The complete boxing guide on how to throw the perfect left hook punch. This guide will help beginning boxers who can’t seem to get a left hook that feels right or even experts just looking to add power and form to their existing left hook. Learn 4 different types of left hooks and when to throw them.
I’ve worked with enough boxers to know that throwing the left hook is a difficult punch to master for some boxers and an easy punch to master for others. Like running or dancing, some people are born with great body mechanics and their body moves in a way that is very efficient and artful while others seem stiff and can’t get the motion to feel right. The good news is that the left hook can be taught.
Different Types of Left Hooks
Many people don’t realize this but there are many types of left hooks. Some left hooks will be easier for some people than other people. I recommend you to practice and learn all of them and to use that to your advantage.
- Power Left Hook – you lean into it and as you punch and you pull your head out and to the side so there’s head movement and you move your whole body and transfer your weight to the back foot and right hand. I’ll call this a power left hook.
- Digging Left Hook – you lean your head into the hook but you only rotate your body leaving your head close to the other boxer’s body as you punch him. Boxers will use this left hook to try and hammer to the body as they leave their head in close so that it’s hard to counter them. The digging left hook is also good for allowing you to throw multiple left hooks in a row since your body doesn’t move too far out of position when you throw it. (Some people also throw this punch in a ‘hookercut’ manner, meaning kind of like a left hook but also like a left uppercut.)
- Pivoting Left Hook -This kind of left hook is a pivoting left hook or a turning left hook. In this punch, the boxer rotates on his left foot and swings his body out of the way of the opponent as he throws the left hook. This type of left hook can be very powerful but also moves your body out of harm’s way so that you don’t get countered. It’s works very well as a counter punch and allow you to keep circling your opponent.
- Lunging Left Hook – In this punch, you lunge forward and stretch your body towards your opponent as you throw your left hand in a looping motion. The left hand starts very close to your face and then you quickly bring it out to the left and then quickly shoot it towards your opponent’s face. This left hook is very different since your left arm will extend out as straight as possible to get more reach towards your opponent. It’s more of a tricky left cross than a left hook. Some people will lean forward and use their back as a spring when they throw this punch. This punch is one of those punches you weren’t supposed to be taught in the gym but with proper timing, it’s still very dangerous and effective.
A perfect example of a power left hook is one thrown by Mike Tyson or Arturo Gatti. Notice how they move their entire body.
A perfect example of a digging left hook is one thrown by Marco Antonio Barrera or Mickey Ward or Ricky Hatton. Notice how he leaves his head there to the side when he throws it.
A perfect example of a pivoting left hook can be seen by Miguel Cotto (he’s actually good at throwing all 3 types of left hooks) or Wladimir Klitschko or Floyd Mayweather Jr.
A perfect example of a lunging left hook is one thrown by Ricky Hatton (against carlos maussa) or Roy Jones Jr.or Prince Naseem.
For People Who Find Left Hooks to the Body Difficult Or Painful
The reason why your left hook to the body feels weird or hurts so much is because your arm form is bad.
Try these tips:
- Don’t throw the hook perfectly horizontal, try making it a half hook and half uppercut. Give it a slight upwards curving motion. (a.k.a. “the Hookercut”)
- Relax and drop your shoulder and keep your elbow down when you throw that punch to the body.
- Rotate your feet so that they both point to the right when you throw the hook.
- Your arm is moving too much, move your arm less and swing your body more.
- Don’t cock your arm back when you throw the punch, just drop your left hand in front of you and punch from that position.
Left Hook Steps (for a power left hook to the body)
- Stand in your regular boxing stance.
- Bend your knees and waist a little as your drop your head and left hand forward and to the left a little.
- Quickly rotate your body to the right as you throw the hook.
- The entire body will turn with the hook as you turn your body to face the right side.
- Your right heel will drop to the ground as your left heel lifts up to push into the hook.
- The fist tightens as it slams into your opponent and STOPS when it hits the opponent.
- Stop your punch before it over-rotates so you don’t get countered. Don’t just swing the punch all the way through.
- When you finish the left hook, your head, left fist, body, and feet should all be facing to the right.
