How to Be a False 9 in Soccer


Few sports are as exciting and universally loved as soccer, also known internationally as football. A rare and interesting play in soccer games is called a “False 9.” What is a False 9 and how do you be one?

To be a False 9, the center-forward player should repeatedly move from a high position to a deeper or lower position, heading towards the ball to confuse and disorient the other team. They can draw the other players out of position, get the ball away from center-backs, and disrupt the opposing team.

When the play is done right, a False 9 can disrupt the opposition and help their team. For more information on how to be a False 9 in soccer, and what they are, keep reading below!

What Is a False 9?

Basically, a False 9 is a player who is behaving in an unexpected way to confuse and disorient the other team. The False 9 starts off in a high position, as they’re usually a Center-Forward player, and then they drop back towards the deeper positions so they can try and get the ball. They could receive the ball, or they could steal it away.

Their goal is to get the ball away from the other team, and specifically from the center-back players who won’t be expecting the False 9 in their areas.

Famous players like Lionel Messi, Cesc Fàbregas, and Karim Benzema have all acted as a False 9 in games, often to great success.

Watch the video below to see a visual of how a False 9 works.

Where Did the Name “False 9” Come From?

The False 9 play was probably first used by Corinthians in the 1890s and then various times through the 1920s, 1930s, and 1950s. The name “False 9″ or ” Nine” wasn’t used until much more recently.

The term False 9 comes from the idea that the player wearing the 9, the striker, is going to be somewhere that a 9 wouldn’t typically be. Therefore, the 9 is false.

How Can I be a False 9 On My Team?

Are you a player who wants to try a False 9 formation? Are you curious about how it would work for your home team? Whether you’re a ten-year-old player or a forty-year-old manager, this formation might sound like an interesting concept. Here are some things you might want to consider if you’d like to play False 9.

Are You Already a Center-Forward Player?

False 9’s are center-forward players who drop down to do the “false” part of their job. If you don’t have experience as a center-forward, but you do have experience attacking for the ball or catching passes, you might want to ask your coach if you could try the center-forward position for a few games to see how you like it.

If you like it, or if you’re already a center-forward, try practicing some passes and attacks that you don’t normally do. If you have the potential to be a menace lower down in the field, you might be ready to ask your coach if you can try out being a False 9.

Has Your Coach or Manager Ever Used a False 9 Before?

A False 9 is still a fairly rare play, many coaches, managers, and players will have little to no experience with it. Since this is a play that can go south very, very quickly with no experience, it will be a gamble for them.

However, this play only exists because people were willing to take that gamble and try the play. If you and your team are ready, your coach might be willing to give the play a shot.

If they have used the False 9 play before, talk to them! Listen to them! How did it work? What would they change? Would they be comfortable using that play again? Do they think you’re a good fit to try it? Would your own team be able to adapt? If you can answer affirmatively to all of these questions, you and your coach should give it a shot!

What Special Skills Should a False 9 Have?

A False 9 should be fast, creative, determined to succeed, have an attacking instinct, and know how to keep their focus while disrupting someone else’s. They should be good at stealing a ball and catching passes. If this sounds like you, and you have the stamina to run back and forth even more than other players, you might have the potential to be a False 9.

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NIKE Unisex's NK Academy-Team Recreational Soccer Ball, White/Black/(Volt), 5
adidas Unisex-Adult Starlancer Club Soccer Ball, Team Royal Blue/White/White, 5
adidas Unisex-Adult MLS Club Ball, White/Power Blue/Team College Red, 5
NIKE Unisex's NK Academy-Team Recreational Soccer Ball, White/Black/(Volt), 5
NIKE Unisex's NK Academy-Team Recreational Soccer Ball, White/Black/(Volt), 5
Recommended Soccer Ball
adidas Unisex-Adult Starlancer Club Soccer Ball, Team Royal Blue/White/White, 5
adidas Unisex-Adult Starlancer Club Soccer Ball, Team Royal Blue/White/White, 5
adidas Unisex-Adult MLS Club Ball, White/Power Blue/Team College Red, 5
adidas Unisex-Adult MLS Club Ball, White/Power Blue/Team College Red, 5

What Are the Pro’s and Con’s of Using a False 9?

Using a False 9 can be tricky for a coach and a team, just like defeating a False 9. Why would a coach use a False 9? Why wouldn’t they?

Pros of Using a False 9

  • They’re not a regular number nine. Just like the name implies, they’re something that confuses the other team so they can’t mark the player’s movements.
  • If the opposing team moves their players to guard the unpredictable False 9, it can lead to gaps in the formation and field that the False 9’s teammates can take advantage of.
  • The wingers can use the empty space created by the False 9’s movement.

Cons of Using a False 9

  • A False 9 is only effective if you have the right player. Lionel Messi can wreak havoc as a False 9, but a less experienced or effective player might not be able to make any impact.
  • A False 9 is sensitive to the right formation. If the other team counters the False 9 or commits to their formation, things fall apart fast.
  • A False 9 is also vulnerable to the manager’s tactics. If their team doesn’t prepare for the possibility of the field overloading, they can end up jammed and lose all maneuverability.
  • A False 9 moving back leaves their team without someone to pass a ball to on the counter.
  • Wings are easier to exploit if the wingers have moved up to the space vacated by the False 9.

Soccer Position Guides

Soccer Position Guides
PositionLink to Guide
False 9link
Wingerlink
Defensive Midfielderlink
Wingbacklink
Right backlink
Stopperlink
Sweeperlink
Center Backlink

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