What is a Jab Step in Basketball! 4 Reasons WHY to use it!

2021-02-16

In the game of basketball it is really important to master the fundamentals, one of those is the jab step. But, before you get into the fancy stuff. And a lot of what some people don’t realize is that the fundamentals work just as good as the fancy stuff. 

Take the jab step for example.

It is a move that has been around forever and is still vital in many NBA All-Stars’ games. The jab step is used dozens of times in every game you will watch in the NBA.

Master the Jab Step. It is a good basketball move to learn!

The jab step at its core is a fake drive while in triple threat position. It is a move that can simply be done normally or it can be expanded on. This is something we’ll get to later in the blog.What is a Jab Step in Basketball? And When to use it?

The jab step is a move that you can only use before you put down your first dribble. Therefore is a move that is done while you are in triple threat. (Go look at our post about triple threat). 

Jab steps can be used on the perimeter by guards or in the post by bigs. It is a move that is great for any position to master and a good jab step will take your game to the next level by creating maximum space from your defender.

How to do a jab step in basketball?

The jab step is a good basketball move to learn and here we are going to break down how to do it.

If you are using your left foot as a pivot foot and you are in triple threat. The most basic way to do a jab step would be to move the ball from the left side of your body to the right side of your body.

While you are moving the ball from one side of the body to the other, your right foot should be taking a hard step at a 45 degree angle. 

These two moves should be done at the same time. Once you get comfortable with this movement, a good basketball jab step drill to use would be to constantly do one jab after another. After each jab, continuously come back to your normal triple threat position.

As you are doing this drill it is important to put an emphasis on how hard you are selling the jab step. The more assertively you sell the drive, the more space you will create in a game.

As you continuously get more comfortable with the move try expanding on it. Now, instead of moving just the ball, try and move your upper body with it. A good jab can be sold not only with your feet and the ball, but also with your shoulders and eyes. 

If I’m practicing my jab steep, I will take the jab step at a 45 degree angle. At the same time the ball and my shoulders will move with my foot, and my eyes will look in the same direction. 

This will force your defender to retreat, giving you more space!!

4 reasons to use a jab step

Create space 

Many basketball players at various levels of the game, college basketball, european basketball, and NBA basketball all use the jab step as a way to create space. 

In the NBA, Carmelo Anthony has had a very successful Hall of Fame career built off of his ability to use a jab step. Carmelo Anthony’s jab step is used because he is such a threat to shoot and drive in the mid post. 

Carmelo knows that he can do both of these at an elite level. He just needs to create as much space as possible from his defender to do so. Melo is able to pivot and jab with either foot, and he commonly uses crossbody jabs.

Cross body jabs are when you use your left foot as a pivot foot (or right if you go the other way), and bring your right foot over your left to act as if you are driving left. 

Melo uses a lot of force with all of his jabs to try and sell each move as much as possible. When Melo realizes how someone is guarding him (learning towards guarding the shot or drive); he takes full advantage and scores on them.

To misdirect the defender 

Another reason to use the jab step is to misdirect your defender. To make your defender think you are doing one thing or going one way and then go the opposite direction. 

Jimmy Butler does this very well with a move called the Rocker Step. A rocker step is just an advanced version of your jab step. 

Jimmy Butler is able to use this move to get his defenders leaning one way, or for his defenders just to freeze, and Jimmy will go the other way. 

To set up a move 

Sometimes players in the NBA just use jab steps so that it can set up the move that they really want to use. 

Say I keep jabbing you right one after the other, but I do it lazily so you don’t actually think I’m trying to get by you. Then I get into my real move. 

This is something that players like James Harden and Kyrie Irving do really well. James Harden jab steps are typically really slow to get defenders off guard. Then he will either blow by them or get into the famous James Harden step backs. 

To slow the game down 

This is one of the most important reasons why elite basketball players use jab steps. When a player uses a jab step it gives them time to think, it gives a play time to be run, and it slows the game down for the person with control of the ball. 

Many times players get overwhelmed and think that they have to dribble, shoot, or pass right away. When players have it in their mind that they want to use a jab step, it slows the game down and gives them time to think and evaluate their options. 

This is an important tool, especially for young basketball players learning the game. Many young players have a tendency to try and play too fast. They want to get from one thing to another, this allows them to still feel productive but not force anything.

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