I am right cross handed drummer, this will give you an idea of the drum layout (Hi-Hat on the left). Now I have been trying to swap hands to Left open handed and I have realized an obvious lapse in stick control and technique, are there any exercises that I can carry out that:

A: Brings my Left hand technique up to scratch with my right hand, (allowing similar speed and muscle memory.)

B: Does not allow my right hand to slip out of configuration (for want of a better word)

I have a practice pad which I use occasionally but I was wondering if there are specific rudiments or techniques that hone in on the left or weak hand discipline?

3 Answers 3


I think achieving full symmetry is really hard because for most people there are differences between their right and left hands, both physically and mentally. That being said, my best results for keeping both hands at similar technical levels has definitely been working through the classic rudiments and alternating which is the "lead" hand in the rudiment. If your left hand is really far behind, then isolation exercises have helped me with that kind of thing in the past. Try playing rudiments with the left hand only, either playing both parts with the left hand or playing only the left hand part and treating the right hand as rests. If it sounds hard then that's a good thing in terms of training.

  • Nice thanks for the tips :) could you add a couple of pointers for me, such as which rudiments I should start with (difficulty for intermediate) or even a list of them to research and figure out how to perform? Jun 9, 2015 at 12:14
  • pas.org/pdf/rudiment.pdf I would practice these and switch up the R and L. Jun 9, 2015 at 12:21
  • Don't hide behind being right or left-handed. A "right-handed" guitarist does all the dextrous stuff with his left hand (I've never seen the point of playing left-handed guitar?) as does a violinist. Just practice the usual rudiments and exercises using your new configuration. It's different and unfamiliar. What did you expect?
    – Laurence
    Jun 9, 2015 at 12:31
  • @LaurencePayne Does your comment make more sense for the question/OP as opposed to being a comment on this answer? As a person who plays all three instruments, I would say comparing handedness on drums to handedness on guitar is not as good a comparison as with piano. Jun 9, 2015 at 12:38
  • Eh? Is this some arcane point of netiquette (which seems to be an obsession round here - binary answews are so BORING :-) Piano is such an obvious example, I left it alone. Anyway, my point was that "right-handed" musicians often do much HARDER stuff with their "wrong" hand. "Handedness" doesn't need to be an issue.
    – Laurence
    Jun 9, 2015 at 12:53

In my opinion, only playing rudiments is not the complete answer. The path to a stronger left hand is manifold. Rudiments are the possible combinations of sticking on the drumset, yes. But it's a repetition exercise. What I mean is that you can repeat something for a while with improper technique and be able to play the rudiment perfectly and still have a weaker hand.

A couple of years ago, I switched to a fully ambidextrous drumset (meaning I can lead both as a full lefty or righty). When I did, I noticed a huge difference in the way I held the stick between my right and left hand. The difference was especially apparent when I played doubles. It made sense since playing when we cross hands, we treat both hands differently in most scenarios. So that's the first thing I changed : I played those rudiments while paying attention to the left hand, adjusting my grip and the way I played to mirror my right.

The two most important exercises I used to do to improve (and still do) were quite a bit more simple than rudiments. The first is just playing linear patterns between the hands and the feet (like both hands, both feet, right and left foot, left hand and left foot, etc.). This will practice your stamina which the left side always lack as well as making it a coordination exercise by putting it in relation to your other members. The other exercise is just playing unison of the same combinations. Again, you will notice and feel a HUGE difference between your left side and right side (the left side will start to flam very quickly). Practice at different levels of volume for long periods. And of course, start slow!

The last step is quite dramatic but optional : play left handed a bit! Leading with your left will confuse your brain and again, will make you more aware of what you are doing. It will also train your left hand to move around the drumset. This is important because while rudiments will help you to move your left hand, they are usually done on a single surface (the snare drum) which has a very different feel than other drums or cymbals. By playing on those other surfaces, you will train slightly different groups of muscles (especially in your hand) that aren't as strong as your right. Also, listen carefully to the sound produced by your left hand (and foot).

Needless to say that it is a pretty long journey : most of us start playing cross handed and never really question this way of playing until we are confronted with those problems or situation. And when they happen, we must catch on to all those years of playing that way. But I tell you, after a while, you will feel that much more confident and free in your playing. It's all worth it!

Cheers and good luck!


I think all drumers with a dominant hand experiences this. The way I've been best able to get my hands even were 3 steps (for me anyway ) First, play all your rudiments with a click. On all 3 go for longer periods of time, but make sure everything is clean before you crank up the speed. 2nd I'll play 16th noted 4 bars of 16ths 9n each hand, and throw 8n a flam before switching. 3rd (what helped me most) match your 16ths. Not flams, but match em. The weaker hand will begin to play what the dominant hand is playing (technique wise) steadily speed up once you have control (control is key) After that, there are pleanty of exercises to move em to different voices. Do this same thing with your feet. If you can do something with your dominant hand, or foot, make sure you can do it with all limbs. Hope this helps. Try it, you will improve much faster than ya think

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