A route run by a receiver in football that requires the receiver to sprint down the field a few steps as if running a long pattern, then stop and make a sharp turn to the inside or outside to receive a quick pass from the quarterback. The receiver then continues down the field after making the catch.
The trick to the hitch, or “hook” route is for the receiver to execute a good comeback that provides enough space to receive a catch, and some room for the receiver to run before the defender can come in for a tackle. The hitch can be especially effective if linebackers or defensive backs are giving receivers some cushion, as the receiver can stop or reverse the route just as a defender is moving backwards to give space.
Like many “timing routes,” the hitch route is designed to go with a pass to a pre-determined location on the field, so that when the receiver turns, the football is already on its way from the quarterback. The delay that this comeback route provides also makes it good for screen passes. As the receiver stops and turns, other backs or linemen can get in front to block.