Talk about punches and power, and the hook punch leads the lot by a mile. Simply known as the mother of all knockout punches, a hook punch especially a left hook, if delivered correctly can spell doom on your opponent. Though it is not as hard to master as the jab, not everyone can throw an effective hook.
Joe Frazier and other boxing greats such as George Foreman used the hook to knock opponents out within seconds
Amateur boxers often brag about their hook capabilities and end up falling short. A couple of knockouts do not mean you’re the best HOOKer in town. You need to spend a considerable amount of time in learning and perfecting the art of hook punches. With the magnanimous power it possesses, you need to get the hook right. Why? you may ask. Because, if you don’t, you’ll end up wasting a tremendous amount of energy and might leave yourself vulnerable. You can throw a hook with both your hands, but generally, the rear hand is used.
The Legend of hook presents itself as a case study
These are not just words. But real-life experiences and events. We’ve witnessed legends like Joe Frazier, Nonito Donaire, Oscar De La Hoya, Felix Trinidad, and Miguel Cotto use to the hook guide to a great effect. If you’re a boxing nerd, you should go ahead and study these boxers in detail. They are the legends when it comes to throwing a hook punch. With that said, let us begin our guide by learning how to hook.
How to Hook?
You can throw the hook either by your lead arm or your trailing arm. The goal of the hook punch is to catch the opponent off-guard and create an opening for the second punch. Let us understand the process in detail through a step-wise guide:
- Understanding the Stance
- Understanding how to punch and where to punch
- Following up
1. Understanding the Stance
You cannot hook punch from any stance. You need to get yourself into a proper stance with your dominant foot behind. Here are the steps to get into the perfect stance:
- Boxing Stance: Ensure you’re standing with your legs aligned with your shoulders i.e. maintain the width. Followed by that, take your dominant foot a step backward. Angle it in sideways so you can pivot while punching. Keep your other foot straight, pointed towards your opponent. Your form is very important as it will help you stay mobile and deliver strong punches. If you’re left-handed, take half a step back with your left foot. Angle your foot sideways while planting your right foot ahead of you and vice-versa.
- Keep your posture straight: Don’t stand tilted. You want to stand up straight with your head up so you see everything in front of you. Size up your target and concentrate until you find an opening. While staying alert, you want to generate a full range of motion whilst maintaining a good posture to get maximum impact. During this step, you might feel like leaning forward or bending back. That’s a common mistake made by noobs. SO DO NOT DO THAT.
- Balance your weight: For an excellent hook, you want to go into the punch with a perfect weight. You can do so by bending your knees. Balancing your weight will help you to launch yourself when required and pounce on your opponent. Distribute the weight well between both the foot. Remember, if you put too much pressure on either leg, your hook won’t carry much power. Leaning forward will pull your body forward and make you susceptible to counters whereas leaning backward will take the power. So, you want to create perfect harmony.
- Maintain your guard: Regardless of how tempting an opening is or how terrific a punch you’re about to deliver, you should always maintain a high guard. It’s crucial to protect your face. To do so, keep both your fists in front of your face. Do not block your vision. Raise them, only till your mouth or nose level. You have to maintain the hard before you attempt the hook and after you’ve landed the hook.
- Stay in the range: Do not be crazy. Know your ring, know your distance. Before you’re about to throw the hook. Make sure you close the distance. Why? Because hooks are short-range punches. Staying close ensures that they have little to no room to block or counter. Leaning too much will result in telegraphing and thus your opponent will easily counter. Thus, don’t lean too forward.
- Keep your opponent’s stance in check: See and observe the parts your opponent isn’t guarding. You must target the chin or the temple if you want to knock him/her out. Furthermore, these two targets are easy to aim for and the blow is defining.
2. Understanding how to punch and where to punch
As learned before, the central idea is to connect with your opponent’s chin or temple. However, in tight circumstances, you must find ways to make the hook effective irrespective of the target. Thus, understand how and where to punch matters a lot under this circumstance.
- Lead Arm Role: Majority of the hooks are thrown from the front arm. For that reason, you need to spring it backward. Draw it back for the punch whilst keeping it parallel to the ground and your elbow bent. You can throw the hook with either hand, however, you must be cautious. Do not telegraph your punch. Either try using it in a combination or as an unexpected punch.
- Body Movement: The role of body movement in a hook is unparalleled. Since you need to throw the most powerful punch, you need to support it with your body. Doing so is simple, you must twist your body towards your non-punching hand. Since it’s a full-body punch, move your hand along with your hips and the lower body. Continue synchronizing your punches with your body movements.
