It's all about that BOUNCE
Bounce is everything when it comes to playing drums...everything.
One of the early points I stress with new students is to let the drumstick and gravity do the work, you're hands are there to mostly guide those two things. Beginners tend to try to power through an exercise until their muscles eventually reach their limit and max out. There's a better way...bounce. Utilizing and executing good bounce is the secret sauce to smooth and fluid playing without feeling like you're arms are going to fall off.
Playing isn't about endurance, but rather technique. Bounce, or rebound as drummers say, is a fairly simple concept but requires a more nuanced approach to playing. Keeping your hand grip loose enough to let the stick rebound while still maintaining control AND staying in rhythm is quite a lot to ask for.
This is where that practice pad time really pays off. Zooming in on just your hand technique, especially the little fingers, is game changing. You will whip those little hand muscles into shape and maximize the bounce quickly. Woodshed single rudiments, mixing between rudiments, changing the sticking patterns, adding accents, and slowly pushing the speed. Practicing these with some regularity will really fine tune your bounce and strengthen your stick control.
Bounce is also fundamental in many sports, here's 3 examples:
Think about playing basketball. One of the very first things you had to learn was how to dribble the ball. Well that's the same principal as hitting a drum, control and rhythm. Watching a pro glide down court perfectly in time with the dribble is like watching a pro drummer right in lockstep with the groove. Precision at the highest level.
Think about a boxer hitting the speed bag when they're training for a fight. They have to perfectly time every punch in order to maximized the rebound they're getting from the bag. If that rhythm or control falls apart, it's game over.
Think about jumping on a trampoline. It's like a super exaggerated drum head with your body being the tip of the drumstick. That downward and upward force you naturally get your body to do is the same your hand does with the stick. You're maximizing potential rebound.
- closing thought -
Bounce is a basic principal in a lot of activities (as show above), and understanding that creates fluidity with what you do. I would argue drums unitize bounce in one of the most precise ways. Rebound is a combination of excellent stick control matched with consistent rhythm. The smallest movements in your hands and wrists result in a whole variety of sounds. It comes with practice and patience yet very achievable by those who put in the work.