Slackline Tips printer friendly - Back to Tips

Here is a short collection of tips to help beginners start slacklining. Remember, these aren't hard and fast rules or anything, just maybe a hint at what might work for you.

#1 Tip - Donít watch the your feet or the webbing, focus your eyes on something eye level near the end of the webbing and let your balance tell you where to put your feet.

#2 Tip - Relax.

#3 Tip - Don't lock your knees. Keep them at least partially bent and keep your arms out.

#4 Tip Ė To really improve plan on twenty minutes as a bare minimum time for a slack session.

#5 Tip - HAVE FUN. Don't concentrate too hard or get frustrated. Just keep trying and have fun.

At first, just trying to stand up on the line can be daunting enough. Sometimes itís wise to have a bit of help during that very first little bit. Ideally, two spotters on each side, holding their hands is best. Some other things that we can recommended: a hand hold rope over head high on the line, balancing pole like tight rope walkers, support sticks kind of like trekking poles (avoid sharp pointy things though).

Being barefoot helps, or at least wear tight fitting shoes that wonít let your feet slip side to side. If you do wear shoes, make sure they are tightly laced and won't wobble side to side. If you wear shoes, thin soled shoes give you the most feedback and avoid aggressive tread that catches and can trip you. Climbing shoes work ok, so do various thin soled shoes (skate shoes are best). You may find shoes let you spin easier for turns and jump with less pain, but barefoot lets you grip better since your foot will contour around the line.

If you wear long pants make sure youíre not walking on your cuffs as it can decrease your traction and works to distract you. A simple tip is to put a rubber band around your pant cuffs or roll them up to keep them out from under your feet.

Youíll notice if you slowly stand up the webbing will try to shake violently; so when mounting, place one foot on the line and put very little weight on it, put your other thigh against the line to stabilize the line, and hop with your other foot so that your other foot is at least a foot off the ground before your weight shifts back onto the foot on the line. For a more stable start, try and sink straight down on the line, jump in from the side. Takes practice but youíll get a much smoother mount.

Quick physics lesson, the lower and farther spread across the sides of the line the easier it will be to stay stable. Stay low and keep those arms out. Instead of just bending your knees try bending them outwards to stay low.

Remember that most of the movements are in the hip and leg; so don't be afraid to shake those hips and legs like a hula dancer. Your center of gravity will be in your hips (pelvic bone), so donít stiffen up your torso Ė it needs to stay fluid as you move.

Keeping a rhythm can make a drastic difference in your ability to move smoothly. Listening to music and keeping a beat or making Tai Chi movements make for amazingly smooth movements on the line.

Bouncing up and down vertically removes much of the side to side sways in the line. Useful if youíre having trouble handling side to side motions as you can create vertical bounces which are easier to control to eliminate the side to side sways not to mention, bouncing is just plain fun.

Try to practice in different parts of the line, the ends are much more firm and tend to move in faster but much less movement while the center is slower to respond but much larger swings. When in the middle, you need to slow your motions and don't overreact. Smaller moves are more precise.

Try different tightness of lines, different heights and different starting points. Most people think tighter is easier (to a point) and more slack is more challenging.

One good way of learning to walk is to first learn to balance on one foot, then the other. If you can balance on either foot and move your other foot out to the side, walking is simplified greatly.

Don't get discouraged, realize that each session you will spend some time getting warmed up and getting the feel for the line, spend time having fun, spend a little serious time making progress and then reach a point where your not going to get any better that session.

(My feeble attempt to add details from my biology courses) During new muscular and nervous workouts your brain essentially redevelops nerve paths that it wasn't using much before and gives them a kind of tune up by remapping what those ends do in your brain. Each time you start working a new group your brain relearns controlling that group a little better until it reaches full potential. It only works a little at a time and only up to a point. That is, in part, why people often have sudden bursts at gaining strength and control during a new sport then reach a plateau where improving is harder.

Want to practice the basics without actually being on a slackline? Maybe youíre having a very difficult time learning the sport or maybe you want a safe way of teaching others the basic movements before putting them on a line. Or possibly your just rained or snowed in and incredibly bored. For whatever reason, if you just want to experience some of the postures and motions of the sport try this: walk a line of tape or webbing on the ground. The requirements, heels can not touch the ground and should stay at least 2 to 3 inches off the ground and steps should be taken that swing the whole body out to the side curving at the hip. It seems to help some beginners we've recommended it to and got their confidence up before stepping on the line.