Having a fast jab is greatly beneficial for boxing. The jab is the most important punch in the sport as it is often used to dictate pace and authority, and is used for setting up harder punches. So its imperative that your jab is not only accurate but also fast.
However, many new boxers find it difficult to throw a jab with speed and proper technique. This often results in them either being slow or being incredibly telegraphed.
As is the case with anything, the main ingredient to having a lightning-fast jab is practice. But ensuring that you have the fundamental technique down to begin with is the best starting point. Think of jabbing like playing snooker, or fencing. It’s about efficiency and covering distance, simply throwing the jab from the correct position can massively reduce the time between you throwing a jab and it landing. From there, you can work independently to improve your handspeed and have a fast, smooth jab.
Relax Your Shoulders & Focus On Jab Technique
This is the point to start if you’re struggling with your jab speed. It’s very easy to become stiff when you’re trying to exert force in a particular way. But when you’re stiff even if you’re jabbing movement is relatively fast, your posture will likely deteriorate through the movement leaving you open. On top of that, the whole movement could also still be very slow due to telegraphing and trying to load up the punch.
I found the best way to work on the jab is to get into your stance, hold up your guard, and loosen your shoulders. Make sure your hand position is correct and your chin is tucked down nicely. Once, the initial position has been established, throw the jab nice and slowly. Visualize it connecting with your opponent and ensure that your knuckles turn over so that they are flat upon connection.
You also want to ensure that your lead shoulder protects your chin when you jab. If when you’re jabbing, your chin is coming out and getting exposed, you’re jabbing too quickly. Think of the Navy SEALs mantra: “Slow is smooth, and smooth is fast”. Just throwing the punch with the correct form will be greatly beneficial for speed further down the line.
To become fast, you first have to become smooth and accurate.
Practice Makes Perfect
Once you’ve established the technical aspect of the jab, you can start building up the speed. You can do this by shadowboxing, hitting the mitts, or hitting the bag. Generally speaking, having some resistance is good as it allows you to gauge distance and allows you to develop an intuition for how long it will take for your punch to land.
This takes a while but you literally have to throw your jab thousands of times to develop this speed. The small muscles in your body that are activated during this movement with strengthen over time and as the movement feels more and more natural, they will be able to twitch harder and faster.
At this point, you want to get your jab snapping. It should crack like a whip. This means adding a little power behind the punch so that it stings. The objective isn’t to develop it into a power jab which is something different entirely.
Our goal is to have a jab that will stun your opponent. To get this effect, you need to ensure that you’re getting full extension with the jab quickly retrieving once it lands. Now that you’ve got the movement dialed down, you can focus on adding a little more venom to the punch. This slight addition of power combined with the improved speed and technique will add that snap to your jab.
Add Jab Variations
Another incredibly important aspect of having a fast jab is being able to throw it with the same tenacity from various angles and positions. There’s no point in being a robot and throwing the same punch repeatedly as an intelligent boxer will understand this and adapt.
You need to create some variation in your jab attacks for the speed to be truly effective. Once you’ve mastered the basic jab, its worth adding some of these variants to your arsenal as it will keep your opponent guessing on what’s about to come next. Then you want to start from the beginning for each iteration of the jab by focusing on form and accuracy initially and then building the speed from there.
Step Jab: The step jab is an effective way to close distance and land. When you jab you want to step forward with your lead leg whilst ensuring that you’re still protected by your shoulder. When the jab lands, you want your rear foot to come forward so that you then assume a normal position.
Screw Jab: Using the screw jab is one of my favorite methods for disrupting rhythm. Its almost a mix of a jab and an uppercut. You want to land with your fist turned in and throw the jab the same while focusing on maximum extension and torque. This is quite an unconventional punch and won’t typically be taught in boxing gyms.
Body Jab: Jabbing to the body is another method of disrupting your opponent’s rhythm. It’s particularly good for getting your opponent to drop their hands if they have a very high guard. However, when jabbing at the body its important to ensure that your head and shoulders change levels as you jab so that your face isn’t open to being countered.
Jab Speed Strength & Conditioning Drills
Having a fast, strong jab is all about explosiveness and sometimes you need to focus on athleticism alongside technique. Listed below are some exercises that are good for improving your jab’s speed and explosiveness.
- Resistance Bands
- Medicine Ball Throws
- Plyometric Push Ups
- Jabbing The Heavy Bag
- Shadow Boxing
- Landmine Punches
Best Jabs In Boxing History
One of the best ways to improve your technique and learn new tricks in boxing is by watching tapes of high-level professionals from the past. Try to pick up on the nuances of their style and see if there’s anything you can take away and implement to make your jab better.
I’m not saying copy them, but just observe, and if there is something you notice that can be practically implemented, then its worth taking into consideration. Listed below are fighters with some of the best jabs in boxing history:
- Larry Holmes
- Lennox Lewis
- Joe Louis
- Sugar Ray Robinson
- Muhammad Ali
- Tommy Hearns
- Sonny Liston
- Marvin Hagler
- Wladimir Klitschko
- Sugar Ray Leonard