WYC 036 Keith Van Horn, 10 year NBA veteran, talks youth basketball and the importance of free-play

 What does it take to be a winning youth coach? Listen in as Keith Van Horn shares stories and discusses his journey to becoming a successful youth sports coach.

Keith was the ESPN NCAA Player of the Year in 1997, and went on be drafted with the 2nd pick in the NBA draft.  He spent 10 years in the NBA, averaged over 16 points per game, and went to NBA finals with the New Jersey Nets and the Dallas Mavericks.  He currently serves as the Founder and Executive Director for Colorado Premier Basketball Club which is the largest youth basketball club in the state of Colorado, and works with over 1,000 youth in the communities it serves.  He also serves on the National Advisory Board for the Positive Coaching Alliance.  Keith is married and has 4 kids, ages 11 to 19.

Website: keithvanhorn.com

Blog: layupsandrebounds.com

Twitter: @coach_keith44

Facebook: /keithvanhornofficial

Listen Now:

Listen in ITunes: Itunes link

Listen in Stitcher: Stitcher link


Coaching my own kids

  • Keep the proper perspective – have fun, learn the sport, learn life lessons

My ‘Ah-Ha’ Moment

  • Youth basketball coaching is very unorganized (vs. other sports like youth soccer, which requires accreditation) – Coaches need to take a little time to get organized so they can teach well

Teaching Children & Keeping it Fun

HUGE IDEA #1 – 1st look at it from the kid’s performance – why are the kids playing? – To have fun, spend time with friends, run and jump a little bit?  This might be different based on their gender also.  When looking at the 4F’s for goals – Fun, Friendships, Fundamentals, Fight – You need to individualize these for each player – some kids just want to hang out with their friends, others want to improve a skill, others just want to win – so create motivation/goals for each individual based on where they are at.

Teaching skills


  • Spider – Ball handling game – 4 or 5 defenders, 3 or 4 offensive players – Players have to dribble to the other end of the court while the spiders are trying to knock their ball out of the court, if you get your ball knocked out you join the spiders.
  • Teaching shooting – Do form shooting in 2 player groups – Shooting the ball back and forth to each other (without a basket) to work on form

Mental Peak Performance

  • If you are coaching an organization with tryouts – have good options for everyone – give the parents/kids good
  • As a player – the key is to play present and stay focused on what you are doing – you have to block out the fans/other coaches, etc.
  • The biggest thing a parent can do is instill the right priorities- a basketball tryout is not the most important thing for your child or your family

Inspiring Story

  • Keith is working with youth to teach more than basketball but real life lessons – dealing with losses, working in a team environment, the discipline of practice.


  • Blog created to encourage parents and kids on lessons learned off and on the court
  • Keith encourages more free-play time with no coaches – just learn the game and have fun

Parting Advice


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One thought on “WYC 036 Keith Van Horn, 10 year NBA veteran, talks youth basketball and the importance of free-play
  1. Basketball Lover

    I was a great fan of Keith Van Horn. He followed him from his years in New Jersey and was a great player on and off the court.

    It’s great to know that Keith is running a basketball program. Best wishes and successes for Keith ……..


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