A route run by a receiver in football that requires the receiver to run parallel to the line of scrimmage and stop near the sidelines to receive the ball from the quarterback. Once the ball arrives, the receiver turns upfield in an attempt to gain yardage.
The flat route is most often run by halfbacks and fullbacks, and usually involves some blocking ahead of the back included in the offensive scheme. This route is often combined with fly or long corner routes in an effort to move the defensive backs farther down the field to give the back more room to gain positive yards.
The flat route is most effective when the receiver is a speedy and athletic back, usually a quick and nimble tailback who is already skilled at running upfield through defenders. Tight pass coverage in the middle of the field can often be circumvented by throwing flat routes, forcing the defense to adjust or give up these gains.
The flat route is named for the “flat,” the area of the football field between the hash marks and the sideline, where the receiver catches the ball.