Football Hook Routes

What is a Hook Route in Football?

The hook route is one of the first offensive routes a quarterback and receiver will learn in their Route Tree. During a hook route, the receiver will run about ten yards down the field before cutting back to the quarterback at a 45-degree angle. It is important for the receiver to sell the fake play as if they are running the route downfield before they turn around on the unsuspecting defense. In order to prevent interception, it is also important that the receiver runs back to the ball to create more cushion away from the defense.


This route is effective in finding weak spots of coverage in a zone defense. It is also useful in stopping an overly-aggressive corner that may be covering the receiver a bit too tight. The quarterback must time the throw perfectly so that the pass is there as soon as the receiver turns around because the lapse in coverage is usually only temporary.


It may be hard to complete passes on hook routes if defensive backs are playing in press coverage. This is because the defenders will be able to more easily get underneath the receiver in press coverage, which makes throwing to a receiver on a hook route quite risky.


There are a few variations of the hook route that can each be useful depending on defensive coverage. The Curl route is the same as the Hook except instead of coming back at a direct angle to the quarterback, the receiver will round his route more and sit in an open gap in the defense. The Hitch is another variation that is more useful in short yardage scenarios. It is the same concept as the Hook route except the play is done at five yards as opposed to ten. Defenses often are not ready for such a quick route, so this is a good route to catch them with their guard down.