50/50

As a follow-up to my ‘let the season begin’ post, here is a video of my first try on a 50′ line for the 2014 season.

50/50: My first 50 foot line as a 50 year old! Plus, I figure I’ve retained about half of my ability after taking the winter off from serious slacklining.

The two videos below try to show the difference between my abilities toward the end of last season and what I’ve got left after taking the winter off. One thing to note, I only made it to the halfway point yesterday. True, the line from 2014 is more slack (difficult) than the line from 2013. In any case, I hope you are getting out there starting this Spring!

 

 

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Quick Sit Video

Today’s entry includes a video.

Threw this video together on a whim. The trick is to sit cross-legged on the line and then rest your hands on your knees. I have by no means mastered it, I just wanted to get something up on the blog since it has been so long!

Keep at it!

What it Takes to Learn Slackline

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After 3 to 4 months of Slacklining, and teaching others along the way, I wanted to make a post about learning to do it. After hundreds of hours on the line, and seeing/teaching 50-100 people to enjoy this sport, I’d like to summarize things I’ve learned.

First, take a look at the above video. It is the one I used when starting out, and it is basically the techniques I use when I help people learn. Below, I expand a bit on the video’s content, and add my personal experiences.

One very important point about Slackline is that people of all ages can learn to Slackline! I’m 49, my wife is 46, and I have helped people from 7 to 67 learn to stand on the line. With a line set at knee height, over a grassy area, there really is no danger of injury.

Tips for your first time:

  • Keep your foot inline with the Slackline, not across it. Heel and toe on the line.
  • Focus on something in the distance (like a tree, DON’T look down at the line!)
  • Hands up in the air, not out to your side. Signal for a touchdown!
  • Bend your knee slightly. Do not lock your knee.
  • Breathe. If you stop breathing, you will eventually fall off the line! 🙂

Additional tips:

  • Learn to Slackline in bare feet.
  • Learn to stand on the line with one foot BEFORE you try to walk.
  • Start with a shorter line. Learning on a 25′ line is easier than on 30-50′
  • Set the line at knee height.
  • Start about 4 feet from the fixed end of the line. Away from the adjustment gear.
  • Keep your head over the line, use your hands (and free leg) for balance support.
  • Hold someone’s hand to help you get on the line the first couple times.
  • Practice on each leg. Obtain the same ability in both legs before you walk.
  • Touch your fixed foot with your free leg to help stop the shaking.
  • Take 3-5 minute breaks after every 3 or 4 attempts (per leg). Build muscle memory.

Don’t worry, most people get up their first time and they stand there for about 1/4 to 1/2 of a second. This is NORMAL! The shaking that occurs when you try to stand your first few times happens to everyone! Do not be discouraged, rather be encouraged by the progress you make in the first 15 minutes. Within three or four tries, you will be able to stand on one foot for 2 or 3 seconds. That is MAJOR improvement! Keep up the good work.

At first, your leg(s) will shake uncontrollably. This makes most people smile or laugh, which is an indication they are having fun, and that they appreciate the gravity of the situation! For the first 15 minutes or so that you try to stand on the line, the shaking will cause you to fall. But, all this time, your leg is learning to control the line. After 15-20 mins your leg will stop the shaking all by itself! You don’t even think about it, your leg takes care of the shaking. You will know you are at this point when the line starts to shake, but then it stops, and you don’t fall off!

Once your leg(s) begin to control the shaking, you can now focus your energy on fine tuning your balance. Your goal is to maximize the amount of time you can stay on the line. Two seconds, three seconds, five seconds, eight seconds, great! Once you get to ten seconds of standing, per leg, you are almost ready to take your first step! Getting to this point takes most adults about 45-60 mins of practice. Some people are faster (kids), but most people need about an hour.

If you can get up and stand on each leg for ten to fifteen seconds, you are ready to try walking. Not walking per se, but really, changing feet. After a while, standing there for fifteen seconds will get old; so bring your free foot over to the line slowly, and work to put it in front of the foot you already have on the line. As soon as you can: transfer your weight to the forward foot, take the previous foot off the line, and regain your balance using the new free foot and your hands. Try to spend very little time with both feet on the line. The important part here is to switch from one foot to the other. Nothing more. Also, don’t take any more than ONE step before stopping to regain your balance. Consecutive steps will come later as you improve.  Practice this simple transfer of weight/switching of feet, and you are well on your way to becoming a true Slacker!

I have seen people learn to walk in as little as 20 mins. Those people are rare, usually kids who are 13-18 and who do some kind of regular sporting activity. The rest of us, myself included, take about an hour of time on the line before we are “walking.” But all the while, I find that people are very intent on mastering the Slackline.

Drive and determination overcome most people who try their hand (err, foot) at Slackline. In my experience, people and Slacklines go together very well. It gives me a lot of joy when anyone approaches us in the park and shows interest. People of all ages find it intriguing, and I am always happy to let anyone have a go. I encourage it!