- Arching: If you want to throw a defining hook, you want to move it in a tight arch. Pull your arm back and gather all the momentum before launching it forward. Do so by extending your arm and curving it towards the opponent. While punching, ensure that your arm is super close to your body as that will make the punch venomous. Keep your wrist straight and your position locked throughout.
- Dominant hand movement: Keep your punching arm down with your fist underneath your chin. This will help you create the room before you land the final blow. When you’re about to punch, make sure that you put your body behind the punch so to generate maximum force.
- Check your other arm & Pivot: Amateur boxers often mess up the movement. To ensure that your non-punching hand doesn’t intervene with your punching hand, keep it slightly down and close to the body. Hold the other arm as you would in a regular stance. Furthermore, just as you’re about to land the punch, pivot to punch through your opponent.
3. Post-punch and follow-up
A common mistake made by amateurs is that they fail to capitalize on the first shot. When you land a successful jab and sense an opening, go for the hook. Maintain your balance and go all hell lose on your opponent once you’ve landed the hook with combinations. However, don’t forget to hold a high guard while doing so. There’s no single type of hook, you can use a variety of hooks to follow up. What are these hooks? Let us understand through the points below:
Types of Hook punches
- Lead Body Hook: A lead body hook is a devastating hook punch, used to set up a combination. It is generally thrown at a 45-degree angle with an aim to dig upwards targeting your opponent’s kidneys. Fighters usually throw a straight punch post a lead hook wherein your body is angled towards the outward direction.
- Leaping Hook: A leaping or a leaping lead hook is used to target an opponent who’s out of range. The leaping hook demands fast movement, accuracy, and precision. Herein, you push your front foot to leap forward and land a hook at the same time. However, it’s risky and usually avoided as it can leave room for a devastating counter.
- Check Hook: As the name suggests, a check hook is to check your opponents. It is usually thrown when you’re backtracking against your opponent. You can do so by pivoting on your lead foot and swing 180-degrees to the outside. The motion is quite similar to a matador trying to move away from the attacking bull.
- Backstep Hook: Yet again, this hook is when you’re playing on a defensive front. Herein, you take a step back and then land the hook. It has a surprise element to it.
- Hook Uppercut: A crossover between a hook and the uppercut. Usually, it is targeted towards the opponent’s chin and it has a rising motion. To deliver a hook-uppercut, the elbow should be at a 45-degree angle while pointing downwards.
- Pullback Hook: A pullback hook is great when you want to defend and attack at the same time. It is usually orchestrated from a stationary position with your body tilted forwards. As you see your opponent move forward, you throw the hook and retract your body at the same time. Remember, not to tilt too forward or to retract too backward.
Common mistakes to avoid while throwing a hook
Incorrect Distance: Don’t throw the punch from far. You’ll make it way too predictable. A lot of beginners commit this mistake of throwing the hook from a long distance. Long distance means a longer time. Longer time translates to more room for your opponent to counter. A hook is a short, compact punch filled with speed and power. Though there are less effective wide loops, we don’t want to focus on that right now. Throwing a hook from a short distance will surprise your opponent and will carry way more power. Thus, get the distance right.
Not transferring the weight: A hook doesn’t just require your fist but your leg movement and your torso as well. All of this is required in perfect harmony to deliver a knockout blow. A common mistake is to mismanage the weight transfer. An explosive hook requires you to rack up the power starting from your base, moving towards your torso and going all the way to your upper body. Remember, if you are to deliver an explosive hook, you have to transfer the weight into the punch so you can punch through your opponent.
Dropping the guard: I would go all Mr. Beast and say this 100,000 times if I have to, “Do Not Drop your Guard”. Regardless of your hook abilities, if you cannot back it up with a defense, you’re going to get cracked up. This is a primal mistake made my most beginners wherein, they drop their guard as they are about to hook. You hand should be near your face, protecting your chin and temple at all times. Do not let your opponent crack you in a small window he/she gets and bring your hand back to defend as soon as you deliver the hook.
Overreaching: Do not hyperextend or overreach. It has disastrous consequences. You might end up hurting yourself and if that doesn’t happen, your opponent will do the honors on your behalf. Don’t become vulnerable and keep your hooks as tight as possible. Hooks should be tight, short, compact and yet powerful. If you’re out of range, get into the stance but do not land it unless you’re near your opponent.
