When I ran track in high school, I remember watching people working out one day and having a thought that ultimately changed my drumming. Everyone was working on squats to build leg push strength, but why not work on the lifting muscles so you could get your legs up faster and then back to the ground faster?

The same thought occurred about boxing and the martial arts. Why not work on the pulling muscles that brought your hands back faster so you could more quickly throw the next punch?

Several years later, I took some lessons with Terry Bozzio, and one of the exercises was simple single strokes, where you concentrated on pulling the stick off of the head and getting back up to strike position.

I use two basic approaches to keep my wrists in good shape for speed and control. For control, I practice the single stroke Bozzio exercise with three different weigh sticks, paying attention to focusing on the tendons to pull the stick off the head.

I modified this exercise for speed by laying my free forearm over the drum head and tapping the bottom of it with the drum stick’s upstroke. This gives you something to think about going up AND down. You can also practice this in the car in traffic, using either hand. Believe me, it works. Try playing 16th notes between you leg and the bottom of your forearm for five minutes…

These are very simple ways to keep your tendons flexible and in shape. You can develop a lot of control this way, which should be your ultimate goal. The speed comes with increased control, because you will discover the most efficient ways to move your hands in the process. Combine this with rebound, and you will be pleasantly surprised at the transformation that occurs.