A narrow opening or slit, as in a door or window. Also: a position in a group, series, or sequence; an assignment or job opening.
In the past decade or so, NFL offenses have come to rely on slot receivers more than ever before. These players are shorter and quicker than traditional wide receivers and usually line up directly in front of the center on most plays, but they can be extremely dangerous when they’re given space. They’re especially useful on teams that run three-receiver/two-tight end sets or base packages.
The slot is a position that requires several different skills to be successful. To excel in this area, a receiver needs to be adept at route running and timing. They must be able to anticipate where the defenders will be on each play and then adjust accordingly. Additionally, the slot receiver must be able to make the right decisions with the ball in his hands. Having good chemistry with the quarterback is critical for any receiver, but it’s even more important for slot receivers, who often have more one-on-one time with the QB than other receivers on the team.
Lastly, slot receivers must be able to block effectively. Without the benefit of a fullback or extra tight end to help protect them, these players are tasked with being a key cog in the offensive blocking wheel. They need to know how and when to take on defenders and be able to get off blocks quickly.
Slot receivers are also expected to do more work in the run game than their counterparts on other teams. They’ll often be asked to act as a running back on some play-action passes and even pitch plays or reverses. For these responsibilities, they need to be able to handle the ball in traffic and be agile enough to break tackles on short yardage plays.
A slot is also a place in a casino where a machine accepts cash or paper tickets with barcodes that are inserted into a reader. The player then activates the machine by pressing a button or lever (physical or on a touchscreen) and the reels spin to reveal symbols. The player then earns credits based on the payout table and any winning combinations of symbols. Different machines have different themes and paytables, and some also offer bonus features such as free spins or mystery pick games. Some slots also have progressive jackpots. These are not necessarily linked to the amount a player bets, but can still increase the chances of a big win.