Can't keep balance while using both feet at same time

jco5055

Junior Member
Hi,

Let me first state that I'm a beginner (only been playing for around 3 months or so). I've recently been trying some left foot independence exercises. There's one particular exercise, ,which has you playing consistent 8th notes by constantly closing and opening the hi-hat, and then playing two consecutive 8th notes with the bass drum on the 1-and and the 3-and.

Now whenever I am playing this, I have a need to lean back, even if I am doing it at the slowest possible speed just to get the pattern down. I did make an adjustment by moving my tractor-style throne closer so I sit back on the throne instead of at the front edge, and that has helped, but I still need that extra adjustment somewhere.

I do play heel up, but that's out of necessity as I was born with cerebral palsy in my achilles tendons which causes me to naturally want to walk on my toes, so I have terrible ankle flexibility. It hasn't affected anything else though, so I am in no way a "disabled" drummer. But since I am a beginner, I can't think intellectually on where that next adjustment needs to be. Do I need to sit higher on the throne, or possibly lower? (I have it set pretty much so my thighs are slightly above my knees/a parallel angle as is recommended in general). I've already done my time making sure my pedals are as ergonomic as possible in terms of positioning so I don't have an extremely wide angle etc, though because of my ankle/tendon issue as mentioned I would need to have my feet basically forward (think of how your legs are positioned on a lowrider motorcyle) if I wanted to be able to play heel down.

Thanks!
 

jco5055

Junior Member
Your core needs work. You should be able to sit at your kit and lift both feet off the ground and hold it. If you ever get into double bass, this is critical. Your balance point is your butt.
Thank you for your reply, I guess my question is is there kind of a initial setup that should be easiest on your core regardless of your core strength?

Because I have had some core issues (it's actually related to some kind of hip/glute weakness, I even just finished some physical therapy for it and now do rehab exercises regularly), but the fact I actually am quite athletic and can squat 2x my weight etc makes me feel like I should have the base core strength needed for something like drumming. I'm not sure though.
 

donzo74

Junior Member
I agree with drumming overall requiring a strong core, proper seat height adjustment, which it sounds like you have, and good posture. One thing that helped me with balance when I was starting off and pretty much exclusively played heel up bass drum technique and no double bass was to keep either the heel or toe of my Hi-Hat foot always on the pedal. If the HH was closed, I would play heel up and keep my toes engaged on the pedal to keep the cymbals closed and tap down my heel to keep time. When opening the HH, I would rock my left foot back on the heel and lift my toes. The point of this is just to make sure that you always are rooted to the ground by having a part of your HH foot on the pedal at all times.
 

MrInsanePolack

Platinum Member
Thank you for your reply, I guess my question is is there kind of a initial setup that should be easiest on your core regardless of your core strength?

Because I have had some core issues (it's actually related to some kind of hip/glute weakness, I even just finished some physical therapy for it and now do rehab exercises regularly), but the fact I actually am quite athletic and can squat 2x my weight etc makes me feel like I should have the base core strength needed for something like drumming. I'm not sure though.
Well from your first post it sounds like you have your kit in order. Normally I would say your sitting position sounds fine also, but you might be too close/far away. You normally want your ankles under your knees for heel up. I'm not sure how this affects your ankles though. The farther out your feet are, the farther out your balance point is.
 
In addition to the above egonomics; I have my clutch set up so that even the smallest pedal movements translate much larger at the hat. This way I don't have to make large left foot movements.
 

cbphoto

Gold Member
First of all, kudos to your tenacity and determination! There will be plenty of hills to climb, but the path is endless; No one ever achieves “perfection”. When you begin to develop a solid groove and a feel that others can lock into, you’ll really enjoy the instrument.

Since you have palsy, your setup may be very different from those without palsy. Example: I have a blind cousin who drums. In his sitting position, his hips are below his knees. He sits very low, but he does this ‘cuz he prefers to reach up instead of out; it helps his balance.

