Princeton 4-Corner Set

Teaching Offense

Teaching offense to can be a difficult task (especially with younger teams). Coaches often have many different aspects to take into consideration when trying to teach players how to play on the offensive end. Even coaches at the highest level in the NBA can struggle to find the right balance on the offensive end depending on the type of personnel they are given. It can be a tricky task to maximize your players talent, while teaching your players to work together in a cohesive way.

To address youth coaches specifically, I believe that you should desire to accomplish several different things on the offensive end: you want to help their players learn the fundamentals, work together, and make the offensive end of the floor fun.

In my estimation, these offense sets accomplish several different things: they give your team great spacing, they allow every member of the team to touch the ball, and these sets help players learn to make reads depending on where their teammates are how the defense is playing them.

When teaching offensive principles here are three key points that I think every coach needs to take into consideration when trying to help young players learn how to play offense the right way.

1. The Ball has Energy

This statement has come into vogue in the NBA in the past couple of seasons. Greg Popovich in the Spurs have pioneered the revolution of playing team basketball where everybody touches the ball and everybody's a part of the offense. The idea that the ball has energy simply means that players will play a little bit harder when they touch the ball. They feel a part of the game plan and just touching the ball whether it's on a pass, setting a screen, or just swinging the ball on the perimeter, will help them get into a rhythm. No one likes to just stand in the corner waiting for something to happen.

"When players touch the ball, they become bought into the success of the team because they feel like they are important."

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Recently Kyle Korver of the Atlanta Hawks talked about this principle: he said in an interview that the Hawks have used him in a way that he's never been used in his career before. He went on to talk about how many teams often just thought of him as a shooter and would just tell him to stand in the corner. This season they have him moving and touching the ball a lot more on offense. He is searching for his shot which helps him get into a great rhythm and also creates great spacing for his teammates because he such a lethal weapon from the outside.

Recently Kyle Korver of the Atlanta Hawks talked about this principle: he said in an interview that the Hawks have used him in a way that he's never been used in his career before. He went on to talk about how many teams often just thought of him as a shooter and would just tell him to stand in the corner. This season they have him moving and touching the ball a lot more on offense. He is searching for his shot which helps him get into a great rhythm and also creates great spacing for his teammates because he such a lethal weapon from the outside.

2. Don’t Pigeonhole players

This happens a lot at the youth level and usually it's nobody's fault. Especially when coaches have bigger players they automatically relegate them to standing inside of the paint. The only problem with this is is that young kids often grow at different rates and you never know how tall a kid is going to become. The much more important principle is to help kids develop the skills that are transferable at any position. Regardless of how tall a player becomes or what position they play when they become older, the skills of ball-handling, passing, and shooting our valued at any position in at any level of play.

Find creative ways to help players develop the skills in a game situation. This is not to say that you can't teach post moves or the skills that are required by big men. I only intend to stress the point that basketball players with skills are much more valuable than basketball players without skills. In their long-term development learning these types of skills are much more valuable down the road.

3. Learn to make basketball decisions

How is my defender playing me? Is my teammate getting ready to make a cut? If so how should I space out to help them score more easily? These are the kinds of questions of player should be able to answer you have a good understanding of the game. There also the kind of questions that you have to ask yourself when helping kids learn this offensive set.

It is so easy as a coach of younger players to turn players into robots by controlling their movements on offense. Understandably so, it is often difficult when you have players of different skill levels to get them to make basketball decisions in accord with other teammates. The great youth coaches in my estimation are the ones who give their players a structure in which they learn how to make basketball decisions. This is a difficult and arduous process, but as players develop, one of the greatest skills that you can have is an understanding of the game and how to fit in with teammates.


I think these sets accomplish these three goals. The few options I've given you in these sets are only the tip of the iceberg. One of the greatest things about these sets are that they can be customized in a million different ways depending on your team. My college team use many of these similar movements and I've benefited as a player in learning how to move off the ball and make great reads. I hope that you find them helpful. 

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4-Corners Set

You start with 4 corners spread typically with two of your guards up top and with your center somewhere in the middle (it usually helps if they start somewhere below the free-throw line so they can break up towards the top of the key and catch the ball around the three-point line). This can also be a great teaching point on how to get open to receive a pass. One of the great things about this set is that the positions are so interchangeable. Also your "Big man” will handle the ball and be able to make decisions to initiate your offense.

