Improve Your Jab, Hit ‘em Where It Hurts!
Jabs are super important in a boxing match. The majority of punches thrown in your average boxing match are going to be jabs. These are used for several reasons. The primary purpose of the jab is to check the distance between you and your opponent. You jab lightly, then use your strong hand to deliver a punishing mega punch.
Even though the jab is used so frequently in boxing, and it is actually a pretty simple punch, many boxers have a hard time mastering it. It takes a lot of boxers years and years of hardcore practice to finally master an ultra-fast jab. This is no easy feat.
So, how can you train your jab? Follow these simple steps and you can be jabbing quicker and more effectively in no time.
The Shadow Boxer is King
Shadowboxing is effective for a reason. You can increase your speed, your accuracy, and your endurance. Not to mention it is a great way to form a solid technique. Since we want to increase the speed of our jab, we need to get our hands moving faster by shadowboxing. An excellent way of doing this is to make your fists feel lighter.
Try shadowboxing with weights. It is the same idea as wearing a weighted suit to make you faster. Punching an invisible enemy with weights in your hands means that your ordinary punch is going to speed up. The idea is that if you can punch lightning fast with a weighted fist, your ordinary fist is going to be even faster than lighting.
Just try it. You can even do it at home. Alternate between sets of two or three minutes. First, shadowbox with weighs in your fists, then shadowbox normally. I bet you will feel the difference pretty quick. Not only will you soon be able to punch faster than you could before, but your punching endurance will go up too. You’ll be able to jab all day.
Step & Jab
When practicing your jabs, you want to also practice your steps. This means stepping and jabbing at the same time. One of the reasons for this is that you are not generally close enough to your opponent to land a powerful jab. If you work on stepping forward to close the distance while jabbing at the same time, you will perform much quicker in a fight. It will become an automatic reaction.
Try using the double jab. Throw the first jab from an impossible distance, then instantly step forward with a stronger jab that you know is going to land. This is great because if the second jab lands, you are close enough now to throw a very strong punch.
These techniques can easily we practiced by yourself, just by stepping and jabbing and using a variety of footwork, thereby quickening your jab technique.
To perform a powerful stepping jab, step forward with your strong leg while you throw your punch. Even if you were out of reach before, taking that one step forward may put you into contact with your opponent. Because you are moving with your body, you are sending your jab out faster. Practice this move constantly to get it down right.
To stay springy and quick, stay relaxed. Do not keep your muscles tense, as it will slow down your jab and ultimately decrease your power. What I mean by this is that you shouldn’t keep your muscles tense in the moments before the jab. You do not need to be cocked and loaded to be effective, and you do not need to try throwing the hardest jab of your life.
By staying calm with your hands up and your muscles relaxed, you are perpetually ready to throw a blindingly fast jab that almost no one can stop. When working on maximum speed, you need to stay fluid and loose. Practice this when punching the bag, firing off fast and snappy jabs.
This is very similar to staying relaxed. You do not need to build momentum to jab faster or harder. Even if you have mastered being relaxed, you can still get in the bad habit of loading your jab before punching. This is not a good idea, as almost any experienced boxer will recognize the move and know to get out of the way.
Again, stay fluid and stay springy. Practice launching your jabs with absolutely zero warning. Practice flipping your hand over at the end of the punch, not near the beginning. Do not flare your elbow before a jab. Practice instantaneous and unforeseeable jabs to help stay quick.
Accuracy & Timing
The best way to stay quick is to stay focused. Work on your timing and accuracy. If you can hit your target 100% of the time with your jab, while firing it at just the right time, your speed is going to increase dramatically.
To do this, you need to work on your reaction time. If your reactions are too slow, you are never going to find the timing to land a perfect punch, which means your punches are going to lag. An easy way to improve your reaction time is with the speedbag.
Working with a speedbag will not only improve your timing and how well you react, but it will also improve your accuracy since you can hit the same object over and over again. This is critical. Even if you master the quickest jab ever seen by human eyes, if your timing sucks you will never strike your opponent at the right instance.
The same can be said for accuracy. Speed means nothing if you keep hitting your opponent in the shoulder or below the belt. You need to hit that sweet spot each and every time. To improve the overall speed of your jab, it is critical to master timing and accuracy.
At the end of the day, only practice makes perfect. Shadowbox constantly, work on your accuracy, perfect your timing, practice incorporating your steps into your jabs, and sooner or later you will get the hang of it. A good sparring partner will also help.