Since my 8+ rushes so much and doesn’t row together, I thought that rowing with closed eyes might help them. I talked to my coach about it today (like you suggested!) and she said it would be best incorporated in the warm up or rowing back to the dock. How should I go about calling this for my rowers? Like I don’t want to freak them out or make them hate me. What if they cheat, open their eyes, and it won’t help them? I mean, I won’t be able to see if they do….
I like to do this as part of my cool-down as we row back to the boathouse. Sometimes I’ll do it in between pieces too to get the crew to focus on feeling the boat, particularly if the previous piece felt rushed.
They’re definitely not going to hate you and it won’t freak them out. As long as you explain what you want to do, they shouldn’t have any reason to worry. If you just randomly call out “OK everyone, close your eyes” then yea, they might wonder what you’re talking about but if you explain ahead of time why you want to do it, what the benefits are, etc. then they’ll be more open to it. I’ve been with experienced crews long enough that I just tell them we’re going to close our eyes and row for a bit and no one says anything about it.
When I first started doing it in high school, I told my crew either on land or during the warm-up that I wanted to try something new that might sound unconventional but I thought it’d help with the various things we’d been having trouble with. They all trusted that I knew what I was doing, so I didn’t encounter any resistance or anything. When I call for it now, I usually say something like “OK, so we’re gonna close our eyes and row back to the dock … everyone take a deep breath … and let’s close our eyes on this one. Keep the bodies loose, relax, and just feel the boat.” It all sounds very meditational but it really does help the boat flow better.
If they cheat and open their eyes, honestly, that’s their problem. You’re not there to be their babysitter (although that’s what it feels like sometimes). There are times when you have to just go with the flow and trust that your coach and/or coxswain is telling you to do this because there are benefits to it, even though up front you might not see what they are. I’ve encountered people like that they think “oh this is stupid, I’m not doing it.” I’ve been that person too. When I’ve had them in my boat and they make it known that they think whatever we’re doing is pointless, I just say to them “Look, everyone else is going along with it. If you want to be that person that doesn’t do it, fine, but know that you will be known by the rest of us as the person in the boat who only does what they want instead of what is best for the crew.” It definitely gets you a pissed off look in response but no one wants to be that person so eventually they’ll get on board. It’s not your job to go down the line and make sure everyone’s eyes are closed. If they trust you, they’ll go with it.