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How to Throw a Jab

Posted by Mike Gales on

If you have ever watched boxing or attended a cardio boxing class, then you have definitely heard the trainers telling the pugilists to throw the jab. That may have left you wondering, what exactly is a jab, why is it used so often and how exactly do you throw it?

What is a Jab?

  • The Jab is a straight punch that is made by your lead hand. It travels in a straight line directly towards the target and the jab is the punch that is most often used in boxing.

Why the Jab?

  • The Jab is the quickest punch that you can throw. The shortest distance between two points is a straight line. The Jab is a punch that travels in a straight line from the lead hand (which is closest to the opponent) directly towards the target.
  • The Jab is the safest punch that you can throw. When thrown correctly the jab can be thrown in such a manner that still leaves the boxer quite well protected.
  • The Jab uses the least amount of energy. The jab flows straight out and straight back from the lead arm, wasting very little movement.
  • The Jab has the longest range of all of the punches. Thrown by the lead arm which becomes almost fully extended, the jab maximizes the reach of the boxer.

How to throw the Jab;

  • Throw your jab from your proper boxing stance.
  • Remember to have your lead shoulder angled towards the center of your opponent.
  • Keep your hands up, your shoulders up, your chin down and keep your eyes on your opponent.
  • Keep your feet diagonally apart and try to keep your rear heel up.

Hand position;

  • Raise your hand out directly in front of you and notice the natural hand position. It is in that position that your hand will be the strongest and thus the least likely to get injured. Most fighters will have their palms facing towards the floor as they jab, which is slightly more pronated than that neutral position. The pronated hand will it make it feel more natural to keep your shoulder alongside your face to protect you chin as you jab.
  • From your boxing stance, have your hands up. Throw the jab in a straight line using your lead arm.
  • The motion of the jab is straight out to the target and then straight back.
  • The elbow of the jabbing arm is not flared out to the side but stays in line with the lead shoulder to maximize the weight behind the punch.
  • To generate the maximum amount of power with your jab, you want to have all of your body weight in a straight line behind your punch. That means that the wrist, elbow, and shoulder are all in line.
  • Your rear hand is kept up high for protection.
  • Your rear elbow is kept in close to protect your rib cage.

Make note of your shoulder position;

Most beginners throw their jab straight out, which is great, but they neglect to raise their shoulder as the jab. That leaves their head totally exposed to counter shots.

  • When you throw your jab make certain that your shoulder comes up high enough to protect your chin.

Notice how vulnerable the head becomes when the shoulder is not raised up.

Foot position;


  • Your feet should be diagonally apart. If your feet remain in a straight line, you will have limited balance and limited ability to rotate your hips to produce force.
  • Keep your feet slightly wider than shoulder width and have an even weight distribution between both legs.
  • The power for the jab is generated by the rotation of the hips and core as you punch.
  • Try to keep your rear heel up. Having the rear heel raised will enable you to push off of the floor using the ball of your foot and explode forward, increasing the range of your jab. It will also enable you to easily rotate your hips so that you can generate the maximum amount of force for your jab.

Jab to the body;

  • You don’t want to reach down to jab to the body as the angle of your arm will leave your head totally exposed.
  • Switch levels to jab to the body by bending your legs. That will have the jab traveling at a straighter angle towards the target which will allow your shoulder to remain high to protect your chin. This will also allow you to get under your opponent’s incoming punches so that you can land your jab.

The jab is a range finder:

Everything works off of the jab and it sets up all of your other punches. Remember that the jab is the safest punch that you can throw and thus it is often used to divert the opponent’s attention as you get within punching range. If you can touch your opponent with the jab then you can use a rotational movement of your core to extend your reach and land power punches using the rear hand. The moral of the story is that if you can reach your opponent with your jab then you can crush him with a follow-up cross, hook, uppercut or body shot.

Finally, even though the jab is the most energy efficient punch that you can throw, it still does not always need to be thrown hard. The jab is often thrown light and quick to create an opening by diverting your opponent’s attention.

Are you more of a visual person? Then click on the link below to watch this video.

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