A slot is a narrow opening in something, for example, a hole that you can put coins into to make a machine work. You can also use the word to refer to a position in an activity or on a schedule, for instance, booking a time slot to fly on a plane.
The slot is also used in computer technology, where it refers to a place where you can insert an expansion card with additional circuitry that provides specialized capability. In computers, slots are usually in the form of pinholes or close-spaced holes that a card can fit into, but they are also found in other parts of the hardware, including the motherboard.
For running plays, slot receivers are important blockers for the ball carrier on sweeps and slant routes. They need to be speedy and possess excellent route-running skills. In addition, since they are closer to the middle of the field than outside wide receivers, they are more vulnerable to big hits from different angles.
In recent seasons, NFL offenses have begun relying on slot receivers more and more, as they switch to three-wide receiving alignments. They’re typically shorter and faster than traditional wide receivers, which makes them a tougher match for aggressive coverage. In order to succeed, a slot receiver must have a combination of outstanding route-running skills and the ability to anticipate the play.
Depending on their alignment with the quarterback, slot receivers can also serve as a blocking back. They’ll often go in pre-snap motion to get into a good position to catch a pass, or they’ll move to the sideline and block on run plays like reverses and end-arounds.
Some people let their paranoia get the best of them when they play slots and think that there’s somebody in a back room pulling the strings to determine who wins and who loses. The truth is, however, that all games are governed by random number generators (RNGs), so the outcomes of any given game are entirely up to chance.