Positive Reinforcement is extremely powerful in coaching confidence and performance in our athletes. However, I do believe some coaches, parents, and teammates can misuse positive reinforcement when it hasn't yet been "earned".
Let me be more clear. As a coach with a certain level of expectation, it's important for my players to understand what the level is and we should only reinforce what we want to see repeatedly. Rather than "cheering" on finishing a workout subpar, or celebrating a win by 2 when you should have won by 20, we need to reinforce the details that raise the bar to the expected standard.
Sometimes as a coach you have to stop practice to address the detail you are looking for so everyone sees what it looks like, or you clip it in your self scouts. Once they have seen what is expected, the next step is for them to find the focus, desire, and pride in doing it the same way, again and again in order to achieve success we are looking for.