Between all the different terms for positions, plays, penalties, and routes it can be tough to keep up with football terminology. That is why we’ve written this article on curl routes in football. So you can find an answer to the question of what is a curl route in football.
A curl route in football is a short route that involves the player sprinting down the field only to suddenly stop and turn around towards the quarterback.
A curl route creates separation from the defender via the sudden stop made by the wide receiver.
In order to beat a defender on a curl route you want them to believe you are running a go route. If the defender believes that the receiver is running a deep route he will be forced to match his speed.
Once the receiver makes the sudden stop he should find that he has created some separation underneath the defender.
At the NFL level, the ball is usually thrown prior to or right as the player turns toward the quarterback.
This allows the receiver to get the ball into their hands quickly and also makes it harder for the defender to break on the pass.
What To Know About Curl Routes
Now that you understand what a curl route is in football it’s time to learn about the key factors that go into this route. Below we will break down some key points you should know about curl routes in football.
Timing Is Everything
One of the key factors that go into a curl route is the timing of the throw. The curl route is one play where a late pass is going to have some serious consequences.
When executed properly the pass on a curl route should be thrown right as the receiver starts to turn around. This will allow the receiver a second or two to find the ball and make the catch.
If the throw is late this play has a high chance of being intercepted. Since this route is run underneath the coverage the defender is going to be behind the receiver when he makes the catch.
The longer the quarterback waits to throw the ball the more time the defender will have to break back towards the wide receiver and intercept the pass.
Have A Feel For The First Down Marker
Though not always the case curl routes are often run with the first down marker in mind. By that, we mean the curl portion of the route is often done once the receiver has passed the first down marker.
This means if the receiver is tackled immediately after catching the ball the play will still result in a first down.
Since gaining yards after the catch is hard to do on curl routes making the catch past the first down marker is quite important.
This is especially relevant on third down plays. When a receiver runs a curl route short of the first down on a third-down play then there is very little chance they are going to help their team convert the third down.
For this reason, you should be sure to get past the marker on third down plays. Though keep in mind this is something your quarterback should be aware of before you do it.
Keep Your Eye On The Ball
Another key factor in curl routes is to keep your eye on the ball. You may be thinking that this is a key factor to all routes but it can be even more important on curls.
Since curl routes involve you looking towards the quarterback as you catch the ball you will find that you will not be able to see down the field.
This often results in players turning their heads a fraction of a second early in order to get a quick look at the defenders coming their way.
This leads to receivers dropping easy passes as their head turns the wrong way a fraction of a second before they secure the ball.
When catching a ball on a curl route focus first on catching the ball itself before thinking about what players are headed your way.