Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Slacklining for Beginners and Kids

My friend Mo, an amazing and accomplished climber and all around uuber mom, asked me what the trick is for learning to slackline. I'm counting the days after I post this to a video of her bouncing across it blindfolded...

Some tips for learning to slackline!

First, get a slackline thats easy to set up! I use a Gibbon Slackline, it takes about five minutes, and the kids can do it on their own; I just have to tighten it and check it.

Gibbon has them for beginners, kids, they have trick lines, and classic lines. I have a trick line, and my kids learned on it just fine. No, I cant' do any tricks yet. But my kids love how bouncy it is, and I love that I can train for skiing while I'm playing them!

Do it with someone the first time who can give you some pointers! My friend Kurt is great at this, and he's also a patient teacher, so that helped.

Here's how he taught me, and I taught my kids:

First, have an adult sit on one end of the line, to slow down its "action" (the amount it moves side to side).

Put the foot you are going to stand on first on the line, with the line right in the middle of your foot. Put your other leg, your current standing leg, RIGHT up against the line, to stabilize the line. Use your leg thats on the ground like a guy wire as you stand up.

Stand up all at once, pushing down on your line leg and pushing off of the ground at the same time, like taking a big pedal on a bicycle.

Take three tries on each leg before resting. Be patient with yourself.

Look ahead, at a spot on the tree in front of you. Have loose, flowy arms. The guys that are really good at this look like they are dancing at a grateful dead concert, just with their arms. Make small, light, soft corrections for your balance. Big moves that are corrections require their own recovery moves!

Don't try to walk! Stand and balance on each foot for 20 seconds before you try to walk.

When you are ready to try to walk, swing your free leg forward and back, touching the line with your toe in front of you and in back of you so you know where it is without looking at it. Don't look down! Look at the tree!

The line is going to vibrate. Accept this. The more you accept, physically and emotionally that the line is going to move, the less it will move. The more you try to fight it and stabilize it, the more it will wobble under you.

Breathe out, relax, and just feel your balance.

Then, take a step. Repeat obsessively whenever weather permits.

For Bodhi, who is six, I walked across the line holding his hand for the first three days, I stood facing him and let him bounce up and down, he likes to hang on it, and crawl on it... I think any time playing on it leads to the desire to walk on it. He's practicing learning the etiquette of knowing when its someone elses turn, just because it feels like he's been on it long enough.

Ethan, who is eight, had his hand held the first three or five times he stood up onto the line, and then let go (the less you hold their hands, the faster they get their own balance). Ethan learned to jump onto the line before he could balance on one foot or walk.

Interested in a Gibbon line? Click HERE, a small portion of the sale goes to my training fund!


Monique LeMay said...

Ack, no pressure, right?!! ha, thanks for the tips.

Unknown said...

moo ha ha ha ha! Nope, no pressure. But I wanna see some pics!