I have been playing drum for years (not but close to 8 years), self-learning most of the time, with really not enough practicing. Yet I am able to play some intermediate songs without much pressure. At beginner's stage, I practice very slowly while saying out loud / counting inside the brain with the beat (1 e & a...) as a way to gain muscle memory. Now I admit I basically just make use of the "feel" and maybe my whole body movement to time when I play.
Recently I have talked with a great senior drummer and he said timing with left foot is very fundamental and natural which I should have mastered it. I can hardly agree as I think timing with left foot is so challenging that it requires very good independence and coordination with other 3 limbs. In some sense I think it is basically the same as double pedaling, and it is not fundamental nor natural isn't it?
So, my question is that: Is it true that timing with left foot is really fundamental and natural (without much practicing)? If not, is there any good drills on it? (If yes then I will accept my lack of talent and practice even more...)
A simple example is attached for reference (bpm ~ 160), I can play the following easily if not using the left foot, but instantly fail if I try to time with left foot which makes me really depressed now.
Edited [2022-08-18]: Thanks for all the great answers, they sure help a lot. But now I have a follow up question about the mindset, let's use the same pattern above as an example:
Currently, without timing with left foot / hi-hat (or precisely as in Michael's answer: not able to play another simple but different rhythm simultaneously), when I play some rhythm like this with obvious groupings (a say group of 8, or 16), I literally count the grouping itself i.e. 1-2-3-1-2-3-1-2 or hands-foot-foot-hands-foot-foot-hands-foot instead of 1-&-2-&-3-&-4-&. I found it is easier and somehow more "musical" to me (as the groupings are meant to be recognized by players and audiences)
My follow up question is that: Is this mindset weird / wrong? How does other drummers count this in their head? or just practice enough to gain muscle memory?
I have this question because when I try to include another rhythm which is not in sync, say left foot for every 2 notes in this case, my head blows up and cannot count using my way. I must time it using the traditional 1-&-2-&-3-&-4-&. I know the effect is literally the same if I time and perform perfectly but some parts inside me cannot accept this as this counting method "breaks" the group, sounds stilted and seems violates the intention of such arrangement... So I really want to know how other drummers think, what's their mindset when doing this...