Club Focus: LSA Sharks - Gainesville, GA

We spoke to Jonathan Cueva about LSA Sharks and why they chose The Coaching Manual to help develop their coaches

Dec 17th 2021

Written by The Coaching Manual

Based in Gainesville, GA, the LSA Sharks call Allen Creek Soccer Complex, one of the best facilities in Georgia, their home. They are a community minded organization with a diverse, multicultural base which provides their players wonderful life experiences as well as a fantastic environment for learning and loving the game of soccer.

We spoke to Jonathan Cueva, Executive Director at Lanier Soccer Association, who has been using The Coaching Manual since discovering the platform during the Covid lockdown. He said: "After the pandemic, it's like we've gone from -10 to 1,000mph. This last year has been the best year with both the business side and the sports side for us."

Originally from Ecuador, Jonathan's soccer career started at Liga Deportiva Universitaria de Quito, playing in the youth academy. He played from u14 all the way to the first team. In the early 2000's he received a scholarship to play college soccer in the United States and came to America for soccer. During the pandemic, Jonathan spent a lot of time organizing, planning, and looking for a digital solution to support the development of his coaches.

"The pandemic allowed me to do a lot of planning and everything so when we came back, we were raring to go. That time off allowed us to re-plan the whole thing. I'd been looking at different sites because I've been trying to implement something for a long time. Having been able to really get this software that allows us to truly execute the plan. We had previously used another product, but it wasn't able to provide what The Coaching Manual can provide. TCM is more updated to what I call '21st century soccer'. From the pure soccer perspective, so much changes all the time, for example not even Guardiola is playing like Guardiola used to play 10 years ago. At the end of the day, The Coaching Manual is able to offer today's game."

Jonathan received his B.S in P.E and Leadership from UNG and holds a CONMEBOL "B" FIFA Coaching License, USSF D, USSF C, USSF B, and USC Director of Coaches Diploma. He has coached at every level of youth soccer from u9 academy to the former DA and MLS Program. In addition, he led the first LSA team in club history to make it to the Regional Premier League.

He continued: "Our Technical Director, right now, is building our curriculum on The Coaching Manual. In the past, we would say 'OK, ages 8-10, you're learning how to train. Ages 11-13 you're learning how to play, at 17 you learn how to win, etc' but that was very general. We have people who have been coaches for years and involved in soccer for years, but if a coach isn't 100% qualified, it can be difficult sometimes to communicate and explain how we want practice to be run, and it can be hard to digest what we are asking when it comes to making practice realistic. But with TCM we are able to provide a tool that is video, it is audio, it is graphical, it can be every form, so in that sense it works perfectly. And it doesn't really matter if you are a u8 coach or a first division coach, you have enough content for everyone."


"The toughest task in this whole adventure is that in the system we have whole different cultures here in the US. Culturally, the sport is growing, and every culture seems and feels the game differently. Trying to capture how everyone thinks about the game feels like a strange menu - imagine going to a restaurant and then you get on the same plate, fried chicken, with pizza, and a salad, and some rice or something. It's food but the combination is unusual. Therefore to balance these expectations we have to be creative. Changing culture is impossible, so we want to make sense of how Americans perceive the game of soccer and how sports work here, and we take it from them there."

Conscious to the fact that soccer coaches have a lot of options in the area, Jonathan and the team at LSA Sharks are keen to support their coaches, and develop them during their time at the club. The Coaching Manual helps them to do that, which has a positive effect on the club experience as a whole.

Jonathan added: "The biggest problem is that we have soccer clubs every two blocks, and unfortunately we see it happening where coaches leave for another club and even take your teams and players with them. So we combat that - as much as we develop players, we develop coaches. We have young coaches, we have experienced coaches, but at the end of the day we want coaches who have loyal feelings towards the club. A lot of time though, we have coaches who are learning on the job and don't yet know what it takes to develop a player from early ages. So with The Coaching Manual, it doesn't matter the level, we can give guidelines to show what we want to accomplish. Thus, TCM helps us to retain coaches and educate coaches."

With fees among the lowest in the state of Georgia, LSA offers an affordable variety of programs for families looking for a fun and meaningful soccer experience for their children. Their programs encourage athletes to achieve a high level of self-satisfaction while improving their skills and developing respect for the game and others. Their motto: "Putting our kids' development first so they can achieve their greatest potential"

For more information, visit their website here.

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