A slot is a narrow opening in something, often a machine. People can drop coins into slots to make them work. The word “slot” can also refer to a time or a place where something happens, such as when a person books a flight.
In the NFL, a slot is the second wide receiver in a formation. They are smaller than outside receivers and must be able to catch passes at all levels of the defense and run routes with precision. The most successful slot receivers have great chemistry with the quarterback, and can run just about any route on the route tree.
Slots are becoming more and more important in the NFL, as teams try to find ways to beat defenses that rely on physicality and pure speed. Many of the top players in the league today, such as Tyreek Hill and Brandin Cooks, play the slot. These players are small and fast, and can stretch the defense vertically with their speed.
The slot receiver is a key member of the team’s running game, as well. Because they are so close to the middle of the field, their initial blocking after the snap is important for the success of a run play. They need to be able to block (or chip) nickelbacks, outside linebackers, and safeties. Slot receivers must also be able to seal off the outside on runs designed to the outside part of the field.
Unlike outside receivers, who may run a variety of deep routes, the slot receiver often specializes in short, quick outs and slants. This requires a high level of agility and speed, along with good hand-catching skills. They must also be able to change directions quickly and make adjustments if the defense changes their coverage.
They are also used to help block for outside backs and tight ends. They need to be able to pick up blitzes from linebackers and secondary players, as well as create holes for running backs on inside run plays. In addition, they can help block for outside receivers on outside run plays, by giving them more room to cut and break open.
Air traffic controllers use “slots” to manage air traffic at busy airports, to avoid repeated delays due to too many planes trying to take off or land at the same time. This system has been in use in Europe for over 20 years, and has saved huge amounts of money and fuel by reducing unnecessary aircraft delays. It is now being implemented in other parts of the world. This approach is called central flow management. It is hoped that it will be able to save even more money and fuel, as the number of air traffic controllers needed to operate the system continues to decrease. The system is expected to be in place in the United States in 2020. This will allow it to be adapted for other countries around the world that have similar congestion problems.