How to Run a Fade Route in Football
The fade route is one of the most underutilized passing routes in youth football. You see it all the time on the high school, college, and professional levels. When thrown and ran properly, it’s almost uncoverable. It’s a route designed to exploit the receiver’s speed and ability to track and catch deep throws. We started utilizing the fade route in 2021 and haven’t looked back since! Here’s how to run a fade route in football:
How to Run a Fade in Football
Note: A fade route isn’t a vertical or go route. It’s a fade! WR fades to the slides, while climbing vertically- making the defensive back turn his back to the football.
Receiver Alignment: Start by lining up on the line of scrimmage or off the line (depending on the formation) as a wide receiver, with a compressed split. The receiver has to compress his split in so that he gives himself room to fade outside.
Receiver Stance: Your stance should be athletic and balanced. We teach our receivers to have their inside foot back, but at the end of the day it doesn’t matter. We want our receivers to be comfortable. However, the 3rd step is the fade step, so having the inside foot back makes sense. The weight distribution should be 80% on the front foot, 20% on the back foot. Knee should be over toes. This will help prevent false steps and improve explosion on the get off.
WR Release: Off the snap of the ball, release from the line of scrimmage by taking a quick, explosive 3 step stem (drive route up field), plant foot, then fade to the slides. Accelerate after your initial release, fade up-field at top speed. The goal is to create separation from the cornerback- make them chase you. . Accelerate quickly, and maintain a smooth, fluid stride.
Beating Press Coverage: When facing press coverage, we will hit the hands away and rip through with our inside hand, restack the defensive back then break to our fade.
Tracking the Ball: As you continue downfield, locate the ball in the air. The quarterback will target a spot over your outside shoulder. Look the football in! Depending on the flight of the ball, you may need to make adjustments to your route. If the ball is underthrown, you might need to slow down or come back to it. If it’s overthrown, you might need to accelerate to catch up to it.
High-Pointing: When the ball is in the air and within reach, focus on “high-pointing” it. This means reaching your hands up and attacking the ball at its highest point to prevent the defender from making a play on it.
Catch: Secure the ball with your hands and bring it into your body. Look the ball into your hands, then into your body!!
See Also: Wide Receiver Route Stems
Here’s How We Run Our Fade Route
1) Catch the football, step and throw the ball high and outside.
2) Step up and plug up any interior penetration.
3) Fake Jet Sweep, continue route outside- swing.
4) Block the defense end- attack the block.
TE) Hinge the backside.
O-line: Inside-Over pass blocking rules- aggressive block, just don’t go chasing linebackers.
Remember that the timing and execution of a fade route can vary depending on the specific offensive system, age level, and the quarterback’s preferences / ability. The Quarterback and Wide Receiver timing does need to be practiced often.
We practice our fade every single day, before and during practice. It’s very important that you stress to your QB to throw the football high and outside. When running the fade route in football it’s important that your receiver outside releases and fade to the sidelines- this is not a go route.