The Boxing Jab – Get Control with the Perfect Punch!

by Fran on January 28, 2010

About the Boxing Jab

Before looking at the video, ensure that you have understood the boxing stance.  After looking at the video, be sure to read about the mechanics of the boxing jab and leave a comment!

The boxing jab is the boxer’s most important punch.  The jab allows the boxer to control an opponent, be it on the attack or on the defensive.  The jab provides a main method of commencing an attack and is consistently proven as a fight winner.  Few things are more demoralising to an opponent as being continually popped in the face with a fast, accurate and well-timed jab.

Whilst we can talk about a fast and accurate jab, it’s surprising how many boxers allow bad habits to creep in when using the jab.  As mentioned, if the jab is thrown correctly it’s a winner.  On the other hand, if it isn’t deployed appropriately then it’s a key ‘chink in the armour’ that will more often than not lead to a flattened nose and an abject feeling of defeat!

The Mechanics of the Boxing Jab

The mechanics of the punch can be explained as follows:

  1. From the boxing stance, the first action is a push from the front foot which in turn rotates the upper-body slightly so that the hips and shoulders will align with the opponent.
  2. As the rotation is taking place, the lead arm is thrust out, ensuring that the lead arm elbow follows the same line as the fist i.e. there is no lateral movement of the elbow at all, whatsoever!
  3. As the lead arm is moving towards the target it accelerates.  As the fist approaches the target (having covered about 75% of the distance to the target) it rotates inwards, so that the palm is facing down towards the floor.  At the last moment, the fist clenches and ‘snaps’ on to the target.
  4. The fist returns along the same line as before, returning to the ‘home’ position as per the stance.

Common Faults with the Boxing Jab

There are a number of common problems that can occur when throwing a jab:

  1. There is an urge to try and hit too hard.  The desire to throw the punch hard often results in the boxer’s weight transferring to the front leg.  This has the effect of impairing the balance and making you very vulnerable to counter-attack.  Remember, the jab will often be thrown as you move forward, so throwing the weight onto the front leg is very high risk!
  2. The punch is ‘telegraphed’, or tell-tale movement before the punch begins it’s journey.  These movements are often the elbow lifting to the side or the fist dropping slightly, both of which are dead giveaways.
  3. The boxer allows the punch to become an upper-body movement.  Ensure that the rotation of the upper-body is generated by the push from the front leg.

And that’s about it really.  A good, reliable jab is worth it’s weight in gold.  I suspect that if you asked any competing boxer which hand he or she would rather do without, it would be the non-jabbing hand even though this is the physically stronger arm.  I think that the trick is not to take the jab for granted.  Use a mirror to ensure that none of the common faults are creeping into the shot.  Once an opponent ‘makes’ your jab, then the chances of coming out on top at the end of the fight are minimal!  As a basic next step, follow the jab up with a nice straight right cross as these shots combined form the ‘meat and drink’ of the competing boxer.  The article on boxing footwork – moving in and out will also help.

Cheers

Fran

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{ 57 comments… read them below or add one }

Tyler July 8, 2010 at 10:42 pm

Great video! It has helped me end the habit of allowing my weight to come forward on to my front leg during the jab; something my coach has been trying to get me to stop. Keep up the good work!

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burim July 28, 2010 at 7:46 pm

thanks

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burim October 1, 2010 at 10:35 pm

what about Jab variations? Speed jabs, power jabs, up jabs. A video explaining these variations would be Fantastic Coach Fran. Again, thanks :D

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Fran October 6, 2010 at 8:56 pm

Hey Burim

Nice to hear from you again. I’ll put some thoughts down on a post over this issue of multiple jabs. I tend to be quite traditional in this area as I feel that these differing jabs can be explained through conventional means. A for instance on this, the up jab is in fact what I would describe as a long range left uppercut.

Keep watching!

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aidan October 18, 2010 at 6:27 am

Great site!! I’m learning so much from you.
Thanks for sharing your wealth of knowledge.

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Reeno November 10, 2010 at 10:50 pm

Hi Fran,

Can you please explain how do you move forward and jab?

The weight goes to front foot wen you move forward but than it goes back to back foot when you jab?

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Fran November 12, 2010 at 10:36 pm

Hey Reeno

It’s a good question. Try to avoid putting your weight onto the front leg at any point during the jab on the attack. the problem with transferring the weight onto the front leg is that you can give extra power to any shots coming back at you. Try to keep the body weight central and then on the back leg as the jab lands. Remember also that you want your move forward to be very short, 2-3 inches maybe. This takes you from the ‘edge of range’ to long range and makes the attack much more efficient and more likely to succeed.

