Balance point for playing heel up...

MDslammer

Member
Hi guys,

I've played my whole life with the heel down on the bass drum. I just started
that way as a kid and continued to this day. Playing with the heel down gave me an "anchor"
point for the rest of my body when playing the kit.

I'm now in a transitional stage working both on my hands as well as my feet.
I'm trying to learn the fundamentals of playing with the heel up but the balance point is somewhat eluding me.

Right now, my back is telling me...you ain't happening dude!

For those of you who do play "heel up", where is your balance point that makes it fluid for you to get around the kit?

Thanks.

MDslammer
 

drum4fun27302

Gold Member
Your core has to get stronger.

I now play with mostly my whole foot , doing the toe after when it is a double , gives me more support.
 

newoldie

Silver Member
Hi guys,

I've played my whole life with the heel down on the bass drum. I just started
that way as a kid and continued to this day. Playing with the heel down gave me an "anchor"
point for the rest of my body when playing the kit.

I'm now in a transitional stage working both on my hands as well as my feet.
I'm trying to learn the fundamentals of playing with the heel up but the balance point is somewhat eluding me.

Right now, my back is telling me...you ain't happening dude!

For those of you who do play "heel up", where is your balance point that makes it fluid for you to get around the kit?

Thanks.

MDslammer
I'm 100% with you on how I originally learned heel down and used my entire life until a couple years ago when I decided to augment techniques.
Trying to convert to heel up was a real challenge and physically uncomfortable as well. My left lower back (just above hips) was not used to that type of continuous lifting in a sitting position, and it took a lot of time to get those muscles used to that lifting motion without the anchoring of the heel down position. I still use heel down 80% of the time due to the lower back issues and being more physically comfortable heel down, as I continue to try and learn heel up.

I've extensively read, watched umpteen YouTube/internet videos for heel up lessons, trying to figure out how I can best adapt to this style. I've also asked questions to other drummers on DW, Bill Bachman (he didn't reply to my questions on his web site or here on DW), and others in person- but no one has given me the "answer" about my difficulties and I think it could best be solved with close, personal instruction from a mature drum teacher who understands these issues in transitioning from heel down.
I even bought JJM's Secret Weapons II and enjoyed following it- until he started his Moeller type action and sliding instructions. I lost the ability to follow the techniques closely from that point on, although I intellectually could follow a bit. He reveals later in the DVD's he has sewn onto his sneakers leather soles to allow the sliding technique on his pedal that is integral to his techniques. My shoes are generally sneakers and "stick" more to the pedal, so I've found the "sliding up" action a double lower back challenge as it's hard enough to do heel up, let alone lift the foot upwards to slide it forward on the pedal.

I'm ready for some quality, personal instruction to assist on this challenge but haven't identified the right teacher and won't do it by Skype. Only by working on heel up slowly have I noticed some improvements in lower back resiliency and technique.

I can't do heel up simultaneously with bass drum and hats, I just lose my balance and kit coordination, so I've focused on the bass drum.

But the upside for now is my heel down has continued to improve as a result of trying heel up;conversely, it's surprising how few drummers have used heel down or are comfortable using it.
 

vitaflo

Member
But the upside for now is my heel down has continued to improve as a result of trying heel up;conversely, it's surprising how few drummers have used heel down or are comfortable using it.

This is interesting because my entire problem has been heel down and I'm trying to get better at it but it's your problem in reverse. Heel up uses more of the quad/calf, whereas heel down seems to use more of the ankle/shin. The later for me is certainly not toned up so it burns after a short amount of time.

I think the goal like anything is working at it slowly until your body adjusts. Of course, using proper posture and seating will help.
 

newoldie

Silver Member
VF:
Maybe some drummers are more anatomically inclined towards heel down and others towards heel up.
The challenge in my case is the lower back/upper glute muscles that engage in heel up.
Perhaps in your case it's the reverse muscle strengths that are strong in you.
For heel down, it helps to adjust the pedal height a bit lower than for heel up.

My posture is very good, but that only goes so far in strengthening the core muscles, which seem only to get stronger by ongoing repetition of the actual exercise heel up.
 

Nour Ayasso

Senior Member
I have my chair raised pretty high, at least a 90 degree angle usually around 100 or 105. I usually press my beaters against my drum head for rest position, that use to help me keep balanced. But over time, I don't have to do that anymore. I also sit pretty close to my pedals, leaving my shins vertical to my kick. Try practicing and tweaking your set up, like a lot. And over time you'll become more comfortable/find a sweet spot.
 

8Mile

Platinum Member
I'm 100% with you on how I originally learned heel down and used my entire life until a couple years ago when I decided to augment techniques.
Trying to convert to heel up was a real challenge and physically uncomfortable as well. My left lower back (just above hips) was not used to that type of continuous lifting in a sitting position, and it took a lot of time to get those muscles used to that lifting motion without the anchoring of the heel down position. I still use heel down 80% of the time due to the lower back issues and being more physically comfortable heel down, as I continue to try and learn heel up.

