Foot technique: wrong to stick to heel-down?

Germandrummer

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Recently I`m practising some pedal skills and I keep preferring my heel down. I`m just wondering if it`s adverse to stick to that technique.
I`ve read a lot of that heel-up slide stuff and the increasing speed by doing so, but it just doesn`t feel comfortable for me.
Do I have to go through heel-up at some point to improve my skills?
 
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kdgrissom

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From my personal experience, my heel stays down probably 85-90% of the time. Granted, heel up is advantageous for certain music styles, but at this point in my career, I don't see myself delving into them.
 

Tornado

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I don't see how your foot just doesn't do what needs to be done depending on need. That's like keeping your wrist in one position and only doing wrist only strokes, when Moeller or fingers or something else might be more appropriate. So why not work on both?
 

Hop

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If you're new to heel-up it may seem like a burden for your hip/upper leg and balance (possible due to exaggerating how high the knee comes up). But as you get more experience you'll see you don't really need to lift it that high. It does give the ankle joint a better range of motion than just employing only heel-down. With heel-down you're going to see it favors ankle flexion (where four muscle are employed in a group), whereas heel-up uses both flexion and extension (where six muscles are employed in a group). Therefore, heel-up is going to wring out the advantage of two muscle groups over one for the heel-down method.

I didn't start out with heel-down technique but with heel-up. I can recall that I was lifting the leg/knee to get some height and the hip flexor getting tired until I built up and adapted. I can't really recall using the ankle that much or certainly not effectively early on, until I started doing triplets (w/two notes on the foot) or quick 16'ths (w/two note on the foot). Now, I really think of that ankle joint more akin to the wrist joint and give it the range it needs. Also I don't think of it as raising the knee as much as slightly raising my heel now and driving from the ankle to do those types of multiple strokes.

For the past 6-months or so I have been practicing using way more heel-down and do notice more post practice fatigue in that lower leg (1 muscle group working versus 2 muscle groups).
 

Seb77

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I was going to mention JR Robinson plays heel-down. Then, watching some videos to post as examples, I notices he does lift his heel. I have used both for a long time, now I have even more reasons to promote it - more techniques at your hand, more options. That said, with a large foot and a heavy beater, you do get more punch even staying heel down.
 

Philip Acinapuro

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I like to practice my technique drills heel down. Right now, that's mainly Mike Johnston's drill where you play triples with your foot as the samba ride pattern (if that makes sense). When I do fast doubles I just let my foot do what it wants, which is some kind of heel-toe or slide thing with the heel up. For general playing, I switch between heel up and heel down if I start to feel any fatigue with one technique.

I would say keep practicing heel down and also experiment with raising your heel a half-inch or inch. I bet that over time heel up will become more comfortable where you can use it as a tool.
 

Matched Gripper

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Recently I`m practising some pedal skills and I keep preferring my heel down. I`m just wondering if it`s adverse to stick to that technique.
I`ve read a lot of that heel-up slide stuff and the increasing speed by doing so, but it just don`t feel comfortable for me.
Do I have to go through heel-up at some point to improve my skills?
If you’ve been playing heel down, then, heel up will feel awkward at first. But, it’s very well worth learning both, IMO! They each have their own advantages. Heel up affords more power and speed. Heel down affords more dynamic control when feathering and makes it easier to let the beater come off the head for more resonance.
 

A.TomicMorganic

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I have small feet, so heel down doesn't give me much power. I like to practice heel down to strengthen my ankle motion. I have a bad habit of lifting my knee and heel, causing limited ankle motion and fatigue.
 

Old PIT Guy

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About the only time I ever had my heels down was tapping on the floor. What I discovered hundreds of years later is that as I worked to develop double-pedal dexterity and speed with my ankles rather than hybrid strokes (heel-toe, swivel, etc), lowering my feet to a nearly heel down position eliminated a lot of hip and leg tension from keeping my feet angled with the heel up. When that happened, I tried playing completely heel down and while it needs work, it's much better than it was before. Then I watched the Mayer DVD where he recommends learning both approaches and I knew why. Similarly, when watching videos of some guys with accomplished foot-feet chops where you get a view of their feet, it's the same thing - the heel is just above the footboard so that the foot is aligned closer with the angle of the board, or even flat with the heel back off the board, when playing faster sustained figures.
 

fun2drum

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I heel up on the 2 bass drums and heel down on the hat. do whats best for you.
That is the way I've done it for most of my drumming years - not deliberately - it's just the way I started playing from day one. Only recently have I started playing bass drum heel down part of the time. I'm not sure if it's because my leg is getting tired sooner as I age so I'm naturally letting it rest when heel up power isn't necessary, or if it's another reason entirely. It's something that's happened on its own over the past couple of years though. Powerful passages get heel up, while less powerful passages get heel down. It's not a deliberate thing - it just happens naturally. My music genres have decreased substantially in intensity during this time, so I'm sure that has something to do with it. I like being comfortable doing it both ways though.
 

lossforgain

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I have a very young student who uses his whole leg and just kills the bass drum. I’ve been working with him to try to get him to do all heel-down so he can learn control. Then once he gets the habit of that I plan to bring heel-up back into play.
 


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