The Three-Axis-Model of Hand Position shows the spectrum of possibilities of holding sticks in your hands when playing the drums. There are three essential factors to consider, each one moving on an axis between two extreme points.
I put each of those factors on one axis of a cube to visualize their interactions. The left cube represents the left hand and the right cube represents the right hand, respectively. Just like our hands are symmetrical, everything concerning grip or movement of the hands can be mirrored across to the other side.
With your mouse, hover over one of the dots representing the extreme points of the three axis to see the grip in that position. Don’t forget that these are just the extremes. In reality, any mixture between the three factors, to be imagined as a point inside the cube, is possible and can change while playing.
The three axis are:
- Axis A: The stick’s direction, between “to the inside” (on the inner side of the cube) and “to the outside” (on the outer side of the cube).
- Axis B: The stick’s grip, between “tight” (on the upper side of the cube) and “loose” (on the lower side of the cube).
- Axis C: The stick’s pivot point, between “to the back” (to the viewer’s side of the cube) and “to the front” (to the rear side of the cube) .
Some interesting points concerning the three axis:
- The stick’s direction is the most obvious and the most important factor to consider, as it changes the direction of rotation in your wrist, and consequently also the muscles being used to power your strokes. The position “to the inside” (towards the center of your body) is also known as “German Grip” and mainly works by tilting your hand up and down around an axis in your wrist heading crosswise to your forearm. The position “to the outside” (away from the center of your body) is also known as “French Grip” and mainly works by rotating your hand up and down around and axis in your wrist heading along your forearm.
- The stick’s grip can change between tight and loose, pulling the stick up when holding it tight and letting it hang down when releasing it. Holding the stick tight means to wrap your fingers around it and press the stick into your palm, which usually is paired with a greater amount of activity from your wrist. Holding the stick loose means to straighten your fingers and move the stick away from your palm, which usually is paired with a greater amount of activity from your fingers.
- The stick’s pivot point is the spot where you hold the stick most tightly with your fingers and around which the stick rotates when moving up and down. You can move this point towards the stick’s or your hand’s front by holding it mostly between your thumb and your index finger. You can move it towards the stick’s or your hand’s back by holding it mostly between your thumb and your middle finger. Remember there is only one spot on the stick which has optimal rebound. Assuming you hold the stick at that point, moving the pivot point towards the back of your hand (middle finger) will give you speed, while moving the pivot point towards the front of your hand (index finger) will give you power. Assuming you don’t change the stick’s position in your hand, moving the pivot point back behind the optimal spot will give you power, while moving the pivot point up in front of the optimal spot will give you speed. Also remember that the pivot point at your fingers is only the first hinge in the chain, the other hinges being your wrist, your elbow and your shoulder. Taking energy for a stroke from a higher hinge (towards the shoulder) will increase power, while taking energy from a lower hinge (towards the fingers) will increase speed.