Sugar Ray Leonard, one of the best boxing technicians ever, has given an open workshop recently . What can we learn from just one minute video? A lot. For your convenience, we have transformed this workshop into a step by step guide for an average guy on improving the technique of the left hook.
The gap between the theory and the reality
On the surface, there are no hidden secrets in how to throw the left hook. The principles are explained more or less the same way by most coaches [2-5]:
- Maximum leverage
- Weight transfer
Below is an example how a relatively famous coach, Kenny Weldon, illustrates these principles:
By no means, we are trying to discredit such a proven coach as Kenny Weldon. The purpose is to indicated that there is a huge gap between the theoretical principles and practical details. Consider a recent famous example of Danny “Swift” Garcia, you do not have to be an expert to see big differences between what coach explains and how things are done actually:
This article is not intended to explain the left hook technique in all details. SugarBoxing is working on it too, but here we simply show some gems with which you can make your hook better.
Majority of beginners execute the technique of the left hook similarly to this student:
There is no point in blaming anybody for the mistakes. People are just taught this way nowadays. The question is how to build upon what you already have to improve the technique?
Notice, that both Kenny Weldon and the student from examples above are hopping from one leg to another. Nobody claims it is wrong. This is one of legitimate ways to set body weight in motion . The problem is if you want a hook to have more snap, you’d rather use a pivot [7,8].
Use the muscles on the right side of your body to torque your left side around:
Add the left hip
Torso twist causes your left foot to pivot. The left foot pivots on the toe, the leg turns, the hip turns:
Notice while the hip and the torso begin to move, keep your left shoulder in its original position as long as possible. This is related to the next tip.
The reason to begin with the hip and the torso, not the arm, is to establish the shoulder snap. It is the tension you are creating in the shoulder that causes the arm whip towards the target:
That this phase is missing in the example of Kenny Weldon and the student.
Natural question on the definition
If you accept the definition of the hook by Kenny Weldon from above example, you may raise a natural question: why such a punch is called “the hook” actually? Where is this hook-like part in it that gives it its name? On the surface, an uppercut seems to have more of this hooking look in it. The answer is that what Kenny Weldon shows is more a looping punch, not hooking one.
Sugar Ray Leonard suggest his student not to loop:
Looping happens when you extend your shoulder towards the target and do not keep it closer to your body. SugarBoxing is not against looping punches. In the framework of a hook, you need shorter and snappier arm movements.
When Kenny Weldon and the student are looping their hook, their fists stop half way, not reaching the other side of the body. Notice how Sugar Ray Leonard suggest to executes the final stage of the hook with this “closing the door” movements in the end:
Sugar Ray Leonard ends showing the full hooking motion:
Pay attention that it has all the technique elements described above, it is not jerky, but movements look smooth and fluid. If you trust in the champ, these are what needed when practicing punches in air.
Now lets compare the beginning and the last stage of the student progress after he picked up some of Sugar Ray Leonard tips:
It is far from being perfect, but the punch has definitely gotten the looks of the hook Sugar Ray Leonard and Danny Garcia demonstrate. Previously, the body, the legs and the arm moved separately. Now it has got the whole motion like elements of a chain. Interestingly, it took just a minute for Sugar Ray Leonard to significantly improve the technique of the student. Some people are still hooking the old way for years.
SugarBoxing does not offer you a remedy or a magic solution. No matter how many explanations are here and how detailed they are, there will be a gap between the theory and the reality that you should master on your own. We can only help you to be aware of such a gap.
6. Jack Dempsey. Championship Fighting by Jack Dempsey (1950). download pdf
7. Edwin L. Haislet. Boxing (1968) download pdf
8. Saddoboxing Forum: The Left Hook Gap