its name because when throwing a hail mary it is like throwing a prayer. The wide receivers all run straight down the field and the quarterback launches a pass as far as they can hoping someone can catch it.

Deep Post

The wide receiver runs straight for a set amount of steps and then cuts in and runs diagonally for the remainder of the route.

Stop and Go

Stop and go's are an excellent way to fool the cornerback. The wide receiver starts forward, acts as if they are stopping and turning around, and then turns back up field going deep.

Medium Pass

Medium passes are not recognized in the NFL's statistics, however there are some routes that travel a medium distance and need to be distinguished from short passes.

In Pattern

An in pattern is run about 10 yards on average, with the receiver running straight and then cutting towards the middle of the field.

Out Pattern

Similar to the in pattern except the receiver turns out towards the sideline.


Fades are mostly used in the back of the endzone to tall receivers. The pass pattern starts straight but the receiver drifts towards the sideline.

Short Pass

Short passes travel very few yards and the primary focus of them is speed.


Instead of going out for a pass the receiver simply turns towards the quarterback and catches the ball at or behind the line of scrimmage.

Button Hook

A button hook or comeback pattern involves the receiver running a set amount of steps forward and then starting back to the line of scrimmage to receive the ball.


Slants are fast hitting and are a good way of picking up some quick yards. The wide receiver right off the line of scrimmage cuts and runs diagonally towards the middle of the field.

Play Action

Play action can be applied to any of the previously mentioned pass types; it enhances the effect of a pass. Play action is a fake handoff to set up the pass.

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