I've extensively read, watched umpteen YouTube/internet videos for heel up lessons, trying to figure out how I can best adapt to this style. I've also asked questions to other drummers on DW, Bill Bachman (he didn't reply to my questions on his web site or here on DW), and others in person- but no one has given me the "answer" about my difficulties and I think it could best be solved with close, personal instruction from a mature drum teacher who understands these issues in transitioning from heel down.
I even bought JJM's Secret Weapons II and enjoyed following it- until he started his Moeller type action and sliding instructions. I lost the ability to follow the techniques closely from that point on, although I intellectually could follow a bit. He reveals later in the DVD's he has sewn onto his sneakers leather soles to allow the sliding technique on his pedal that is integral to his techniques. My shoes are generally sneakers and "stick" more to the pedal, so I've found the "sliding up" action a double lower back challenge as it's hard enough to do heel up, let alone lift the foot upwards to slide it forward on the pedal.

I'm ready for some quality, personal instruction to assist on this challenge but haven't identified the right teacher and won't do it by Skype. Only by working on heel up slowly have I noticed some improvements in lower back resiliency and technique.

I can't do heel up simultaneously with bass drum and hats, I just lose my balance and kit coordination, so I've focused on the bass drum.

But the upside for now is my heel down has continued to improve as a result of trying heel up;conversely, it's surprising how few drummers have used heel down or are comfortable using it.
I completely get where you are coming from. I went from a lifelong heel-down player to one who added heel-up a few years ago and I struggled with some of the same issues. I found there was no simple answer; it was a matter of repetition and practice through which my body figured a lot out on its own. I do bury the beater heel-up and that's what works for me, resting my leg in the process. A good teacher is probably the best solution, but I'm just sharing what worked for me.

I had to laugh at your comment about wondering why heel-down is so unpopular. I asked the same question at the time. "Why would anyone want to play heel-up, this is terrible!" But I learned to like having another tool in my kit, especially when it's necessary to play loud. The extra force of using the entire leg makes a huge difference. I still use heel-down for a lot of things.
 

wolfereeno

Junior Member
I learned heel down and struggle to play more heal up too. However, it developed pretty naturally on my BD foot when I started playing with louder bands and more live gigs.

In those situations to get the volume you just naturally start lifting your heel to really get the volume. And eventually you can find all sorts of combinations to play both loud and fast.

Things like samba foot patterns also kind of encourage you to find efficiencies, like raising your heel to find the bounce, naturally.

As for balance, get more weight on your but instead of your feet - so lower your seat perhaps and sit back more. More core strength is a good thing in general for your life but that's a whole other situation.

BTW, it's perfectly fine to play heel down if that's how you're comfortable. Just work on some Heel Up so you have options for those moments when you need to go faster or louder.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
I don't know that there is a balance point for heel up. Balancing what? Your leg? Your foot? Whatever it is it's probably automatic. If not, you'd know it. It probably just feels uncomfortable to you because it's new. I'm a heel down player but use heel up when I have to play stuff that I can't... or is too hard to play heel down, like a measure of 8th note triplets during a unison build up for example.
 

DPTrainor

Senior Member
Many moons ago, I started out playing heel up, then switched to heel down, then switched back and now I play a combination of both. Switching techniques real time as needed. As far as I can tell, both work well. Almost like a discussion of traditional grip vs matched grip, sort of - whatever works I guess. For both techniques and all the sub variations thereof, I see that JoJo Mayers recent DVD on Bass Drum techniques covers all. I just downloaded it from Hudson yesterday and happen to be watching it now. He breaks down it all down in a way that is easily understood. At least intellectually. Then it is all practice, practice, practice.

One thing I found with heel down is that if you move your bass drum alittle farther away from you, (so lower leg is angled out abit) you can take advantage of the upper leg muscles gaining some power (if needed), rather then just relying on ankle and shins pivot. Also this allows easier switching between heel down and heel down. At least thats what works for me.

Dan
 

alparrott

Platinum Member
I learned back in the day without the internet, in a small town with no accomplished adult drummers. I started with heel-up, burying the beater, a lot of the things that as an older drummer I am trying to relearn. I found the base of my heel-up style to be between my seat and my left foot, specifically my heel. Yes, heel down on the left foot and heel up on the right... I am a mess.

When I began to work on double pedal I used a both-heels-up approach and to put it simply, I used both feet as my balance point at first. Imagine a football player at practice doing the running-in-place thing, bent forward, pumping feet up and down at high speed. Later on, I learned to put my center of balance in my pelvis by leaning forward just slightly on the throne, allowing my feet to "dance" on the pedals. Another technique I found in double bass or while doing doubles with a slide technique is to "hop" while doing the first couple of notes and land on the last stroke with the beater buried. As I learned to move my center I could replace that last kick stroke with a note elsewhere or even a rest.

Sorry, not a very "learned" answer, but that's what I have. You actually got me thinking hard about what it is I do, though!
 

Toolate

Platinum Member
I searched for this "answer" for about a year or so until I just realized that my body had finally developed the muscles it needed to sit with heels up on HH and kick.

I think this is the only answer AFAIK anyway. You should be able to sit with heels up and play 8ths on the hats and 8ths/16ths on the kick while playing the ride and snare with hands. Just takes time.

Do this as long as you can daily and you will get there.
 

MDslammer

Member
Well, to all of you who chimed in with some good information from your experiences, I really appreciate your help.

It will be a slow process to find what works for me when playing with the heel up. For now, I'm working on some B.D. exercises from one of Gary Chaffee's books (Fat Back exercises). Playing it all with the heel up at 90 bpm.

And, when employing my double bass drum pedal, for the most part, I'm playing with the heels up. Go figure right!

Also, as one post mentioned, finding and strengthening my core will be advantageous as well.

Taking time to shed this will be worth it in the end. I just have to be patient.

Best to you all.

MDslammer
 
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