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The hook is among the most hardcore punches in boxing and has been responsible for more than its fair share of KOs. Take your boxing to the next level by learning when to use these powerful hook variations.
Learning the different types of hooks in boxing comes with both offensive and defensive advantages. Not only will you have some powerful new tools to add to your arsenal, but you’ll also decrease the odds of getting taken by surprise if an opponent tries to use one on you.
What is a Hook in Boxing?
Before we get into the different types of hook punches, let’s make sure we’re all on the same page by defining exactly what a hook punch is and how it’s thrown. A hook is a type of boxing punch that’s thrown with the arm bent at the elbow at a 90-degree angle.
When throwing a hook punch to an opponent’s head, the boxer’s forearm is held parallel to the floor, creating a sort of “tabletop” in front of their face. Contrary to the belief of many novices, the hook punch’s power doesn’t rely on the strength of the punching arm alone.
The secret to a great hook lies in the pivoting motion of the feet, combined with a rotation of the hips and upper body. This allows the boxer to back the hook witha massive amount of their own body weight as they swing. Needless to say, when a hook punch is executed correctly, it’sdefinitely not the most fun shot to be on the receiving end of. Want to see a killer hook punch in action?
Look no further than fights featuring boxers like Mike Tyson, Joe Frazier, Miguel Cotto, and Oscar De La Hoya. Eachperfected the hook and used it brilliantly throughout their careers.
Now let’s get into several common hook punch variations and the situations in which each of them shines.
1. Standard Rear Hook
When most people talk about a hook in boxing, they’re usually referring to either a standard rear hook or lead hook. These two hook punches are textbook boxing essentials and both have become classics in their own right.
The standard rear hook is pretty much exactly what it sounds like. The boxer launches their punch with their rear arm bent at a 90-degree angle and lands it with their forearm held horizontally to the floor. As they throw the punch, the boxer pivots theirfeetand upper body to ensure that the hook is delivered with maximum force.
Hooks thrown with the rear hand tend to be best utilized in short-range situations. The standard hook in itself is a pretty tight shot and the fact that it’s coming from the rear hand means that it’s already going to have to cover enough distance just to reach the opponent. For this reason, it’s also going to be a little slower, but more powerful, than thefront hook punch.
Best Used For:
- Short-range blows
- To stop an advancing opponent
- As part of a combination (Cross-Jab-Rear Hook)
- Broken-rhythm striking after setting up a series of lead hooks.
2. Lead Hook
The lead hook is a favorite knockout punch of many a boxing champion and is delivered much like the rear hook, only with the front hand.
Part of the lead hook’s greatness is that it can be an incredibly versatile strike. Though it’s often used at the end of a combo, it can also be a great way to throw your opponent off-guard when used as a lead-in.
The challenge of throwing the ideal lead hook is avoiding the temptation to “wind up” before you swing. If you can manage to keep your arm tight to the body right up until you swing, however, the lead hook can be delightfully unpredictable.
While lead hand strikes generally tend to be more about speed than power, a well-executed lead hook can generate a nice blend of both. Due to the force generated by the legs and hips, it’s a great way to daze your opponent if you can find the perfect opening.
Best Used For
- Short to medium-range striking
- Part of a combination (Jab-cross-front hook) or (front hook-cross-front hook)
- To lead into other shots like a rear uppercut
- A great blend of speed and power
4. Double Hook
As the name suggests, the double hook is all about doubling up on the fun of a single hook. Don’t be fooled, however, because landing one great hook after another requires a great deal of practice, not to mention shoulder strength. This is one of those moves you’ll want to perfect on a bag or pads before attempting to pull offin the ring.
But if you do manage to get the hang of it, it’s an incredibly efficient move that you can use in several different ways. Some boxers deliver both hooks to their opponent’s head, while others direct themto the body. You can also do a combination of the two, shooting the first hook to the head and the second to the liver or vice versa.
Additionally, there’s a lot of room for customization as far as the force you put behind each blow. You can use the first shot as a quicker set-upand put all your power behind the second, orgo all-in with both.
The double hook can be a great surprise attack simply because few people can pull it off well, so most boxers don’t see it coming. It’s also an awesome way to cash in on gaining the upper hand if you’ve got your opponent backed into a corner.
Best Used For:
- Overwhelming an opponent
- Tricking your opponent into dropping their guard by throwing a body shot and following up witha hook to the head when your opponent goes to block.
- Short-range power shots
- Raking- Using the first hook to momentarily push away your opponent’s guard with the hope of delivering the second before they’ve managed to reset.
5. Shovel Hook
The shovel hook punch is a nice tool to have at your disposal when you’re having problems getting past an opponent’s guard. If you’ve already got them all turtled up, then the odds are good that you’ve got the upper hand. The problem is how to cash in on it?
The shovel hook is unique because it’s thrown at a diagonal angle. Imagine it traveling right up the middle line between an uppercut and a standard hook.
You start with your hand pulled back, almost like it’s on a gun holster, and shoot it upwards right up through your opponent’s guard. Despite the turtle shell’s efficiency, this is one of the few punches that are capable of breaking through it.
Best Used For:
- Breaking through an opponent’s tight guard
- Ending a combination with the element of surprise
- Explosive power when thrown correctly
Right Hook vs Left Hook
Assuming that you fight in an orthodox stance, your lefthand will throw your front hook while your righthand will deliver your back hook. While each has its own perks, it’s important to understand which is best to use and when.
One of the left hook’s strengths is that it’s closer to your opponent and can be delivered more quickly. On the downside, it can also be a tricky shot to land correctly at incredibly close range.
If you use your right hook as your rear hand, it’s probably because that’s your dominant hand and the one that’s going to deliver the most power. A well-placed right hook can deliver maximum force but is generally easier for your opponent to see coming because it has a bit further to travel.
Hook vs Cross Differences
The cross is right up there with the hook when it comes to the most effective knock-out punches in boxing. When properly executed, both of these punches can have a devastating impact on an unsuspecting opponent. One major difference is that the hook can be thrown with either hand and with the arm bent at 90-degrees.
The cross is always thrown with the rear hand and involves straightening the arm as you throw the punch towards your opponent. Another major difference lies in the fact that the hook is a tight strike that’s best utilized at short range, while the cross is a great long-range power shot.