This is a term used in football to describe the path a receiver follows prior to receiving a pass. The path is drawn out for each individual play. There are many different types of routes a receiver can run, such as an in, out, hook, pick, deep, or crossing route. Each of these denotes a general direction or pattern the receiver will follow, but the specifics vary greatly between plays and even more between teams. Some receivers are better at certain types of routes because of their speed, height, or other advantageous feature or athletic ability.
Another special type of route is a timed route. The "timed" descriptor indicates that the quarterback is going to throw the ball to a certain spot at a certain time. It is the responsibility of the receiver to ensure they make it to their designated position on time to catch the ball. When running a route, it is important that a receiver communicate with the quarterback with hand signals to ensure the QB and the receiver are on the same page. If a receiver needs to change their route, or for example, they are open and running down the field, they will throw their hand up to catch the attention of the quarterback.