How to stop dropping drumsticks while drumming?

Everyone drops sticks, even pros.

What separates you from a pro is the ability to keep calm and hold the beat. 

That said, dropping your drumsticks while drumming is easily one of the highest anxiety-inducing situations for drummers, especially if you’re on a gig. 

Here, we explore some techniques to help you reduce the chances of dropping your sticks and some tips on how to react if you ever dropped your drumstick while drumming. 

4 Reasons Why You Drop Your Drumsticks

1) Poor or Wrong Grip

You’ve probably heard of this – don’t grip your drumsticks too tightly or “loosen your grip”. But every time you try, you end up dropping your sticks. 

😡

Don’t get frustrated. Take a deep breath and reset your grip on those sticks.

Here’s how:

  1. locate the balance point of your drumsticks (aka the sweet spot that gives you maximum control over your sticks)
  2. place your thumb and index finger on the balance point
  3. wrap the rest of your fingers around the stick.
  4. If you find yourself tensing up, place pressure on your thumb and index finger, while keeping the rest of your fingers and your wrist relaxed.

p.s. if you’re new to drumming, here’s a quick guide on how to grip your drumsticks

2) Check Your Drum Kit Set Up

If you find that you are hitting the edges of your cymbals too often, or hitting the rim of your rack toms, it is a sign that you should lower them. 

Or, if you had crammed your drum set up into a small space, you may find yourself ‘crashing’ into your toms. In this case, you may want to minimize your drum set up, or find a wider space to work with. 

3) Check your Posture

Oftentimes how you sit affects the angle of your arms, causing your drumsticks to collide into the snare drum or cymbals unintentionally. 

Slouching could also be the reason behind why your drumsticks seem to keep hitting each other as you play. 

Check your posture, you could also save yourself from nasty lower back pain too.

The easiest way to rectify this (and the issue with drum set up) is to simply video yourself as you drum. Look out for what you’re doing when you drop your stick or when you seem to be losing control over your drumsticks. That will give you a clue on what you should be adjusting.

4) Be Present

I know, I know.

It can be tempting to lose yourself in the groove and just let your hands fly wherever they wish to go. But, when you’re not fully present nor aware, that’s when you’re most likely to accidentally hit something and lose your drumstick. 

Well, at least that’s what happened in my case. 

This is also more likely to happen when you’re drumming on an unfamiliar kit or on a drum kit that is often moved around. Sometimes, a slight change in the height of a single rack tom is sufficient to render your muscle memory useless.

So, if you find that you’re dropping your drumsticks too often, focus on how you’re moving your hands while you drum.

But what if you have been playing on the same kit for ages and have started to drop your drumsticks more frequently? 

Find out if any changes were made to your kit. And check if your drum throne is still maintaining its height while you play. You’ll often discover that a small undetectable change in your kit could be the culprit. 

p.p.p.s. i’ve been reading up on mindfulness lately, if you’re interested too, this is a good book to get started.

Sorry for the divergence, now let’s talk about:

How to recover from a stick drop?

If you’re a solo drummer who plays alone, this shouldn’t be too much of an issue for you. It’s okay to stop and take a break before you continue drumming.

But if you’re jamming with friends or playing in a band, dropping your drumsticks could threaten to kill the groove of the entire song. 

So, here’re three simple ways you can recover from a stick drop:

1) Always have extra drumsticks on hand

You can’t 100% avoid dropping drumsticks…trust me on this one, even the pros drop their sticks! In fact, it is almost a rite of passage for a drummer who gigs. 

But, you can make sure that you always have a pair (or two) of spare drum sticks ready to go if you ever drop or throw your drumsticks. 

It’s as simple as positioning your stick bag in an easy to reach area on your kit. Some drummers like to place their stick bags on the floor tom where they can easily reach for a new pair of sticks with their right hand. 

Other options include getting a drumsticks holder that can be attached onto your cymbal stand or hi hat stand. Or a simple solution like StickArk’s Kick Mount that lets you hold drumsticks on top of your bass drum.

The best option for you depends on your drum kit, so explore around to see what works best for you.

Vic Firth 5a drumsticks best beginner

2) Practice for it

Knowing that you have a fresh pair of drumsticks on your kit can help to remove some of that anxiety or fear of dropping your sticks. But knowing what to do if you ever drop your drumsticks will give you greater peace of mind. 

So the easiest way is to simply practice for it! 

If you ever drop your drumstick while gigging, the most important skill is to be able to maintain your groove while you recover. 

While you will not be able to play complex beats or do a crazy solo, you can keep the beat going while you recover. It usually takes less than 15 seconds though it often feels longer. 

Simplify the groove for your setlist and practice playing them using one stick. Slip some of these practices into your routine and you should be comfortable to keep on going if you ever drop a stick.

3) Relax

Easier said than done. 

But, always remind yourself to relax. 

Stay calm and keep the beat going! 

Most of the time, as long as you don’t freeze up, you’ll do fine. 

Remember, everyone can drop their drumsticks, there’s no way to avoid it completely. But you can choose how you react. Stay calm and keep the song going!

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