Dominant side (way) slower than non-dominant with singles

jassz

Member
I've been struggling with this forever, on both feet and hands (fingers).

Fortunately my main instrument is the piano, where this is not that big of an issue except for trills - but I can happily play jazz without them.
But yeah basically everything that involves fast repetition, my dominant (right) side sucks. For anything else it's stronger and more accurate, as you would expect from the dominant side.
On drums my only solution is wrist/fingers combinations (push-pull etc), which I don't like unless I specifically need accented singles. And for my right foot it's even more hopeless, but well as long as I don't try to play metal I can get away with it.

To give you some numbers: with my right hand I can tap 8th notes only up to around 150 bpm before I start feeling some tension. Meanwhile, on the same click with my left side I can tap triplets and it feels super easy. My feet are a bit slower but same ratio.

Over the years I've only found one guy on the internet who had a similar issue. Came across a thread from him on this very board, he also had a youtube channel, but I can't find them anymore.

Does it ring a bell to anyone here? I really feel like an alien when I think about it.
 
Last edited:

sumdrumguy

Senior Member
Possibly, your dominant side has been conditioned to play certain patterns - quarters, 8ths and possibly 16th - more than triplets.
 
Last edited:

jassz

Member
The division doesn't matter of course. I would have spotted that since all these years ;)
It was just a convenient example showing that my left side is about 50% faster than my right.
 

J-W

Well-known member
Maybe you're left handed and just in denial. ;)

But seriously, if I'm understanding this correctly, wouldn't playing open handed solve the issue?
 

Stroman

Platinum Member
Well, we are all wired quite differently. My son's "dominant" side is only dominant for a very few tasks. He is visually cross-dominant, and there are many things he does better with the non-dominant side. Most very fluid things, like sports, karate, etc. come easier to him on the non-dominant side. I suspect you are experiencing something similar.

My non-dominant hand is like a club with digits, lol, so I am used to struggling with the imbalance. You'll just have to keep working at it, like a mirror image of the rest of us!
 

jassz

Member
Maybe you're left handed and just in denial. ;)

Haha !

But seriously, if I'm understanding this correctly, wouldn't playing open handed solve the issue?

If I can work hard enough on my left hand to bring it to the level of control of my right side, sure, it would remove some limitations in my playing as it's more common to play fast singles with the riding hand.
But the imbalance would still remain, typically my single stroke rolls would still suffer from the issue.
 

jassz

Member
Have you tried anything to improve your right side?

Yeah, slow practice, individual fingers, etc. I've got to be careful with a latent tendinitis though. No such problem with my right foot so I've tried to work on it like crazy, but there is just zero improvement.
I've tried to analyze and mirror the feeling and motion of my left side, but they just seem to be wired differently.
 

jassz

Member
Well, we are all wired quite differently. My son's "dominant" side is only dominant for a very few tasks. He is visually cross-dominant, and there are many things he does better with the non-dominant side. Most very fluid things, like sports, karate, etc. come easier to him on the non-dominant side. I suspect you are experiencing something similar.

My non-dominant hand is like a club with digits, lol, so I am used to struggling with the imbalance. You'll just have to keep working at it, like a mirror image of the rest of us!

Thanks for your input. Sounds like your son is more on the ambidextrous side?
My left side is really only better for that particular fast tapping skill. For anything else I'd put my money on my right side, no hesitation.

I think if the limitation was similar to that of the standard weak/strong side imbalance, it would improve through practice? Hum, I don't know...
 

jassz

Member
Below is a demonstration of Jojo Mayer exercises. The second one (starting about 3 minutes in, video queued just before correct exercise) has you touch thumb and finger and move your fingers. Try this and give feedback on whether you can move your fingers while the rest of your hand is completely relaxed. If you put your hand in a french grip type of position, can you keep the area between thumb and index finger practically motionless while moving your fingers rapidly? Are there muscles or tendons that feel oddly stretched doing this exercise? If so, you may need to do this type of exercise to improve your hands flexibility.

Only exercise a bit to start and increase time slowly. It is easy to overdo this type of exercise.


Thank you for the advice. I've tried this a long time ago after watching an exerpt from Jojo's DVD, but I think I may have overdone it indeed. I'm pretty sure tendinitis kicked in and I just gave up.

Well I'm trying it right now. Even at a very slow pace the feeling is different from one side to the other. My left fingers feel lighter, more free to move. Better independence between the middle and ring fingers too, they're really stuck together on my right side and there is a kind of discomfort as I reach the closed position.
 

Stroman

Platinum Member
Thanks for your input. Sounds like your son is more on the ambidextrous side?
My left side is really only better for that particular fast tapping skill. For anything else I'd put my money on my right side, no hesitation.

I think if the limitation was similar to that of the standard weak/strong side imbalance, it would improve through practice? Hum, I don't know...
Well, he isn't what I'd call ambidextrous, he just has different skill sets for the different sides, if that makes sense.

As far as your situation, and improving over time - IDK. I've been playing 46 years now, and my left is STILL slower than my right in matched grip. In trad, which is how I learned, they are much closer in speed, but I just don't have the power and endurance with the left that I do with the right. I could probably remedy that, but I tend to spend more time trying to improve my left matched grip.
 

