USA Table Tennis What's New Rawle Alleyne - Inte...

Rawle Alleyne - Interview

By Rahul Acharya | May 16, 2016, 12 a.m. (ET)

Rawle Alleyne (NY, USA)

Two weeks ago teachers all across America were celebrated. Why, because they educate and encourage and touch the lives of so many. In honor of Teacher Appreciation Week, I have a special interview this week - my coach Rawle Alleyne.

I met Rawle for the first time in June 2011 when I came to Westchester Table Tennis Center. I had outgrown my middle school table tennis program and was looking for a more serious option. I took 2 - 3 lessons with him, but then I broke my finger and got distracted with competitive basketball. It wasn't until a year later that I returned in September 2012. Over the last three years, Rawle has taken the ride with me through the successes and the setbacks. He's been a coach, a friend, and a father figure!

Originally from Barbados, Rawle moved to the U.S. in 2003. Head Coach at Westchester Table Tennis Center, Rawle has trained many known names in the table tennis community including Allen and Amy Wang, the Alguetti brothers, and even, celebrities such as Drew Scott, co-host of HGTV's Property Brothers. 

I hope you enjoy getting to know Coach Rawle Alleyne!

Quick facts about Rawle Alleyne:
ITTF Level 1 Coach
National Table Tennis Coach - Barbados (1991 - 2006)
Former member of the ITTF Coaching Committee (representing the Caribbean)

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With Rawle on breaking 2000 (November 2013)
With Coach Rawle Alleyne

1. Tell us about how you got introduced to table tennis.
I was about 12 years old and my neighbor had a sheet of plywood in his garage. He introduced me to the game and that's all she wrote.

2. What equipment are you currently using:
Blade: Stiga Clipper WRB (oversized)
Forehand rubber: Xiom Vega Europe
Backhand rubber: Calibra LT Sound

3. Tell us a bit about your playing career.
My playing career was rather short. I represented Barbados as a player coach at the 2003 World Championships held in Paris, France.

4. When did you start coaching? Tell us about your coaching career.
I started coaching right out of high school at St. Gabriel, a private school. I have traveled the world doing many coaching certifications under the auspices of the International Olympic Committee - Puerto Rico, Mexico, El Salvador, England, Scotland, Wales, and Hungary to mention a few. I have also coached at the World Championships, Pan Am Games, Commonwealth Games, etc. I was a National Coach of Barbados from the time I was 23 years old.

5. What do you enjoy more - coaching or playing? Why?
I enjoy coaching more even though it is much more difficult compared to playing in my opinion. By the very nature of it, you are credited with the player's failure, not his success. However, my joy comes in watching them develop into better players than I ever was. In other words, I enjoy watching them reach their full potential, whatever that is.

6. How would you describe your coaching style?
I believe in the Gestalt principle of "thinking outside the box" and that the "whole is greater than the sum of its parts." I love individual differences between players and encourage my students to adhere to their own style. I have a B.S. in Kinesiology and use biomechanics as a foundation for movement. In my time as a coach, I have learned that teaching is the greatest learning experience of all.

As a player:

7. What is the most memorable match that you have ever played? Why?
The most memorable match that I have played was a National Championship Final when I was 18 years old. I lost, but it was my first appearance in the finals of that magnitude and I had lots of support from my students as that was first year working as a coach as well.

8. Who is your favorite international table tennis player? Why?
Right now I don't have a favorite, but I prefer creative players more than speed-only players.

As a coach:

9. If you had to take inspiration from a table tennis coach, who would that be? Why?
I don't have a table tennis coach that inspires me, but I follow many coaches from different disciplines. I like Bill Belichick from the New England Patriots because he seems to be a critical thinker.

10. What quality do you most admire in a player?
I like hard working, honest, and thinking players because I believe with these qualities they can reach their full potential, both on and off the table.

11. What do you feel are the priorities in developing young players and helping them perform to their potential?
I feel that technical training is very important. This includes stroke development, eye-hand co-ordination, movement, proper weight transfer, etc. However, it is equally important to foster a training environment that allows players to be creative. 

12. Coaching tips:
Best areas on the table to serve the ball?
It would have to be relative to the opponents positioning.

Best drills to do right before a tournament?
Relfex drills.

How to play someone that you've never watched or played before?
Play to your strengths and try to make the opponent adjust to you.

Any favorite mental techniques that can help player performance?
Imagery. For example, see yourself playing your best game and try to recreate that feeling.

13. Couple of rapid-fire questions:
Talent or hard work? Both
Best chance to win - player with skills or player with confidence? Player with skills
21-point games or 11-point games? 11-point games
Spin or speed? Spin
Power or placement? Placement
More drills or more practice matches? Matches
To cho, or not to cho? Cho

14. What do you like to do in your free time?
I like to relax, do crossword puzzles, watch the National Geographic channel or a good movie. 

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Rawle, thanks so much for your time! Thanks for being a great coach and for always believing in me, even when I may not have! I look forward to continuing to grow under your guidance.