Believe what you may but there’s no denying the fact that the left hook in boxing is the mother of all punches. Known as the prettiest punch due to its technicality and precision, is there something not beautiful about this move? You cannot with this punch and BAMMMM! Your opponent’s flat on the ground.
Regardless of where you decide to through it, it’s bound to leave your opponent in agony. If you throw it to his/her head, that’s light out, if you throw it to their liver or kidneys. they will certainly bow down on their knees.
Great things don’t come in ones and twos, they come in threes. Essentially, the left hook is the silver lining in a golden combination, which happens to be the foundational combination in boxing. If the hook left considerable damage, the left hook will leave devastating damage. Legends of the sport such as Joe Frazier and George Foreman were able to knock boxers out in seconds with this move. This was the very move which helped Frazier floor Ali.
The left hook isn’t a cakewalk
It’s one of the toughest moves to master. Even if you have it in your bag during the training session, executing it in a match is fairly difficult. Still. There are some fighters who find it easy whereas others take years to master this art. Remember, like dancing and running – rhythm and syncing is the most important part in a left hook. Many people try to throw the punch are often stiff and fail to get the motion right. However, the good news is that you can learn the left hook regardless of how bad you are at it. You can start as a beginner, and go through this comprehensive guide to learn every detail about the left hook.
Delivering a left hook punch
Talking about preference, the left hook is often preferred by boxers short-in height or the ones who rely heavily on power punches. What makes the left hook so devastating is that it’s able to accumulate power from the torso and the legs. Even the execution of this punch is an art. You have to hit the punch with balance, while maintaining your stability, applying enough strength and speed for it to be successful.
How to Throw a Left Hook Punch Infographic
How to throw a left hook to the head?
Throwing a left hook is a work of art. If you’re right-handed, the left hook is the most powerful punch in your arsenal which is in touching distance of your opponent. Even with the close distance, landing is punch is fairly difficult. However, if you follow the guide below and work on it, there’s no reason why you can’t master the left hook.
Get into the normal stance: Get into the boxing stance with your lead left foot closer to your opponent. Power punches require you to keep the foot closer as compared to the straight punches. Keep your back foot planted as that’ll play a crucial role while landing the punch. Once, you’ve planted the foot, shift your foot while on your toe and twist it towards the right direction as if you were stamping a cigarette.
Position of the arms: Keep your left arm lower. If you have it higher, lower it down and keep it at a 50-degree angle. With proper stance, hold your guard high. Ensure you don’t block your vision and raise your fist to a level just below your eyes. With your footwork set and your fist pointing upwards, you’re set with the stance. (Remember, your palms shouldn’t be facing yourself, they should be held sideways.
Torso movement: Drive the force towards the left. By unwinding your twisted body, move your legs and twist your left foot inward. This will enable the torso movement. Follow it up with all the force you’ve got whilst your left arm with your elbow joint clocked at a 90-degree angle.
Anatomy of the punch: You’re just a movement away from landing the punch. Before you do it, remember that the palm of your hands must be parallel to the ground whereas the knuckles must be perpendicular to the body.
Moment of magic: Connect with the chin of your opponent. Even you want to target the kidneys that’s fine too. The only thing you must remember is that the punch has to be square. You’ll feel the rush of adrenaline when you connect, however, you shouldn’t twist too much or else you’ll lose your balance.
Get back into the normal stance: Know very well that exercising a left hook will leave your susceptible to a straight right, which in itself is a knockout blow. Thus, you want to guard your chin, jaws, and temple as quickly as you can.
How to throw a left hook to the body?
Before throwing the left hook to the body. Know that there are three types of range from which the hook is thrown and for the left hook to the body, we’ll emphasize the short range. When you’re trying to target the body, avoid the ribs and rather focus on the soft area just underneath the ribs.
Fighting stance: Get into the fighting stance which a high guard. Let’s not repeat the process as it’s similar to the fighting stance above. Moving onto the next step.
Duck down: While many fighters would want to throw a left hook to the body whilst standing up, Fran Sands of myboxingcoach.com has a great exceptional as to why you should duck. Justifying this additional motion, he adds, when you try to hit the left hook to the body while standing, you leave your face vulnerable for a longer period as compared to when you duck. Duck down gives you a defensive edge.
Maintain the stance: A common error I’m mentioning here itself is that down lean too forward, it’s not the correct way to throw the left hook to the body. Furthermore, ensure that you generate the power and thrust from your legs. How do you do it? Here’s how.
