25 Awesome Drum Exercises for Speed, Independence, and Control

Whether you believe talent is born, or made, one thing is for sure: there is always room for improvement.

The same applies to drumming, and good drummers will have spent many hours practicing various different exercises, in order to improve their speed, independence, control, and overall drumming skills!

There are exercises suited to different level skills, but you’re never too advanced to go back to basics, and it’s good to practice the simpler exercises now and then, just so that you properly consolidate the fundamentals.

So all of the exercises that we’ve included in this article are ideal for both beginner drummers, and for more advanced drummers! 

Before you begin with these exercises, make sure you know the super basics of the drum. You should also be familiar with drum notation so that you know how to follow along with the exercises!

Oh, and with drumming, practice is all about repetition, so perform as many exercises as you want, but do them multiple times. That way you’ll develop drumming muscle memory, and your speed and control will improve massively over time!

Now, without further adieu, here are 25 drum exercises to improve your drumming skills!

(We’ve divided them up into different sections, to make it easier to understand what each exercise is for!)

Exercises for Warming Up:

Warming up is key. In the same way that swimmers stretch beforehand, or runners warm up their legs, or singers warm up their vocal cords...drummers need to warm up their drumming!

Drumming warm up exercises come in all sorts of difficulty levels, and with this, it’s best to warm up with exercises that suit the level you will be playing up because it’s like tuning in your muscles to what’s to come.

Warming up exercises focus on enhancing your coordination, and they improve your control so that you’re less prone to mistakes.

Here are a few:

1. Single Strokes

This is the most basic of warm up exercises. It consists of alternating single strokes, so R L R L.

You have to make sure they’re even in volume, and you can increase the speed by adjusting the tempo.

2. Double Strokes

This is a fundamental exercise within drumming, and one of the best warm-ups to get your coordination flowing.

You alternate between double strokes, so it’s R R L L R R L L. This will also warm up your wrist so the muscles are loose and ready.

3. Single Paradiddles

This is a combination of single and double strokes, and it is actually one of the most common of basic drum rudiments, which works amazingly as a warm up exercise. It goes R L R R L R L L. You then repeat the pattern inverted so that it loops and alternates between one and the other.

4. Combinations

Once you’ve warmed up with the basics, you can move on to combining everything together. This will allow your muscles to fully relax and to get into the drumming zone, so you’re ready for the more complex patterns of your actual drumming session.

To combine, mix and match between the previous 3 warm up exercises.

The Best Drum Rudiments to Practice:

Drum rudiments are the go-to when it comes to exercising your drumming. They are the most basic forms of drumming patterns, and they are basically the building blocks of all drumming. You can also develop more complex patterns from the basic ones, and up your level like that!

These exercises not only teach you all of the basics of drumming, but also enhance your wrist movements, your stick control, and your overall coordination and speed. They’re vital to keep on making progress!

Here are a few:

5. Single Stroke 4

This can be played with both a left hand and a right hand lead, depending on your preference. (Although we recommend alternating so you improve your skills on both hands).

For this one, it’s important to use a metronome so you’re keeping in time. It goes R L R L or L R L R.

6. Single Stroke 7

This one is very similar to the stroke of 4, and you should also use a metronome to ensure that you’re keeping the group of 7 within the proper timing. It goes R L R L R L R.

7. Five Stroke Roll

This rudiment is made out of two double strokes, and one single stroke, combined into a single pattern.

You should play it with a right hand lead and then switch to a left hand lead, alternating between the two as you keep repeating. It goes R R L L R. L L R R L.

8. Ten Stroke Roll

This one is a jump in complexity, alternating four doubles and one single in each pattern. It goes R R L L R R L L R L. (The single is at half the tempo, which is something you need to be able to incorporate as seamlessly as possible!)

9. Double Paradiddle

This is just like the normal paradiddle but doubled up, so you alternate four singles instead of two. It goes R L R L R R L R L R L L.

10. Triple Paradiddle

To follow up from the double, this one goes R L R L R L R R L R L R L R L L.

11. Flam Stroke

With this, you learn to play two notes as one. It goes LR RL LR RL.

12. Flam Accent

This one uses a right handed flam stroke, then two single strokes, then a left handed flam stroke. Alternate and repeat.

13. Paradiddle- diddle

This is a slight upgrade from a normal paradiddle, and it goes R L R R L L R L R R L L.

14. Flam Paradiddle

This is a normal paradiddle, with the addition of a flam stroke on the first, second, third, and fourth beat.

15. Pataflafla

This one is slightly more complicated and should be looped around twice, and then repeated for as long as you want. It goes lR L R rL lR L R rL lR L R rL lR L R rL.

Practice Pad Exercises:

If you’re a drummer, you absolutely need a practice pad. They’re a little drum pad that allows you to practice your drumming quietly, as they absorb most of the sound upon impact.

This way you can practice all through the day, into the night, without driving your family and neighbors to the brink of insanity!

Here are a few exercises specifically for practice pads:

16. Eights

For this exercise, repeat this pattern: 

17. The Wipeout

For this exercise, repeat this pattern by starting out slow and then increasing the speed:

18. New Mojo

For this exercise, you just follow the pattern “New Mojo” from The Cavaliers. It uses sixteenth and triple diddles, and it’s amazing for warming up on the practice pad, and then improving control.

Snare Drum Exercises:

The snare drum is also often referred to as the side drum, and yup, it goes next to your main bass drum within your drum setup. It produces a sharper staccato sound, due to the tense wires under the lower skin.

But here’s the thing, different types of drums need to be played slightly differently, so there are also specific exercises designed for each one!

Here are some exercises for practicing your snare drum skills:

19. Paradiddle

The single paradiddle is an exercise used in many different ways, but it’s also great for improving your snare drum skills. It goes R L R R L R L L. You then continue it, so that it repeats in an inverted way, and you keep looping it around, picking up speed.

20. Flam Triplet

This is a pattern of six notes, with the beat falling on every third note you play. And this exercise consists of adding a flam on that beat, which is a softer stroke right after the beat note. It goes Rr L R Ll R L. This will also improve your coordination and control by a lot!

21. Ratamacue

The ratamacue uses a pattern of notes, incorporating a drag. The drag is very similar to the flam, but it uses two softer notes right before the accentuated beat so that they drag into it. It goes l l R L R L r r L F L R.

Exercises for Improving Speed:

One of the defining traits of a good and experienced drummer is their speed, and how fast they can drum without getting mixed up or falling out of rhythm.

So...speed is definitely something that all drummers want to improve and enhance.

Mostly, drumming speed is about having the right setup, having the right hand techniques, and knowing to keep your muscles relaxed. It’s also down to a lot of practice, and building up that muscle memory so your hands know their way around the drums almost instinctively.

Here are a few exercises specifically designed to improve your speed:

22. Uptempo Jazz 1

For this exercise, simply follow this, and repeat various times: 

23. Uptempo Jazz 2

For this exercise, simply follow this, and repeat various times:

24. Rock 1

For this exercise, simply follow this, and repeat various times:

25. Rock 2

For this exercise, simply follow this, and repeat various times: