How to Throw a Jab
It is our opinion that fundamental boxing begins with learning the proper stance and footwork, as this will set the foundation for anything you do. For more about these techniques, please refer to our page about boxing shoes, where we have included lots of of footwork tips, too!
***Note: For all of the following instructions, we will be using the conventional stance as reference (left hand and foot in front). For southpaw fighters, simply perform the opposite.
Remember, landing punches isn’t the only thing you need to do in order to win a boxing match. One of the most critical, yet surprisingly difficult, aspects of the sport is solid defense, and keeping your hands up is one of the best ways to ensure you don’t get hit.
First, begin in a proper stationary stance. A mirror is extremely beneficial in this situation. You will want to have your chin tucked down and your left hand around in line with your left temple but a little further out in front. Your right hand will be in a similar position, but obviously on the right side of your head and further back, more flush with the side of your head. If you are standing on a proper angle, your left hand should be further forward than your right hand.
One thing that is extremely easy to forget is to keep your elbows in by your side. This will help protect you from big body shots. If your hands are in the proper location and your elbows are by your sides, someone should be able to throw punches at you coming from the sides, but not be able to land anything. A good way to check this is by having someone throw on a pair of focus mitts and basically slap you silly on both the left and right sides of your body and head. It’s extremely easy to tense up in this situation, but if you are able to relax and maintain proper positioning, you should be able to absorb all these punches along your arms and back of your gloves while still being relaxed.
Throwing the Jab
Once you have gotten tot he point where you are comfortable in naturally maintaining this position, the hardest part is over. The movement itself is pretty simple. All you will need to do is extend your elbow in a punching motion, but make sure not to swing your arm out, but instead keep it in a straight path.
Additionally, the palm of your hand should be pointing towards the floor when your fist strikes the target. This should all occur in one fluid motion throughout the punch. Keep your wrist locked, but as your fist moves away from your body, your arm should turn inwards, allowing the palm to face downwards.
If you perform the motion slowly and pause when your arm is fully extended, your chin should still be tucked down and protected by your shoulder. Check out the video below, which I found to be a quick and excellent demonstration of the proper motion:
When bringing your fist back, the fact that you will want to end up in the same position it started in (near the left temple of your head for protection) should allow the motion to feel natural.
If you find you’re being overwhelmed with too many fine details of throwing a punch, I found that merely focusing on keeping my elbow tight to my side allowed me to throw a pretty good jab when I was first learning. Then, anything else after that is fine-tuning that will be easier to focus on. That being said, everyone learns differently. If you find you are consistently having problems, it could be beneficial to seek one-on-one advice from a boxing trainer, even if it’s just for one session.
Important Things to Keep in Mind
If you are new to the sports, the most important thing to keep in mind is that you don’t stray from the fundamentals. These would be the following:
1. Stance. Remember, knees bent, balls of the beet, feet slightly apart, and body on angle. It is important this becomes natural.
2. Footwork. Always be solid. Never have your feet together, but not too far apart you can’t be mobile.
3. KEEP YOUR HANDS UP. Even if you are far away from sparring, this will ensure you are well prepared. Keeping your hands up can be really tough, but it will provide you with great conditioning and an excellent base to continue building your skill set.
4. When focusing on the jab in particular, keep the elbow in and bring your hands back where they started. It’s so easy to bring back your fist lower than it was previously without even knowing, and this is something absolutely everyone battles with. If you get good at it, you’re already doing extremely well.
It’s not uncommon for fighters to advance to the professional level, start out fairly well and get comfortable, and then end up seeing a decline in their performance. This often happens because they slowly begin developing their own personal style, which can be great, but if the fundamentals become too compromised there can be trouble.
Increasing Speed and Power of Your Jab
In all honesty, don’t worry too much about this until you become an advanced boxer. Your speed and power will increase naturally as you learn the proper technique and become more comfortable with it.
Often times people think that lifting weights and bulking up can help with this. In some instances this may be true, but it rarely applies to boxing, especially since you are supposed to be matching up with people in the same weight class.
In any case, if you are looking for something a little extra, try shadow boxing with very light weights, like 1 pound in each hand. This will still allow you to focus on technique without cheating, but will also provide you with a little extra conditioning.
Overall, technique, technique, technique. If you focus on this, the conditioning will naturally follow, and before you know it you’ll be a true striker.