Different Types Of Jabs In Boxing

Ali delivers a stiff jab Vancouver boxing gym


Many coaches will tell you the fight is won and lost with the jab. It puzzles many students, as what is seen as the weakest punch in terms of power is the foundation of a well-rounded boxer.

Throughout the development of this one punch, an athlete learns instinctive defense, in-ring comfort and safety as well as used to set up bigger punches. 

This one punch can be utilized and disguised in many ways, aiding fighters to victory in a multitude of ways. What is lost on many students, is they already carry the ability, even using these gifts in training, without acknowledging it themselves.

The jab can be used in hundreds of ways, but in this article, we will look at five of the more commonly used jabs and how best to execute in the ring.


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The Standing Jab

Typically, the first punch learned by a boxer, the standing jab is often used as the starting punch in combination. To turn power in the punch it is thrown shifting weight from back foot to front, but the feet stay stationary.

The reason this punch is taught in early development is because it teaches the basics of weight transferring to work the rest of your punches.

Not only is throwing a standing jab is a good start to a combination, it is a punch that you can stay defensively responsible with relative ease.

The fallback of using this jab too often is, unless it is followed up in combination you can find your opponents catching you flat footed or standing still as it is a stationary punch.



Back jab

Without learning the basics of this punch, many boxers, especially pressure fighters, never learn to fight off the back foot with any punch, let alone the simplest one in the game.

The weight transfer and movement of the back jab is the same as the standing jab. Before turning the weight from back foot to front foot, the boxer will take a four to six inch step back, still turning the weight the same way as the standing jab but firing from a further distance.

The punch has two key positives. Due to the step back, the shot uses clever distance deception as an opponent can get lost lunging forward because their foe appears closer than they truly are.

Unless you properly turn your weight or follow up from the first jab your punches can be appear weak to the judges. This also risks a rough night, as a good aggressive fighter will be able to walk through a back jab if used to often or not executed properly.


Vancouver boxing jab


Step jab

While the back jab is used to keep distance from your opponent, the step jab is used in the opposite manner, thrown coming forward the punch is used to cut the distance, the punch that can be very successful catching up to an outside boxer in the ring.



To throw the punch successfully, one takes a step forward with the lead foot while transferring the weight from the back foot. The back foot follows into position and is planted once the weight transfers back following the punch. This will put you closer to your opponent without being a target for someone with longer punch range.

The step jab will not only help get a boxer into their punch range; the step also helps the jab generate more power. Once in range due to the jab, a boxer’s defense is less vulnerable than out of range prior to throwing.

Though the punch is a great weapon, it does pose risks. While stepping forward, a fighter can be caught off balance as you are in motion during the jab. The other fallback is the visibility of the step. If your steps are too large or the tactic is used to often, it can be quite easy for your opponent to read and avoid.


Vancouver boxing classes, Thomas Hearns jab
Thomas “The Hitman” Hearns delivers a stiff blow to his opponents face


Pivot jab:

Thrown in movement to take an angle on your foe. The punch is executed in motion, when the jab is thrown the front foot is pivoted to the outside. Once the punch is thrown the back foot follows as the arm comes back, keeping the boxer defensively responsible while giving them a lucrative angle against their opponent.

Due to the new angle taken, this punch gives a boxer a whole new world of options compared to other more traditional jabs.

Once landed and pivoted, cross and hooks are landed at ease due to the fact the opponent is off balance until adjusting their own angle. This also gives the option of staying out of the line of fire when looking to stay safe. 

The pivot jab is most used at the end of the combination, typically to get out of the way after getting work done.

Like the step jab, fighters can be in danger if caught off balance during execution. Another risk to keep in mind is the read from your opponent. Should your opponent read your intent, you are likely to be caught in no-man’s-land if still committed to the punch. 

Telephone pole jab

Used to time opponents on the way in, the telephone pole jab is often thrown as a counter punch. 

It is thrown from firmly planted feet.

Unlike the other jabs explained on this list, the weight is not transferred in extension. With weight firmly on the back foot, the jab is fully extended. This gives this punch the strength of your body which simulates a brick wall. 

Because you have all your weight behind it, the punch does not need to be thrown with intensity to yield good results and generate power.



The name, telephone pole jab, comes from the idea the solid stance it is thrown from simulates the punch being a ‘telephone pole’ to the face.

When landed, it is easy to follow up with or complete a jab-cross (1-2) combinations with success from the telephone pole jab.

The risks in throwing this jab is it leaves you stationary and an easier target when unsuccessful in the shot. The reason for it predominantly being a counter punch is because it is typically a slower punch and can be easily read if used to start an exchange.

There are literally dozens of interpretations and styles of the jab. It is up to the boxer themselves to find what works for them. Any used in training or a fight that is thrown with intent and purpose will often carry the foundations of these five examples. Next time you work your jab in training, be sure to think about what you’re throwing, why you chose it and how you will make it your own.