The Left Hook at Mid-Range – The Text Book Punch!

by Fran on February 16, 2010

About the Mid-Range Left Hook

As we’ve discussed in other articles, a boxer during a contest is either in range or out of range.  When in range, we consider ourselves to be at long range, medium range and short range.  It follows then that for each of the uppercut and hook ‘categories’ of punches there are at least three different types; short range, medium range and long range.  Each of these are thrown depending upon a number of variables, the main one being where you are in relation to your opponent.

The mid-range left hook is a tremendously versatile shot.  When deployed after other skill elements, in particular the inside slip or any right hand shot such as the right cross , it is a devastating weapon in a boxer’s arsenal.  When used in isolation, particularly on the retreat against an oncoming opponent, it is a wonderful scoring shot which clearly demonstrates a boxer’s accomplished capabilities.  Watch the video, and don’t forget to check out the section on common faults below the video.  Leave a comment letting me know what you think!

The Mechanics of the Mid-Range Left Hook

The mechanics of the mid-range left hook can be explained as follows:

  1. From the boxing stance, the first action is a push from the front foot which in turn rotates the upper-body slightly so that the hips and shoulders will align with the opponent.
  2. As the rotation is taking place, the lead arm, in a distinctive ‘L’ shape, accelerates towards the target.
  3. As the fist approaches the target, the palm is facing down towards the floor.  after the fist has travelled about 75% of the way to the target, the fist clenches and the shot ‘snaps’ on.
  4. As the shot is accelerating towards the target, the boxer’s weight is transferred to the back leg.
  5. After the shot lands, the arm returns to the ‘home’ position as per the boxing stance.

Common Faults with the Mid-Range Left Hook

The common faults that often occur when throwing a mid-range left hook are:

  1. There is an urge to try and hit too hard.  The desire to hit the opponent too hard often results in the boxer’s weight transferring to the front leg.  If the shot lands, then this isn’t too bad (although you shouldn’t be under the impression that more ‘power’ has been generated…it hasn’t), but if the shot misses then often the boxer will end-up in a ‘tailspin.’  Being in a tailspin in front of an opponent waiting to unload heavy shots is a recipe for disaster.
  2. The right-hand drops as the shot lands.  This is a really common fault with inexperienced boxers.  Be very aware of this, if you don’t believe me, look at the best knockout article of Donald Curry knocking out Milton McCrory in 1985 and I promise you’ll never drop your right hand again!
  3. The boxer allows the punch to become an upper-body movement.  Ensure that the rotation of the upper-body is generated by the drive from the front leg.

I mention in the video presentation that you should not try to put too much power into this shot.  That’s not to say that the mid-range left hook is not a power shot.  Look at and think about throwing a mid-range left hook after a right cross or an inside slip.  In each of those skill elements, the body has rotated in an anti-clockwise direction.  From this position, throwing a mid-range left hook can harness that stored energy to enable massive (clockwise) drive and rotation.  If this shot lands cleanly on the jaw then a period of great calm may very well descend upon the opponent!  What comes next?  Check out the mid-range right hook, which is a very logical follow up to the mid range left hook.

Cheers

Fran

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{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

Trevor September 17, 2017 at 11:57 pm

Hey Fran,

First off, loving the site! Supplementing my training with study of your articles and videos has resulted in a lot of progress that my trainers are consistently impressed with.

One question about the sequence of events when throwing a hook: Does the arm accelerate out from the guard at the exact moment that the body/hips start to rotate, or slightly behind (the analogy I’ve heard is to “open up” with rotation of the hips/chest and have the arm snap to follow afterwards like an elastic band while still keeping the elbow angle tight and compact)? I’ve talked to people who seem to have different opinions on this, with the trainers at my gym split right down the middle. Would greatly appreciate hearing your thoughts.

Thanks in advance!
-Trevor

Reply

Fran September 19, 2017 at 5:54 pm

Hey Trevor

Thank you for the feedback, really glad that the stuff is helping you out.

My view is that it is a bit of a chain reaction, so very slightly after those hips rotate. Slow it down during drills etc. At competition speed it should be barely noticeable. Thank make sense?

Of course for a more ‘clubbing’ result you can use it at the same point as the rotation, flattening the front foot – this is more appropriate at very close range.

The former though for me is the best option.

All about opinions 🙂

Thanks again Trevor

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Trevor September 21, 2017 at 8:35 pm

Makes perfect sense! I’ve already experimented with it a bit and your answer has definitely helped clear things up.

Thanks for the input and the great advice!
-Trevor

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Fran June 13, 2016 at 7:22 pm

Steve

Try both. I know guys who coach a flat front foot (on the basis that it’s like an F1 car – the more contact with the ground the more power generated), which I can understand at close range. My view is that the heel will ‘flare’ slightly and that’s not a problem. As long as the shot is landing with ‘snap’ and precision then small adjustments of the feet can be made.

