Very loose/flexible wrists - a must have?

WaitForItDrummer

Senior Member
Hey everyone,

I've been watching some pro drummers, some on YouTube and some live, and have recently noticed that some of them have insanely loose wrists... Which makes me wonder: is having a very loose wrist a must have to play well?

Also, is this something that developed over time in some people with lots of practice or a natural physical feature they always had?

I did calssical ballet from age 5 for 9 years and my feet (ankles) are still weirdly loose because of all the pointing... (But it did not do much for the wrists unfortunately)... This sort of makes me think, maybe loose wrists just develop over time, too?
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
I'd say being loose is preferable for sure. As far as it developing over time....yes...and no. If a person's technique isn't conducive to loose wrists, then I'm not sure it will ever happen for them. Looseness is directly proportional to the type of technique one employs, as far as I can tell. Like if you hold your drumsticks like a hammer, all the time, I don't see looseness ever happening. You have to get the stick off the palm. All the great technique players....their fingers cradle and help motivate the stick and also act as shock absorbers. The stick is not mashed against the palm.
 

Bo Eder

Platinum Member
Yes they do. But you really have to put in the hours, and the years of constant playing. You know this already from being a dancer. Drumming is just another set of muscles. When I was a kid, marching with a drum corps really got my hands in shape because you'd be working out with the line, or rehearsing your show up to 12 hours a day. When I'm home working out on the set or a pad, it's not hard for me to put in more than two hours at a time.
 

WaitForItDrummer

Senior Member
I'd say being loose is preferable for sure. As far as it developing over time....yes...and no. If a person's technique isn't conducive to loose wrists, then I'm not sure it will ever happen for them. Looseness is directly proportional to the type of technique one employs, as far as I can tell. Like if you hold your drumsticks like a hammer, all the time, I don't see looseness ever happening. You have to get the stick off the palm. All the great technique players....their fingers cradle and help motivate the stick and also act as shock absorbers. The stick is not mashed against the palm.
Thanks, Lar. Yeah, one of the first things my drum teacher showed me me was how to use my middle, ring and little fingers to control the stick - it's still work in progress.


Yes they do. But you really have to put in the hours, and the years of constant playing. You know this already from being a dancer. Drumming is just another set of muscles. When I was a kid, marching with a drum corps really got my hands in shape because you'd be working out with the line, or rehearsing your show up to 12 hours a day. When I'm home working out on the set or a pad, it's not hard for me to put in more than two hours at a time.
That must have been very cool, Bo. Agree, it is just a different set of muscles doing a different set of specialised things.

Did they ever get you to do wrist flexibility exercises? Or was that just a result of all the rudiments practice?

Just asking as for us, they had us do all sort of specialised stretching (not part of the pieces you learned), just to get your leg muscles stretched out, etc...
 

Bo Eder

Platinum Member
Did they ever get you to do wrist flexibility exercises? Or was that just a result of all the rudiments practice?

Just asking as for us, they had us do all sort of specialised stretching (not part of the pieces you learned), just to get your leg muscles stretched out, etc...
When I did it, you probably did a few hand and wrist stretches before you began playing, but it was mostly from the playing. As you did it everyday, you no longer had to stretch out for it, either. And alot of the exercises you do start very slowly, and then pick up speed. So you don't have to be stretched out prior to playing as the warm-up exercises are designed to get you there as well.

In my older age now I do stretch my hands a bit before I play, but maybe not as much as I should ;)
 

WaitForItDrummer

Senior Member
When I did it, you probably did a few hand and wrist stretches before you began playing, but it was mostly from the playing. As you did it everyday, you no longer had to stretch out for it, either. And alot of the exercises you do start very slowly, and then pick up speed. So you don't have to be stretched out prior to playing as the warm-up exercises are designed to get you there as well.

In my older age now I do stretch my hands a bit before I play, but maybe not as much as I should ;)
Thanks. That does make a lot of sense.
 

Hollywood Jim

Platinum Member
It is my personal opinion that playing the drums is mostly a wrist action.
I'm not sure I would call it a "loose wrist". But just a very flexible wrist motion.

When playing softly you can use mostly your fingers. However if you want to get louder sounds out of the drums you need to use your wrists.

Wrist and arm motion allows the stick to quickly rebound off the drum head and allows the drum to provide more volume and tone. And the fingers are also an important part of the motion.

Now that I think about it, it is too hard to explain in words. There are some good YouTube videos that explain it.


.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
The wrists are a huge factor when using the fingers, you really can't not use your wrist. Any accent, and you likely use your wrist Moeller-like.

It's when the stick is held like a hammer and all the strokes come from the elbow...straight wrist, that's not what I consider good technique. Which doesn't mean you can't play really good stuff like that, not at all, but in my mind, there's a better way to move a drumstick.
 

ncc

Silver Member
When i first started playing, my teacher had me get lead filled pipes and use them as drum sticks on a pillow to develop wrist flexibility and speed. Today I suppose one could go to home depot for pvc pipe filled with concrete that could be used the same way. I found that after that, drumsticks felt like toothpicks and control on the drum (which has rebound) was second nature. Old school i guess. :)
 

Duck Tape

Platinum Member
I just attended a Virgil Donati clinic and he taught playing with no fingers to warm his wrists up and get them free and mobile. Accent patterns and such. I am on the rd but I could email you a photo of the work sheet if you pm me.
 