I play heel up and really enjoy 8th notes on the hat. One of my practice routines:
  1. Turn on the metronome to a comfortable tempo
  2. Play only the hi hat for 3–5 minutes to the click. Find my balance. Arms at my sides. Eyes closed. No dancing girls.
  3. While playing the hat, with arms dangling, begin placing bass notes on the 1. Keep the hat with the click. No speed up, no slow down. No girls.
  4. Hat on 8ths. Bass on 1 & 3. Arms dangling. At this point the hats must never deviate.
  5. Once step 4 is a lock, I begin to build patterns with the bass drum. Arms at my side. No girls.
  6. At this point, if your seat and/or pedals are not in the right position for you, then adjust until you can play just the hats & bass without struggling to maintain balance.
  7. Once you’ve locked it in, bring in the girls.
 

TMe

Senior Member
The lower you sit, the better your balance, but there's a price to be paid because things will start to hurt if you sit too low. A throne with a backrest might be a good idea.
 

GetAgrippa

Platinum Member
Dang suspending both legs at that angle doesn’t cause back problems?i figured at least one heel would be down. I never master double but when I suspended both legs heel I could play a lot better but my back and hips would start acting up in time. Seems my core is stronger doing it though-is there a “hump”? When I use to run usually it was 3 miles with friends we had mental hump- like further would hit a brick wall. But I was the first to push through hump and I ran a little over 10 miles first time . I told my running buddies they can push through hump to which all did running ten miles- which became our new norm. It was great we burned way more calories which translated to more pitchers of beer to celebrate another good run. Everything I read says you have to persist to get the double but I seem to run into a hump I can’t pass. Maybe I’m old and core is crap now- I haven’t seen any old metal guys but I’m sure I’ll be corrected- least I hope so . I always give up and take off the slave pedal.
 

TMe

Senior Member
I would need to have my feet basically forward (think of how your legs are positioned on a lowrider motorcyle) if I wanted to be able to play heel down.
That's how I play. I don't have much range of motion in my ankles, so it's easier if I sit a bit further back from the pedals than most people. I play heel down and use short, sharp snaps of my foot to throw the bass drum pedal. I don't follow the motion all the way through. Playing heel down gives me better balance and more control, though at slightly less volume.

It helps if you can find pedals that can be adjusted so that the range of motion they need matches the range of motion your foot is most comfortable making. That usually means spending bucko$, though, because high-end gear is usually more adjustable. If you're lucky, you can find something at a lower price point that matches your needs without a lot of adjustment.
 

K Chez

Member
I would practice using everything on the kit (cymbals, various fills around the the toms, etc.) with both feet off the ground, focusing on posture/keeping my back straight and staying balanced when I first started playing double bass. I think that tip was in an older Tommy Aldridge video. Made me realize that some things weren't in an optimal position - cymbals & drums too far away or at awkward angles.
 

thebarak

Senior Member
The original poster has some unique considerations but it is still down to finding the right relationship between the throne and the two pedals. Height and distance, that's all. I would just take the bass drum, hi hat and throne into a space and fiddle around with heights and positions. once comfortable, add the snare drum, and lastly the rest of the kit.

We should all do this now and again in case what we were getting used to was not ideal.
 

SmoothOperator

Gold Member
Cycling with bike cleats will fix that. As you build strength in the lower body, you start to find small muscles around the hips, that make a big difference in articulation(of the hip), and also in the lower back and tail bone. Things that I do is to stretch the hips either while I'm stopped or coasting. Its kind of weird. Its odd how much muscles in the lower back and tail(https://www.healthline.com/health/fitness-exercise/tailbone-stretches) are actually used here, as they sort of complement the muscles in the hip. Another muscle to look at as a trouble maker is the psoas. Which runs up the inner thigh, into the core.
 

opentune

Platinum Member
In addition to the above egonomics; I have my clutch set up so that even the smallest pedal movements translate much larger at the hat. This way I don't have to make large left foot movements.
But this means you actually have to depress the hihat pedal even more, because you increased the distance between upper and lower hats. Its a 1:1 relationship. So there is a trade-off there.
I agree with others, as a beginner you have to work your core.
 

beyondbetrayal

Platinum Member
Double bass guy here... I used to sit really low and found that helped, but my toms felt too high. I'd suggest core work as well. I do situps/crunches and other ab / core work and it makes a huge difference. You can practice sitting on your couch. hover both feet an inch above the floor. Do this in your chair at school/work even.

Another thing is sit further back on the throne. If you sit on the edge you are going to want to fall forward. if you sit further back more of your thigh is on the throne helping you keep balance.
 
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