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5 Common Jab Step Mistakes


The jab step is one of the most powerful and lethal weapons an offensive player can have in his or her arsenal. When performed correctly, the jab step will allow an offensive player who is in triple threat and hasn’t used their dribble to essentially control their defender. The key phrase in the sentence above is “when performed correctly”. Because of its potential impact it is vital that players master this move while coaches become experts in teaching it.

This article was written to outline the 5 common jab step mistakes:


Jab Step Mistakes


Mistake #1: Not Knowing What a Jab Step Actually Is

For those of you who aren’t sure of what a jab step actually entails; it is a hard half step, made by an offensive player who is in triple threat and who hasn’t used their dribble, towards the basket designed to force the defender to react. Once the defender has reacted (remember not reacting is a form of reaction), the offensive player will then take another big step (the correct counter move) in hopes of beating their man.

From this definition we now know that there are actually two steps involved in the “jab step”. The first is intended to cause a reaction and is typically referred to as the “jab”, the second is what I call an “explosion step” in which the offensive player uses to explode by their defender based on their “read”.

Mistake #2: Side-to-Side Jabbing

Going back to the definition of a jab step, the sole purpose of a jab step is to get your defender to react. Now I want you to think from a defender’s perspective. The only time you need to react is when an offensive player is a threat to attack the basket. Therefore, if your jab step is more of a lateral step which is away from basket rather than a direct step towards the basket, a good defender will either not react entirely or react in a lesser way making it harder for the offensive player take advantage of the mishap.

Mistake #3: Jab and Retreat

Another blunder that I see all the time is when athletes jab and retreat back to triple threat before taking their explosion step. The more movement between the offensive player’s jab and explosion step, the more time the defender has to recover. The window for to beat your defender is small and needs to be taken advantage of as soon as the defender reacts!

Mistake #4: Having a BIG Jab Step and LITTLE Explosion Step

The next mistake is when athletes have too big of a jab step. This mistake is especially magnified when an athlete is trying to jab-and-cross. There are three reasons for this: (1) As humans our strides are only so long. Therefore, there is a direct relationship between how big our first step is and how big our second step can be. The bigger our first step is, the short our second step can be and visa versa. (2) When a defender reacts they are only going to react between eight inches and a foot and a half. Depending on how tight they are defending you, if your step is to big, you will not be able to “cross” simply because there is no room between the defender and you. You would essentially be stepping through their body, which would more than likely be an offensive foul. The only way you could cross is by bringing your jab step back to triple threat and then back out, costing you precious seconds and giving your defender enough time to switch their stance and recover (3) the success of the move is going to be based on speed and power. If you take a big jab step, you  are overextended and therefore your next step will be less powerful. If your explosion is not powerful and quick you will not be able to blow past your defender.

Mistake #5: Not Being Able to Jab with Both Feet

Lastly, just as not being able to handle the ball with both hands limits your ability so does not being able to jab with both feet. If you can only jab with one foot, you immediately take away half of your scoring opportunities. This simply takes repetition to fix. A great way to get these valuable reps in is to incorporate them into your warmup. Instead of going out right away and shooting jump shots or jogging up and down the court to get warm, find a basket, spin the ball to yourself and get in triple threat, jab and explode then finish with a layup. After a few minutes you will not only find yourself warmed up but you will also get a few repetitions with your jab and finishes.

Written By Dave Stricklin

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