The Left Hook
The left hook is often a very difficult punch to learn how to throw properly. It’s not as simply as just swinging your arm wildly in front of you. Instead, there are precise mechanical movements that should be followed in order to attain maximum punching power in a way that won’t injure your hand or wrist.
We discussed warm up techniques for boxing in a previous article, but if you are simply planning on shadow boxing for more rounds than usual in order to learn the proper technique of the left hook, then something as simple as skipping with a jump rope followed by light dynamic stretching could be adequate.
Stance and Foot Movement
The stance during a left hook is the same as any other punch. If you are a classic boxer (right hand back, left hand in front), then your left foot will be in front and the right in the back, as usual. Remember to maintain good balance with feet approximately shoulder width apart and on the balls of your feet and knees bent. Then, as you begin throwing the left hook, your left foot will turn in so that your toes are pointing to the right (just the toes on your left foot, don’t twist your right foot).
When learning a left hook, I always found it useful to maintain a 90 degree angle at the elbow joint at all times, at least when first learning. You will want to bring your left elbow up to the height of your chin so that your fist is now pointing towards the right. Then, on the follow through, it’s often helpful to imagine that if you miss with your fist, then hit your opponent with your elbow. Of course, this is illegal and you don’t want to actually hit them with your elbow, but it helps maintain proper technique especially when first learning.
When bringing your fist back towards you after the actual punch, it’s extremely easy to unknowingly drop your hands. Remember, your opponent is looking for openings, so make sure to keep that fist up and elbow by your side.
When you practice this punch at the gym or at home, make sure to start slow and potentially practice different phases of the punch at a time. Go slow at first, because the hardest part of this punch is simply coordinating all the movements into a smooth powerful flow.
If you are practicing the left hook, try and avoid the heavy bag until you feel comfortable with the proper technique. By getting lazy or purely by accident, many fighters will injure their wrists on this punch. Aside from technique, one way to help reduce the risk of wrist injury is making sure your boxing gloves have appropriate protection. This doesn’t just mean padding up front at the knuckles, but good tight wrist support is also necessary.