Slacklining has become hugely popular within the last few years, but what is it exactly? Slacklining involves a line that is strapped to two anchor points, such as a tree, and the participants (often referred to as slackers or slackliners,) balance on the line. They walk or try slackline tricks and the line is tensioned so there is enough bounce but strength to hold the slacker.
It feels very similar to tightrope walking, but, the webbing for the slacklines are usually 1 or 2-inches in width and flatter than standard tightropes. Also, the slackline is more dynamic than a tightrope as it’s bouncier and stretchy. Those traits make slacklines more versatile than tightropes – and – it’s one of the biggest reasons why it’s such a popular sport.
However, slacklines can be used for more than just balancing or walking; they can be used in a range of fitness and yoga exercises. You can try a range of static poses on the slacklines, along with tricks and jumps. Some advanced slackliners take their passion one step further with high and long-lining; but most slacklines have advantages and are suitable for children and adults.
So, what disciplines are there in slacklining?
- Trickline: Also known as Lowline, trickline is all about tricks, jumps, bounces, and static poses. These lines are set-up closer to the ground but are varied in terms of what a slacker can do on them. Beginner, intermediate, or advanced slackers can use the trickline to balance and pull-off some fantastic tricks. This is the more popular form of slacklining as it appeals to kids and adults everywhere. Buying a trickline isn’t too expensive and most can be assembled within minutes. What’s more, there’s no need to purchase additional or specialized equipment.
- Longline: As the name suggests, slackers walk across a long line, usually over 98-feet. Currently, there is a world record in place for the longest slackline used and that stands at 2000-feet. This isn’t for newcomers or inexperienced slackers, however; it’s intensive and requires much more upper and lower body strength than many of the standard tricklines. You have to be a competent slacker because your balance can be thrown off by any little distraction or gust of wind. Additional (and more expensive) rigging is required because the line can swing and sag the longer it is. That means tension has to be spot-on and to achieve that, advanced rigging is needed.
- Highline: This is the most extreme form of slacklining and it is also one of the more dangerous disciplines. Your line is suspended high above ground level and can be physically draining. It takes a lot of strength to use a highline, and that doesn’t account for the mental strength required. Whether or not you’re impacted by heights, you’re putting yourself at great risk so there is a mental challenge to overcome. If you were to fall from a highline without any safety equipment, it would probably mean instant death. That is why slackers have to use a climbing harness, safety line, and a leash connection. The rigging system must be set-up properly and of the highest quality to ensure a slackliner’s safety.
Beginners really have to think carefully before they choose from one of the disciplines above. While long or highline might seem fun, they require more skill and there are mental barriers to overcome too. They pose a great risk to even the most experienced slackers and that’s why it’s sometimes easier starting with the basics before moving onto a much higher level.
Choosing a Beginner’s Slackline
Beginners don’t need to invest big bucks in a quality slackline. There are lots of affordable and reliable kits. A quality kit can cost as little as $50 but can range upwards of $150. However, it’s, generally, better starting with an inexpensive kit so that you can find out if you actually like slacklining. Sometimes, people invest hundreds of dollars in a kit only to find they don’t like it. While you decide how much to spend, an inexpensive line is probably more appropriate for a first slackline kit.
Here are a few of the more highly-recommended slacklines to consider:
- The Flybold Slackline Kit – Ideal For Families, Kids, And Beginners
The Flybold Slackline is one of the more impressive kits to choose from today. It’s ideal if you are new to slacklining and not sure where to begin or want something the whole family could use. The Flybold kit is great for beginners, children, and everyone in-between. It’s affordable and sturdy and comes with an arm training and teaching line.
The Advantages of the Flybold
- A Teaching Line Makes It Comfortable For Beginners
- The Slackline Takes Very Little Time To Set-Up
- The Overall Length Of The Line Is Suitable For Beginners
- The Flybold Is Affordable
The Disadvantages of the Flybold
- A Longer Line Isn’t Available
Specifications of the Flybold
- Is A 2-Inch Line
- Offers A 57-Foot Slackline
- A Weight Capacity of 300lbs
The Flybold is the perfect choice for those who are entirely new to slacklining and not sure which direction to go in. What’s more, it tends to be one of the better options for teens and young children starting out with slacklining. Adult supervision, however, is necessary when children are using the line.
- The Slackline Industries Baseline – The Best Universal Slackline
The Slackline Industries Baseline is one of the best universal slacklines you’ll find today. This is built for beginners and advanced slackers alike and offers a reliable finish. Baseline has created a quality kit that is affordable and is easy to use. The fact it’s suitable for beginners, children, and advanced slackers, is a welcomed bonus.
The Advantages of the Baseline
- Easy Set-Up
- Meets the True Length Concept
- A Universal Line for All, Including Trickline Slackers
The Disadvantages of the Baseline
- It Does Not Come With A Teaching Arm Line
Specifications of the Baseline
- Has A 2-Inch Line Width
- A 50-Feet Line Length, or 85-Feet – Depending On The Specific Model
- Has A Weight Capacity of 300lbs
The Baseline is an impressive slackline and will be an all-around choice for most slackers. While it doesn’t have a teaching arm line, it’s easy to assemble and use.
- Slackline Industries Trick Line – The Best For Tricks
Tricklines need to be fairly bouncy but strong as it’ll propel you into the air. A trickline must be comfortable to land on and offer sufficient bounce to complete tricks. It also has to be easy to use and assemble. The Slackline Industries Trick Line is one of the best. If you want to try a host of fancy tricks, this is the line for you. The Trick Line’s webbing is more flexible and thinner than other kits, making it bouncier and perfect for lots of smart, innovative jumps.
