Next time you are in a sparring session consider how often you throw the jab in contrast to how often you throw crosses, hooks, uppercuts etc. This will give you some idea how important a weapon the jab is in your armoury; try to think of it as a spear, thrust like a bayonet at your opponent, never merely a prod or a limp pawing action. The jab gets you into the action, working as a set-up punch for its big ugly brothers the cross, hook and uppercut, but it also gets you out of trouble when the going gets hard.
The best way to develop a devastating jab is to continually work on your technique, trying to improve power and accuracy, I hope the following drills may help you develop a fearsome jab.
1. A few 1-2 minute rounds on the heavy bag using only your jab. Hit the bag as it swings towards you helps to increase power. Aim waist high as well as head high, never underestimate the value of a solid jab to the body.
2. A few rounds of pad-work using only the jab but getting your partner to make you jab going forward and backward, high and low.
3. Imagine you are going to punch not “to” the target, but “through” it, a rehearsal for those times your opponent is unreasonable enough to retract their head from the incoming punch.
4. Get somebody to watch you working the bag and the pads to see if you are using a fully extended jabbing arm; jabbing with a bent arm will serve to diminish your reach, and if your arms are as short as mine, this is unwise.
5. Work a few rounds on the floor-to-ceiling ball as it will help to improve your accuracy, don’t worry about missing it frequently, everybody does initially – you only get better at judging its erratic movement.
6. Reinforce the basic ingredients of the jab, sliding the front foot forward as you drive forcefully off the ball of the rear foot, hitting with a slightly downward action to ensure you make contact with the rear knuckles (the hardest part of the hand).
The main let-downs of jabbing are letting the back foot lift off the floor (looking like Eros at Piccadilly Circus) or over-reaching (letting the shoulders get ahead of the hips). Remember never leave your backside behind and you won’t lose power.
Happy jabbing, Ian