Slacklining refers to both walking and climbing up a set of tensioned, sliding webbing between two free-standing anchors. Slacklining is somewhat similar to tightrope walking and slackline walking. The difference is that instead of people walking, they are walking on top of a surface attached to their slackline. The bottom part of the “webbing” is usually made of wood, while the top part is usually made of a combination of smooth wood and spongy material such as PVC Vinyl. A common place for a slackline to be set up is in the ocean off the shores of South America, although places in the Pacific are also known for setting them up.
Slacklining has become a popular sport over the last twenty years. Its increasing popularity is probably related to its simplicity: you don’t need any previous experience or skill to perform slacklining. It’s definitely not something for the “nerdy.” What does this mean for the average Joe trying to learn how to walk across a slackline? Nothing!
The first thing you have to know if you want to learn how to walk across a slackline is that slacklining isn’t all about bouncing. While the style of the actual act is similar (the person on the slackline holds on to one end of the line and alternates pulling and pushing with the other), it doesn’t necessarily follow that all you have to do to learn how to walk across is simply swing from side to side, bounce, and repeat. There are several tricks involved and they are not all about bouncing. In other words, no matter how you describe your tricks you can be sure that some variations of them will work out just fine in the ocean.
Balance is important when you’re slacklining because your center of gravity is lower than when you’re doing traditional tricks. This makes walking on the slackline more like walking on the floor, balancing on a bike, or simply balancing on a step. To practice balancing you can simply stand on a board, balance yourself up with your feet hip-width apart, and stand still. When you feel loose simply jump off and do a double somerick, balancing in the air with each motion. The next time you’re on the slackline you can increase the tension and do a triple sommelog.
Some people get slacklining mixed into their other activities so it’s good to bring along some type of core strength equipment. A stability ball, for example, will help to develop your core strength needed for walking and balancing on a slackline. A medicine ball, as well as the ability to push against a wall with a cable attached to your mid-section, will improve your balance. And there are several other items that should be considered for your overall fitness as a slackliner: rope, harnesses for balance, lumbar support pads, walking belts, and any other piece of gear that helps you get through the toughest stretches.
If you’re looking for a way to incorporate slacklining into your regular routine you’ve got to pay attention to your own conditioning and safety. Make sure that you can walk the distance from your house to the slackline comfortably on flat terrain, then do some laps, concentrating on keeping your form stable without taking your attention off the actual activity. Balance is crucial, so make sure that your center of gravity is not too high or low. Pay attention to your posture as well: a slumped posture can compromise your safety, as well as limit your ability to maneuver the slacklines.