Explosive thrust from the front leg: There’s an explosive thrust from the front leg with the rotation of the ball of the foot. It helps rotates the hips in the clockwise direction which generates the torque for the punch. By the time you land the punch, the power drives up through the power and accelerates onto the target just below the ribs.
Common mistakes when doing a left hook
Thinking it’s entirely arm based: No! it’s not. What makes the left hook so devastating is the force and venom behind it. Torque is generated all the way from the ball of your foot and is transferred upwards through your body and into your fist as you’re about to land that punch. So, don’t say that a left hook is purely an arm punch. It requires the entire body movement, the rotation, the hip movement, and the thrust to generate the maximum amount of power.
Hitting it from an incorrect distance: Though a hook can be thrown from a long distance due to its many variations. A left hook has to be thrown from a shorter distance. You have to be pretty close to your opponent to land that shot. If you throw it from a longer distance, you won’t even connect and even if you do, there won’t be enough thrust in it.
Telegraphing: It may be a finishing aspect of many successful combinations. However, you do not want to telegraph the movement. It has to be quick and snappy. Don’t wind-up too much because you’ll end up making a fool out of yourself.
Transfer of weight: Now this movement is fairly interesting. Most of the beginners, confuse this part wherein, they lean forward, transferring their body weight into the punch. Though you want to punch through your opponent’s body, you don’t want to ram in. You want to maintain your balance and stability whilst you land the blow. You don’t want to transfer your weight on the front foot but rather use your other foot to create the velocity.
Dropping the guard: The fundamental principles or foundation of boxing lies on how good to protect yourself. The mystic, the science and art of boxing doesn’t lie in eating a punch but how to protect yourself from it. Do not drop your guard once you land the blow. Get into the normal stance as soon as you can without fail. Especially if you’re doing a hook punch to the body, ensure that you duck before landing it as explained above.
Variations in a left hook
The name might sound stationary but the movement isn’t. Many people think that left hook is just a basic left hook with no variations. However, that’s not true as there are four types of left hooks and they are all unique in their own way.
- Power Left Hook
- Digging Left Hook
- Pivoting Left Hook
- Lunging Left Hook
Power Left Hook: Whilst putting your head out, you lean into the punch with your entire body weight transferring over to the other leg. This is the most popular variation of the left hook and in layman terms, this is what people refer to when they’re saying a left hook. You can find the tutorial of the punch by Iron Mike himself.
Digging Left Hook: Digging left hook also executed as a hookercut, is an eliciting punch. You draw your opponent’s attention towards you by leaving your body open. In a digging left hook, you lean your head while rotating your body and keeping your head close to the opponent. This move is if you’re looking to throw multiple left hooks in quick succession. Since you maintain the close range, the execution of the flurry hooks becomes easy.
Pivoting Left Hook: Also known as a turning left hook, a pivoting left hook is where you rotate your body on your left foot and swing it out of the way as you attempt a left hook. It’s a safe bet as even if you don’t land, you are keeping your ribs away from danger. This left hook variation is super powerful and is a great way to land the hook without it being countered. It’s a great tool for counter punching as it provides you with the freedom to circle your opponents.
Lunging Left Hook: Whilst throwing your punch in a looping motion, you lunge your body forward and stretch it towards your opponent. It’s a quick shoot or snap, where within seconds, your left-hand travels from close to your face to your opponent’s face. Herein, you need to extend your arms as quickly as you can and the extension will help achieve more reach. Due to its motion, most of the professional even refer to it as a tricky left cross. While doing the left hook, some fighters like to move back and then spring forward to add extra momentum.
Facing a painful body or arm after throwing the left hook?
If you’re just starting out with the left hook, there’s a fair share of chance that your body might feel weird. If you’re experiencing it, don’t worry. It has a quick fix. The major reason why you’re suffering from this pain is because of your arms form. It’s bad. Thus, to avoid it, you can restrain from following practices.
- Curve-it: A left hook needs to move in an upward curving motion at a 50-degree angle. It shouldn’t be perfectly horizontal and should rather look like a blend of hook and uppercut.
- Relax: Don’t be stiff as Askren (Inappropriate reference. Sorry, couldn’t resist) But you get the point. When throwing the left hook, relax and drop the shoulder with your elbow down. When throwing it to the body, make sure to duck down.
- Feet rotation: Don’t keep your feet stationary. Rotate them so they are pointing in the right direction before you throw the hook. Beginners often get this wrong and due to the opposite force in great amount, they end up pulling their muscles.