Hope this helps mate.

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colin August 16, 2013 at 2:10 am

Hi Fran,
I have been trying to work on throwing longer range hooks,But the thing I find is that if it’s any longer than say mid range I find it difficult to get the elbow forearm and fist all parallel with the floor upon impact.
I still try to get the elbow up as much as I can and turn it over with palm down but can’t make it the same as with the mid range hooks.
Is this normal ?

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Joergen April 22, 2013 at 7:54 pm

Hello Fran,

In throwing hooks, I was wondering if there is a best way in positioning fists. Is it advisable/best to rotate your fist in order to keep one’s thumb down? I personally do not do this and keep my thumb up when throwing a hook.

Regards,

Joergen

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Fran April 23, 2013 at 8:54 pm

Hey Joergen. Thanks for the question. You get more power with thumb up, which is why the short range left hook is thrown in that way. On the flip side, if your forearm is parallel to the ground then the thumb should be to the side as with the mid range hook (and long range hook). This ensures that the referee will not warn for incorrect punching or ‘slapping’ (they can be quite strict about this in the amateurs).

Hope this helps.

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Alkis January 22, 2013 at 5:58 pm

Hi Fran Your presentation is really interesting. One comment: Your back foot position reminds me a little the kokutsu-dachi from Shotokan, which actually is very stable in weight transfer to the back. Thanks a lot.

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Fran January 24, 2013 at 8:44 pm

Hi Alkis

Thank you for the comment. I always like it when martial artists can point out these common elements between the disciplines. Thanks

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Dave October 3, 2011 at 1:23 pm

I really need to practice this- I’m a southpaw, and when I do hooks of any kind, I feel like I’m flailing wildly and uncontrollably with my arm. I should qualify that statement, actually- because I’m focussing on the hip movement, when I throw the punch, my arm flails like a weight on a chain! I need to work on this, a lot.

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Fran October 4, 2011 at 8:04 pm

Keep with it Dave. Try not to focus on power, and slow the shot down. Aim also to get your elbow up high as the shot lands, maybe even slightly higher than the level of the fist.

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Brett September 20, 2011 at 11:46 pm

When throwing the hook, would you suggest transferring the weight to the front foot first? You talk of step 1 being the twist/rotation of the lead foot. Is the weight centered/equally distributed at this time? Now I know if the hook follows a right cross the weight will naturally be shifted to the lead foot. But what if its say a single counter shot? I know that I try to shift my weight forward to the lead foot before throwing it to maximize power and leverage, but this slows down the process.

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Fran September 21, 2011 at 9:21 pm

I would suggest that rather than thinking of transferring your weight to the front foot, think of rotating around a pole with your back nice and straight. The ideal (for me) is to always have your body weight on your back leg. This is true even when throwing a back hand. So, the extra ‘whack’ you get on the hook after the right cross should be as a result of the rotation of the body to throw the first shot rather than allowing the body weight to go on the front leg. I just think that this approach does wonders for your overall balance and certainly helps prevent you over-committing. It really doesn’t take any power from the first or second shot, it just gives you more control of that power. Hope this helps Brett.

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Anonymous February 11, 2016 at 8:58 pm

Hi Fran. I gotta say, i wish more coaches had an inherent love for the sport. Its a travesty that so many students learn more online than from their coaches. There is a ton of wisdom on your site, and my boxing has improved a lot, incorporating your lessons.I am especially enjoying all the technical advice most. The one most coaches cant be bothered to teach anymore. In the name of us all, thanks a lot, God bless !

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Ely September 3, 2011 at 2:32 pm

Hi fran,
Thanks for the amazing site. I have only been viewing your site for a few days now but have learned an abundance of great boxing knowledge. I have been taught to pivot the front foot when throwing the left lead hook to generate more power. Is this correct or incorrect? Again, thanks for the fantastic knowledge that you offer to everyone out there on your site.

Ely

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Fran September 3, 2011 at 9:27 pm

Hi Ely

Thanks for the compliments and it’s great that you’ve found the site, I’m sure there’s plenty of good stuff for you to get your teeth into.

My own view on pivoting the foot when throwing shots is that this would be more likely to reduce power. An analogy I’d use is pushing a car. If I were to push a car, I would not pivot my foot, I’d drive off the ball of the foot in the same direction as the car. My belief is that the principle of throwing a shot at a target is the same, the power is maximized with a ‘foot thrust’ rather than a ‘foot pivot’.

However, I’m assuming that you are being coached, so my general advice would be to follow the advice of your coach. There’s no harm in discussing it though, I always like a boxer to question what I coach as this is the process of learning in all it’s glory!

