WR Route Tree –  A Beginner’s Guide!

WR Route Tree

Mastering the WR route tree felt like unlocking a playbook of secrets, transforming my game on the field. Each route became a language, communicating with my quarterback and outsmarting defenders.

In football, the Wide Receiver (WR) route tree is like a map for players to follow during passing plays. It lays out different paths (routes) receivers can take to get open and catch the ball. 

We’ll cover everything from the basic routes to advanced patterns of the WR route tree. Whether you’re a player honing your skills or a coach seeking to boost your team’s offense, this guide has you covered, providing a clear understanding of the WR route tree.

What is the WR Route Tree? – Explain It!

The WR route tree is like a playbook for wide receivers in American football. It lays out different paths or routes they can run during passing plays. Each route is assigned a number and represents a specific movement or pattern designed to help the receiver get open and catch the ball.

For example, there’s the “go route” where the receiver just sprints straight down the field to catch a deep pass. Then there’s the “slant route” where the receiver runs forward a bit and then cuts sharply towards the middle of the field at a 45-degree angle. 

Other routes include the “out route” where the receiver cuts towards the sideline, the “in route” where they cut towards the center of the field, and the “curl route” where they run forward and then turn back towards the quarterback.

These routes give quarterbacks options for where to throw the ball depending on how the defense is positioned. By knowing and running these routes effectively, receivers can create openings in the defense and make big plays down the field.

Exploring the Basic Routes in the WR Route Tree – Read Important Points!

1. Go Route:

The Go Route is like a sprint down the field, testing the defender’s speed and ability to keep up. It’s a straight shot toward the end zone, designed to stretch the defense vertically and create opportunities for deep passes.

2. Slant Route:

The Slant Route is a quick and sharp angle towards the center of the field. It’s a versatile route that can be used to beat press coverage, create separation, and pick up yards after the catch.

3. Curl Route:

The Curl Route involves running straight up the field before sharply turning back towards the quarterback. It’s a timing route that requires precision and coordination between the receiver and quarterback.

4. Out Route:

The Out Route is a lateral sprint towards the sideline, designed to create space between the receiver and the defender. It’s a common route used to move the chains and keep the defense honest.

5. Comeback Route:

The Comeback Route is a crafty move where the receiver initially heads downfield before coming back toward the quarterback. It’s a route that baits defenders to commit to the deep ball before the receiver cuts back, creating separation for a catch.

Why the WR Route Tree Matters – You Must Read!

The WR route tree is a foundational aspect of football strategy, particularly in the passing game. It matters significantly because it offers a structured framework for wide receivers to execute a variety of routes during passing plays.

By adhering to the routes outlined in the tree, receivers can effectively create separation from defenders and provide clear passing targets for quarterbacks. This versatility is essential for adapting to different defensive schemes and coverages, enabling offenses to remain unpredictable and exploit weaknesses in the defense.

Moreover, mastering the routes within the WR route tree is crucial for player development. Wide receivers who understand the nuances of each route and can execute them with precision become valuable assets to their teams, capable of consistently making plays down the field.

From a strategic standpoint, the WR route tree allows coaches to develop complex passing concepts and play designs. By combining multiple routes within the tree, offenses can create sophisticated route combinations that confuse defenders and create opportunities for big gains.

How Does the WR Route Tree Work? – Step-by-Step Guide!

Route Designation: Each route within the WR route tree is assigned a specific number, typically ranging from 1 to 9. These numbers correspond to different patterns or directions the receiver will run.

Route Execution: When the ball is snapped, the receiver reads the defense and determines which route to run based on the coverage and play call. They then use their speed, agility, and technique to execute the route with precision.

Creating Separation: The primary objective of running a route is to create separation from defenders, making it easier for the quarterback to complete a pass. Receivers use various techniques such as changes in speed, sharp cuts, and body positioning to gain an advantage over defensive backs.

Quarterback Read: As the receiver runs their route, the quarterback reads the defense and decides where to throw the ball. Depending on the coverage and the receiver’s route, the quarterback may target the receiver immediately after their break, wait for them to clear a defender, or progress through their reads to find an open receiver.

Timing and Synchronization: Timing is crucial in executing routes effectively. Receivers must coordinate their movements with the quarterback’s timing and release the ball, ensuring they are in the right place at the right time to receive the pass.

Factors Influencing WR Route Selection – Read Important Factors!

1. Defensive Coverage: 

The type of coverage employed by the defense significantly influences route selection. For instance, against man-to-man coverage, routes that involve sharp cuts and changes in direction are effective for creating separation. In contrast, against zone coverage, receivers may aim to find gaps in the defense by running routes to sit in open spaces.

2. Defender’s Positioning: 

The positioning of the defender assigned to cover the receiver also affects route selection. Receivers may adjust their routes based on whether the defender is playing off coverage, press coverage, or shading to one side.

3. Down and Distance: 

The down and distance situation on the field influences route selection. For example, on third and short, receivers may run quick, high-percentage routes to move the chains, whereas on third and long, they may run deeper routes to gain more yardage.

4. Field Position: 

The location on the field can dictate route selection. For instance, in the red zone (inside the opponent’s 20-yard line), receivers may run routes designed to exploit the smaller field and create scoring opportunities.

5. Quarterback’s Strengths and Preferences: 

Receivers may adjust their routes based on the strengths and preferences of the quarterback. Some quarterbacks excel at throwing deep balls, while others prefer quick, timing-based routes. Receivers may tailor their routes to maximize the quarterback’s abilities.


The WR route tree is like a playbook for wide receivers in football. It shows them different paths they can run to get open for a pass. By mastering these routes, receivers can trick defenders and help their team score points.

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