The dummy is one of the most impressive techniques in a player’s arsenal. It blends psychology and footwork to outwit and even humiliate other players. An attacking player can leave a defender travelling in totally the wrong direction whilst he charges on towards the goal.

A dummy consists of giving the impression of being about to do one thing whilst planning another. A forward might give false signals in order to wrong-foot a defender, or a player taking a free kick might unexpectedly backheel the ball to a teammate behind him. A good team will have rehearsed and orchestrated dummies to produce quite powerful set-pieces.



Dummies can be used offensively or defensively. Examples of classic dummies include:

  • Stepping over a pass – or opening the legs – to pass the ball to a player to the rear.
  • While dribbling, making as if to turn, then stepping over the ball and continuing in the same or opposite direction.
  • Bringing the foot onto the ball as if to backheel, but pushing it forwards with the front of the boot.
  • Passing the ball one way around a defender, before running the other way around to retrieve it. see Pele perform this dummy against Uruguay in the 1970 World Cup Semi-Final in the video opposite.

Pele dummy in the 1970 World Cup

The psychological aspect of dummying, especially in a one-on-one face off, makes for very exciting football and often showcases players at their very best.

NB ‘Dummy’ is a verb and a noun. It’s correct to say ‘The keeper was dummied’, ‘He dummied the keeper’, or ‘He finished with a spectacular dummy’.