Thanks for the question Reeno. If my answer doesn’t quite clear things up, let me know and I’ll see if I can help further.

Cheers

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Reeno November 14, 2010 at 9:02 pm

Hi Fran,

Yeah I get it small steps keeping that weight balanced….steps to practice without punching I guess..

Fran you have no idea how much you’ve helped me. I was taught that the weight goes to front foot and it just didn’t felt right.

I noticed that when jabbing my back leg actually turns my body counter-clockwise just before the shot lands which makes my lead hand as a whip.

It also prevents elbow hyper extension.

Thanks Fran my shots hear and feel right now!

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Fran November 15, 2010 at 10:28 pm

Reeno

I’m really glad that you find the site of use and I hope that you continue to find it helpful as we move forward!

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Dave August 7, 2011 at 11:51 am

Heya, Fran.

I’d just like to ask a simple question- when I’m “pushing” with the front leg, it doesn’t really feel like a… push. My hips turn really quickly, but the push doesn’t feel like one, probably because I’m keeping my weight centred. Is that normal?

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Fran August 7, 2011 at 6:36 pm

Sounds just about perfect Dave, like the rotation is working really effectively.

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Dave August 9, 2011 at 1:01 pm

Also, Fran, I’d just like to ask- when I throw the jab ala your instructions (I have to be very mindful not to let my weight move forward!), I end up with a sort of “snapping” feeling in my elbow as if it’s hyper-extending. Now, from other people, I’ve heard that this is because I’m using too much arm motion, but it could also be an insufficient application of the explosive clenching of the hand.

Any advice?

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Fran August 9, 2011 at 8:34 pm

As long as you’re feeling no pain Dave, you should be OK. If you begin to feel pain, then ease off both the acceleration and the snap. This won’t do any lasting technical harm, it’ll just make the pain go away. By the way, I’m guessing this only happens during shadow? You should not encounter such issues on the bag or during sparring (unless of course you miss the target!) Thanks Dave

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Anette August 10, 2011 at 5:10 pm

are you from the liverpool area?

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Fran August 10, 2011 at 9:06 pm

Hi Anette

Yes I am from the Liverpool area. It’s that accent that gives it away isn’t it!

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Dave August 11, 2011 at 9:03 pm

Another question, Fran- I’m sure you’re getting annoyed already. *grin*

In your movement videos, you mention that a slow and mechanical approach is best when you’re starting out for moving backwards and forwards and so on. Do you think that advice applies for punches? Practising them slowly so that you can feel each aspect of the movement and then speeding up?

I can see why this would work, but also why it wouldn’t- you wouldn’t have the explosiveness which is an essential part of the punch if you started out slow.

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Fran August 12, 2011 at 8:30 pm

Hey Dave, it’s never a chore :-)

Good question. You’re right, acceleration when punching is absolutely vital. We can work on punching at a slow speed, but really only to check the flow for yourself. In general, we want to work more at a competition speed. This said, when working on drills and we combine a number of skills, then it’s helpful to slow the punch down so that you can identify the common elements of each skill and how they should work. Sometimes boxers can have too high a punch rate during drills practice, so it’s always worth leaving a couple of seconds between each punch just to maintain quality.

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Gaz September 5, 2011 at 11:14 pm

Hello Fran. Just spent another 30 mins. on your site and am hoping to read/watch all in next few weeks. It’s great stuff man!
OK…when you teach stance to a pupil do YOU…..(personally) have them stand on your “taped cross on the floor” and have them learn from there? As in your video? I am wondering if I should put this in my gym. If you recommend, then what are the measurements of the tape? Any advice appreciated. I have never seen this instruction for stance before. Hope I am being clear.

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Fran September 6, 2011 at 7:35 pm

Hi Gaz

Glad you like the stuff. On the line thing, yes, I always work with that line. I’m fortunate in that our gym has small tiles on the floor in a grid pattern. this means that I can make a line anywhere without having tape. If you don’t have something similar, go with the tape. I tend to make it quite long, long enough for the boxer to do 3 or 4 moves forwards and backward. Depending on the height of the boxer, maybe a length of 5 or 6 foot. The tape that I use is decorating/masking tape. It’s cheap and come sup easily.

Thanks Gaz, hope this helps

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Brett September 19, 2011 at 12:40 am

Great video. I have always jabbed with a push off the back foot. I think this throws me off balance, putting too much weight forward. I like the twist off the lead foot. It seems this keeps your weight back, and gives you good length by snapping the back shoulder and hip back. Is is almost the same concept with the lead hook (with the foot and twist of the hips)?? Thanks!

