Football is littered with specialized terminology. From punt gunner to climbing the pocket, commentators rarely get to explain everything you need to know before the next play. Inside The Pylon’s glossary was developed to give fans a deeper understanding of the game through clear explanations, as well as image and video examples. Please contact us with any terms or phrases you’d like to know more about.
Jab Step (Kicking)
A jab step is a small step by a kicker used to begin his approach as the ball is snapped on a field goal or extra point. Rather than the traditional two-step approach where a kicker takes a full step with his kicking foot first, the jab step uses a half step with the eventual plant foot to start a kicker’s route to the ball. Jab steps have grown in popularity in recent years, as they had previously been frowned upon as an unnecessary movement that lengthened the snap-to-kick time. However, many kicking coaches have become proponents of the jab step, as it helps to create a more natural motion for some kickers, and has also been shown to have a negligible effect on snap-to-kick times.
The setup for many kickers after stepping off their approach is a diagonal angle to the kick with their plant foot slightly ahead of their kicking foot:
Above, Duke’s Ross Martin sets up in this position, with his left foot approximately six inches in front of his right. Rather than lifting his right foot as the ball is snapped, Martin takes a jab step with his left:
The length of this stride is 12-18 inches, and is used to gain momentum and produce a smooth start to his approach. Immediately following this step, Martin and other kickers who use the jab step will fall into the familiar two-step approach that has been used for decades, with regular strides of both legs heading into the plant and strike.
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Chuck Zodda wrote this entry. Follow Chuck on Twitter @ITP_ChuckZ.
All video and images courtesy ESPN.