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Many people don’t really understand how to throw a left hook with the right amount of power & accuracy. When they first start out on boxing, kickboxing or are just working out at home, many people come into the gym with the misconception that the left hook is a wild punch that uses a hard looping swing. The left hook, however, is a punch that relies on synchronization and proper technique of other moving parts. These parts include the left foot and the hips. Throughout this article, our aim is to help you develop the correct technique for this punch and explain how to throw a left hook.
First Things First – Set Up the Punch
If you are just starting out in learning the left hook, or are part of a boxing club, your initial sessions will be in front of a trainer. The most likely for these initial sessions will be the focus mitts. Your trainer will be by your side and will be able to evaluate your progress and your technique. It may be the case however that you are sent to practice by yourself with a heavy bag, this being a great well to develop your skills. On the flip side, this type of individual training will also leave you susceptible to developing bad habits.
These bad habits would be caught out by your trainer the next time they watch you, or you are on the mitts. But, you can sustain an injury as a result of developing and using bad habits; it is common to sustain such injuries is on the heavy bag when you are practicing your left hooks. For this reason, you need to use boxing gloves that have a solid wrist support. (Check out our choices for best boxing gloves)
Upper Body Movement During the Punch
We will look in more depth at both upper and lower body movement, then going on to describe the combination that involved the two together. For all of the descriptions in this article, we are referring to a standard stance.
Now that you have practiced and learned the correct stance, how to throw a right and a jab, where to have your gloves, you already have many of the tools in your possession you need in order to be able to succeed. The stance stays the same, but the punching technique has more things you need to think about than with a jab.
Beginning with your elbows down by your side, and in a protective stance, you need to move your left fist up, and then across your body, whilst keeping it at head level. Chances are that your elbow will be quite bent in the protective stance. As you throw a punch your arms will open up as your elbow starts to extend. Here you should note that a 90-degree extension of the elbow is the maximum you need; a 90-degree angle also ensures you have maximum punching power.
In order to execute the “up” motion, your elbow will rise both up and out from your side; at this point, your fist still won’t have moved across your body. Once your elbow is elevated, and the joint at 90 degrees, you can then swing through with maximum power, with your fist crossing your body, the crossing over being the last portion of the action.
To really drill the technique into your head in a way you won’t forget, you should think along the lines of “If I miss when I use my fist, I need to connect with the elbow” This does not mean that you should throw elbows at your opponent, especially in Boxing, but it should ensure you remember to follow through with your elbow for maximized power.
At this stage, it may feel a little choppy and not natural, but by going through the motions stage by stage, you will gradually make things more fluid as you connect with more punching & practice; until it becomes one fluid motion.
Lower Body Movement During the Punch
When thinking about lower body mechanics and the left hook, there are a few important things to remember. If you have already reached a stage where you are comfortable with the right cross, you will already understand the power your hips can play when you generate a punch. The same can be said for the left hook. But, as you will be throwing from your front hand, you will be using a much reduced twisting movement.
So, let’s take a scenario. You are thinking about throwing a left hook, using the techniques described for upper body movement. But, now, you wish to introduce a slight twist of the hips as you throw the punch.
As your left foot is still planted, the motion will be restricted, and you won’t generate much power. This is why you should allow your left foot to twist inwards; in fact, it’s extremely important that you do so. But this is not the same as allowing your ankle to roll!
When twisting your foot inwards, the ball of your foot will remain on the ground all the time. All it means is that you should find no restriction when twisting your hips freely. Even if you only twist in a short motion, it will still make a big difference to achievable punching power.
If you are still not clear, just give it a go. It won’t be long until you piece the parts together. When you allow your foot to turn inwards, it allows you to put more behind you punch. This is common description from many people.
Combining the Mechanics of the Upper and Lower Body
Piecing all the information you need together is a bit like learning to ride a bike. It may seem that there is a lot to remember, but once it clicks, you will never forget it.
It’s really quite hard to explain in text what I mean. My best advice therefore is to always try to time your lower and upper body the same. By this, I mean that your upper and lower body movements should always start at the same time. Just as you are nearing the end of the striking portion of a punch, your foot should also be finishing turning in foot. Then, on bringing back your hand, your foot will also be returning to its original stance.
Of course, all of this happens very quickly. But, I recommend that at the start, you slow down everything into slow motion, allowing your instructor to really check up on your technique. If you do this, then in no time, you will really start packing some punch with your left hook really soon.
The best way to get better at throwing a left hook is to practice. We recommend getting a good heavy bag for home use and start throwing punches. Check out our discussion on the best heavy bags for home.
Video Tutorial – How to Throw a Left Hook
There are plenty of videos you can watch that show you how to throw your left hook. In this one, you will find Freddy Roach really does a great job describing everything in a way you will understand. It may not have thousands of views, but that not what’s important. Asides this, he is one of the best boxing trainers anywhere in the world, meaning that I am no one to argue with what he has to say on the subject!