MrInsanePolack

Platinum Member
Well I'm trying it right now. Even at a very slow pace the feeling is different from one side to the other. My left fingers feel lighter, more free to move. Better independence between the middle and ring fingers too, they're really stuck together on my right side and there is a kind of discomfort as I reach the closed position.
Look at your wrists. Are they both straight or is one bent? A bent wrist puts tension on the tendons. If you point your fingers down at 90* and make a fist you can feel the tension as you squeeze. It goes away when you straighten out the wrist. Same thing happens when you are using a stick.
 

jassz

Member
Look at your wrists. Are they both straight or is one bent? A bent wrist puts tension on the tendons. If you point your fingers down at 90* and make a fist you can feel the tension as you squeeze. It goes away when you straighten out the wrist. Same thing happens when you are using a stick.

I keep my wrists straight and relaxed. I don't know where the discomfort comes from.
I may try the Jojo Mayer routine again, in a more mindful way.
 

jassz

Member
If you treat it like rehab and go slowly, over time your body will hopefully get comfortable with the motions. I’m not a doctor or anything like that, but generally, movement is good. Definitely do only a little every day until the discomfort goes away.

Sounds like a good approach.
I notice I'm more comfortable leading with the ring and pinky, while the middle finger just follows.
 

toddbishop

Platinum Member
I don't believe in hand dominance in drumming— it's just a question of practice.

-- Do more and lead more with whichever hand sucks.
-- Practice in front of a mirror and look for weird motions.
-- Learn to eliminate useless motions, like habitually downstroking-- lift the stick at the end of the stroke instead of the beginning.
-- Play lower.

You can do whatever you need to do on a practice pad with ~ the first ten pages of Stick Control. A really helpful drill is to play 8th note or triplet accent patterns on the drum set, using the bad hand only, hitting the accents on a cymbal + bass drum in unison, hitting everything else on the snare/toms.

It's real simple-- you do have to do it though.
 

jassz

Member
I don't believe in hand dominance in drumming— it's just a question of practice.

-- Do more and lead more with whichever hand sucks.
-- Practice in front of a mirror and look for weird motions.
-- Learn to eliminate useless motions, like habitually downstroking-- lift the stick at the end of the stroke instead of the beginning.
-- Play lower.

You can do whatever you need to do on a practice pad with ~ the first ten pages of Stick Control. A really helpful drill is to play 8th note or triplet accent patterns on the drum set, using the bad hand only, hitting the accents on a cymbal + bass drum in unison, hitting everything else on the snare/toms.

It's real simple-- you do have to do it though.

I've done it. I started playing drums pretty early, had teachers who taught me proper technique from the beginning. They just failed to spot that my right hand (the most busy one) lacked finger speed.

Some anecdote: years ago I was with this girl who had never played drums in her life. She wanted to be taught some basics, so I showed her the main strokes, and how we could switch from wrist action to finger action for fast singles. Well guess what? On those finger-driven singles, her right hand was faster than mine.

I don't believe I can improve this aspect through conventional drum practice.
 

Push pull stroke

Platinum Member
For me, the best thing I’ve found for increasing speed is big, slow strokes, alternating with low, slow strokes, alternating with low, FAST strokes.

So I’ll do 8 or 16 VERY slow strokes (one note=20, roughly) with the sticks raised all the way above my head, then another 8 or 16 at the same speed with a stick height of about 5 inches, then another 8 or 16 at the low height at twice the speed, the ANOTHER at twice THAT speed, etc. until it’s too fast for me to double the speed again. Then I start over with the stick height over my head.

The high stick height and slow speed helps root out any weird habits in your stroke, because it exaggerates them enough to let you catch them. The low stick height stuff is to train your hands to play at the actual stick height that you’ll be playing at when you’re doing fast singles. And the doubling of the speed each time at the low stick height helps you remember to STAY LOOSE. LOL
 

toddbishop

Platinum Member
I've done it. I started playing drums pretty early, had teachers who taught me proper technique from the beginning. They just failed to spot that my right hand (the most busy one) lacked finger speed.

Why are you using fingers on 8th notes at qtr note = 150?

I don't believe I can improve this aspect through conventional drum practice.

Would you mind sharing some video of your impossible to be improved upon technique? Just eight notes per hand and some different speeds, maybe.
 

Stroman

Platinum Member
I don't believe in hand dominance in drumming— it's just a question of practice.

-- Do more and lead more with whichever hand sucks.
-- Practice in front of a mirror and look for weird motions.
-- Learn to eliminate useless motions, like habitually downstroking-- lift the stick at the end of the stroke instead of the beginning.
-- Play lower.

You can do whatever you need to do on a practice pad with ~ the first ten pages of Stick Control. A really helpful drill is to play 8th note or triplet accent patterns on the drum set, using the bad hand only, hitting the accents on a cymbal + bass drum in unison, hitting everything else on the snare/toms.

It's real simple-- you do have to do it though.

I hope you're right, Todd, but my left is still slower, even after years of working on it. The biggest improvement came after I moved my thumb up on top of the stick, per Bill Bachman. Once I moved away from the left-hand-German-grip-backbeat-hammer, things got better, but it still lags.

Mind you, it's not terrible. I can play what I need to, but the left is always the limiting factor in speed.

Don't mean to derail the thread; I'm just not sure both hands can necessarily be brought to the same level for everyone.
 
Top