Never reward bad technique.
Now I am a positive, enthusiastic coach and where ever possible try and catch students doing something right, rather than something wrong.
But a positive coach can also get delusional and not properly accept where there are problems with a players game.
This might be a private lesson where the serve grip is way off continental and the student continues to slip the grip during the swing or it might be that group lesson where a young student tried to swat a volley nearly into their own legs.
Sometimes that enthusiastic, positive coach might say something like:
“Ooops, try again”
And they try again and bomb it completely and the coach half heartedly say:
“remember your follow through”
They do it again with poor technique and no follow through but get it in.
The coach then says:
“okkkk…..Good job Mary”
So then Mary has totally bombed her technique and still gets the sugary ‘good job’ from the coach re-enforcing that her strange way of hitting the ball was to be encouraged.
The coach has to be prepared to lose a bit of flow in the lesson to at least make some corrections to the technique. Coaches might have one focus at a time but whatever that focus is it needs to be re-enforced and not ignored. In an effort to keep that positive environment, coaches need to be careful they do not lose sight of the fact they are teachers and need to still teach.
Sure at the other end of the spectrum are those with an insistence on perfect technique. Many of these type will burn students out of the game and bore them with the constant methodical instruction. So coaches need to keep the positive energy and also maintain a good state of flow through the lesson whilst still being a stickler for correct technique.
This is why coaching is an art form. If you find yourself too far down the boring, methodical spectrum or too far up the keep the play positive and flowing at all times spectrum then you need to reassess how you can find a better balance between teaching and playing. Group lessons can be tough to spend too long on corrections and you do still need to pick your battles. I still agree with the game based approach of learning. But not a lazy, game based approach but a combination of quick, technical goals and then letting them rally it out.
Most importantly though, don’t reward bad technique. Compliment a part of the play or shot where maybe they ran well to the ball but don’t throw out ‘Great Job Mary’ if the teaching points are being ignored.