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Fran September 19, 2011 at 8:24 pm

Thanks Brett. You spotted some key benefits of throwing a controlled jab. You are indeed maximizing the length of the shot (as the jab lands the shoulders are aligned perfectly with the arm) without over-committing. Finally, you are correct on the hook thing, it’s a very similar movement but all of the hooks (short, medium and long range), but with the arm shape determining the impact. Great comment Brett, glad the video helped.

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Dave November 13, 2011 at 1:34 am

Fran, another quick question:

In the jab, do you think you can over-rotate the hips? When I throw the jab as per the instructions given, my forward shoulder moves towards the target while my back should, predictably, retreats, taking my guarding hand with it. Is this over-rotation and something to worry about, or something I can just ignore?

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Fran November 14, 2011 at 9:30 pm

Don’t worry Dave. As long as that guarding hand stays in contact with the side of your face it’s doing it’s job. When the shot lands, you should have a perfect line going from your leading fist to to your furthest shoulder. Not sure you can actually over-rotate as such, so I wouldn’t be too concerned. Thanks for the question Dave.

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Dave December 16, 2011 at 12:51 pm

Hooray, more questions!

For someone just starting out and trying to build up the skill base, what do you think is more effective a target to be punching- the speedbag, or the bog standard heavy bag?

I can see the speedbag- just shooting out jabs every three rebounds- as a good way to get a lot of clean practice shots in.

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Fran December 16, 2011 at 9:12 pm

Heavy bag should be on every day use. The speed ball might help, but a far better option would be the floor to ceiling ball, also referred to as a double end bag. Works so many aspects of the boxer’s skills, just a great piece of kit.

Hooray indeed… :-)

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Dave December 16, 2011 at 11:55 pm

Could you do an article about using the double end bag, then, Fran?
I’d really appreciate it.

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Fran December 19, 2011 at 8:33 pm

We’ll see how it goes Dave. Could be while though, lots of other plans for early in the New Year.

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Craig February 10, 2012 at 10:04 am

Great site, im learning alot thank you verry much im learning alot and fixing bad habbits. i have two questions, the jab and cross, are they mainly long range shots for the most part? also the long range hook and upper cut when using those is that mainly to open a fighter up to step in middle or short range combos as well as stop a fighter from rushing and chaseing you down?

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Fran February 12, 2012 at 5:59 pm

Craig. Thank you for the question. Yes, the jab and the cross are long range shots. The long range work (including the uppercuts/hooks) is for whatever you want it to be for. Either of the scenarios that you describe fit the bill perfectly. Boxing is about dominating your space (and anyone in it). Long range shots are a great way of asserting dominance. Thanks mate.

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craig February 12, 2012 at 9:48 pm

Fran. Thank you verry much this site has helped me so much mostly in the ring where it counts. your the man!

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Fran February 14, 2012 at 6:28 pm

You’re very welcome Craig.

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keith June 29, 2012 at 6:35 pm

I videod my sparring session last week and noticed that my jab was a bit limp. To try and rectify this I have tried to pull from my right shoulder (in addition to the push/rotate from the left foot) and find that the jab is naturally snappy. Does anyone else consciously pull the right shoulder?

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Fran July 1, 2012 at 9:03 pm

I do use this technique to get a point across Keith, usually if the boxer simply isn’t getting that rotation. It allows them to focus on something different to overcome the barrier. Perfectly helpful and sensible way to make in improvement.

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Keith July 6, 2012 at 6:21 pm

I believe that your videos are excellent in helping to identify faults in a boxer’s technique. The push/rotate from the left foot automatically pulls your right shoulder back and makes a world of difference to the ‘snapness’ of the jab. I had neglected the left foot rotation but worked on it last week on the bag and noticed a big difference in sparring last week.
Key lesson – faults/weaknesses most often arise due to neglect of the basics.

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Fran July 6, 2012 at 9:21 pm

Thanks Keith. Great to get instant results like that, well done. Being consistent in applying the basics is a real key to success.

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Roland May 15, 2013 at 5:11 am

Keith,
just recently while practicing my jab in front of the mirror I realized that it does become naturally snappy when the right shoulder is almost aligned on the same plane as your jab (as your leading arm extends out) !

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Cohan November 28, 2012 at 10:16 pm

Great Videos, i have recently started boxing after being an admirer of the sport for a long time. Its great to have someone give you a step by step break down of the techniques used.

I have found that outlining the common faults is very beneficial for perfecting your technique.

keep up the great work mate.

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Fran November 30, 2012 at 7:00 pm

Thanks Cohan. Wlecome to the site and I hope that you continue to find the material helpful.

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Luc January 22, 2013 at 8:09 am

What are your thoughts on pushing off the rear foot to pick up distance and add your weight / more power to your jab?