Telegraphing by winding too much: Yes, you’re the De La Hoya in your camp. You have the most powerful hooks. However, do not get obsessed and put all your energy into it unless you’re sure. By winding too much, you end up telegraphing your punch which results in an easy attack or counter. As said earlier, keep your hooks powerful and compact in a tight range.
Not using combinations: Make it rain punches on your opponent. A hook generally follows a jab or a cross. Make sure to utilize a hook in a combination. It’ll make your opponent remember you for life. Ideally, you should through a hook post a jab and follow it up with a cross and an uppercut. However, there’s an nth number of combinations you can try. If you’re new and don’t know how to work combinations, you can check our combinations guide.
Undermining speed and accuracy: I’ve used the word power nearly 10 times in this blog. That doesn’t mean you should overlook speed and accuracy. Power shouldn’t be forced but speed and accuracy should be. If you apply to much power every time you hook, you’ll essentially drain out and have nothing left. So, play wisely.
Using Hook as a counter
There are numerous ways to use a hook as a counter. The simplest way is to duck or block your opponent’s punch and follow it up with a hook. You can even roll a punch and throw a hook at the same time similar to Frazier. When it comes to counter, you can do so in the following ways:
- Slip Counter: As the name suggests, a slipping counter requires you to slip your head outside your opponent’s jab and then land a straight punch. On the contrary, you can also slip inside and then land a hook. But moving inside leads you susceptible to damage. Furthermore, if your opponent’s guard is up, you might end up wasting your time and energy.
- Block Counter: Block counter can be activated with a high guard. Herein, you must catch a punch on a glove and quickly throw the hook with the same hand that got hit. However, you need to roll the punch and throw it from a midrange. This is a great technique to block and counter your opponent’s hook or overhand.
- Pull Counter: Pull back and release. It’s often seen in the movies. Herein, your opponent misses his punch when you pull your head backward and then follow it up with a straight punch. It’s a great counter against the single jab. However, you should not use it every now and then. Also, when pulling back, make sure not to pull back too far out as you’ll miss the range. If you’ve landed an ineffective pull counter, get back and hold your guard high.
- Duck Counter: While the pull counter implies you moving backward. A duck counter as the name suggests requires you bend your knees. Herein, you duck an incoming punch and throw your own hook. When you’re rising after ducking, ensure your chin’s down and your guard is up before throwing the hook.
- Roll Counter: Quite similar in nature to the block counter. A roll counter requires you to roll your opponent’s punch with the glove and throw a hook or an overhand simultaneously. However, you do need to take a hit to set up your counter, thus, it’s risky in nature. However, with proper rolling, you can minimize the impact.
- Prompt Counter: As soon as you sense your opponent throwing a punch, simply follow it up by throwing one yourself. This move requires perfect timing and it is quite effective as your opponent by no means is expecting it. However, this doesn’t mean you engage in hook trading as if your opponent is quicker, you’ll get tagged in quick succession and that’d be lights out for you.
How to set-up a hook?
As mentioned earlier, the hook is hardly used as a standalone punch. Most of the time, it’s part of a combination. If you want to use it as a part of the combination, there are several ways of setting it up.
- Straight to Lead Hook: A effective set-up to a lead hook is via a straight punch. You can throw it as a feint and if that doesn’t alert your opponent, he’ll make the mistake of charging and that is when you can place your lead hook.
- Overhand to Lead Hook: Similar to straight-lead hook transition, you lead with an overhand. Make sure not to use all your power in an overhand. You’ll end up off-balance. Thus, just feint your overhand and follow the same mechanism.
- Uppercut to Lead Hook: This has to be my favorite set-up. Once, you’ve landed a rear uppercut, follow it by a lead hook instantaneously. Fire this quick and ensure to throw the rear uppercut from inside.
- Lead Body to Lead Head Hook: Dig your opponent’s body with the lead and follow it up with the head hook really quick. Fighter’s while trying to protect their bodies might leave their head open.
- Rear Body to Lead Head Hook: Certainly, a set-up which can bamboozle your opponent. Since it rises from the opposite side. Herein, you crouch a little and throw a rear body hook and then come up to land the lead head hook. When doing this move, do not forget to rotate and pivot your feet in the other direction.
I hope this comprehensive guide on a hook in boxing for beginners helped you. If you’re just starting out, make sure to read our comprehensive boxing guide which is designed for beginners. Furthermore, I really wanted to emphasize on left hook. However, that is too big a topic to be included in this guide. So, will be following this article up with a dedicated article on how to left hook. Because legendary moves require special attention.