The Hook route is one of the first routes a quarterback and receiver will learn in their Route Tree, the list of routes used in the team's offense. 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 to sell the play as if you are running the route downfield before you turn around on the unsuspecting receiver. In order to prevent interception, it is important that the receiver runs back to the ball to create more cushion away from the defense. This route is effective in finding soft spots in a zone defense, where defenders failed to cover. 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.
There are a few deviations to this route that can each be useful depending on the 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 5 yards as opposed to 10. Defenses often are not ready for such a quick route, so this is a good route to catch them with their guard down.