The hook is one of the hardest punches that you can throw, which is why it’s essential that you have a great hook. It can be thrown by using your rear hand but the term usually refers to the lead hook, which will be the primary focus in this article.
If you want to learn all the fundamentals of boxing, then I highly recommend the How to Box in 10 Days course, which takes you through boxing basics step-by-step.
The Fundamentals of a Hook
- Keep Your Guard Up (1): Remember just like with every punch you throw, keep your rear hand up guarding your chin with your elbow tucked in to protect your body.
- Bend Your Arm at a 90 Degrees Angle (2): When you throw the hook, your arm should be bent at an angle of 90 degrees, or close to it. If the angle is much more of much less, then you won’t get the maximum power from the punch.
- Rotate Your Body (3): Again, this is another essential motion to increase your punching power. Not only that, but you’ll find that when you rotate your body simultaneously with the hook, your head also moves which helps to either avoid punches coming back or at least rolls with them.
- Pivot Your Lead Foot: If you want to increase the power of your hook, then make sure that you pivot your lead foot simultaneously with the lead hook. If you’re hooking with your rear hand, then pivot with your rear foot.
- Bend Your Knees: You may have heard the term, “sitting down on your punches”. This basically means bending your knees to get the most power. Not too much though, just slightly so that you can still maintain your balance.
- Follow Through: It’s not a good idea to follow through with every punch. However, if you want to throw a hook with knockout power, then you have to aim to throw your punch through the target, not at it.
- Drop Your Guard: A common mistake that fighters make when throwing the lead hook is that they would drop their rear guard. This leaves them open for a counter hook, which is often devastating. Knockouts in this manner happens time and time again, so be careful.
- Stand up Straight: Not only will you not get enough power in your hook, but you’ll expose yourself as a target a lot more and you can also be easily knocked off balance.
- Load Up: What this means is that you shouldn’t cock back your arm and then throw the punch because then your opponent will be able to read your movement and time your punch better. Those few split seconds that you take loading up on a shot, you better believe that your opponent is waiting for the opening.
- Throw From Too Far Out: The hook is meant to be thrown from close-range to mid-range. If your opponent is out of range, you’ll either have to lunge in with the hook (which you shouldn’t do unless you’re great at it), or you’ll have to reach with the hook which leaves you off-balance and reduces your power significantly.
- Put All Your Weight on Your Front or Back Foot: Distribute your weight in the middle as evenly as possible. If you put too much weight on your front foot and you miss your hook, then you’ll be falling into your opponent. If too much weight is on your back foot and you miss, you can easily be knocked backwards.
Types of Hooks
The ‘check hook’ is a lead hook that is thrown as you’re pivoting away from an opponent that’s coming forward.
To do this, you must pivot on lead foot, and then simultaneously swing your back foot 180 degrees to your outside. It’s similar to the motion of a matador moving out of the way of an incoming bull.
Back Step Hook
Like check hook, the back step hook is best used for when an opponent is coming forward.
You must just take a step back and then throw the lead hook as your opponent advances towards you.
The pullback hook is great for avoiding incoming punches while attacking at the same time. You must stay in a stationary position to perform this. Your body will be tilted forward slightly and when your opponent moves forward to attack, throw the lead hook and pull your body back slightly at the same time.
Don’t pullback too far and as mentioned above, don’t distribute your weight entirely on your backfoot. If you do this properly, you’ll dodge your opponent’s punch while landing yours.
Hook Uppercut (Hookercut / 45)
This is a cross between a hook and an uppercut. It’s a punch that’s thrown from below and connects to the edge of your opponent’s chin.
Your elbow should be pointed downwards at an angle of around 45 degrees.
Lead Body Hook
Learn to throw a great hook to the body and you’ll be able to break down and take out your opponents easier. Aim to dig upwards at a 45 degree angle into your opponent’s kidney section.
The lead hook to the body is usually set up by a straight punch, which allows you to get into the desired position, where your body is tilted slightly to the outside of your lead foot.
Leaping Lead Hook
To pull off the leaping lead hook successfully, you need to be fast, accurate, have good timing and good footwork.
Your opponent has to be just out of range, where you can push off your front foot to leap and throw the hook at the same time. It’s a risky move because if you miss, you may just end up leaping into a counterpunch instead.
As a note, a Mexican double end bag will help you to improve the timing and accuracy of your punches.
Using the Hook as a Counter
There are several ways in which you can use the hook as a counterpunch. You can either block or duck an incoming punch, then immediately throw your hook after, or you can roll a punch while throwing the hook at the same time.
With the right technique and amount of power, you can generate a knockout blow. For a more in-depth explanation and GIF images on counterpunches, visit our article on How To Counterpunch.
Setting up the Hook
Straight > Lead Hook
The straight followed by a lead hook to the head or the body is most effective set up because it’s quick and can get you into the ideal position.
The straight can be thrown as a feint and if your opponent is not careful, then he will come forward to attack, but won’t expect you to follow up with a hook.
After you’ve thrown the straight, then you should pause slightly then come back with the hook. The pause enables your opponent to get back into the same position as he was in before, if he dodges your straight.
Overhand > Lead Hook
The method for this is pretty much the same as the straight > lead hook, but instead you’re leading with the overhand. Don’t put all your power into your overhand, as it’ll just leave you off balance if you miss. You can also feint the overhand to set up your hook.
Rear Uppercut > Lead Hook
After you’ve thrown the rear uppercut, you can comeback with the lead hook immediately after.
It’s important that you fire this combination fast to ensure that you won’t get caught after throwing the uppercut. Also, make sure that you don’t lead with the rear uppercut unless you’re on the inside.
Lead Head Hook > Lead Body Hook
Another effective way of setting up a hook to the body is by throwing your lead hook to your opponent’s head (not intended to be powerful, but rather just a tap), which causes him to bring his guard up.
This in turn, leaves an opening to his body, where you can dig in your lead hook.
Lead Body Hook > Lead Head Hook
When you’re in position to throw the lead hook to the body, dig it in and then immediately after, come back upstairs with the lead hook.
Many fighters will block the body shot, but completely forget about the head shot. It’s a great combination because both punches can be thrown with power.
Rear Body Hook > Lead Head Hook
This combination can confuse your opponent because it comes from opposite sides. Crouch down and throw a hook to the body using your rear hand, then come back up with a lead hook to the head.
Make sure that you rotate your body with both punches, pivoting (rear foot then lead foot) and rotating from one direction to the other.
Double / Triple Lead Hook
Many fighters cannot pull off the double hook effectively, let alone the triple. It requires good speed and elasticity of your arm to throw the hook consecutively and quickly with the same arm. The trick is to not put in much power until your last hook.
The double and triple hook is useful if your opponent has a high guard and manages to block your first or second hook. Be careful if you try to throw more than three punches as your opponent may predict it and make you miss and even pay for it.
Mastering the Hook
As you can see, there are so many variations of the hook and many ways in which you can set it up. You may wish to study the following fighters that are renowned for their powerful lead hooks.
- Joe Frazier
- Felix Trinidad
- Nonito Donaire
- Oscar De La Hoya
- Miguel Cotto
It’s one of the hardest punches you’ll throw, if not the hardest, and one that you can land often. Take the time to know how and when to throw a hook.
To get the most out of your training, I highly recommend the following articles:
► How to Increase Punching Power
► 10 Tips to Improve Boxing Footwork
► Boxing Basics
► Top 10 Best Heavy Punching Bags
► Top 10 Best Boxing Gloves