Lastly, there is the question of 1-inch versus 2-inch. Personally, I learned on a 1-inch line (see my blog!), and having spent some time on 2-inch lines, I would have to say that for beginners there probably isn’t much difference between them. What I mean is, it is likely going to take just about the same amount of time and effort to learn Slackline which ever way you go. People I have taught notice a difference between the two types of line, but they don’t really say they prefer one over the other. At least not until they get a bit more experience under their belts.

Learning Slackline takes time but, like learning to walk on solid ground, people make remarkable progress in the beginning. This is one of the things that makes Slackline so much fun – It seems insurmountable at first, but the progress people make in the early stages encourages them to keep going. Before they know it, the impossibility of it all disappears and, they are having a great time taking their first step. I believe this is true whether learning on a 1-inch or a 2-inch line. Don’t be afraid to try either or both!

Thanks for reading, and good luck on your first Slackline adventure!

First Taste of a Long Line

Today we had the chance to try out a long line. We help set it up, and the owners offered to let us have a go. This line was in the neighborhood of 150-175 feet in length! The longest I had done previously was 50 feet. Needless to say, I could barely stand at one end of the line, and although I took one or two steps, it was as though I was a true beginner! I had two spotters, and used them both! It is a wild feeling standing there watching a pulse-wave go down the line, bounce off the other end, and come back at you. You see it coming, but there’s not much you can do about it! This is a total blast!

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Loving this sport!

Its been a while since I last posted, and that is mainly due to a vacation we took. We visited Jasper, Alberta and had a wonderful time! We met a guy in Banff who had a Slackline set up, and he let us have a go for a few minutes. Nice to try another line for a change!

Upon returning home, we continued to set up in our backyard, as well as in a local park in the City of Golden (where Slackline is specifically allowed, YAY).

We’ve also been teaching more people to do this great sport! The best learners are 13 or 14 year old kids, but we’ve also been teaching 20, 30, and 40 yr olds. Most people love it!

Here are a couple pictures of our students. Both of these guys learned to walk the line in about an hour and a half. They were driven to learn, and one of them went out and purchased a line the next day!

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IMG_2296One of our recent sessions was after a torrential rainstorm occurred the day before. Needless to say, the line got caked with mud from our feet. Today, I decided to wash the line. I threw it in the sink added some soap, and filled her up with hot water for a good long soaking.

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After rinsing off the line, I took it outside and laid it on the lawn to dry in the sun. Its a nice 83 degree day here, and Colorado is dry enough that we can get away with this.

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We plan to slack more on Friday, and maybe even video some new (basic) tricks we’ve been learning. What about you? Are you a Slacker yet? Well, what are you waiting for?!?

Jump Start!

Today’s entry includes a video below.

I had an interesting experience in beginning Slackline. I headed to my buddy Luke’s house (he’s maybe 45) to let him have a go at Slacklining. He’s an avid hockey player, and wanted to test out his balance skills on the line. At first I thought I might set up the line and fifteen minutes later I would tear it down due to lack of interest. But nope! Luke was all in from the first moment he put his foot on the line. He had to learn to control the shaking of his leg, and then to balance on one foot, but he did it! We spent at least a couple of hours, maybe three before lunch. After about an hour or so, he could stand on the line without anyone’s help.

His daughter (13 yrs old) took to the line rather quickly. She didn’t have as much of the shakes to get past, and she was walking on her own after an hour or so. Another daughter (11) also caught on quickly, I think she had done it once or twice before. A neighbor friend (also 11 or so) joined in, and we had a full-on party going!

After lunch, we set the line up again so that his wife could try it. She also did well, without so much of the shakes that other folks (like me) had to deal with.

This was a short line, maybe 26 or 27 feet, so it was easy to get the line really tight and bouncy. This made for easier walking, and the girls were having fun with duels to see who could knock the other person off the line.

Everyone enjoyed the line, and it was a beauty day in the park!

I practiced doing a jump-start and was able to land a few throughout the afternoon. After heading home, my wife and I set up the line for her to practice. I made a few more attempts at jump-start and made the following video of one of them.

I am totally impressed that people can learn to slackline in one day, given enough time on the line! I think my friend might invest in a line, his family surely enjoyed it today!

Catch Up

We were gone for a week, vacationing in Moab, UT. Didn’t get a chance to do any slackline while there, and since it had rained two days before we left for Moab, we hadn’t had a chance to slackline for one whole week. Back home, we set up the line and gave it a go. Good News! We got on the line and started walking right away! That is to say, we didn’t seem to lose much (if any) skill level. I was very impresses when my wife jumped up and walked 3 or 4 steps immediately! It was as if she hadn’t skipped a day of practice.

The one month mark (since our first steps on the line) passed us by last week. I hope that if anybody ever reads this, they realize that a person can make quite a bit of progress learning to slackline.