Winning with the Princeton Offense: “Chin”

The Princeton Offense is an effective style of play that enables coaches to maximize the abilities and scoring potential of their players. Overall, it’s a great equalizer and allows teams to dictate the tempo of a basketball game. In this week’s team development feature, learn about the keys to the offense, spacing concepts, and then get a basic overview of the “Chin” set. After getting an understanding of the system, look to add Chin to your playbook this season in order to throw a wrinkle at opponents.


If you have five players that can all pass, shoot and dribble the ball, the Princeton Offense allows you to dictate to the defense the things you want to do. The biggest X-factor is that you must have skilled players.

Keys to the Offense:

Control Tempo

Shot Selection. Emphasize layups first and then three pointers. Also focus on drives and kicks for threes or backdoor layups.

Emphasize cutting and screening. Hard cuts allow you to do some of the same things as a screen. The cuts allow you to set a type of screen and gets teammates open for shots.

Motion Concepts. You get better as the season progresses. You must totally commit to the offense for it to be effective.

It’s a TEAM-BASED offense. It allows freedom, but if a guy makes a hard cut, he can score a layup at any given time.

Chalk Talk – Spacing

Spacing is the critical component of this offense. The ideal situation is to have the guards in the high slot area about 2-3 feet above the three-point line up top and at the elbows extended. Both forwards should start out at the free throw line-extended to start and beyond the three-point line. Then we have one pivot player. The rest of the players are interchangeable. This position is different than the rest, although some teams will even interchange all five spots.

Princeton Sets – Chin

This is the most basic play out of the Princeton Set. It begins with a dribble weave with the top right guard. He will then hand off to the forward on the wing. The pivot always starts on the ball-side block. After the hand off, the forward dribbles back up to the original guard spot up top.


While this is going on, we have an interchange on the weakside, and the forward and guard flip positions. After the interchange it tells the pivot what to do. The pivot will move up to the elbow area and now we have the forwards in the guard spots now and the guards in the forward spots. Next, there’s a pass between the two players up top.

The key to this offense is the forward to guard pass. We want to make this pass as quick as possible. If the defense denies, we’ll do a dribble at backdoor. Remember, any time someone dribbles at you, it’s an automatic backdoor. On this ball reversal to the left side, the opposite forward up top (on the right) must wait until the ball has left the hands of the other forward.

As soon as the ball is in the guard’s hands on the left side, the pivot will now come up and set a backscreen at the top of the arc; it’s like a weakside UCLA screen. The rightside forward will cut to the rim and sprint as hard as he can and then get out to the left corner.

We look to throw the ball there. If it’s not open, the pivot will then set another screen, this time a flare screen for the other forward on the top left. If the forward comes off the screen and doesn’t have anything, he will finish his cut to the rim. If there’s nothing there, then they will continue to the right corner.

If nothing is open altogether, then we start over, and the guards move back up top and the forward gets back to the wings and everything fills in. But now, the Pivot guy will start at the strongside elbow and set the opening screen and begins the play all over again.

Chin in Action

Remember, start the play with the dribble weave. The key here is how quickly the forward passes over to the guard on the wing. If the wing is denied, we dribble at them for a potential backdoor pass.

Also, make sure that your V-cuts are to the basket. We want to pull the defender away from where we want to go. We also want him to get up high and deny, so we must be patient. Also, the receiver should show a hand target on the backdoor. It’s also key to close the distance on the defender before making a hard cut backdoor.

Tips: When catching the ball, always land on two feet. Rip and sweep the ball. Be strong with the ball. Practice landing on two. Also, look to shoot layups as much as possible out of this set.


The previous clips can be seen on Championship Productions’ DVD “Winning with the Princeton Style Offense” with Lee DeForest. To check out more offense-oriented videos in our extensive basketball library, including new DVDs featuring Steve Fisher, Mike Jones, and Sean Miller, click here.

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