Hi Hat Heel

After taking up drums again after a 25+ year hiatus, I'm relearning everything from scratch. On one hand, I'm stunned at how little coordination I have. On the other, I'm amazed how after 4 days of playing, it's actually coming back.

Anyway, I've figured out that I'm a heel-up player on the kick. I'm not sure about the hi hat, though. Does anyone play heel-up? Is that a technique at all, or is that way too weak to hold the hats closed? Any pros and cons to doing it one way or another? Thanks.


Platinum Member
I've always played heel up on the hats. I think most people play heel down though. Over the last few yr. I've been trying to play heel down in quiet settings. I seems like heel up doesn't work as well for me if I'm striking the hats real soft. For regular ole rock I'm heel up. I have pressure on the pedal with my toe area, with my heel up. When I open them, I kind of roll my foot back onto the ball of my foot, and my heel comes down.


Administrator - Mayor
Staff member
I do both depending on what I'm playing. Don't limit yourself. Try both ways, but then again don't think about it, and see what develops.

John Lamb

Senior Member
It is only too weak to hold the hats if you actively bend your ankle to lift your foot. If you are planning to play complex patterns with your hats, then you might consider developing heel up techniques - otherwise, the heel can be a very useful anchor point to help your balance, and entirely suitable for most drummers' needs

Beam Me Up Scotty

Silver Member
I play heel up, I play heel down, and I combine the two whenever necessary. Most commonly, my foot is flat on the footboard, and to raise the hat I remove the pressure from my toes and the top half of my foot.


"Uncle Larry"
Heel down hi hat is much harder to play. I'm referring to truly heel down, which means the heel is completely down, not floating, when you raise the pedal. Heel up I would guess is how most people play hi hat, it's way easier and you can do everything and more...that you can do heel down. I suspect the players who say that they play heel down...lift their heel when they raise the pedal. To me that's not true heel down playing.

But really, I'm a total snob about this and truly, it doesn't matter. Whatever way you prefer.

I forced myself to play true heel down hi hat. Why? Because I like being firmly planted on the ground. Totally not necessary, that's just my thing. Lot of muscle burning/discomfort in the process. It's harder. I like taking the hard road as opposed to the easier road when it comes to self improvement.

One is really no better than the other, it's all how you prefer. When the pattern is too demanding to do heel down, I do go heel up.