Alive and kicking

11th September 2009 – 5.45 pm

My leg stops working, which is a little unsettling. It's not like I can no longer do the Hustle, which would be a disaster, but I find I have a lot of trouble with the kick pedal when drumming in Guitar Hero, specifically trying to hit double-beats. Single kick pedal beats still seem fine, even when they are on a half-beat, but when double-beats appear in the score my leg starts to cramp up and I find it gets tired really quickly. I don't think it is a problem of my leg simply getting tired and needing a rest, as I first suspect, because coming fresh to a new practice period reveals the same issue when trying to kick double-beats.

The problem of my leg freezing on the kick pedal is particularly frustrating because it even happens during songs I have previously mastered, or come close to mastering. I know that Steely Dan's Do It Again caused me problems when I first started playing it on the hard difficulty setting, but that was because of the required limb independence and never a problem with the double-beats on the kick. And it is not a speed problem, because the increased tempo of the kick double-beats at the end of The Cult's Love Removal Machine have not been challenging to keep up with for a long while.

Having my leg cramp up on songs that I know I can play is vexing. I have been making quite a lot of progress, pushing myself to more complex songs in the hard difficulty mode, and rising to the challenge. To find myself struggling to hit beats that I previously found simple is demoralising, particularly when it effectively cuts short practice sessions because my leg aches too much to continue. Luckily, after some introspection and analysis I think I fnid the problem.

It seems that I have stopped anticipating the kick beats as much as I used to. This lack of anticipation makes me react to approaching notes in less time, causing my leg to tense in an effort to hit the notes without proper preparation. Trying to hit a double-beat on the kick is much more difficult with only a moment's notice. Recognising my problem I return to Do It Again and pay more attention to when the kick beats need to be played, correctly anticipating them early enough to let my foot rise and kick down in time with the beat. I quickly find that I am hitting all the kick beats, even the double-beats, with no leg cramping.

I don't know how I managed to reach the position where I lost basic knowledge of how to hit kick beats, but I am really glad that I am able to recognise what went wrong and, just as importantly, correct it. Maybe the more difficult songs in the playlist forced me to concentrate too much on fast fills with my hands, letting my leg slip too far from conscious control. Whatever it was, my leg is back to normal, kicking its way through Guitar Hero: World Tour's Ozzfest, with no cramps or fatigue. I am so much more relaxed and in control when anticipating the beats properly. I'll be a rocking legend one day.

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