How to improve hand-foot coordination on the drums?

Ever felt like your hands and feet cannot seem to work in sync behind the drums? This quick guide will help you get them synced up so that you finally start grooving and feeling the flow as a drummer.

Why is hand-foot coordination important for drummers?

Hand-food coordination is an important skill that’ll help you unlock complex beats and level up your drumming capabilities.

I’m sure you had probably felt like your hands and feet can’t seem to move the way you want them too when you attempted to play your first ever drum pattern. Well, the bad news is that there’re more complex beats to be learnt.

But the good news is, its all muscle memory!

Which means all we really need is practice, practice, and practice.

But what should you be practicing?

In this guide, I’ll share three simple exercises you can start with (and then take them to the next level) that’ll help you get your hands and feet in sync and finally play with confidence!

3 exercises to improve hand-foot coordination on the drums

1. Improve Hand Control

Like how every juggler starts by throwing 1 ball between their hands, before you try to improve your hand-foot coordination, work on your hands first.

Start with these two exercises!

i) Drum Rudiments (on a practice pad)

Practice and hone your paradiddles, double stroke rolls and triplets. These can be done on a practice pad or any surface really.

If you’re a beginner, here’s my quick guide to learning to play drum rudiments.

ii) Practice on a drum set

While building hand control, you should also dedicate some time playing on an actual drum set. This will help you develop the spatial memory of a drum setup and the muscle memory of knowing how to navigate your hands and upper body around the kit.

Use the same drum rudiments, but vary each stroke around the drum kit.

p.s. For more detailed exercises, I have an entire guide that will help you improve your hand control (and gain speed) here. As long as you dedicate some time to those 10 exercises every week, you’ll definitely see an improvement.

2. Metronome

Now that you’ve started working on your hand control and building some of that muscle memory, start playing along with a metronome.

Make sure you’re playing your rudiments on beat, along with the metronome.

Take it slow, start at 60 bpm then gradually increase the speed.

This takes time.

Be patient.

But always dedicate sometime to metronome training. It’ll make you a better overall drummer.

3. Hand & Foot Independence Exercises

After you’ve got 1 & 2 down, its time to start working on your hand and feet coordination.

Here’re 3 exercises that’ll help you train your hand and feet independence which will help you improve that coordination on the drums!

I will not be limiting the following exercises to certain timescales. These exercises are ultra-flexible and can be tweaked according to your skill level, so have fun with them!

i) Alternating Beats

Play in the following order:

  • Left hand
  • Right foot
  • Right hand
  • Right foot
  • Repeat

You can do this on a practice pad with your foot hitting the ground, or on the drums. Practice with a metronome starting at 60 bpm and increase the speed accordingly.

If you’re practicing on the drums, here’s a quick drum notation you can use:

ii) Timing your right feet

Play in the following order:

  • Left hand + Right Foot
  • Right hand
  • Left Hand
  • Right hand
  • Repeat

With this exercise, you should focus on syncing the sound when you play the left hand and right foot at the same time. You should hear a single, in-synced beat at this stroke. If you hear a ‘ghost’ note or a lag, work on the coordination of your left hand and right foot before moving onto the next exercise.

Likewise, you can do this on a practice pad or on the drums. Practice with a metronome starting at 60 bpm and increase the speed accordingly.

Once you’re comfortable with this, mix this up with your paradiddles.

If you’re also working on your timing as a drummer, you can use this same pattern with triplets too.

Here’s a quick drum notation you can use:

iii) All together now

Now that you are starting to get your left hand and right foot sync-ed up, its time to throw in the left foot too!

Play in the following order:

  • Left hand + Left foot
  • Right Foot
  • Right hand
  • Right Foot
  • Left Hand
  • Right Foot
  • Right hand
  • Right Foot
  • Repeat

The first two exercises may be a walk in the park for some, but this should offer some challenge.

Start slow, work out the pattern then build your speed up from there! To up the challenge, switch up the hands (i.e. start with Right Hand + Left foot), or switch up the timing.

Again, here’s the drum notation you can use:

All about the practice!

I’ve provided three simple exercises (and sub-exercises) that you can do to improve your hand-foot coordination on the drums. I hope you will find them useful.

More importantly, just keep practicing…especially when it starts to feel boring or you feel like you’re not getting any where. Those are the times when we should hang in there.

All the best drummers!

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