WaitForItDrummer

Senior Member
When i first started playing, my teacher had me get lead filled pipes and use them as drum sticks on a pillow to develop wrist flexibility and speed. Today I suppose one could go to home depot for pvc pipe filled with concrete that could be used the same way. I found that after that, drumsticks felt like toothpicks and control on the drum (which has rebound) was second nature. Old school i guess. :)
Seriously? Interesting! How long did he have you do this for?
Are we taking pipes the diameter and length of drum sticks or thicker?
Did this lead to any injuries?
 

Bo Eder

Platinum Member
There is a vendor at NAMM that displays steel drumsticks, meant for just the purpose ncc is talking about. I found it rather odd myself, just as I find practicing on pillows to be rather odd too. The job is to play the drums, so I practice with what I use to play the drums. I may switch around to slightly heavier sticks, or do my rudiments with brushes, but I've never gotten into the steel weights. I figure it's an argument but I would think you could do some physical damage working out like that. You're not muscle building, you're muscle coordinating, no?
 

WaitForItDrummer

Senior Member
There is a vendor at NAMM that displays steel drumsticks, meant for just the purpose ncc is talking about. I found it rather odd myself, just as I find practicing on pillows to be rather odd too. The job is to play the drums, so I practice with what I use to play the drums. I may switch around to slightly heavier sticks, or do my rudiments with brushes, but I've never gotten into the steel weights. I figure it's an argument but I would think you could do some physical damage working out like that. You're not muscle building, you're muscle coordinating, no?
Yeah, I honestly don't know. But I would think it's not muscle building, just control and coordination, and having enough flexibility to play a part in that coordination to produce the right sound...

For example in dancing, you did exercises to 'over do it' = stretch your legs to 125% regularly so that when your doing a piece your legs can easily go to 100%...
 

Hollywood Jim

Platinum Member
For example in dancing, you did exercises to 'over do it' = stretch your legs to 125% regularly so that when your doing a piece your legs can easily go to 100%...
This is exactly what practicing on a pillow does.
It forces you to pick up the sticks off of the pillow to simulate rebound.
So when you actually get rebound from a drum head your hands are moving in the right direction and doing the right thing; so as to get the most sound out of the drum.

The pillow develops wrist and muscle control. It teaches your hands what they need to learn.

.
 

ncc

Silver Member
Yeah, I honestly don't know. But I would think it's not muscle building, just control and coordination, and having enough flexibility to play a part in that coordination to produce the right sound...

For example in dancing, you did exercises to 'over do it' = stretch your legs to 125% regularly so that when your doing a piece your legs can easily go to 100%...
So keep in mind they were not clubs :) , just really heavy 'drumsticks' so damage was not really an issue. And the weight never changed so if was not like muscle building. It is interesting what Bo said about steel sticks being shown at NAMM. I wonder what the weight is for those.

WaitForItDrummer is absolutely correct. Just like the case in dance, for drums if you can play a roll on a pillow with no bounce back and 1+ pound drum sticks at a good pace, you will be easily be much better with wood sticks and the bounce on the drums.

As far as how long, that was a very long time ago but it was like 15-30 minutes a day. It was not practicing though. It was just doing rolls on the pillows (for no bounce back) for gaining speed, control and coordination.

For actual practicing, even though I wanted to play rock and roll, he had me practice a lot of Latin tempos to build on syncopation. At the time i was unhappy with that, but I will forever be grateful he had me lean that.

Whatever works, right? :)
 

Bo Eder

Platinum Member
This is exactly what practicing on a pillow does.
It forces you to pick up the sticks off of the pillow to simulate rebound.
So when you actually get rebound from a drum head your hands are moving in the right direction and doing the right thing; so as to get the most sound out of the drum.

The pillow develops wrist and muscle control. It teaches your hands what they need to learn.

.
I get that - but then I recall Ed Shaugnessy telling me that "you practice on pillows when you get a gig playing pillows" And look where he ended up ;)
 

ncc

Silver Member
I get that - but then I recall Ed Shaugnessy telling me that "you practice on pillows when you get a gig playing pillows" And look where he ended up ;)

-- HUMOR MODE ON --

Ok Bo. Just think about that for a minute. :) Can you think of places to would be great to get a gig playing where there were lots of pillows? ;-)

-- HUMOR MODE OFF --
 

Bo Eder

Platinum Member
-- HUMOR MODE ON --

Ok Bo. Just think about that for a minute. :) Can you think of places to would be great to get a gig playing where there were lots of pillows? ;-)

-- HUMOR MODE OFF --
Well, maybe not as a drummer ;)
 
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