Tennis Coaching is a controversial subject.
When it comes to coaching philosophy, there is much disagreement amongst coaches. For example, many coaches believe that there is an "ideal" way to play tennis. These coaches then attempt to mold every player they teach to fit this "ideal".
In contrast, other coaches use each individual as the starting point. These coaches then evaluate the physical makeup, temperament and personality of each individual, and develop the individual's game accordingly.
TEACHING BY ROTE vs. COACHING
At a fundamental level, the differing approaches are the antithesis of one another. The first group of coaches attempts to coach every pupil to develop identical strokes and games as the next pupil. This blinkered approach not only guarantees the stifling of individual flair and talent, it also makes tennis coaching mind-numbingly boring for both coach and pupil.
Conversely, the second group of coaches recognizes that each individual is unique. Accordingly, individual flair and talent is left free to flourish. A great coach is one who has a thorough understanding of the fundamentals - and the ability to communicate them - as well as being able to build and develop the sort of game that will suit a particular player in the future.
A poor coach has no comprehension of the interconnection between a player's tennis game and his or her personality. For instance, take the different styles and temperaments of Roger Federer and Lleyton Hewitt. They both have developed games and strokes ideally suited to their temperaments and personalities.
For arguments sake, imagine if a "one size fits all" type coach were to have gotten hold of both Federer and Hewitt when they were 9 or 10 years old. Then imagine if such a coach were to impose on them what he perceived to be the "perfect" strokes.
I shudder to imagine the damage that would have been done, particularly to Federer's game, as he is a player whose talent and creativity is virtually unlimited.
This approach to tennis coaching should more accurately be called "cloning". It's an approach very typical of the so-called coaches who learn tennis out of a book, but who have absolutely no understanding of the game whatsoever.
In the words of the great Australian coach, Harry Hopman, "You should be wary of any coach who tells you there is only one way to make certain strokes or only one way to play certain shots."
To avoid such coaches, a quick evaluation of the playing styles of their pupils will tell you everything you need to know. Just look for a mechanical, robotic-like sameness in the strokes of a coach's pupils, and then run a mile from the coach who produces such players.
For further reading on the subject of coaching, I'm sure you'll enjoy this illuminating article on tennis coaching. I certainly did.