Football Passing Patterns

What are Patterns in Football?

A pattern in football is another term for a route run by a wide receiver in order to get open for a pass. There are many different patterns used by the offense throughout the course of a game designed for short, intermediate, and long passes.

Common Short Patterns


In a curl, the receiver runs forward for 8-10 yards before turning around and taking a few steps towards the quarterback.


A hook is a shorter variation of the curl in which the receiver only runs about 5 yards before moving back towards the line of scrimmage.


In a slant, the receiver runs forward for 3-5 yards, then angling towards the middle of the field.


In a swing, the running back leaks out of the backfield and runs towards the sideline.

Common Intermediate Patterns


In a comeback, the receiver runs forward for about 15 yards before stopping on a dime and turning to face the quarterback.

Crossing Route

In a crossing route, two receivers on opposite sides of the field run forward for 10 yards, then break towards the middle of the field and cross paths, using a stutter step to fake out the defenders before moving towards one another.

Out Route

For an out route, the receiver sprints down field for 10 yards, then runs horizontally towards the sideline.

Common Long Patterns

Streak (aka Fly or Go)

A streak is a 20-40 yard pattern in which the receiver runs straight down the field in a vertical line, utilizing speed to outrun the defender.


In a post, the receiver runs anywhere from 15-30 yards downfield before breaking across the middle of the field in a slanted trajectory that aligns with the goal posts.


Similar to a post, a corner occurs with the receiver instead breaking towards the far corner where the endzone meets the sideline.