After the center catches the ball in the middle of the floor the two guards will cut down the lane on their respective sides and out to the corner. Meanwhile the two players in the corner will fill to the wings so that now we have five out. From here you really have a ton of different options, which is one of the reasons why I love this set so much. I will walk you through a few of the different options that I think could be good for your team but feel free to experiment with anything that you think you can take advantage of.

Option 1 - dribble at back door: C can pick a side and will start dribbling at the offense of players defender on the wing. You would be surprised at how many easy layups you can get off the simple action. The key is for the wing player to stay spaced and for the ball handler to dribble at the defender of their teammate.

Option 2 - Handoff: now instead of going back door the wing player can set their defender up to receive a handoff. If the defender doesn't know if the offensive player is going to cut back door or receive a handoff this can be a difficult action to defend. Meanwhile on the opposite side the two other players should execute a down screen. This will do two things: it will either distract their defenders giving the wing player an easy path to the rim, or their defenders will give too much help and will give an opening on the opposite side for a shot or a drive.

Option 3 - Backdoor + Pick and Roll: if we imagine the wing player has cut back door, the player in the corner can now lift and receive a handoff or get a pass and then execute a pick and roll. The entire side is now clear for a pick and roll while the other three players execute a gate screen for the player on the opposite side.

Option 4 - Pick + Roll and Flare: now back to the beginning when the center has the ball in the middle of the floor. Instead of dribbling at the wing player they can now pass the ball and execute a pick and roll. The backside movement on this option is especially dangerous. Player in the opposite corner will run out and set a flare screen on the wing players man. In this graphic PG defender will likely be paying attention to the ball screen action on the opposite side. Most likely they will be open on the flare screen for a shot or with space to drive to the rim


Gregg Popovich Transition Sets

The Spurs are some of the best in the NBA at running transition sets to take advantage of their mismatches and exploit early offensive opportunities. These sets give you the ability to put your players in a position to be successful depending on how you choose to use your personnel.

The following are three transition sets with a bunch of different options that allow you to maximise your teams early offense.

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Spurs Transition: Postup

Goal: To get a Big Man position the ball on the block. The point guard dribbles the ball down the wing while C at the top of the key sets a down screen for the SG. F clears to the corner and G clears dives to the block to set up an angle for the back screen to get C on the block

After SG pops out to the top of the key, PG should swing the ball to SG while G sets a back screen for C. This back screen should be at a 45 degree angle to make it hard for C's defender to pass the screen.

SG swings the ball to PG to improve the angle of passing to C as they dive to the low post. 

Spurs Transition: "Flex-Read"

This set starts in the same way with the PG bringing the ball down the wing and swinging the ball to F at the top of the key who then swings to SG on the opposite side. C starts to prepare to set a cross screen for G in the corner. 

Option 1: G comes off C's flex screen.

Option 2: G comes off F's down screen if the defender tries to jump the cross screen and beat G to the opposite site block. PG should also space to the low wing to give G space should they decide to jet to the top of the key.

Option 1 + 2 Looks: Here are the looks that SG has depending on what screen G decides to use. Either a post up on the ball side block, or coming off a down screen at the top of the key. 

Option 2 Finisher: If G decides to come off of F's down screen F can immediately turn around and set a ball screen for G (this is a super tough action to guard if you are G's defender). As G drives SG and PG should space to the corners and C can circle near the top of the free throw line as F dives to the rim. This takes C's defender away from the rim, and opens F's roll to the rim. Or if C's defender takes F rolling to the rim, C will have an open jumper at the top of the key.

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Spurs Transition: "Pick-Option"

This set starts in the same way with PG bringing the ball down the right side. The play starts by swinging the ball to F while SG sets a ball screen for F. Also, C should clear to the opposite side block (which could result in an easy post-up if C's man falls asleep. 

Option 1: SG should pop out after setting the ball screen for F and look to swing the ball after PG has set a down screen for G to pop out to the wing. 

Option 1a : PG clears to the corner. G now has the whole side of the floor to go 1 on 1. If that doesn't fit your personnel, C can sprint into a wing ball screen on the open side of the floor.

Option 2 : G's sets a down screen, but this time PG using the screen as to either curl to the rim, curl to the block, or curl to the lane. If PG doesn't receive on the curl cut, they should clear to the corner. C should also space to the short corner to give PG space to operate on the catch and be ready for a dump off pass. SG should be ready to deliver a pass to all of these options. 

