Left hand thumb keeps sliding of the stick

hypersthene

Junior Member
Hi!

I have a problem thats been bothering more and more as i´ve started to realise how much i affects my playing. Whenever i do rudimental practise on my pad, my left hand thumb has a tendency to slide off the top of the stick down to the side, making the gap to the index finger larger than i am comfortable with. Having to readjust all the time makes my left hand a lot sloppier than it should be.

I have also noticed that my right hand generally is playing with more of an american grip, whereas my left stays more german.

Does anyone have any advice on how to get my left hand grip steadier, so that the stick (or the thumb) stays in place, without adding tension?
 

Justinvarnes

Junior Member
Sorry you're having trouble with your left hand.

It sounds to me like your fulcrum is underdeveloped. The muscles that hold the stick perfectly in place while the rest of the stick pivots and swings have to be strong and sensitive. If you are right handed, it's likely that your right hand has a better developed group of muscles and ligaments there due to all the things your right hand does that your left hand doesn't: write, use a fork, etc

In German Grip, I'm a fan of the fulcrum being a little farther back in the hand. For me, it's the thumb and the second joint of the middle finger. The thumb and index finger as the fulcrum works better for me in French and American grips.

Wherever your fulcrum is, try some fulcrum strengthening exercises. My favorite is to rotate into French Grip (where the fulcrum you are using can be isolated easier than in German or American) and JUST use the fulcrum to play eighth notes on a practice pad between 90-140bpm. At first you may see wildly varied results. The stick might fly out of your hand, or you may have a hard time staying with the metronome, or you may have a hard time keeping the stick heading in the same direction.

Focus on the tip of the stick and its path. Focus on an even amount of stick height and a consistent point of contact on the pad (within say a half dollar coin sized area...don't worry about it being a pinpoint spot at this stage).

If you do this 5-7 days a week for just 5 minutes, you should see progress within a few weeks. After you feel comfortable with this exercise, rotate back into your normal playing position and fine tune the fulcrum from there to fit your grip. You should find that now you have much more control over your thumb and it will be easier to keep it in place.

Hope this helps. Good Luck!
 

Winegums

Silver Member
I agree with Justin, fulcrum on your middle finger, just before the second joint. I too play german left and american/french on my right hand as it helps me get around the kit. Make sure when you're playing that you're ALWAYS holding the grip you want you body to assume. Muscle memory takes longer to adjust than to develop, just like habits. So make sure you're strict and consistent with your grips for a month or so.

I really had to consciously train my muscles to hold the stick in the exact spot I wanted especially with my right hand. I used to keep tensing up and gripping the stick too hard causing blisters but I've nearly eliminated that problem 2 years later...

Anyway moral of the story is to pay attention to your body mechanics. Make sure you're in control of your body and are aware of exactly what minute motions you're doing. You'll be able to correct technique issues before they develop.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
Do thumb exercises to strengthen your thumb. Your thumb is crucial in matched grip. You need a strong thumb. You weak hand has a substantially weaker thumb than your dominant hand. That in a nutshell is the biggest difference between your strong hand and your weak hand. It's the thumb. Realizing this was the best thing I ever did for my weak hand. I've been on a mission to strengthen my weak hand thumb now for about a year and a half, and I'm loving the results.

Don't worry if one hand is American and one is more German, they're all matched grip. I use French on my ride with my strong hand, American with both hands on my toms, and German on my snare with my weak hand, basically speaking, but there is drift. Not something to concern yourself with, but definitely do strengthen your thumb. You need a really developed opposing force to get that hand to do what you want.
 

Brian

Gold Member
I practiced the "valving" thing that Jojo Mayer demonstrates, where he's using a fulcrum centered around the thumb and intdex, and finger motion alternates between index and thumb. It was fairly easy to practice right-handed, but I remember having trouble with it at first left-handed. Your fulcrum strength and consistency will certainly improve practicing that exercise, as well as your overall execution.
 

hypersthene

Junior Member
Thank you for all the great advice!

I have now managed to figure out where the real problem lies. I haven´t been able to pull the stick perfectly downwards with my thumb on the top. Whenever i´ve been moving it to the top of the stick, the stick has been directed in the wrong direction, as opposed to the prefered direction directly oppoiste to where my thumb is. I have already made huge improvements with my french grip since that discovery though.

I will keep practising this even though i probably will keep playing with more of a middle finger fulcrum. I will also work hard to sthrengthen my thumb.

Thanks again!
 

Mark_S

Silver Member
Personally I would learn to play thumb and first finger first, and then second finger when you have that down.. Since doing that with my new teacher, my grip has become much much better.

I spent years with bad grip because I was never sure how to hold a stick properly; 1 person/video said first finger, another said second, so I just ended up in a mess.

Another problem I had was how I thought about the thumb. I think I used to hold the sticks with more of a pencil grip... it is hard to describe without pictures, but I wasn't using the strength from the base of the thumb so much. I think I was bending at the joint a little too.

Anyway - I think my point is.. find a reputable teacher that has churned out some good students.. That's what I did; I wish I had done it 20 years ago.. Grip is something that needs to be monitored by a teacher. My teacher watches me like a hawk and spots when anything is going awry before I even realise.

Everyone will tell you to do it their way on the Internet, like I just did ;-)
 
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