The Full Stroke begins with the tip of the drumstick held 8-12" above the striking surface. The drummer strikes the drum and then returns the stick back up to its original position. The Down Stroke begins with the tip at the same height as the full stroke, but upon striking the drum head, the drummer keeps the stick low (about an inch above the striking surface). The Up Stroke begins with the tip of the stick hovering about an inch above the head of the drum. The drummer strikes the surface, then brings the stick up to full stroke or down stroke position. In the Tap, the stick begins at the same position as the up stroke and remains there after striking.
The four strokes are used in concert with one another to produce a variety of accented and unaccented beat combinations.