Learning to Slackline

Learning to Slackline

Slacklining was introduced to us by a guest who stayed at WearActive with his family on the Croatian Island of Vis. It’s now an activity that we have spent many hours practicing and we are constantly looking for new places to set up the line. We hope to share our enthusiasm of embracing the Slackline with as many WearActive guests as possible. We have various Slacklines in Croatia that we set up in the trees above Srebrena beach and also one Slackline permanently set up outside MoaAlm Mountain Retreat in Austria. Slacklining is about balance and commitment to practice. Hopefully this small introduction to Slacklining will help you make that first step.

A Slackline is a strap, usually 2 to 5 cm wide. Starting at 15 meters in length it is attached to 2 fixed points, usually trees. We recommend the Gibbon Classic Line. When setting up the line, it should be approximately knee height when you stand on the centre of the line. It should have enough tension to stop you touching the ground at the midway point.

Attaching our Gibbon Slackline
Gibbon Classic Line

Its a fun physical challenge. It comes with the added benefits of being both a good core exercise and developing fine muscle control in your knees and ankles, much in the same way that running on uneven terrain would. It requires concentration, can be a great communal activity and gets you outdoors within nature. It's a test of balance and it gives you instant feedback. It will make you smile, take you slightly out of your comfort zone and quite possibly you will find the challenge as addictive as we did.

First Minute of Slacklining..

Standing on one side of the line, you step up with your nearest foot. Often this first step is hesitant, this results in your knee getting the shakes with you potentially getting the giggles and then your head telling you that this is unachievable!

First step on the Slackline
First step up onto the Slackline.

Ten Minutes of Slacklining..

You have had time to watch somebody else experience the same wobble and you are ready to commit a little more time to the prospect of taking your first step on the Slackline. After stepping up ten to twenty times you have started to eliminate the shake and you are starting to hold a balance.

Twenty Minutes of Slacklining..

Slacklining is more tiring than you had anticipated, so you are now taking it in turns with a friend. You are now able to hold the balance on one foot for over ten seconds and you are able to do this consistently with each attempt.

Starting to balance on the Slackline
Starting to balance on both legs.

Thirty Minutes of Slacklining..

Time to take a step forward, this often feels like a step back because your second leg will start with the shakes! After all your previous work, this stage will not last as long and you are quickly able to control the wobble.

One Hour of Slacklining..

Your body is starting to develop some muscle memory and is naturally adjusting to make tiny alterations in your ankles and core to keep you on the line. You start to balance on each foot and you are ready for your first few steps. Your arms start naturally helping you adjust your balance and the addiction has kicked in. You are now exhausted and ready to have a break. You will be back the next day, your mind and body already visualising taking more and more steps along the line.

Day 2 of Slacklining..

The knee wobble is but a distant memory. Time to start walking the line. The slackline is like any other new skill, it's all about milage, time on the line and practice. It's also time to really think about your technique....

Technique tips

- Keep your head up! Focus on a point on the tree ahead or at the end of the slackline. Try not to look down at your feet.

- Keep your knees soft. This will give you options to make those slight adjustments.

- Hands above your head. Stick them up … way up high! It doesn't seem natural thing to do at this stage, but you will soon learn to relax your arms and allow them to help you maintain your balance. If they are above your head its very natural for you to throw your hands over your centre line to make a balance correction.

Now it's all about practice and then more practice.....

Walking the Slackline
Walking the line.

Once you are walking the 10 meter slackline with no wobble with just the occasional fall you are ready for the Highline, Longline or the Trickline.

Trick lines:

There are now numerous lines on the market that offer a similar experience to your start up line. You can go longer, this may have 2 ratchets to tension the line. Probably the interesting change would be to look at the various options available with regard to the actual tension of the line. You can get trick lines with more bounce, surfer lines, travel lines etc. We would recommend that you do a little more reading of reviews to find the line that gives you the flexibility that you are looking for.

Long Lines:

As the lines get longer they also get narrower. Most long lines are 2.5 cm wide. This may seem a big change but walking this line over the same 10m distance won’t cause you any problems. Most long lines also use a different tensioning system to the ratchet. There are now a number of great options, it comes down to the length of line that you want to set up and the amount of money that you want to spend. There is a big increase in equipment cost at this stage, the weight of the kit, how many people you will need to help with the tension of the line. Again I’d recommend further research at this stage so that you can get the best product for your needs. 

For our Longline we chose a 40 meter line from Slacktivity. A great company that are leading the innovation within slackline set ups. At WearActive, we bought a primitive set up which means there is no external pulley system. The advantages of this system is the cost, much cheaper than a full pulley system (around €120). It allowed us to get up on a longer line which we could easily carry and set up on our own for up to 30 meters. The disadvantage of such a set up is that you are then limited to 30 meters, tensioning a longer line requires a greater pulley system.

Hope you enjoy the Slackline as much as we do. Please keep in touch with us and keep us updated on your Slackline progress. A big thank you to Amy Warren and Megan Blendall for the great Slacklining photos. For a kayaking, yoga and biking holiday on Vis Island, Croatia that involves the chance to Slackline every afternoon, check us out!

Craig, the founder of WearActive and the Slackline fanatic also has a YouTube channel dedicated to all different types of movement challenges.