How to Throw a Lead Hook: Drills & Variations

The Left (lead) hook is one of the most powerful boxing punches.  The power comes from the twisting of the hips, unlike a straight punch (jab or cross) which comes more-so from the extension of the arm and shoulder pop.


Joe Frazier throwing a left-hook at Ali


How to Throw It

Here’s the step-by-step for throwing a hook:

  • Pivot the lead foot
  • Keep your weight evenly distributed 50-50 in both legs
  • Twist your hips
  • Keep your arm bent at a 90-120 degree angle
  • Aim your fist at your opponent’s chin

Interesting fact: It was the left hook that put Ali down in the 15th round, in his first fight against Joe Frazier.

The Hook to the Body, or “Liver Shot”

Hook to the Body

The rib cage acts as protection against the internal organs, but is no match against the hook to the body.

The famous “liver shot” is a left shovel hook to the body.  What makes it a “shovel” hook is the slight upward path it follows into your opponents body, and your palm faces an upward angle.  Use your hook to “dig” up into your opponent’s body.  Since the liver is on the right side of the body, it must be thrown with the left hand.  However, if you are southpaw, a right hook to the body can do just as much damage if you break the floating rib.  The floating ribs are the bottom-most rib, which aren’t connected to the rest of the ribcage.

How to throw the hook to the body

  1. Cut off the distance by jabbing in, or slipping into range.
  2. Lower your level by taking a deeper stance than usual.  Almost like a half lunge, while twisting (to slip oncoming punches, and build torque for the body shot).
  3. Keep your opposite hand up blocking your face.  This is a common mistake amongst beginners and fatigued fighters.  Skip this step, and you might be the  one laying on the canvas.
  4. Push off of the (bent) lead leg to drive up and into your opponent.
  5. Fire off the hook by using that force in your legs and hips.
  6. Keep the palm facing on an upward angle, in order to “dig” into your opponents ribs.
  7. Retract back to guard and follow up with another hook, uppercut, stay low and pivot, or jab out of range.

Practicing the Hook

The hook is a mostly-simple punch to throw, but like anything in boxing, it does require practice. Try throwing 50 hooks, from each arm, in every workout session to improve your technique. If you’re having trouble with the hip rotation, first throw an exaggerated cross and twist your hips over. You’ll soon notice that this “hooking” motion becomes more natural, and you’ll notice it start to grow in power without having to try as hard.

As always, focus on technique first, then the speed and power will come naturally.

See it in action:

Here is a compilation video of boxers who had some of the most devastating left hooks of all time, including: Sonny Liston, Roy Jones Jr, Mike Tyson, and of course Joe Frazier, who completely obliterated Muhammad Ali with one of the most historical left hooks.

Palm In or Palm Down?

A rule of thumb that I teach and follow is as follows…

  • Short Range: palm in
  • Medium Range: palm down
  • Long Range: palm away

The reason behind this is based on the position of your knuckles. If you keep your palm facing you, but throw a long-ranged looping hook, you will make contact with your thumb. If you rotate your wrist and forearm so that your palm faces down or away, you will notice that your knuckles make contact with the target. Protect your money makers and land solid punches — hit with your knuckles!


2 Responses to How to Throw a Lead Hook: Drills & Variations

  1. Sami January 7, 2014 at 8:07 am #

    Hey my name is Sami and I was practicing the spinning back heel kick or wheel kick and the next day I had a killer back ace. When it cleared up I tried it again and I could feel it coming back. I was wondering if I was doing something wrong that would cause this. A little advice would be great. Thanks 🙂
    I love your videos by the way. I have been wanting to learn stuff like this forever and I have watched other video on youtube, but none of them where as good as yours. Your videos make it so easy to learn and break it down so well. Your stuffs great 🙂

  2. Solo January 19, 2017 at 6:26 pm #

    Hi Shane, I really enjoyed the video and article you posted. I especially apreciate the palm placements you mentioned for different ranges. I’ll make sure to add them to my drills.

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