Richard McAfee - The Coaches' Coach

By Richard Finn | Sept. 26, 2017, 7:20 p.m. (ET)

Behind every great player there is a great coach, so goes the cliché.

And behind many great coaches most likely there has been Richard McAfee.

For more than 40 years, McAfee has traveled the country and the globe teaching coaches how to coach. He has held coaching clinics in four continents and 19 countries including India, Samoa, Thailand and of course the United States. He is responsible for bringing the ITTF Coaches Education Program to USA Table Tennis.

McAfee was the competition Manager for table tennis in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics He was inducted into the USATT Hall of Fame in 2005.

“I have had a lot of highlights as both a player and an organizer within the sport,” wrote McAfee in a recent email to USATT officials. “However, for me, the thing that most stands out is the large number of players that I have been able to introduce to this great sport.” According to his bio he has worked with more than 1300 coaches around the world and his “Table Tennis, Steps to Success” is a best-selling instructional book.

McAfee has a simple coaching philosophy. “I believe strongly in explaining the "why" of things to my students.  I think that my ability to explain the complicated in simple terms is my strongest skill, ” explained McAfee.

At age 67, McAfee still holds the same passion for coaching that he had when he started and the Colorado resident has no plans to cut back on his busy coaching schedule.

“The great thing about coaching is that you are always learning and regardless of age if you work hard you can become a better coach each year,” wrote McAfee from the Bahamas where he was conducting an ITTF Development Project program. It was his second visit to Nassau for the ITTF. “This keeps the work new and exciting at all times.  

The passion part is easy for me as there is such joy in watching an athlete discover a new skill and see their eyes ’light up’,” McAfee wrote.

McAfee was a fine player in his own right. He was the Florida Boys Club Champion in 1963 and worked his way up to spend 1978 as a professional player in the first division of the French National League. It was, however, upon his return from France that he stepped away from the game and competing for several years, and upon his return turned his full-time attention to his real passion in the sport- coaching.

While presently McAfee juggles his coaching travels and clinics with his position as President of the Sky High Table Tennis Club in Aurora, he is still looking for new opportunities to continue to contribute to the sport that he loves. “I never know what is ahead each year in the sport for me.  I trust that I can continue to find ways to make a contribution to the sport that has been so good to both myself and my family.”