Top 20 Terms Coxswains Should Know: Footboard

Previously: Rush(ing) || Body angle || Pick drill || Suspension || Skying the blade || Quarter feather || Pin || Run || Lunge || Washing Out || Missing water

What part of the stroke/stroke cycle does it refer to

The footboard itself obviously isn’t part of the stroke but it plays an important role on the recovery, at the catch, and at the finish.

What does it mean/refer to

The footboard, also known as the foot stretchers or just “stretchers”, is generally considered to fall under the “rigging” umbrella since it’s an adjustable part of the shell’s structure. (You can read more on its relation to rigging in the posts I’ve linked down below.)

Relevant calls

The calls you make here aren’t going to be strictly about the footboard, rather they’re going to be with how the body interacts with it at certain points throughout the stroke.

Recovery: “Stay light on the feet”, “No weight on the legs/stretchers on the way up…”, etc.

Second half of the recovery: “Transfer the weight to the toes…”

Catch/drive: “Stomp…”, “Legs…“, “Kick…”, “Drive…“, “Push…”, etc.

Finish: “Maintain connection through the feet…”

What to look for

As the coxswain, the things you notice about the footboard are most likely going to come in the form of something being off with the rower’s catch and finish angles. If they’re too sharp or too shallow then you’ll want to ask them if they’re getting to full compression (or if they’re over-compressing if the angle is particularly sharp) and then have them make an adjustment towards the bow or stern as necessary from there. Same goes for if/when you hear a lot of banging with the slides at the catch or finish.

In the 13 years I’ve been coxing I think I’ve only seen my coaches change the angle of the foot stretchers maybe two or three times, all to accommodate rowers who had very poor flexibility. It’s not something you’ll encounter that often but when you do it’s good to have a general idea of where they should be and how each positioning can effect the rower’s stroke. The general range is 38-42 degrees, with a shallower angle allowing the rower to have better compression and a steeper angle allowing you to drive with more force (although you’ll be sacrificing some of your length since you won’t be able to get to full compression as easily). If you have the chance to watch or help your coach rig the boats, talk to them about the placement of the stretchers and the angle at which they’re set.

Effect(s) on the boat

From a rigging perspective, if the footboard’s angle is too steep or too shallow then the angles of your catch and finish will be impacted. You might also need to move them towards either the stern or bow of the boat if you find yourself hitting the front stops (move to bow) or the back stops (move to stern).

From a rowing perspective, if you’re losing connection with the stretchers at the finish or not transferring your weight properly at the front end then you’ll be limiting the power of your stroke.

Related posts/questions

An Introduction to Rigging, pt. 4: Rigger Height and Work Through

Adjusting your foot stretchers

“How to set your footboards…” via USRowing

The other day our coach had all of us move our foot stretchers all the way forward on the tracks. I was wondering what the benefit of doing this is?

I have been rowing bow (port) in our starboard stroked bow-loader four boat. When ever we start to row and get to the drive part of the stroke my left ankle keeps cramping up and I was wondering if you had any way to stop this from happening?

Hey Kayleigh, I was hoping you could lend some advice on spacers, the correct positioning of your body in relation to the pin, and how to change these things either before you are out on the water or while you are out on the water. I was told that when in doubt to take a spacer off… is that the rule of thumb? It is different due to the type/make of the boat? Any help would be much appreciated. Thanks!

Question about the foot plates on the ergs – what number do you find it’s best to keep them on? Is there a standard it’s “supposed to” be at or is it best for each girl to change them for herself? What do those numbers even mean?

 To see all the posts in this series, check out the “top 20 terms” tag.

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