The Stick Route: A Tight End’s Best Friend
By FirstDown PlayBook on Jul 15, 2013

By Charlie Coiner

I just finished up working the Clear Vision Clear Dream Camp in West Palm Beach, Florida. This was a one day camp for a great cause. I coached the Tight Ends for the day. With only one day to work with the kids and the emphasis being on the passing game I had to really trim down what I was going to teach. I ended up teaching the Stick route to the High School aged players and I was really impressed at how well they picked it up. I think this route is at the heart of what a Tight End does in the pass game. Tight Ends have to understand the importance of leverage and route running. If the player understands this it is very hard to cover him even if the defender understands what is coming. It’s not the most flashy of routes but if you watch football on Sundays you will see great players like Jason Witten perfect it to an art form nearly every week.

The Tight End releases and attempts to get a vertical stem at 6 yards. Vs zone coverage he will turn or pivot away from the defender and the QB will place the ball on the shoulder away from this defender. The Tight end may turn inside or out.  If the Tight End feels and sees that it is man coverage he will turn this into an out route and stay on the move. In the drawing below the Tight End will work off of the Sam LB.



I have included this very simple but yet effective play out of the Flank formation that allows the QB to pick a side to work. If he confirms that it is cover 3 or if the middle of the field is closed then the QB can work the Slant Flat . However, sometimes it’s just as well to let your QB work the Stick route vs cover 3 also. This is particularly true if the QB and the Tight End have a lot of experience throwing and catching this route. I have included coaching tips below.


MOF Open (Cover 2)

Read: Work the Stick-Flat side. F-Y-H

– If the ball can go to the F then get it to him immediately but the corner should be there.

-The Y should work off of the leverage of the SLB. This is the primary target on this play vs cover 2. You may set on the third step of your drop to let the TE work to get open.

-The H should be stationary but should be ready to take the throw on the shoulder away from the MLB.



MOF Closed (Cover 3)

Read: Work the Slant-Flat side Z to X to H.

-If the Z gets leverage on the WLB throw him the ball. If the WLB expands throw the ball to the X.

– If the MLB takes away the slant give the ball to the H on his shoulder away from the MLB.