The Push Pull Drumming Technique

Posted in Guides And Tips

The push-pull is one of the most useful drum techniques, in that it allows you to double your hand speed.
Similar to the Moeller Method, the push pull technique is a way for you to get 2 strokes with the fingers for every 1 stroke with the wrist. It’s a simple way to fully utilize the mechanics of your hands, fingers, and wrist to get more bang for your buck. I use this technique for many grooves where the hi-hat or ride cymbal pattern is too fast to be played with a simple “up and down” motion.

I was first turned onto this technique by the wonderful Jojo Mayer. He’s an amazing break-beat, electronica drummer who has his roots in jazz. If you don’t know of him, look him up!

How Does It Work?

The push pull is quite simple…

  • The Push: You throw the stick down using your hand/wrist. Leave your wrist in that extended position, the stick will naturally rebound and open your fingers.
  • The Pull: As you lift your wrist back up to the ready position, snap your fingers shut, propelling the stick back into the head. Let the stick bounce up once again, and you’re ready to start the process over!

Things To Keep In Mind

The push pull is not too hard as far as drum techniques go, but it will still take you some time and practice to master.

An important aspect of the push-pull is learning how to control and accept/move with the natural rebound of the drum stick. You’ve got to learn how to let the stick open your fingers. It’s almost like opening them along with the stick (it might help to think of it like that at first), but eventually, you will actually be able to feel the stick pushing gently on your fingers, and immediately react by relaxing your finger muscles and allow the stick’s momentum to do the work.

Along with the wrist, you can also use your thumb in a french grip to help propel your stick into the head. Your thumb is smaller and can move faster than a wrist. This will help you increase your speed with the pushing aspect of the push-pull. However, you will lose a bit of power and volume when you start cutting the wrist and arm out of the equation.

Doubling Up

You can use the push pull with both hands at the same time! This can take a simpler one of the drum techniques to a new level of speed (and difficulty)!

By alternating hands, you can play one of the fastest single stroke rolls possible. Start your “push” with one hand, then before you “pull”, “push” with the other hand. To finish, execute a pull with the first hand, then a pull with the second hand.

Can you see how you’re increasing your speed and efficiency by staggering the push-pull between two hands? Try it yourself and see how fast/efficiently you can play your singles.

With some time and practice, this movement will be in your hands. You won’t have to think, and can then use this technique effortlessly, and more importantly musically!

Here is a great video on the topic: