I had walked through Kimberly Park in Falmouth several times and seen students doing what looked like tight rope walking, only they weren’t high up over Niagara Falls with a long stick in their hands – they were about a foot off the ground and between two trees. It was only recently that I saw a video of Slacklining on youtube and finally realised what they were actually doing.
Slacklining is the sport of balancing on a length of webbing which is stretched between two anchor points such as trees. Although it looks pretty simple and basic, dynamic stunts can be performed on the webbing as if it was a long, narrow trampoline (for gnarly examples of this check out the video at the bottom of this post).
After watching practically every slacklining video on the internet I decided to take the plunge and buy my own kit from Maverick Slacklines. As I was just starting off I went for there 15m Slackline kit which although only £55 contains everything you need to slackline. I also bought myself Maverick’s Guide to Slacklining DVD, this short but very slick DVD showed me everything I needed to know, from the very basic setting up a slacklining to doing dynamic bouncing tricks. I really liked how it takes you through all the steps in very detailed (fool proof) instructions.
On one of the only sunny, dry days Cornwall has seen in a few weeks my friend (who is also a Slacklining newbie) and I decided to have a go at setting up and using the Slackline for the first time. There is one extra thing we needed that wasn’t included and that was some tree protection in the form of some old carpet. This is super important to A. protect the trees and B. to stop the line itself from being damaged.
On the left – a screen shot from the DVD, On the Right – the carpet tree protection!
We headed down to some woodland in search of trees. Once we had found two suitable trees, setting up the slackline was an absolute piece of cake. The line is in two pieces; each of which you wrap around a tree and feed through a loop at one end. You then pull these tight and connect the two pieces of line with a racket. Once you’ve pulled the line tight by hand, you then use the racket to tighten it up till it’s super tight.
Now came the challenging bit, after watching all those videos of Pro-slackers I’d got it into my head that it was easier than it definitely is. Like all pros those guys in the videos make it look effortless. However saying all that, we followed the instructions and tips on the DVD and within not long at all we were both able to balance on the line unaided for about a second. This doesn’t sound like that long of a time, but it really felt like a big achievement.
We both found it really addictive as it is so instantly satisfying. Every time you get on the line you feel like you’re progressing and getting ever so slightly better. We kept persisting and within a while we were both able to balance for longer and were starting to attempt steps. You constantly get a buzz out of it as there isn’t any down time, if you fall off you just get straight back on again. Another great thing about slacklining is how social and fun it is to do with your buddies, as the afternoon went on the banter flew and great chuckles were had.
Slacklining is really unique in that you can take a small bag with a slackline in it to almost anywhere, with anyone and have fun. You don’t need loads of gear, there’s no need for special clothes or hours of time. It’s just an uber cool activity that’s easy to set up, cheap to do and that you can keep progressing with almost infinitely. I’m dead keen to keep slacklining and to take it with me to more sweet locations, like the beach or even better above water! I know that from now on I’m always going to be looking for two perfectly placed trees or awesome anchor points.
Check out this video of some slackers with some serious skills