Lead Hook

The lead hook is possibly the most dangerous punch in boxing. Often thrown (when an orthodox boxer is facing and orthodox boxer or a southpaw is facing a southpaw) from outside the line-of-sight it is a power-punch that can surprise the recipient and has led to many knockouts.

Although risky and telegraphed when attempted as a lead punch the left hook, when thrown after a cross or after slipping an incoming punch, can be powerful and quick.

Please Note: I’m a southpaw (left handed) so if you write or throw a ball with your right hand stand with your dominant hand (right) to the rear and left foot forwards

To maximise power, it is important that help is recruited from the legs, hips, core and shoulders as well as the punching arm. Because of this the boxer must achieve a loaded-up position (Think pulling your arm back before throwing a discus. Not that we all have experience in that area but you know what I mean!) before throwing the punch.

The lead hook is one of the very hardest punches for beginners to get their heads around. As well as it being throw with the “weaker” hand the arm doesn’t extend like it does with the straight punches and people attempting the punch for the first time often struggle with this concept.

Delivered to the side of an opponent’s jaw, the lead hook is normally thrown with the punching arm braced at a fixed angle (this depends on the range at which it is thrown but typically around the 90-degree mark) and torso twist initiated by pushing off the foot on the same side as the punching arm. There are differences of opinion when it comes to glove/hand position on contact with the target with Amateur boxing coaches encouraging a palms-down, thumbs towards yourself approach and other coaches recommending that the glove lands with the thumb on top. The Amateur method attempts to reduce “slapping” (or punching with the inside, palm part of the glove) and get the boxer to land with the scoring part of the glove.

  • Achieve a loaded-up position with your weight over your punching-side leg and your shoulders more squared (approximately 90 degrees) up to your opponent than your normal boxing stance. This process MUST occur with a minimum of telegraphing. Finding yourself in this loaded position as a result of just throwing the cross or slipping a punch would be most effective starting point for the lead hook.
  • Simultaneously tense your core and exhale sharply through your nose whilst throwing the punch, this will help improve speed and power.
  • Push off the punching-side leg to initiate hip and torso twist towards the target.
  • Whip the arm (which should be roughly parallel with the floor) in a scything action at the target (the side of your opponent’s jaw), bracing it with your bicep to reduce power loss and to keep it from extending. Imagine your forearm not existing and you are trying to hit the target with your elbow.
  • Only clench the fist moments before impact to aid speed and reduce fatigue.
  • The follow-through position with your glove (and where your glove ends up if you miss) should be towards your rear shoulder not your opponent.
  • Retract the glove to the defensive guard position as quickly as possible and return to your original stance.

The lead hook is predominantly a mid-to-short range punch and as such beginners will need to need close their distance to their targets (as compared with straight punches) when practicing it in the gym.

Drill the lead hook in combinations including rear-hand punches to naturally load it up or as a stinging counter to an opponent’s punch and it will serve you well, throw it as a lead punch and you will find opponents will see it coming easily!