Hook punches - Lead Hooks and Rear Hooks - also known as punches 3 & 4, are two (2) of the biggest power punches in boxing, but they can also be some of the toughest punches to master. In this article, we’ll break down how to properly throw Lead Hooks and Rear Hooks, from the proper boxing stance to arm and hand placements. You’ll also learn common mistakes while throwing hook punches, and how you can avoid them.
How To Throw a Lead Hook
Start in a neutral boxing stance (one foot forward, one foot back) with your weight evenly distributed
Transfer some weight from your lead leg to your rear to load up for the hook punch
Lean your upper body a bit over your lead leg, and bring your lead hand slightly off your face
Use your legs and core to generate momentum through your hips
Pivot your lead foot to open your hips and maximize your weight transfer
Land the punch on the heavy bag with your hand level with your face and your palm facing yourself (like you’re holding a cup of coffee)
Want to increase your punching power when throwing hook punches? Here’s a pro tip from FightCamp Co-Founder & Trainer Tommy Duquette:
Open your arm a little wider at the start of your punch motion, then come across and close the angle to 90 degrees right before the moment of impact
Immediately before you hit the bag, flex your bicep and clench your fist and land the punch with your arm level and your elbow behind your fist
Keep your elbow behind your fist to add a whip-like motion to your hook and maximize the power generated off your punch
How To Throw a Rear Hook
The Rear Hook utilizes similar mechanics to the Lead Hook, but it comes from the opposite side of your body, so you don’t have to transfer any of your weight before the punch.
Start in your neutral stance
Open your hand off your face and engage your core to twist your torso and pivot your rear foot to twist your hips and generate power
End the punch with your elbow level
Delivering An Effective Hook Punch
How much weight you transfer and how fast you transfer it determines how effective your punch is. The biggest mistake to avoid is dropping your punching hand too low mid-motion. Defensively this is risky because it leaves your face open to a counter strike; offensively it’s bad because it telegraphs your punch. Keeping your hook punches high and tight will minimize the distance you need to throw them, and the effort required to deliver a strong punch.
So how can you avoid this common boxing pitfall? Picture an imaginary line running across the middle of your chest, and extending outwards. Now imagine that dropping your hand below that line at any point would result in you being shot. When you throw your Lead Hook, keep your hand above that imaginary line, and land your punch on the heavy bag with your elbow in line behind your fist. Don’t let that hand drop below that line.
One more pro tip from Tommy: Make sure your hands are always coming directly back to your face after completing your punches. When you throw your Lead Hook, don’t follow through and drop your hand. Throw it, land it, and bring it back to your temple immediately after impact. You still want to maximize power and punch through the target, but once you’re finished with that motion, bring your hand back to protect your face.
Keep On Punching!
Practice these new punches slowly in the mirror, shadowboxing, and incorporate them into your regular heavy bag training. These hook punches are very hard to nail, but consistent practice and discipline will have you throwing and landing your lead and rear hooks powerfully, accurately, and effectively. For more technique tutorials and at-home boxing training, check out our YouTube Channel and Blog. And if you have any questions about these punches or anything in general about boxing and kickboxing don’t hesitate to reach out to Tommy and the other FightCamp Trainers in the FightCamp Community.