Jason Fried

May 28, 2024

Lighten your grip

I recently took up drumming. Again.

One of the first things you realize, other than you suck, is that you’re gripping the sticks too hard.

A tight grip denies certain degrees of freedom, limits subtlety, and ups the fatigue factor. Plus you give up the gift of bounce the drum heads happily offer. It’s like you’re constantly paying interest vs. borrowing for free.

I had the same experience when learning to play guitar. It’s like I was trying to choke the neck to death.

Clenching the neck makes every change a three step process: Release, move, and clamp down again. It’s slower, it’s harder, and it’s a lot less natural than a flowing motion up and down the neck, pausing to play, rather than stopping.

It’s a curious thing. We tend to hold on too tightly early on. It seems to be part of learning just about anything. It's in the nature of starting. When you don’t know what you’re doing, at least you know how to squeeze.

But then, you discover that making progress requires you to release a little, to lighten up on your grip.

A big part of what you see when you watch someone great is what you don’t see. Tension is notably absent. Instead, a certain ease, a gentle fluidity. A grace, not a grind.

This shows up everywhere. To let go is to get somewhere.



A great tip via Jack Nicklaus: "He said hold the golf club like you would hold a bird. Tight enough it won’t fly away but not so tight you’d hurt it." (via https://x.com/kadavy/status/1795594760989909128)

About Jason Fried

Hey! I'm Jason, the Co-Founder and CEO at 37signals, makers of Basecamp and HEY. Subscribe below to follow my thinking on business, design, product development, and whatever else is on my mind. Thanks for visiting, thanks for reading.