The Advantages of the Trick Line
- Meets The True Length Concept
- Is Easy To Assemble and Disassemble
- Ideal For Jumps, Bounces, and Tricks
The Disadvantages of the Trick Line
- This Isn’t The Best for Novices or Beginners
The Specifications of the Trick Line
- A 2-Inch Webbing
- A Slackline of 50-Feet
- A Weight Capacity of 300lbs
The Trick Line is great for those who want to try tricks, jumps, and bounces; unfortunately, it mightn’t be suitable for newcomers. That doesn’t mean to say you can’t move onto this line once you’ve mastered the basics and have advanced your skill set.
- The SI Aggro Line – The Best For Long Slackline Walks
While tricks and jumps can be fun, there’s so much discipline involved with long walks. If you wanted to pace yourself, you could opt for a long walking line. You could start with a slackline around 100-feet and, as you learn, progress onto a 150 or 300-foot line. The Slackline Industries Aggro Line is one of the best for tricks and long slackline walking.
The Advantages of the SI Aggro Line
- It’s Powerful And Reliable
- Durable for Tricks and Walks
- Easy Assembly
The Disadvantages of the SI Aggro Line
Specification of the SI Aggro Line
- A 2-Inch Webbing Width
- 100-Feet Line
- Weight Capacity is 300lbs
The SI Aggro Line is one of the best for tricks but also long walks. The only drawback is that it’s an expensive slackline. On the plus side, it’s an effective line that offers power and strength.
How to Start Slacklining?
As daunting as it seems, slacklining can be a fun way to spend the afternoon. Once you have your kit ready, it’s time to learn to slackline. Here are a few slacklining tips that might prove useful to you later:
- Remove Any Negative Thoughts
If you don’t take a positive approach to slacklining, you’ll likely give up easily. At first, you probably go into it with a clear mind and some confidence but when you struggle to balance right, you’ll want to quit. Throw away those negative thoughts and remember: trying something for the first time is always difficult, but with some practice, it’ll become easier. Think positive.
- Start Without Shoes Then Move Onto Them
Everyone has an opinion over going barefoot on a slackline; some will like it and others won’t. The reality is that it’s up to you. However, it might be slightly easier to opt for no shoes when you first use the line. As you gain experience and move forward in your training, you could switch back to shoes. This is especially useful to protect your feet when you land on the ground too. Of course, you can learn with shoes on.
- Secure Footwear and Clothing
There’s nothing worse than starting your walk and your pants need adjusting. Whenever you step onto a slackline, it’s essential to wear clothing that fits and won’t roll down or become loose. It’s the same with shoes; they must be securely fastened at all times so your feet won’t slip out of them.
Learning To Balance On the Slackline
This is a tricky part of slacklining but can be achieved through practice and care. Ideally, you need to be able to balance on the slackline before you can walk on it, so lots of practice is required. Here are a step-by-step guide and some handy top tips to learn to balance on the slackline.
- Move Onto The Line
You could do this in a few ways; you could move to the middle of the slackline or stand nearer the anchor point for more stability. Your foot should be placed on an inline position.
- Relax The Leg
To avoid the line shaking or wobbling, don’t press on the line with your leg; instead, keep it relaxed so that you can keep your balance.
- Never Look Down
You can lose concentration and your focus when you stare down at your feet or the line. For instance, beginners tend to look at how stable their feet are and as a result, lose concentration. They panic when they see the line wobble and are more likely to fall. Instead, find a focal point. Focus on a tree in the backyard or something in the distance. It’ll help you keep your concentration and your balance.
- Keep Your Arms Above Your Head
Sometimes, you get more stability with your balance by raising your hands over your head. Or, keep them around shoulder level, whatever you feel offers more support or comfort.
- Balance On One Leg
Carefully raise one leg and balance on it. You can balance for ten seconds then try balancing with the other leg.
- Maintain Your Slackline Position
You need to keep your back straight, keep your arms overhead, and bend your knees slightly as it’ll lower your center of gravity. And remember to focus.
Walking On a Slackline
Mastering your balance takes times but once you have, you can start taking your initial steps on the line. Here are a few things you’ll need to know:
- You need to keep your head straight and your hips in line with the anchor. Also, take your first step with your feet straight.
- You may need to lower your center of gravity if the line begins to sway or swing. If you bend your knees slightly more, it may help to stabilize your balance.
- Never run across the line. It’s important to ease your way across the line rather than rush and fall off.
- Don’t worry about losing your balance, it will happen. However, you should remain on the line as long as you can. If you do this will help to build your muscles and hopefully improve on your balance and stability.
- You can have a helper to walk alongside you if you feel it’s needed.
What Else Can You Do With A Slackline?
Once you’ve mastered the basic slacklining skills, you can move onto basic tricks and jumps. You can try walking backward or half turn jumps; there’s so much to do with tricklines and they’re fun too. With some practice, you can hone your skills perfectly with tricklining.
Longlining is a popular form of slacklining; this is where you walk a longer line, usually around 100-feet. However, this requires additional equipment and is more expensive than basic slacklining. It’s popular and something most people will enjoy moving onto.
Lastly, you could try highlining; this is where you need specialist climbing equipment and are suspended high above ground level. It’s incredibly dangerous and not suitable for beginners.
However, slacklining can be a social sport and you could join a group or try this with your friends. With a little know-how, you can improve your experience and skills.