Looking for an adventurous way to improve your core strength, balance, and concentration? Try slacklining, a balance test in which participants walk across nylon webbing tensioned between two anchors like a tightrope.
Modern-day slacklining comes from the ingenuity of a pair of rock climbers in the late 1970s. Since its inception, the activity has become popular with extreme athletes. This summer, take your balance training out of the gym and give slacklining a try.
Head to the park with friends and secure the line between two trees. Secure the line high enough so that when you place your full weight on the midpoint, you don’t touch the ground. The longer the line, the higher the anchors should be. Beginners should start with a 20- to 30-foot line three to four feet above the ground.
Focus on a fixed point straight ahead (the anchor point on the opposite tree works well). Keep one foot securely planted on the ground while placing the other foot on the line length-wise. Fight the temptation to turn the foot outward. By stepping on the line along the length of your foot, you’re increasing the surface-area contact, which facilitates balance.
From the ready position, slowly transfer your weight onto the line by bending the knee of the leg that is still on ground. The first time you try slacklining, you’ll probably notice that this transfer causes the leg on the line to shake a lot. As your balance improve, the shaking will stop. After lowering your weight onto the line, use the line’s tension to gently spring your body up. When springing up, gracefully place the foot previously on the ground behind the foot already on the line. When both feet are on the line, you’ll naturally start to balance yourself by bending your knees and extending your arms out at shoulder height.
With knees bent and arms out, it is time to walk the line. Slowly lift your back foot and place it in front of your front foot. If you need confidence during your first few walks, have two friends walk on either side of the line.
The first few sessions will be mentally and physically trying. However, if you spend at least 15 minutes per session working at it, you’ll quickly gain enough confidence to move on to even more difficult slacklines. Mastering the challenge of slacklining is not only fun, it will also dramatically improve your balance and stability on the field.