Thanks again Ely and I hope this has helped. Take care.

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Matt August 11, 2011 at 3:44 pm

Hello Fran,

Must say that I continue to enjoy this site. A lot of good information and wonderful tutorials/examples. There are a few things I am curious about, if you could help clarify for me.

1) For both lead and rear hooks (or cross), the hips rotation should be caused mainly from the push off the foot, correct? So, push off left foot for a left hook and right foot for right hooks. Not from the mid-section. To clarify, if i stand on my right left with the left leg off the ground, I can still rotate my hip clockwise, without having to push off my left foot. And I imagine this rotation comes from the hips/midsection. Instead, I want the rotation to be caused by the feet and not the midsection (as when one foot is off the ground), yes?

2) Relating to question 1, What is the best way to ensure that the rotation is being driven correctly? For example, when I throw a Right Cross, my foot rotates, my hips rotate, etc., but it doesn’t quite feel like I am driving off the back foot. One thing that I observed, is that when I throw a cross or a lead hook, when I rotate the foot, my heel lifts significantly off the ground. And I notice that when you throw these punches in your tutorial videos, that your heels don’t lift very high off the ground, or rotate too much, is that the key? To not lift too high or rotate too far in order to drive off the feet? To clarify how my foot turns. From stance, I throw the right cross. If I was to hold the end position (arm fully extended position for the cross), the toes of my right foot would be facing towards my opponent and my heel would be high.

Thank you.

-Matt-

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Fran August 12, 2011 at 8:23 pm

Hey Matt, I hope that you are well.

In terms of one, you are right on the money in terms of pushing off the relevant foot when throwing a shot (or indeed blocking or performing a body movement skill). It’s an interesting little experiment that you carried out. My understanding is, and I stand to be corrected on this as I’m no kinesiologist, that when a person is standing up, then for the hips to move the feet begin the process of moving them. So, even when you were standing on one leg, it was your right leg that enabled your hips to move. I’ve just had an interesting time trying it out, and I wonder how many others who read this thread do the same.

Onto your second point, on the whole and from what you describe it sounds like you are nearly there. The one main thing that I’d pick up on is to be careful in ‘rotating’ the foot. If you were to push a car, you would ‘thrust’ from that back foot, you wouldn’t pivot the foot as you would lose traction and therefore not generate the same power. We are dealing with the same principle here. When the shot lands, it sounds like your back foot is in exactly the right position, so keep this in mind. The key question is have your hips rotated enough? If they have not then this is likely to be because you need to bend your front leg to allow the hips to rotate. Worth considering.

If I could offer a little piece of advice. If you feel that you are under-rotating, focus on bringing your left shoulder back and keeping your back straight. This will allow you to take the focus off the back foot slightly (even though it’s still the legs that are working). Make the drawback of the shoulder sharp. Maybe this might help a little, I hope so because it’s good that you are getting into the detail. Make sure that during other periods of your training you are countering the analysis with some instinctive and random movement as it keeps a nice natural aspect to your style.

Thanks very much Matt

Fran

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Keith August 3, 2010 at 8:00 pm

Sorry, the sentence after the question mark should read “When I do the hook with palm facing OUT it seems to eliminate any tendency of the weight going on the front foot that you mentioned above”

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Keith August 3, 2010 at 7:57 pm

Hi Fran
To prevent the weight being transferred to the front foot I try to ensure that my back (right) heel slams on the floor as the punch connects. Whenever I forget about slamming the heel I sometimes do find that my weight moves to the front foot and get the embarrassing tailspin that you mention (embarrassing on the bag but probably lethal for me in sparring).

Something I want to ask you is that in the amateur boxing scene they often teach boxers to hook with palm facing out. I can see that this is an advantage in terms of point scoring but are there other advantages here over the hook with palm down or in? When I do the hook with palm facing in it seems to eliminate any tendency of the weight going on the front foot that you mentioned above. I also feel that you get a good follow through as you the hand comes back to the on-guard position.
Cheers
Keith

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Fran August 10, 2010 at 2:42 pm

Keith

Couple of points there. In terms of slamming the heel down on your back foot, you’re spot on to want to ensure that the body weight does go to the back leg. Be aware though, when the of heel your back foot is down (i.e. you’re ‘flat footed’), your mobility is severely hampered. Remember that you always need the option of moving, mobility is absolutely essential. Instead of slamming your heel, target the feeling of the back knee flexing and bending under the body weight. This will hopefully have the same effect and will not result in any mobility problems.

In terms of the palm facing out, I think this relates to a long range left hook. There’s a way you can throw it that means the palm faces your opponent at a 45 degree angle to the ground. This is very much a scoring punch and does not have a ‘power’ focus; amateur boxing judges love this kind of shot.

Cheers and thanks for the views mate.

Reply

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