Laureano Ruiz believes the key to the success of Barça’s academy is that the coaches have had the “vision and the bravery” to trust in them.
One of the most authoritative voices concerning the history of the Barça academy is Laureano Ruiz, who was first team coach at the end of the 75/76 season. He has always been closely connected with the academy and is considered one of the founders of the Club’s distinctive playing style. This Monday he presented his recently published book, ‘El auténtico método del Barça’ (The authentic Barça method), at the Sala París in the Camp Nou. In an interview with Barça TV, Laureano Ruiz revealed the key points of Barça’s style and the essence of their game. “It’s a book aimed at the football world – coaches, players and especially academy coaches”.
According to Laureano Ruiz “when they reach the first team, players here know their way around the world they find themselves in and that is a great advantage. A boy who comes here aged 12, trains in a particular way, which means that as he keeps going up through the various categories, the coach might change, but the methods stay the same. That’s something that doesn’t happen at other clubs”. As well as the coaches’ influence, Laureano Ruiz also believes that: “the youngsters copy the first team, as it is the same way that they are playing. Watching Messi, Xavi and the rest of them is a great way to learn, because you learn how to play by watching and then doing”.
Smaller kids are better?
Laureano also explained how the game has changed over the years, though he still reckons shorter players tend to be ignored as youngsters, when he believes they are often the best: “football is relatively young – only 150 years or so, and for many years it was more like rugby than what we now know as football – a game which was often dirty and where the players were big and tough. 80 years ago, the rules changed and the game became more about skill and intelligence, but many coaches still think the bigger a player the better and many of them don’t rate the smaller lads. In fact they often have an advantage over the bigger players – there are specific movements that a smaller player can do quicker, because they have a lower centre of gravity. For corners and free kicks height can be an advantage, but bravery and strong legs to leap up at the right moment are more important and that’s something you can achieve through training”.
“Any child can become a footballer”
Laureano Ruiz revealed that when he started as a coach he believed that youngsters could carry out the same kind of training programme as the first team players: “but then I thought - what has the work of a professional adult got to do with that of a child?”. He then proceeded to introduce the idea that training had to be different depending on the age of each child. Echoing Johan Cruyff’s claim that: the best coaches should be working with the children”, Laureano insisted: “it’s harder to teach players when they are older – though football is a game that really doesn’t require any great qualities – any child is able to become a footballer”.
Finally Laureano asked: “have you ever counted the number of times Xavi touches the ball with his left foot ? But it’s better to be good with one foot than mediocre with two”. According to Laureano, it’s all down to working on your skills.