Option 2a : After PG makes their read and if they don't receive, G should pop out to the wing and has a few options after receiving the ball from SG at the top of the key.. Either they can feed PG in the post or drive the lane. 

Option 2b : After G pops out to the wing and decides not to feed the post, or drive (PG should clear to corner if they don't receive a post up). After SG swings the ball to G, SG can set a screen for F at the weak side elbow (making it difficult for F's defender to guard the ball screen because they will be late on their positioning). F has the opportunity to run to the block for a post up, or straight into a ball screen with G on the empty wing. 

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5 Tools Every Coach Should Give their Players

As a professional I use these tools almost every day to improve my performance, avoid injury, and allow my body to perform at its maximum capacity. They are simple to use, but make a huge difference. 

5 Killer OBU's

My teams have scored 100's of free points using these plays over the years. They are simple and easy to execute, but incredibly hard to stop.

Spurs Transition Sets 

Learn a few of the plays Pop uses to score easy buckets before the defense gets set. The Spurs do a great job of creating mismatches and playing to their strengths. Scroll to the end of the post to download.

David Blatt's Euro Set

In my 3 years as a pro, this is one of the hardest sets I've had to guard. It gives the offensive team flexibility and scoring options depending on their players strengths. A great weapon to have. 

David Blatt Euro Sets

In my time playing overseas here is one of my favorite sets that I've come across because of its flexibility, movement, and variety of options. Although NBA Cleveland Cavs coach David Blatt doesn't coach overseas anymore, this is the type of stuff he used to win his Euroleague title and 5 Israeli League Championships.

The following are the some of the primary options you can run with this "Euro Set", but as you'll see, any coach can adjust the spacing and timing depending on their personnel. Scroll to the end of the post to download the entire set as a PDF.

The initial alignment starts with the point guard dribbling the wing and the guard coming off a double staggered on to the top of the key. 

Below is the basic spacing for the rest of the options in this particular set. Out of this alignment we have a ton of nifty options

Option 1: PG swings the ball to G at the top of the key and then C runs to set a high ball-screen for G coming off to the open side of the floor. After F screens for C they should space out to the opposite side short corner. 

Option 1: As G drives to the open side of the floor, C should dive to the rim for an easy dish if C's defender overhelps on the pick and roll. Alternately, F should fill the high post to draw his defender away from helping on the pick and roll. Lastly, PG should keep the backside occupied by setting a down screen for SG to come to the wing.

Option 1: This is the visual representation of all the options G has coming off the high ball screen (in addition to scoring themselves). A great option to get a good player going downhill with a lot of scoring options.

Option 2 : Going back to the original alignment, the second option is for SG in the corner coming off a gate screen for a 3-pointer (feel free to change the screen to a double staggered along the baseline if your player prefers shooting off that)

Option 2 : G should dribble away from the double screen a few dribbles to create spacing as SG starts to sprint between the gate screen set by C and F. PG should replace SG in the corner for increased spacing. 

Option 3 : The last option includes a post up option for bigger guards, a guard pick and roll, and a double stagger for a shooter. Again here is the original alignment after G comes off the double screen from F and C.

Option 3 : G has the ball at the top of key, and SG runs the baseline to leave PG on the wing with an open side of the floor. G can look to throw a backdoor pass for PG if overplayed. Otherwise G can throw the ball to PG and set a ball screen. If you have a big guard with post up skills this is a good way to take advantage of PG's smaller defender switching onto a bigger guard

Option 3 : PG now comes off the ball screen with an option to attack the rim, exploit the mismatch with G rolling to the block, or looking for SG coming off a double staggered for a 3-pointer.

Option 3 : Here you can see all of the scoring options. After they set the double down screen for SG, F should space to the wing and C to the short corner. 



Killer OBU Plays


Any good coach knows that games can be won or lost on the margins. What are exactly are the margins? Basically, the little things can make all the difference: player rotations, timeouts, substitutions, game prep, scouting, and….OUT OF BOUNDS PLAYS could be the difference between a 1 point win and a devastating loss. The reality is that individually this stuff on the margins is not significant enough to directly lead to a win or a loss, but over the course of an entire game it can have a big impact.

Out of Bounds underneath (OBU) is one specific area of the game that coaches have a high degree of control over. Creative OBU plays can lead directly to scores and will help your team steal a couple of cheap buckets throughout the course of the game. These easy buckets are invaluable and can demoralize an opponent’s psyche.