- Give that arm a break: A left hook is all about how less you swing that arm and how much you move your body. An arm movement in a left hook is considerably less as compared to the general hook. Thus, keep that in mind and don’t add undue pressure on your arms.
- Don’t bring your arm back: Just as you’re about to punch, ensure that you don’t cock that arm back. Just watch your arm, don’t spring it too much.
Throwing multiple left hooks and once
If throwing one hook required a crazy amount of skills, imagine what throwing multiple in quick flurry would require? I’ll tell you something it does require, and that’s power. Especially when you throwing power hooks back to back. The amount of energy consumed in this single effort is too much. Thus, it’s never wise to follow a power hook with another power hook. And that’s where your knowledge of combinations and left hook comes into play. For instance, you can throw a digging left hook. Incite your opponent to attack and then counter with a power hook. There are an nth number of combinations you can use to ensure that you don’t get tired and the move itself is effective.
Personalize your Left Hook Strategy as Yin and Yang
Use the multiple left hooks as yin and yang. Keep the first punch weak, whilst the second punch strong. Throw a slow first and then follow it up with an ultimate snapper of a hook. Keep the first one low i.e. and throw the second one high i.e. head. and vice-versa. It’s a yin and yang story. The order of these punches depends upon your personal preference.
What are the best left-hook combinations?
Now though we have established our style, let us check some of the most powerful left-hook combinations used by boxers around the globe.
- Body Combination: The most basic combination is to through the left hook to the head and then duck down to target the body. You can even do the opposite. But do remember, when you hit the head first, the chances of knockout will be less as your mind will already be thinking about the body shot. However, when you hit the body first, you can damage your opponent and end the chapter with a sweet connection on his chin or the temple. Again, this is a personal opinion, so you can check what works out best for you.
- Left Hook & Left Hook: If you really want to catch your opponent by surprise, then this is the go-to move. Nobody expects a left hook post a left hook as the basic instinct goes from left to right. Thus, by using a left hook back to back, you can easily catch them by surprise.
- Right, Cross & Left Hook: Perhaps the most mainstream combination in all of the boxing combinations. It’s natural if you do a left hook post a right cross.
- Pivot & Right Cross: A pivot left hook is generally used before the right cross under this combination. While attempting a pivot left hook, ensure that you plant your feet after the left hook, so you hit the right cross with maximum power.
- Left hook & Jab: Herein, you target your opponent’s body and follow a snappy left hook with a jab to the head.
- Left Body Hook & Lunging hook: It’s a wild combination but a fruitful one. Herein, you plant your opponent with a heavy left hook to the body and follow it up with a lunging left hook to the head. You can even land a triple hit with a jab or a cross.
Additional left hook tips you should keep in mind
Punch through the defense: Even if your opponent is maintaining a tight guard, you can still leave a left hook and the damage will be done. Not as much as when it’s exposed. But it’ll definitely wake him up.
Sidestep and throw a left hook: In a situation, where your opponent is chasing you down. You can sidestep towards the right side and throw a pivoting left hook. You can even bait him into dropping his guard down, by taking down yours MOMENTARILY.
Play with combinations: Boxing evolves as time passes. The combinations mentioned above are not the law of boxing. These are just tried and tested methods which worked really well for fighters in the past. You can play with combinations and create something new. For instance, throw light left hook towards the head, follow it with a quick jab and then land a right cross. You can literally make combinations up and practice it till you perfect them.
Against the ropes: Here’s where things get tricky. You’re being attacked and pushed towards the rope. However, you still want to punish your opponent from that tight spot. In such a scenario, you can bend down at waist whilst throwing a right cross to the body and then quickly come up as you land a lunging left hook to your opponent’s head.
The specialty of a left hook
A left hook incorporates, stepping on the gas philosophy referring to planted heel. In the traditional stance of boxing, the weight of the body is neutralized with the flat front foot and the weight resting on the ball of the rear foot. This orthodox stance helps for maximizing the angles and enable quick pivoting. Generally, boxers when applying any other technique do flatten their foot as it takes the mobility and the freedom of execution away. However, LEFT HOOK IS AN EXCEPTION to this rule. With a left hook, you step on the gas and generate the thrust to knock your opponents cold.
I hope this comprehensive guide on left hook helped you learn about this legendary move. If you’re just starting out, make sure to read our comprehensive boxing guide which is designed for beginners. As promised in the previous “Hook Guide” blog, I finally covered the left hook and I believe to have covered it comprehensively.