Slacklining has become an increasingly popular sport which – as mentioned above – involves walking across a highly-tensioned and bouncy webbing. Although people have been performing balancing activities from ages, slacklining has become a trend in the last three decades. Unlike a tightrope, a slackline is not held that rigidly, instead it is stretchy and dynamic. The slackline is normally 1 or 2 inches broad and flat. With all these features, the slackline becomes highly versatile, which makes this sport more enjoyable.
The art of slacklining will help you improve balancing ability, increase concentration levels, condition core muscles, and have a lot of fun. Slacklining is not only limited to balancing or walking on the line, you can even jump and bounce, or use the line for static poses, fitness, and yoga, in addition to performing a lot of tricks.
This Buzzle article will give you some information on how slacklining is done, and some tips to improve your skills. Once you are well-versed with slacklining, you can indulge in advanced branches like longlining and highlining. Let’s get slacking!
How to Walk a Slackline
If walking the tightrope has been on your mind for a while now, but you lack the courage to do something about it, then maybe you should look at slacklining as an option. With the line in slacklining being, well, slacker than tightrope walking, it is easier to balance while slacklining. Balancing on a line which is a few feet above the ground may seem to be scary task, but most of us have an inner equilibrium which helps us balance. Once you learn the techniques and get some regular practice, you will start to enjoy slacklining.
For slacklining, you will need two anchor points (mostly two trees), a slackline and a pulley, carabiners, ratcheting mechanism or some other means of getting the slackline tight.
Steps to Follow
► Find two trees as anchor points that are at least 15 – 25 feet apart and set the line a little above your upper thigh or hip level. Starting with a short slackline will keep the line stable and will make it easier for you.
► This is not a tightrope, so you will have to set up the tension between the two anchors. The line should sag at least 6 – 12 inches when slacklining.
► Mental preparation is the most important thing before you step on the line. So like you see in the movies, shake yourself a bit, then your shoulders, legs, arms, and relax before you start. Trust me, it works!
► While slacklining for the first time, it is advised to have two spotters on both sides of the line, to increase your confidence. You can start with holding their hands or shoulders, and work on balancing.
► When you keep your feet on the webbing, make sure you do not watch them. Keep your focus on the end of the line and let your balance tell you where to put your next step. Focus at least 15 – 18 feet in front of you.
► Keep your arms in the Titanic position and do not lock your knees; keep them a bit bent. You also need to keep your head up. While taking steps on the line, lean your torso forward as well.
► While mounting the webbing, place one foot on it with very little weight, and keep your other leg against the line and support it using your thigh. After that, hop with the leg on the ground so that the balance is maintained.
► Once you get the knack of mounting, you can start focusing on your balancing skills on the line while taking baby steps. Start with short distances; you can increase it later with more practice.
► If you are going barefoot, you can use the ‘forward foot position’ in which you have to place the line in the soft area between your big toe and the 2nd toe, with the line continuing under your heel.
► If you prefer slacklining with shoes on, then the ‘sideways foot position’ will be a comfortable option. In this you will have to place the line diagonally in the arch, where the line should rest outside the big toe.
Some Tips and Tricks for Beginners
✔ In the initial stages, keep the sessions short and try to get the hang of it. Don’t try too hard to learn quickly and get frustrated, instead follow the steps, keep trying, and try to have fun.
✔ Select a proper set of footwear for slacklining. If you choose not to go barefoot, then prefer tight-fitting shoes, laced properly. Shoes will help you spin easily, while going barefoot will give you better grip and feedback.
✔ To start with stepping on the line, you can try and sink straight down on the line and avoid jumping at any angle. It may sound a bit difficult, but with practice you will be able to mount smoothly.
✔ To accelerate your learning sessions, it is better to find a partner who can guide you and help you reduce your mistakes. Moreover, this also increases dedication and helps enjoy the sport together.
✔ If you are helping your kids with slacklining, then ask someone to sit on one end to lower the line, before asking your kids to mount. When they reach midway, you can ask the person to slowly get up.
✘ Do not use any kind of sticks to prop you as it does not help, and you may end up injuring yourself. The best way is to step on the line without any support.
✘ Baggy pants may suit you elsewhere, but while slacklining it’s a big no-no! If the pant cuffs come under your feet while walking on the line, you may lose traction and not be able to feel the line.
✘ Do not mount the slackline from any point, it is safer to mount in the middle, as if you lose your balance and fall, you will be far from most obstacles.
✘ Do not get disheartened if you fall the first few times. It is quite obvious for a new leaner to fall a few times in the initial stages, but make sure you know how to control yourself while falling and land on your feet.
✘ Do not rig the line over rocky terrain or where there are many obstacles. Even if the slackline is only a few feet above the ground, if you fall from it you can end up with serious injuries depending on what is below the line. Starting on a lawn or using mattresses under the line to break your fall is recommended for beginners.
Do not get discouraged if you are taking time to learn slacklining, keep in mind it’s a sport and you have to enjoy it. Take a deep breath, relax, and keep trying. Slack Safe!!