Tricks of the Trade: 4 Steps to Get Started Slacklining

by Molly O'Brien on February 7, 2018

What is slacklining? Similar to tightroping, slacklining is the act of walking between two points on a line which is suspended in the air such as between two trees or posts. It is a technique that uses lots of concentration for patience and balance.

There are a variety of types of slack lining. “Highlining,” is walking on a line elevated high in the air (think real high) tricklining, which is performing tricks while balancing on a slack line (think 360’s, chest bounces, even slack line yoga). And as incredible as having the ability to do a vinyasa on an airborne piece of chord in the air sounds, in theory, everyone has to start somewhere… Adventure Aide Slacklining expert Luke Bender is here to explain the basics of the sport and how to get started.

1. Choose a slackline!

Step one is simple. Get a line! We recommend a Gibbon 2 inch width line, a great line for beginners which can be found here on amazon for around $50 dollars.

2. Select a Location

Ideally this location would need a sufficient amount of open space and about 10 to 15 feet of distance to set up the line in between two objects like two trees or two posts. Make sure this location has soft ground and is flat with no drop-offs. Clear out any rocks, debris, sticks, or anything else that can hurt you so that you’re safe when you inevitably fall off.

3. Set up the line

Start by wrapping a towel (or tree wear) around the tree you’ll be setting up on, this helps to protect both the tree and your line. Next, wrap the ratchet end of the line around the towel on the tree. Feed it through the appropriate loop and pull it tight keeping the line flat.

Make sure that the line is at the right height you want, before you fully secure it. As a beginner, having the line just above knee height is a great start to practice.

Feed the line through the end of the ratchet and pull it through as tight as you can before starting to crank it inward, because the tighter it is, the easier it is to balance on because it will shake less.

4. Practice basic technique

Kick your shoes off and let your feet loose! Bare feet are much easier to grip the line and get a good feel of how you’re holding onto it.

Now, it’s time to catch some height. Begin with your dominant foot and place it on the line, getting a feel of its stability and a sense of how to work with it as it moves.

Keep your eyes focused on the connection of the line and the tree (or post, or whatever you’re rigged up in-between) straight ahead of you. It’s very tempting to look down at the line especially as a beginner, but making sure your line of sight remains focused straight ahead. This will help you retain your balance.

Next, step up onto the line and keep your arms above your head as you rise! Stand up onto the line with your dominant leg and foot, and attempt to keep balance without trying to take any steps forward yet. Once you’ve tried keeping your footing staying stagnant on one foot, try stepping up with the other foot as well and do the same thing. Get a feel for the line and keep your knee slightly bent to absorb the shaking and remain balanced.

Once you’ve mastered these techniques, it’s time to try to take a few steps forward! Jump up on the line and feel it out again with your feet before taking that first step forward onto the other foot. Keep stepping one foot before the other across the line and before you know it you’ll be the one doing a 360 on the slackline.

Remember to Have Fun!

Overall, don’t feel discouraged if you can’t master this skill in one try. It’s a unique practice, and getting a feeling of balancing takes time and patience. Most of all remember to have fun while you’re learning. Slacklining is an amazing way to spend outside, and have fun improving your balance.

Tricks of the Trade is brought to you by Adventure Aide, a mobile app built for you to browse and book outdoor adventures led by locals–from surf lessons to multi-day excursions–so you can unplug, connect with cool people and have fun outdoors.

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