Notes: Exhale when you punch, spin your feet and hips as hard as you can and don’t forget to recover.
If you’re doing a digging left hook, rotate your body but leave your head right where you dropped it. In most cases, you’ll want to drop your head close to opponent’s elbow so that you can really dig that left hook in without worrying about his right hand counter too much. You’ll also want to make this hook somewhat of a half hook, half uppercut (‘hookercut’) so that it’ll really dig through. You’ll have to try it to see what I mean.
If you’re doing a pivoting left hook, think of the arm traveling a little straighter. It’s more of a left cross than a left hook. You keep your left hand a little closer to your face for power. As you throw the pivoting left hook your whole body will rotate and your left hand will swing out in front of you as your right foot swings behind you turning your body out of the way. You body will probably turn 60-80 degrees clockwise when you throw the pivoting left hook.
If you’re doing a lunging left hook, quickly snap your left hand out and then quickly back in at your opponent’s head. It’s almost like a slingshot effect as you let your left fist out and then back in. Again, it’s more of a left cross than a left hook. You will jump or quickly reach forward when you do this and your head will come straight towards your opponent leaving you open to a sharp counterpunch. When you throw this punch, your arm is extending out straight so that you have more reach.
Throwing Multiple Left Hooks
If you’ve been experimenting with the steps above, you’ve probably realized it’s very difficult to throw two power left hooks in a row with maximum power. The most common way to throw two left hooks in a row is to throw a digging left hook first and than a power left hook. So what you’ll do is lean your head and left it there for the first left hook (digging left hook), and then you’ll yank your head out as you rotate your whole body for the second left hook (power left hook). You can also throwing a digging left hook to the body and then a pivoting left hook to the head. If you watch Shane Mosley box, he likes to throw three digging left hooks in a row.
Tips to throwing multiple left hooks:
- Weak & Strong – make one of them weak and the other one strong. The weaker left hook should be use just to tap and force the opponent to shift his weight into the block at the wrong time. (Throwing strong then weak, is also ok.)
- Slow & Fast – throw one of the left hooks slow and then a really fast one right after. (Throwing fast, then slow is also ok.)
- Low & High – throw the first one to the body, the second one to the head. (Throwing high, then low is also ok.)
When To Throw The Left Hook
Many boxers have mastered the left hook but never learned when to throw it. Instead they wait around all day for the perfect occasion but the opportunity never presents itself. The important thing is to think of the left hook as more than just a weapon. You can use it to cause damage, open up your opponent for bigger punches from the right hand, or distract him. The important thing is to have confidence and to throw it without being scared of getting counter-punched.
Great Left Hook Combos to Try:
- After a Right Cross – This one is obvious. Just about every boxer follows the right cross with a left hook.
- After a Left Hook – Another obvious mentioned above. Many boxers are taught to defend left-right-left-right. You’ll trip them up if you throw two left hooks in a row.
- Throw a pivoting left hook followed by a big right hand. Make sure you plant your feet right after the pivoting left hook so that the right cross does more damage.
- Quick left hook to the body to drop your opponent’s right hand, and then you jab him to the head.
- Hard left hook to the body to drop your opponent’s right guard, and then lunging left hook to the head. Follow it up with whatever you want.
- If you see your opponent keeping his right glove tight to his face, throw your hook at his glove anyway and the damage will carry through.
- Side step to your right and then quickly throwing a pivoting left hook if he chases you with his guard down. Another thing you can do to get his guard down is to TEMPORARILY drop your own guard for a split second.
- Throw a light left hook to the head followed by a quick jab and then a big right hand.
- When you’re being chased or you’re standing square with your back against the ropes, bend down at the waist as you throw a right hand to the body and then come back up as you throw a lunging left hook to the head.
I’ll add more left hook tips as I remember them but you should have plenty of things to try in the ring for now. By now you should have a greater understanding of the best knockout punch in boxing. Mastering this punch will make you a two-fisted fighter and a far better fighter in the ring. Give it a shot and let me know how it goes.
You might also want to read: Setting Up the Left Hook