Proper Foot Stretcher Position, Footplate Height and Angle

No, ergs don't yet float, but some of us do, and here's where you get to discuss that other form of rowing.
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alison2ks
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Proper Foot Stretcher Position, Footplate Height and Angle

Post by alison2ks » March 15th, 2024, 10:51 am

I’ve been searching high and low for a consensus on what proper foot stretcher and plate placement is, and I’ve had no luck.

I’m the tallest person in my sweeping 8 (which is overall a short boat) and I sit in 4 seat. Despite this, I struggle to get length at the catch. Today, I was told it was likely because my foot stretchers were set too far up. My coach says the best placement is sitting at the finish, and having 4 fingers fitting perpendicular against the slide. The 4 fingers are supposed to fill the gap between the seat and the end of the slide. It shouldn’t be more or less than 4 fingers. I made this adjustment, and it feels easier to get length.

However, now my calves hit the deck at the finish, preventing a perfect straightening during the leg drive. Would adjusting the foot plate angle and height help, or do my coach and I have it completely wrong?

Even better, can anyone answer where knees should be placed at the finish? Before adjusting my feet, the backs of the knees would be right over the end of the deck.


Any clarity is appreciated!
20F | 5'8" 160lbs
2k - 7:38.2 df115
6k - 25:10.9 df115

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Citroen
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Re: Proper Foot Stretcher Position, Footplate Height and Angle

Post by Citroen » March 15th, 2024, 10:53 am

The usual rule of thumb is that your ankle bones are in line with the monorail. The strap goes over where your toes bend on your shoes.

This Concept2 video explains everything: https://youtu.be/4zWu1yuJ0_g

alison2ks
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Re: Proper Foot Stretcher Position, Footplate Height and Angle

Post by alison2ks » March 15th, 2024, 11:17 am

Citroen wrote:
March 15th, 2024, 10:53 am
The usual rule of thumb is that your ankle bones are in line with the monorail. The strap goes over where your toes bend on your shoes.

This Concept2 video explains everything: https://youtu.be/4zWu1yuJ0_g
I’m aware of proper placement on the erg, but this pertains to the boat specifically since there’s so much more adjusting.
20F | 5'8" 160lbs
2k - 7:38.2 df115
6k - 25:10.9 df115

Cyclist2
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Re: Proper Foot Stretcher Position, Footplate Height and Angle

Post by Cyclist2 » March 15th, 2024, 1:08 pm

As you said, getting the adjustments in a boat right is harder than an erg, both due to biomechanics and the boat configuration. If your calves are hitting the ends of the slides at the finish and you are getting "track bites", this affects your length at the finish and the distraction (or pain) will affect your stroke. If you can't get shins vertical for a good reach at the catch, then yes, they are too high. Then there is the fore-aft foot stretcher adjustment so that the oars sit right at the finish too.

Trying to adjust anything in a boat based on where your body sits with regard to that boat is, IMO, the wrong way to do it, i.e. what happens when you change boats? You should adjust things so that you maximize all aspects of the stroke and are comfortable in any boat. This may involve compromises in different aspects of the stroke to get the overall best results. It's not straightforward, may require iterations before it all "fits".

If you are considerably taller, then perhaps you'll have to modify your stroke to match your shorter crewmates. Maybe the coach can adjust the rigging or oar length to help.
Mark Underwood. Rower first, cyclist too.

Hank in KC
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Re: Proper Foot Stretcher Position, Footplate Height and Angle

Post by Hank in KC » May 13th, 2024, 3:44 pm

Cyclist2 wrote:
March 15th, 2024, 1:08 pm

If you are considerably taller, then perhaps you'll have to modify your stroke to match your shorter crewmates. Maybe the coach can adjust the rigging or oar length to help.
As a newbie to sculling, you caught my eye with this. I joined a masters rowing club within the past six months and I'm considerably taller than my crewmates. In a quad I'm nearly always in Seat 3. I understand the importance of staying in cadence with the oars in Seat 2, and consequently I don't encounter issues with the drive or the finish, but depending upon who is seated in front of me in Seat 1 the catch can be hell. I initially worried that the issue of my blades striking the blades/oars in front of me are were due to me taking too big of a stroke during the recovery [I've never attempted while the boat is in motion to turn and look back to see what my blades are hitting or why]. I pulled the foot stretchers towards the bow in response, and in turn developed some nasty track bite. Consequently, I moved the foot stretchers back towards the stern. All my coaches but one have told me that the problem is with the bow person in Seat 1, and that I should not adjust my stroke or foot stretchers. But one coach has told me that I should adjust the length of my oar and/or the placement of my foot stretchers.

I don't know what this phenomena is called or how/what I can do to fix it - other than moving the foot stretchers towards the bow isn't the solution.

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Re: Proper Foot Stretcher Position, Footplate Height and Angle

Post by Tsnor » May 14th, 2024, 12:47 pm

alison2ks wrote:
March 15th, 2024, 10:51 am
...My coach says the best placement is sitting at the finish, and having 4 fingers fitting perpendicular against the slide. The 4 fingers are supposed to fill the gap between the seat and the end of the slide. It shouldn’t be more or less than 4 fingers. I made this adjustment, and it feels easier to get length.
FOOT STRETCHER:

You coach is telling you how to set up that seat in that boat. Don't apply that approach to other seats and other boats.

Best foot stretcher placement can't generally be based on the slide because the slide rails can be installed in different positions relative to the rigger and can also shift over time. Sometimes you get in a boat and see the left slide is offset from the right and you have to figure out if you have to fix it (by loosening wingnuts inside the hull reaching through holes and moving the slides) or if you are OK for this row (which save time getting out = more rowing time).

Setting up too far forward or too far back makes it hard to follow because your oar angle is different than other rowers. If you can't follow then the boat can't get set. Bad foot stretcher placement can certainly impact length.

Suggest you set up your current seat exactly where coach said. Also note the spacers in the oarlock that set up oarlock height for your seat, and check you have the same spacers every time you row. If you get in a different seat ask coach to verify foot stretcher placement and spacers for you. He/She might want to do that on the water where they can see your stroke, both foot stretcher and oarlock spacers are commonly adjusted on water after seeing water conditions and how the boat rows. Having a consistent lineup and using the same boat really simplifies this.

You won't find a good rule for you as an individual to set stretcher position because it depends on what the rest of the boat is doing. Unlike the erg, you don't get to choose. Your stretcher must be set to allow you to match the rest of the crew so that you catch and finish your stroke at the same time at a similar oar angle. That means different foot stretcher positions for each crew member.

CALVES HIT DECK AT FINISH:

Do you mean by "However, now my calves hit the deck at the finish, preventing a perfect straightening during the leg drive" that the bottom of your leg is hitting the ship hull near where you put your foot when you step in? If so then talk to your coach. Boats come in different sizes, you may be too big for the boat you are rowing. You need to be able to get your legs flat without hitting the deck, and legs need to stay flat for a significant part of your rowing stroke.

Just to rule out calf bites .... If your leg position is not good your legs will brush past the rails during your stroke. After a few hundred strokes the skin is gone on the outside back of your calves. Vespoli boats are very prone to this, other boats will do this too. Some people wear rowing leg protectors (google "rowing calf protectors" example: https://rowwest.com/collections/calf-armor That's a short term aid while your body learns where it can safely put your legs. Long term you just won't get calf bites any more. Calf bites are not your calf hitting the deck, they are your calf hitting the slide during the stroke.

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