How To Counter The Jab


The jab is the most commonly used punch in Boxing, often referred to the can opener, it allows you to set up any number of combinations as well as being an essential tool to finding your range and keeping your opponent at bay. Taller boxers will often use their jab to keep their shorter opposition out of range, using it almost like a fence, preventing anyone from stepping in past this fence. The jab is the most versatile and effective punch, to be an effective Boxer you must both learn how to throw the jab and how to counter the jab. In this article I will run through the most common counters to a jab.

1. The most basic counter to the jab, is to catch the opponents jab with your back hand, and then immediately fire your own jab back with your lead hand. For added effectiveness, step in with your jab when countering. Keep your back hand close to your chin, do not reach out with your glove trying to catch the jab as this can lead to you being feinted and caught with a different punch.

2. Parry the jab down with your lead hand, you are simply slapping the opponents glove down with a flick of your wrist and then in one motion going over the top and jabbing with your lead hand. Again, keep your lead hand close and do not extend it out trying to parry the jab to prevent feinting.

3. Slip outside of your opponents jab, and throw your right cross as the counter. This can be either slipping outside and immediately throwing the right cross with the feet in the same position or it can involve slipping outside and moving the back foot across to gain better positioning to then throw the right cross.

4. The cross counter. This requires great timing to pull off so only use this if your opponent is tiring and throwing lazy jabs or you have already got their timing down and know the jab is coming. This counter requires you throw the right cross over the top of their jab as they are throwing it to you. Throw the cross by ensuring your elbow is higher than your shoulder, you are dipping the opposite shoulder and your head is off center, this will make sure you have moved inside of their jab so it does not hit you. A very effective counter(as is number 3 because they are power shots)

5. The screw jab. When your opponent throws the jab, you must slip inside and return with the screw jab. The screw jab is delivered by turning the right shoulder(if you are an orthodox boxer) and then throwing the screw jab with the left hand, the palm will be facing up and it is delivered with an upward thrust with the aim of splitting your opponents guard and landing right down the middle. I would also recommend you step in with the screw jab as it is thrown.

Naseem Hamed demonstrates the screw jab

6. The shovel hook. Same as above this involves slipping inside of your opponents jab but throwing the left shovel hook(for orthodox boxers) to the liver or ribs. You can also throw the left hook if you are more comfortable with it. The shovel hook is a cross between two punches, the hook and the upper cut which is most commonly directed to the opponents body. It is thrown at a 45 degree angle, so if you imagine an upper cut which goes straight up and a hook which goes horizontally, the shovel hook would be thrown at an area somewhere between the two.

7. Parrying the jab with your rear hand and then throwing your cross. This is basically similar to counter no.2 above, except we’re switching hands, so instead of parrying the jab with your lead hand and throwing your jab over the top in one motion, we are now parrying the jab with the rear hand and throwing the cross over the top in one motion. Click here to see a video on how to defend and counter the double jab to see an example of this counter.


Different counters need to used when fighting Southpaw’s due to the difference in angles involved which means one counter may be better suited or another punch becomes a better option.

1. Above, at number two we mentioned the parry with the lead hand and coming over the top in one motion with your jab. This is an effective counter when fighting a southpaw because the angles have changed and works extremely well

2. Straight right to the body. When the southpaw throws their jab, you must have lead foot outside position, this will enable you to slip to the left(or outside of their jab) bending the knees whilst throwing the straight right hand to their body. By throwing their jab the southpaws flank is exposed perfectly for this counter.

3. Straight right to the head. Same as above(you won’t need to bend as much at the knees) but this time the right hand goes straight to the head. A counter which was made popular by Floyd Mayweather Jnr.

You can also check out one of my videos on how to fight a southpaw here and to see a video on how to throw the jab click here

There are a number of moves listed above to help you counter the jab. You will very likely settle into using one as your favourite counter but I would advise to mix it up, at the very least have two to three counters you use, this is to prevent becoming predictable with your counters. The same can be said for throwing the jab, don’t just use the same type of jab to hit an opponent and don’t just use the same counter to an opponents jab, keep them guessing and you will have better overall success.



About the Author Fayz

Boxing Coach Strength and Conditioning Coach Boxing Author of: The Boxing Cheat Sheet - Your Ultimate Guide to Ring Survival Strength and Conditioning for Boxing - Work out Hits to get you Fighting Fit! Forgotten Legends of the Ring - Ten Past Masters of the Squared Circle *Any videos or images used on this site to support my articles that are copyrighted are used in accordance to the fair use act and are not my own - all credit is due to the respective owners. No copyright infringement intended.

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