Understand the concept of tuning a rope djembe.
The proper sound is achieved with minimum effort for maximum effect. The key is to either focus or disperse the hand's energy, and position the hand in the correct place. The bass and tone notes require focused energy (a beginner will have the most success by holding their fingers firmly together), while the slap requires dispersed energy (fingers are relaxed).
Striking the skin with the palm and fingers toward the drum's centre produces a bass note; striking the skin near the rim (with the fleshy part of the palm just above the rim) produces the tone and slap. The tone must ring by striking like it's a hot pan. Beginners may think of the tone and slap as fingers "together" and "apart." Advanced players will not take the time to make that obvious physical change, but rather make a less visibly obvious change from "focused" to "dispersed."