Football Route Tree

A route tree in football is a common set list of routes for passing plays by the offense that assigns a number value of 1-9 to each route. Route trees are used to refer to specific routes and route combinations in a timely manner, as well as establish a common language regarding route patterns.

Using a route tree effectively will help wide receivers, running backs, or tight ends get away from their defensive backs.

Routes in the Route Tree

There are nine different routes included in the route tree. Note that the odd-numbered routes (except #9) break away from the ball, while the even-numbered routes break toward the ball.

#0: Hitch

The hitch route is not always shown on route trees because it is very simple; the receiver takes a couple hard steps forward before turning inside to catch the ball.

#1: Flat

Also known as a "quick out" route, the flat is run from the inside of the field toward the sideline. A receiver running a 1 will almost always start closer to the ball in a formation.

#2: Slant

The slant (also known as the "quick in" or "crossing route") is one of the most common routes in all of football. The receiver of a slant needs to move quickly when the ball is snapped so they may catch the ball before the defense can react.

#3: Comeback

In a comeback route, the receiver cuts back toward the sideline after firing off the line of scrimmage.

PRO TIP: In routes numbered 3-8, the receiver will want to make it seem like he is running a #9 in order to create more separation from the defensive back off the break.

#4: Curl

The curl route is the same as a comeback, except the receiver will cut back toward the quarterback.

#5: Out

An out (or "deep out" route) typically breaks at the first down line, especially during a late down and distance, such as 3rd down.

#6: In

Also referred to as a "dig" or "deep-in," the #6 route is the same as a #5, except the receiver breaks to the inside. This can be a dangerous route for a receiver if they are not aware of their surroundings, cutting into the middle of a defense can lead to big hits and injuries.

#7: Corner

The corner route, also known as the "flag", is commonly used in goal-line situations. The corner is also used to stretch defensive zone coverages by attracting the attention of a safety.

#8: Post

The post route breaks toward the goalposts (hence the name "post") to create separation from the defensive back while still running toward the end zone.

#9: Go

Although there are many names for a #9 route, the "go", "fade", and "fly" are just a few, it is the most basic route to understand. The receiver simply runs in a straight line to try and outrun their defender. The go route is high risk, but high reward.