January 16, 2020 • DrillsOffenseWinning Hoops

‘Jab’ series builds footwork for perimeter scoring opportunities

by Mike Hyman, contributing writer

Coaches constantly search for more scoring opportunities from their offense’s perimeter players. Most scoring comes from set offensive patterns involving screens, quick ball movement to free up perimeter scorers, or penetration with kick outs. Another effective way to add scoring threats against on-the-ball defenders is through the “Jab” series.

Although the Jab series principles are simple, many players initially struggle with the footwork. Once the footwork is mastered, players find the Jab series a simple and effective offensive weapon.

player shooting
Photo: University of Fraser Valley

The Jab series serves two basic purposes:

  • Create space between a perimeter player and an on-the-ball defender.
  • Draw a commitment from the on-the-ball defender.

Depending on how the defender reacts to the jab step, the following three Jab series moves may be implemented.

Jab and shoot

Once a perimeter player receives a pass, they should immediately establish a “triple-threat” position that maintains a consistent, permanent pivot foot. From this position, a hard quick shot fake and jab step (12 to 18 inches) forces a defender into either a retreating to defend a perceived intent to drive, or a commitment to defend the shot.

If the defensive player retreats, the offensive player can easily draw back the jab step and reset into a comfortable shooting stance before releasing the jump shot.

Jab and go

From the triple-threat position, the offensive player offers the same shot fake and jab-step previously described. If the defender steps toward the offensive player or opens up too much, the jab-and-go may be used. From the jab position, the offensive player can extend the jab step with a simultaneous dribble.

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This creates an opportunity to explode past an overcommitting defender with the off-hand providing ball protection. On an overcommitment, the offensive player should go toward the defender’s shoulder to get past or to draw a foul.

Jab and crossover

The jab and crossover is used if the defensive player overcommits to the ball side. From the jab position, the offensive player swings the ball to the other hand below the knee level while extending the jab step across the defender (pinning the defender to the offensive player’s hip). The offensive player can then protect the ball with the offhand and set the “pin” with the step across the defender.

Common errors

Here are some of the common mistakes players make with the Jab series.

  • Poor shot fake and jab step.
  • Failing to maintain a permanent pivot foot. This results in a lack of balance with the jab-and-shoot.
  • Over-extending the jab step. This results in a lack of balance with the jab-and-shoot and jab-and-crossover.
  • Pulling back the jab step instead of extending off of it. This allows the defender to re-establish defensive position and, as a result, defeats the purpose of that initial jab step.
  • Extending the jab step too wide with the jab-and-go. This allows the defender to recover laterally and reestablish defensive position.

Teaching the basics 

The principles and footwork utilized with the Jab series should be taught at an early age. The idea of using a strong offensive stance predicated on the permanent pivot foot and triple-threat position sets the foundation for good footwork.

The actual footwork and reading of the defense may take longer to master at younger ages, but it creates confidence in the younger offensive player. Coaches who take the time to instruct these basics will be grateful for the results.