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Fran January 24, 2013 at 8:39 pm

Hi Luc

Thanks for the question. I like to think of it as combining 2 skills, the jab and the move forward. You can also widen the stance momentarily to get the same effect. Really as long as your body weight doesn’t go ‘over’ your front leg then all is good.

Thanks Luc, hope the response helps.

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Roland May 9, 2013 at 6:01 am

Dear Fran,
Recently, I’ve been reading Jack Dempsey’s book on “Aggressive Defense” and he mentioned a great deal about throwing straight jolt with your palm facing inward (and how it can knock out an opponent). This is quite different from the kind of jab we learn today, because I’m been told to turn my wrist/palm downward as I shoot out my left arm, in fact, I’ve been practicing this jab for a couple of months already. However, my question is, with the contemporary jab that we’re learning, is it possible to develop the same type of striking power like that of Dempsey’s straight jolt (long range) simply from a jab ?
P.S. My boxing coach once told me that jab shouldn’t be underestimated as a tapping throw, but it can actually bring down your opponent.
What’s your say on this matter ? I’d really like to hear it from you and thank you for hosting this great free website for all levels of learners to post/write you their concerns !
-ROland

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Fran May 10, 2013 at 7:23 pm

Hey Roland

Very nice question! Believe, as a boxer I saw stars plenty of times from a jab to my face. It’s a strong punch (and the most important punch to master), but is not a knockout punch as such. Then again, straight shots generally aren’t knockout punches. It mostly hooks that result in KOs. The way to maximize the power though is to use an inside slip before the jab, that gives extra leverage.

By the way, I love watching old Jack Dempsey fights. His intensity was absolutely incredible. Very, very tough man.

Thanks Roland

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Roland May 15, 2013 at 5:05 am

Thank you Fran,
That really answered my question. So I guess it’d be fair to say that, a jab when developed to its full potential would have a stunning effect, but not to the point of a knock out then ?
On a side note, when you give a reply to our inquiries will be be notified by the email you registered here or should we come to check it ourselves ? thanks again Fran !
-Roland

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Fran May 17, 2013 at 7:05 pm

Thanks Roland, glad it helped. I’m sure that as long as you place yur email address in the box (no other users can see it), then you get a notification.

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Anonymous April 29, 2014 at 11:10 am

Itz amazing

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Fran May 1, 2014 at 8:38 pm

Thanks

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darwish May 23, 2014 at 3:17 pm

very valuable vedeos
i have really got benefeted from you
thank u a lot

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Fran May 23, 2014 at 8:41 pm

Thank you Darwish, I am happy that the videos help.

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Steven June 27, 2014 at 1:36 am

Great video and great teaching. Helps much. I know I am being greedy, but any chance the sale ends on Sunday?

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Fran June 27, 2014 at 8:11 pm

Thanks Steven. I’ve sent you an email.

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Anonymous July 9, 2014 at 4:10 pm

i’ve been told to always step with the lead foot when you jab, even if it is just a small step. what is your opinion on this advice?

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Fran July 18, 2014 at 8:19 pm

there are a few ways to combine the feet with the jab. A push forward is always a good thing to do!

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Alfonso November 13, 2014 at 12:29 pm

Many thanks Fran for the excellent deconstruction and analysis and then reconstruction of allegedly the simplest punch in boxing! I especially like the turning of the lead hip when throwing the jab to maximise power and reach.

One question springs to mind though. You’re very often going to be moving forward when you’re throwing the jab, so do you still turn the lead hip in this situation? I’m guessing it may be difficult to turn the hip and move forward at the same time? Or do you just need to practice it alot? Thanks in advance.

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Fran November 18, 2014 at 9:12 pm

Thanks for the comment and question. When ‘full speed’ jabbing and moving forward you shouldn’t get fixated on the trigger of the front foot to rotate the hip. Practice it at drill speed and it will improve the full speed version.

Hope this helps

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Alfonso November 19, 2014 at 6:04 am

Thanks Fran. So just to be clear, you should endeavour to turn the hip when throwing the jab regardless of whether you’re moving forwards, backwards or even sideways?

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Fran November 24, 2014 at 9:30 pm

Yep, that’s it. Maximises both range and power.

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Alfonso November 25, 2014 at 6:41 am

Many thanks Fran. One last thing please, I notice you also emphasise moving one’s weight onto one’s back foot as you throw the jab. And do this by flexing the back leg which is a pretty neat way to check that you are actually doing it properly.

So back to jabbing and moving forward again! To move forward you must push off the back foot and one’s weight naturally moves to one’s front foot. So is it really possible to move forward while throwing a jab and still keep the weight on the back foot?

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