The jab is the most important punch in boxing. Three important factors include proper form, use as an offense tool, and use as defense. The proper form includes keeping both hands held high, stepping with the jab on the ball of the foot, keeping the shoulder level and the chin tucked in and down, and turning the fist to the 4 o’clock position at the last moment. The effective use of the jab for offense controls the opponent, sets up the opponent for power punches and combos, and measures the distance of the opponent for accurate distance and power. The boxer’s effective use of the jab as a defensive tool keeps the opponent off balance, disrupts his timing, and keeps him at a distance if he becomes hurt.
The key to delivering the most effective jab is proper form. A boxer must keep his hands high and ready to throw a jab rather than deliver the jab from his waist which takes more time and loses the snap. The boxer steps with the lead foot, landing on the ball of the foot so that the step is smoother and faster – in line with the punch. The chin should be tucked under the lead shoulder to protect from the counter punch over the jab. The last split second, however, is the key, when the jab turns inward to the 4 o’clock position. That last split second, if done correctly, gives the jab the majority of its power and snap. Boxing commentators, trainers, and fans constantly gripe about the lack of boxers with great jabs. A return to basics will help with that.
The jab is the boxer’s most effective offensive tool. Using a strong consistent jab puts the boxer in control of the opponent by putting the opponent where the boxer wants him. Nothing is as frustrating as being constantly hit by a jab and being unable to hit back. That fact has caused many boxers, even great ones, to quit . (see Roberto Duran v. Leonard II) The boxer then sets up the opponent for power punches and combos by placing the boxer where he wants him. At the same time, the boxer is measuring the distance of the opponent with the jab so that the power punches and combos land with the best leverage and power.
Using the jab for defense is almost forgotten. The boxer’s jab keeps the opponent off balance by snapping the opponent’s head back and having to constantly change footing and position. The jab should be constantly thrown and is most effective when the opponent steps. Once off balance, the opponent then loses his ability to time the boxer and finds it more difficult, if not impossible, to land a clean strong punch. (see Winky Wright schooling Felix Trinidad with the jab) If hurt, boxer reverts either to going toe-to-toe, running around the ring, or taking a knee, when using a double jab and feints would have been more effective. So practice, focus, and repeat the perfect jab until you get it right. Doing so will always pay off.