Princeton Principles

Watch the man in front of you, he tells you what to do!

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Sportstrong 3rd Grade Drills

We want to start every practice at every level with fundamentals. 

The word itself means different things to different people particularly in the game of basketball and certainly it is a bit different considering the age and level of play.

 For me, at it’s essence fundamentals mean:


  • Listening
  • Passing
  • Catching (“Hands UP”)
  • Pivoting
  • Dribbling
  • Shooting (Proper technique – “Low on the catch, high on the finish”)
  • Defense (“It all starts in a stance”)

We always “warm-up” with lay-ups and shoot them in varied ways from both sides of the court

At the third grade level we teach proper footwork which means taking off with the foot closest to the basket……………………………………………………………………………………… Left foot for a right handed lay-up/Right foot for a left handed lay-up – We will shoot lay-ups for approx. 8 minutes

Included in our lay-up drill is proper rebounding technique (CHIN THE BALL), pivoting and passing. The focus is ALWAYS on accurate passing to a pair of hands that “you can see”. HANDS READY AT ALL TIMES IS ALWAYS STRESSED

We play a version of  “Monkey-in-the-middle” to teach passing, catching and PIVOTING. The catcher must use his/her pivot foot to create space and then make an accurate pass (bounce, overhead, chest) to a pair of hands they can see.

We teach “on ball defense” with a game that is similar to “tag”. The defender MUST “stay in front of the person he/she is guarding with the goal being to prevent the ball from going in a straight line. (As we progress we will stress balance and other technique but for now it’s strictly the concept of being focused on the “simple” task of staying in front of the ball)

We will progress to “help defense” which is collaborative and the ultimate goal. I have found this is best accomplished using rope to demonstrate how you must remain within a certain distance to the ball regardless of where the person you are guarding is located on the court. (This takes some increased awareness by the kids that does not always develop during the first weeks…. or months)

OFFENSE: This is difficult to teach regardless of age but for our THIRD GRADE group we will teach the basics of cutting and screening and spacing…………….not much more. I require a “CUT” after every pass initially and like to use a “goal” that is placed under the rim as a target for the kids to touch each time.

I’ll be adding more to this blog as we progress and hopefully some things you can do with your child.

Ask them to teach you what they learned and please let me know if they say nothing!

My best always,

Coach Barry (510) 432-0983

The Smart Take From The Strong

From the time I first saw the game of basketball being played back in Philadelphia in the 50’s (I’m admitting my age but so be it) I became captivated with the motion, beauty and synergy of the game and I’ve been hooked ever since.


As I have recently written to my corporate clients in a piece subsequent to the stock market slide of a week or so ago though “the

only thing that’s constant is change”. Certainly the game of basketball has changed since those days, but, what has not changed is that at its highest levels the game remains a TEAM game and synergy is tantamount to TEAM.


Being from Philadelphia I was quiet close to Princeton, N.J. and had an opportunity to watch the great Bill Bradley take his game to

national prominence while at Princeton which was a thrill….when I was 15 he was my idol and I emulated his every move.


The year was 1967 and Bradley was gone from Princeton but the new dawn of Princeton basketball was about to occur in the spirit, body and mind of Coach Pete Carril and his now legendary “Princeton Offense”.


Coach was always reluctant to document his style (I refuse to call it a system because he refuses as well) simply stating “it’s just

basketball”. The Princeton offense is a series of synergies that become intuitive and became the standard by which all others

(offenses) were judged. Cutting, screening, backdoor layups, open 3 pointers etc, etc. Everybody making everybody else better. Basketball, the game I love!


You can imagine my complete joy when I had a chance to sit in the same room with Coach Carril several years ago with another coach and discuss basketball, just the three of us. We watched film of basketball and learned theory and subtleties from the man himself AND, when the three hour session ended he thanked US for spending the time.

Coach loves the game and loves teaching it to anyone willing to listen.


I’ve studied extensively (resources below) and taught semblances of “Princeton” everywhere I’ve coached, believing very deeply that teaching what I call Princeton Principles will benefit every player at every level regardless of what “system” their eventual coach(s) has implemented.


As Coach Carril says “it’s just basketball”!


What follows are links to resources that reference this beautiful, most effective, most emulated style of play.

I hope you take something from these words and from the game itself.


Princeton High Post Offense aka “CHIN”


Princeton Low Post Offense


 I titled this page “The Smart Take From the Strong”  because that is the title of the only book I know of written by Coach Carril.

When I last checked it is available at


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