The following examines the differences between passing to a teammate who’s close to the defensive line versus when a teammate is significantly further back…

Flat Pass
A pass best made in front of the runner as he/she is about to meet the defensive line.  It is best employed when the receiver is running powerfully toward space / a gap in the line.  Especially useful in the hands of player with great power.

· Receiver closer to gain line
· Puts receiver into a gap (if proper running line is chosen)
· Defenders have little time to react to it

· Defenders closer to passer and receiver
· Delay and runner runs past or has to reach back / slow down to receive
· More difficult pass to receive
· Long, flat passes run the risk of interception
· Limited chances to pass on if contact occurs, at best, an offload from contact if support is close at hand

Deep Pass
A pass best made in front of a receiver who is a reasonable distance back from the defensive line.  It is best used early from the passer to maintain the gap between receiver and defender(s), to provide the receiver with more space and time to scan / create opportunities.  Especially useful in the hands of a player with great quickness.

· Gives receiver more time to make a decision
· Gives receiver more room to use evasive footwork
· Usually easier to receive
· Can cause individual defender to ‘panic rush’ out of line, creating opportunities for other attacking players to run off the receiver

· Delayed / slow / arcing pass provides more time for defenders to close down space, and catch receiver well behind gain line and possibly support
· Delivered to receiver not ready / not quicker or more powerful than defender can also result in a loss in territory or possession
· Receiver must be someone who can effectively use the space that’s available

Combining the two … here we see a team use a deep pass to give the distributor time and space, and that player fire a flat pass to the strike runner at full pace: