Foot-Stretcher Angle in Rowing Shells (Part 2)

This is the second post about our foot stretcher settings (read part 1 here). We have answered Rons’s question a few days ago about an optimal stretcher height position. Today we will give you some advice for the optimal foot stretcher angle. In case you are looking for more rigging information check our general guide to basic rigging.

Foot-Stretcher Angle

Stretcher Angle and Correlated Foot Force

When we speak about the foot stretcher angle we speak about the steepness of the fixture. The angle and height are two important adjustments that are in conjunction with your stretcher setting to get foot force into the stretcher boats (see also our post How to Get Foot-Force Onto the Stretcher). As we described in earlier posts, your setting should apply to your weight, flexibility and height. The placement of the foot stretcher is important because it controls the position of the oar at the entry and finish. Further, in all boats, the correct placement of the settings must ensure a correct and uniform finish position

Angle Setting

In older boats the angle and height were mostly fixed. A lot of research has been done within the last 20 years and stretchers have become very flexible nowadays.

In almost all new boats today, whether we talk touring gigs or racing shells, the angle and height of the foot-stretcher is adjustable. It has been found by World Rowing that a good position for the angle of the foot-stretcher is between 38-42 degrees. This angle has over many years become the standard setting in racing boats for a standard foot-stretcher. Cobined these variables determine the angle of the knees and ankles at the catch and during the leg drive. 


Foot Stretcher Angle
Foot-Stretcher Angle: Pitch Gauge, Credit Syke

Syke recommends: “Angles can easily be checked using an angle finder, digital pitch gauge. Always remembering to check the incline of the hull before measuring the stretcher and account for the difference if using a tool such as the easy angle finder shown below”.

Horizontal and Vertical Setting

The steeper the foot angle, the more direct the force acts in the direction the boat is being propelled. But be careful: If the angle is too vertical, too sharp, then you are going to shorten up at the front stop. Consider also, if the stretcher angle is set to steep whether you have enough compression at the catch position. Flatten it, if you notice less compression. In case you get extra length now, but won’t be able to convert that length into any meaningful power, it is too horizontal.

“If the set up is too flat for the rower, then it can cause the rower to over compress and have shins past vertical and or give discomfort at the finish of the stroke as the heels press down and the  tendons on the top of the foot are being stretched”. Mike Davenport, one of our authors has posted some information on over compression.

Special Settings

Standard settings are 38-42- degrees. Depending on your flexibility and height we would recommend to have a flatter angle. 38-40 degrees might work for masters rowers and women. This is due to the fact, that masters angle flexibility will decrease during the years and women are usually shorter than men. Coaches might want to consider lower angle degrees for beginners and younger athletes.

One thought on “Foot-Stretcher Angle in Rowing Shells (Part 2)

  1. Tom Feaster says:

    I have very good balance in my single at 73 Notwithstanding, I want to get up a little more on my toes when I square the blade before the catch that allow that allows me to push from the balls of my feet with immediate transfer to the heals after blade is securely anchored. Certainly, I don’t want to open up to soon. My stretchers heals are close to the bottom of the shell. Should I raise them
    a little?

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