Improve Your Weak Foot!

When you first buy a double kick pedal, you immediately notice that you can’t play anything up to a satisfying tempo, which is infuriating because you’ve been playing all these years and you feel like you should be better than this.

The very simple reason is that nobody uses their hi-hat foot like they use their kick foot, so dropping a fast double kick rhythm on it is just overwhelming.

It’d be like taking a player from pee-wee football and dropping him in the NFL – maybe over time he’ll end up there, but that’s not his place right now. Was that analogy American enough for you? I wrote it while sitting in Great Britain sipping tea – I hope that doesn’t shine through.

weak foot bass drum exercises

In this article, I’ll refer to the left foot as the weak foot, but if you’re a left handed drummer, just swap that around. If anything, I’m giving your brain more work to do, keeping you mentally stimulated and helping to fight off dementia.

In this article’s notation, the left foot kick drum is represented by a beat sitting on the bottom line of the stave, whereas a right foot kick is on the space above the bottom line. In instances where there are several alternating kicks, sticking is added for ease of reading.

Here are 3 triplet-based exercises for your weak foot.

The first one is very simple – just a snare, right and left, with a ride cymbal holding things together. In terms of limb independence, this one shouldn’t be too much trouble – the hands fall in very comfortable places. This one is good for focusing on clean, consistent triplets.

weak foot drum exercises This one has kind of a shuffle feel on the foot pattern and luckily for coordination, the right hand always falls on the right foot. An interesting challenge, great for improving your weak foot, is to, when comfortable with this, reverse the foot pattern, then repeat those two versions back to back. It’ll mess with your brain, but that’s good!

Ugh, this one. Syncing up the left foot and right hand can be a laborious task, but that’s what this is all about. Everything about this exercise feels backwards and wrong – enjoy!

All the kicks in this exercise are on the left foot, so that’s one problem out of the way. This is tricky because you’re playing single strokes between your left hand and foot, but keeping the triplet feel. The right hand ride cymbal ticks along to indicate where each beat falls and because it sometimes matches with a hand and sometimes with a foot, it’s a real pain to get right.

Moving on from the triplets somewhat, this is an obvious but helpful exercise that I want you to play until it feels like your leg is about to fall off, then play it a little longer.

This helps you cope with beat division on your feet by having you constantly switch between quavers and triplets. The hand part exists just to keep you on track, but the main aim of this one is to produce clear, evenly spaced triplets between your left and right foot.

If you find yourself looking for a new challenge, try playing the 2nd bar triplets entirely on your weak foot, then dropping back to quavers again. You’ll probably hate me for recommending that.

weak foot drumming exercise

This one is simple and works as a nice cool down, though it’s not unimportant, as just using your weak foot is the point with all this. Again, clear and defined quavers, as well as consistent beat division are the goals here. Loop it for a few minutes, or play it forwards then backwards – either way, you’re not neglecting your weak foot anymore.

For me, the best exercise you can use to strengthen your weak foot is to simply replace your strong foot with your weak, meaning just to play the same kind of thing you would play if you were jamming, but with the wrong foot.

There’s no point in me notating this exercise because you know what you play more than I do and there’s really no wrong answer as long as you’re consistent. You can play 4 on the floor or something heavily syncopated and you’re still getting that work out. This idea is obviously very simple and it’s based on a memory we all have: remember when you first started out on the drums and your right leg hurt after a few days? It’s just because you weren’t used to using it to work a pedal – it’s exactly the same for your left foot. Go have fun with it!