Unfortunately, a team only gets a limited number of opportunities to sting their opponents with a cleverly designed play. In reality you might have 5-10 chances to score from an OBU possession during a game. The following are 3 killers OBU plays to help push your team over the top. In addition to the OBU play diagrams we will include a description of the responsibilities of each player within the set, as well as counters and other tidbits of valuable information to make sure you get the most out of your OBU opportunities.

We have put together a short E-Book with 2 additional bonus plays and a list of 5 Ways to Improve your Screening. All of this is FREE. Just click here to download the entire PDF.

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The OBU positions are all interchangeable depending on how you want to use your personnel, some coaches may want to target a specific defender, or put players in positions depending on their strengths.


PG – Point Guard (1-man or primary ball handler)

SG – Shooting Guard (2-man)

G – Guard (3-man)

F – Forward (4-man)

C – Center (5-man)


Key: the combination of the free throw lane and free throw circle

Downscreen: when a player (usually a 4 or 5 man) sets a screen facing the baseline for another player (usually a 2 or 3 man) to come off the screen either towards the perimeter or into the lane looking to score.

Backscreen: when a player is facing towards half court and sets a screen for a player diving to the rim. Usually a good backscreen hits the defender in the “back” or on the “blindside” 

Lane: the rectangular area below the free throw line

Perimeter: the area around the 3pt line

Slip: when a player (usually a 4 or 5 man) sets a screen for a teammate but their defender hedges out or helps to cover the player coming off the screen, leaving the screen to “slip” or go to the rim uncovered

Cross-screen: when a player moves across the lane to set a screen (usually this is a player setting a screen for a 4 or 5 man to get inside position)

For a more complete list of terms visit Arete Hoops Glossary of Terms.



Box Box-1

BOX is a simple concept, but incredibly effective if you can be disciplined enough to run the play the right way.

The Guard needs to clear out and the SG should start their movement as the Guard is clearing out to the opposite wing.

All screens in BOX need to be “Head-Hunting” screens, meaning that each player searches for the defender of their teammate instead of looking to scree an area.

That means that regardless of where the defender drifts to on the floor the offensive player needs to find that defender and hit them with a hard screen.


As SG sets a screen for F, C needs to be moving to towards SG to screen SG’s defender to catch them distracted by the screen between SG and F.

SG is the first option coming off the C screen. If C gets the timing right they can often catch SG’s defender paying attention to the screen on F’s man.


Many teams will try to switch the screen between C and SG but this works well for the offense if C rolls strong to the rim keeping the switching defender behind them.

Last option is to fake the ball towards the C/SG screening action and kick the ball out to F in the corner or G on the wing.


Stack Opposite

Stack Opp - 1

The entire premise of Stack Opposite is to get the defense moving to the other side of the floor then using a cutter that counters that movement.

C and SG need to sprint and draw attention from their defenders so that F’s defender gets distracted by the movement of players to the ball-side of the floor.

G should start their cut as if he is following the lead of C and SG, but instead go and set a screen for F.

Stack Opp - 2

The key to the play is for F to make the defender think he is following the other cutters to the ball side of the floor by making a hard step towards the ball.

After F’s hard step he comes off G’s screen for a layup.

Just as in BOX, if the defenders switch the screening action, G will be open rolling to the rim.




Flare is a great play to run against zone or man-to-man because it puts the defense in a position to choose what they want to cover.

Flare -1

The initial screen between SG and F should be a quick scoring option if F’s defender falls asleep. But the goal of this screen is actually to get SG’s defender out of position to set them up for the next action.

Flare - 2

After SG sets the screen they should run off C’s screen to the corner or baseline for a jumpshot.

If SG sets a good screen for F then his defender should be behind the play and should have trouble fighting over C’s screen.

Flare - 2


PG has the important job of reading the defense to see whether or not SG is open for a shot, or if C’s man has jumped out into the passing lane, opening a slip for C to the rim.

If the defense has collapsed and cut off both of these options, G could be open for a jumper on the wing if PG does a good job of faking the pass to the baseline.



This gives you a good idea of how simple Out of Bounds Plays can convert into easy points for your team during the course of a game. These 4-6 easy points could be the difference in winning and losing close, competitive games. We have put together an entire PDF with 2 Additional plays and a BONUS 5 Tips to Improve your Team’s Screening.

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