Football Vertical Stretch

What is a Vertical Stretch in Football?

In Football, a vertical stretch, or often simply called a vertical, fly, go, or streak, is a receiver route in which the receiver runs down the field towards the endzone without making any major cuts. This route is similar to the post route, except instead of cutting towards the goal posts, the receiver continues forward without cutting.

The Hail Mary, a play which is considered to be a last ditch effort by a team to score a touchdown, consists of all of the wide receivers on the field running a vertical stretch route. Often time on vertical routes, a tight end will be on the field. Depending on the situation, the tight end can block for the quarterback, run a quick route to be a 'dump off' receiver, or also run a vertical route to spread out the defense.

Vertical Stretch Strategy

The Vertical Offense strategy isn't used very often in the NFL or professional leagues as they're not very effective. However, this is a viable strategy in College Football or amateur leagues. The focal point of the Vertical Offense is fast wide receivers who are able to outrun their defenders. The Vertical Offense must employ a strong-armed quarterback who is able to get the ball downfield to the receivers, as well as good blocking linemen to keep the quarterback safe before the throw. A receiving running back is also very useful as a quick dump off receiver.

In this strategy, not every play is a vertical route. However, most passing plays do emphasize having at least one receiver go on the vertical route to spread out the defensive secondary.

It is very important to have a lot of depth at wide receiver when using this strategy as running so many long routes can quickly tire out receivers and they will need to be subbed out to rest. If too many speedy players become injured, a quick shake-up in strategy will be necessary for the offense to succeed.