Bass Drum Techniques Explained!

There are several different bass drum techniques that most drummers naturally tend to use when they play drums. Some players have developed new techniques to help with speed and they may be worth your time to practice and develop, depending on what your goals are as a drummer.

For example, if you want to be a speed metal drummer and play singles at 220 bpm, in other words super fast double bass, then you may want to try the swivel technique. But keep in mind that you can still achieve speed using the most common techniques like heel up, heel down, or heel to toe.

Most Common Bass Drum Techniques!

Heel Up.

As you might imagine, this is the position where your heel is off the pedal, and level or sometimes above the ball of your foot, and the the ball of your foot stays on the foot pedal.

Heel up

Heel Down.

This foot position is where your entire foot is flat on the foot pedal and neither the heel or ball of your foot leaves the pedal. This is not a very common position but it’s good to practice because it builds up muscles you don’t usually use and this benefits your other foot pedal positions.

heel down

I know of drummers who routinely practice heel down but play with heel up some other technique because they believe that it  helps their bass drum technique. And they are probably right because they are really good drummers.

John Blackwell encourages drummers to do this as well.

Heel to Toe.

This is the main technique I use for doubles, and it came naturally. I had no idea that there were other techniques when I started and it was something that began early and now it’s permanent. I can’t do doubles very well with heel up or down so this is what I use.

Step 1: Push down on the pedal with your heel but flat footed so that you hit the bass drum with the beater.

heel down

Step 2: Then bounce off your heel to your toe, almost like a rocking motion.

heel up

Step 3: Then strike the bass drum again. It’s one motion which achieves a double.IMG_2991

Slide Technique.

This technique is where you slide your foot up the pedal when you do doubles and sometimes singles. I am not very familiar with it. I tried it and it just felt really aukward.

Step 1: Start a bit down the foot board.

Slide bass drum technique

Step 2: Strike down and at the same time slide your foot forward.

bass drum foot slide

Advanced Bass Drum Techniques!

Call me old school, but I am sticking with the heel to toe and heel up techniques because I’ve been using them for years and would rather spend my valuable practice time on rudiments, linear drumming, and  hand and foot combinations (although I am practicing doubles using the heel to toe on my left foot two get both feet doing doubles). If I were younger I might try the following techniques.


The swivel technique is where the heel of your foot swivels to the right and left as you play, while the ball of your foot remains in a fixed position.

Swivel Right:

Swivel foot technique right

Swivel Left:


Constant Release.

This is a technique that I believe Jo Jo Mayer came up with. It is similar to heel to toe but there is a constant motion to the technique.

The main techniques I use are heel up and heel to toe. I also use a hybrid of the two to get more power depending on what I am doing. But mainly if I need strong quarter notes I use heel up. I am going to be playing constant quarter notes like a pulse, I find that my foot lowers closer to the pedal, almost touching it like heel down.

Another thing I noticed is that when I play a gig or some sort of performance and start thinking about my technique I get sidetracked and it messes with my mind which is not good when you are performing, so I only do that when I am practicing.

In order to really grasp these techniques you need to see them in action. But I believe your should use what comes natural to you and stick with that, but also spend time developing or practicing another technique like heel down to build your muscles.