Football Swing Pass

What is a Swing Pass in Football?

A swing pass is a pass thrown to a receiver running a route parallel to the line of scrimmage towards the sidelines while remaining behind the line of scrimmage. This pass route is most often used as a check-down, or “dump off,” option for the quarterback if no other receivers are open and the quarterback is under pressure from the defense.

Who Catches Swing Passes?

Swing passes are usually reserved for running backs. Very rarely are receivers who run the swing pass pattern the primary receiver or the receiver who is the go-to target. Swing routes are usually reserved for running backs in the backfield or tight ends at the end of the line of scrimmage who are not blocking.

Pros and Cons of Swing Passes

There is quite a bit of risk surrounding the swing pass pattern as it is one of the most prevalent routes in football, and thus, one of the easiest to read from a defensive standpoint. Because the player running the swing pass pattern must run parallel and slightly backwards from the line of scrimmage before moving forward, opposing defensive backs and linebackers have plenty of time to read the play and intercept the pass if it is thrown to that receiver. Any interception where the intended target was a receiver running a swing pattern is very likely to become a pick-six, as the only line of defense left is the quarterback, who is often not very fast.