American football is a very tactical game. Every action is meticulously prepared and every player knows exactly what to do. When it comes to the passing game, receivers (WR) must create what is called a route, or Road In English.
So a layout is a predefined running route that the receiver must stand out so that the quarterback can catch the ball. There are different basic layouts that all teams use. These layers can be recorded in a diagram called a “pattern tree” or “Wooden Road ” In English. Each land has a name and a number. If there are many variations, we can represent a classic plot tree like this:
For simplicity, we often assign an even number to paths that lead inwards and an odd number to paths that terminate laterally. Is this diagram not clear to you? Fear not, let’s take them in order.
Option 1: Quick exit / flat
Route #1 is a very fast route that will allow the receiver to gain some yards. The receiver goes sideways and runs a few yards before catching the ball.
Plot 2: Slope
Odell Beckham Jr.’s preferred route takes the receiver 2 or 3 feet vertically before crossing inside the field. Although this route is very short, if done well with proper timing, you can gain a lot of ground on this route. The callback must throw the leather before the receiver can reach the inside linebackers, who will not fail to greet him.
Plot 3: Come back
A come back layout often aims to land first. For this, the receiver must convince his direct defender to make a long seam or fade type formation. Once he crossed the line Top-down A few yards, the receiver suddenly stops and goes sideways to grab the hide.
Method 4: Curl / Hitch / Stop
This plot is essentially the same as the previous one. The receiver must make his defender think it’s a long play before suddenly stopping and taking two or three steps back toward his quarterback. Notice how Odell Beckham takes the outside of the defender on a long play in the animation above and carries the ball to Eli Manning before planting it.
Lane 5: Out / Square Out
This layout is comparable to number 1, except that it does not run as quickly. The receiver will travel a long distance before changing its 90° direction to the side.
Way 6: Inside / Square
The in root is a perfect symmetry of route number 5. Once the reception is made, the receiver must protect the ball well because he is in traffic very quickly and is more likely to run into foul trouble than on an outside route.
Method 7: Corner
With this new layout, we enter the category of long games. In the corner system, as its name suggests, the receiver ends up in the “corner” of the field. After a vertical running phase, the latter goes diagonally towards the outside of his cut and field. This layout is often done with a slot receiver or tight end.
Plot 8: Post
Opposite the corner route, the receiver will aim for the end post without aiming for the corner of the field. So it’s a long inside line, more effective against Cover 2 because the receiver should theoretically catch the ball between the two safeties.
Lane 9: Seam / Fade / Co
Seam and fade routes are the longest routes in American football. On a seam, the receiver goes straight or slightly inside. The fade is a variation because if it goes too deep, the receiver has to make a slight deviation by moving closer to the sideline and taking the outside of his defender. If the pass is correct, it must land on the receiver’s outside shoulder, on the sideline, to make interception impossible. The gif above is a good example of a pass by Andrew Luck following a good line from a receiver who takes the outside of his direct defender well: the cornerback can’t intercept.
Once you know these basic paths, you can build them up to create double paths. Post Corner is one of the most popular. The receiver makes the first cut inside like a post route, but eventually changes the direction of the second to complete a corner route.
Another example is “Go” routes, which we have already understood with Stop&Go, for example Chalkboard #2. Odell Beckham fakes a stop route, then takes off (go) back down the field, pinning his defender on the spot.
The drawing of paths we saw at the beginning of the article on tree of paths is only theoretical. Take a 3 curl setup for example, it is rare to see a receiver run perfectly straight and then make the correct change of direction intended. The receiver’s goal is best to get his defender off his axis and force him to turn his hips in the wrong direction before his cut (Go back just above line 5, Antonio Brown gives you a great example. )
Another good rule of thumb when you’re a receiver is to always catch the ball. Using the curl pattern as an example again, the receiver should not simply turn around and wait for the ball to arrive. He really needs to get back into his quarter to keep the defender off the ball as much as possible. The attacker’s body acts as a wall between the ball and the cornerback.
Finally, consider the importance of manners between a quarterback and his receiver. Through practice, a quarterback gets to know the back’s habits, his speed, his skills, his timing. Twins that last over time are often a guarantee of success. Payton Manning & Marvin Harrison, Joe Montana & Jerry Rice or Tom Brady & Randy Moss are good examples.
There are other ways, but not presented here for ease of understanding. Wheel, dig, split, break, pull, swing, shoot…