Drum Techniques for Moving Feet Independently of Hands


Playing the drums requires careful rhythmic coordination of all four extremities. Most people find it much easier to separate the movement of their two hands than to separate the hands from the feet when trying to keep a rhythm. Drummers practice specific exercises designed to help create independence of the hands and feet.

Individual Lines

  • When just starting out, don't try to learn the entire drum line to a song or particular pattern all at once. Instead, break the parts down into the component hand and foot parts. Learn each separately, and make sure that you have each of them perfected before you put them together. When you meld them, work slowly and assemble the line beat by beat until you can flow through the entire line.

Bass Drum 16th Notes

  • Do drills that focus on playing 16th notes on the bass drum in varying patterns while maintaining a stead 16th-note pattern on the high hat. Play drills in as many configurations as you can think of. Put 16th-note rests on some beats and then play the 16th notes on the rest until you can accurately stop and start your foot on the bass drum even though your hands keep going.


  • Syncopation is where hand and foot independence really becomes necessary, because you will be playing the syncopated notes outside of the regular beat. A syncopated note is one that comes in between the regular rhythm. So, if you were playing a straight 16th-note rhythm, try adding an extra bass strike in between the second to last and the last 16th note in the measure. If you obtain a clean syncopated sound, your limbs are moving independently of each other.

Left Foot Independence

  • Many people focus on the bass drum foot so much that they don't learn how to properly gain independence in the left foot and the high hat. A good way to overcome this is to do drills where you keep a steady rhythm on the high hat independent of what is going on with the bass drum and hands. For instance, play whatever rhythm you want and accompany it with straight quarter notes on the high hat foot no matter what else is happening. Then, try to do the same with eighth notes.

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