In any given 1-on-1 situation whether it is on the block, at the high post or out on the perimeter; who has the distinct advantage? Most would agree that 95% of the time the advantage belongs to the offensive player. Why?
Well, there are two factors that give the offensive player the advantage. First, because the offensive player is the one with the basketball they are also the one in control of dictating the action. As a result, the defensive player is trying to constantly react to the offensive player's movements.
With that being said the offensive player should have at least a half step on his opponent which gives him a slight advantage. Second, there are several techniques that when mastered make reading the defense a piece of cake. Once again these techniques give the offense a tremendous advantage when trying to score the basketball.
The technique that I want to talk about today is the jab step. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the jab step, the jab step is a hard half-step towards the basket that is designed to force the defender to react. Based on the defender's reaction a "counter" or "read" is then performed by the offensive player which hopefully propels him to a high percentage scoring position.
Although it sounds simple, jab steps are ineffective for many players of all levels of competition. Here are 3 mistakes players make that limit the effectiveness of their jab:
1. Lateral Jabbing
Perhaps the biggest mistake athletes make is jabbing laterally instead of directly toward the basket. As mentioned above, the sole purpose of a jab step is to force the defender to react. From a defensive perspective, the only time a defender is forced to react is when there is a direct threat to score. A player who jabs laterally is not being a direct threat to score and so is not forcing for the defender to react. If the defender isn't reacting then the jab step is useless!
2. Having a BIG Jab Step
This next blunder is extremely prevalent with younger athletes. When athletes are first learning about the jab step they have tendency to over-exaggerate the jab itself by taking too big of an initial step. When this happens your entire foot will be in contact with the ground in order to try and keep your body on balanced. While this is desirable during most normal, everyday movements, when trying to be explosive and quick this is a bad thing and needs to be avoided! As an athlete you are most explosive when you are on your toes and a smaller step is required to accomplish that.
To help athletes remember this I have created a simple saying that merely states, "little step, big step." It means that in order to beat your defender your initial jab should be a little step (less than 18 inches) followed by a big explosive step towards the basket.
3. Unable to Jab with Both Feet
Most of us we are born with either a dominant right or left hand. Very few of us are born with the ability to perform functions equally with both hands. The same concept applies with our feet as well. It is only natural that we are more comfortable jabbing with either our right or left foot. However, if you can't jab with both feet you are immediately 50% less effective than those who can!
That means you're losing out on half of your total scoring opportunities! Do yourself a favor and become a master at jabbing with both feet! You'll become an even bigger threat to the defense, will score more points, and will become a much more complete player.