Slacklining is one of those sports that you’re likely to have seen on TV or on the internet at some point. Often at the extreme end of the sport with people pushing it to the limits, at least this is where I first saw slacklining. A guy was scaling a huge chasm in America somewhere, it still gives my sweaty palms thinking about it! You can often think that you will never get a go at these sports as you wouldn’t know how to even begin getting set up. I thought this too about Slacklining, but the truth is quite the opposite.
I had the chance to have my first go at slacklining a local centre, where I soon realised that it wasn’t going to be as easy as the pros had made it look, but also that it was a lot of fun and VERY addictive! I did think that because I surf a fair bit and generally assume I have a good sense of balance, I would be fairly good at it, but as advertised this is the extreme balance sport, so the first few goes ended in a rather wobbly dismount. I wasn’t the only one mind you, as a couple of friends, my wife and my two year old son also had a go with similar results. Well my two year old son had to be supported, but I think a future slacklining champion might be in the making! Fathers can hope! The problem was that this brief taste of slacklining had left me wanting more!
Looking online I noticed that Maverick slack lines can set you up with all you need for about £50. After tweeting them they kindly sent me one so I could have a proper go!
The slackline arrived in the post and I was a little too keen to get it up! I would be lying if I said I didn’t have a few problems with setting this up, nothing wrong with the slackline, but take my advice and read the instructions and stick to them. I was caught out with thinking that I could firstly attach it to a concrete pole in the garden, first mistake, then two 6 inch wooden poles sunk in to my lawn. This also couldn’t take the strain and were both soon leaning towards each other. So short cuts are not the answer! I still need to straighten that concrete pole!
The slackline does comes with simple and well explained instructions for setting it up, and the slackline itself, is very well made and a very vibrant orange colour. There is plenty of length in it too and this can be shortened very easily using the ratchet to suit the distance between your chosen trees.
After the unsuccessful set-up attempt in the garden, we gathered a small group together of the UK Active Team and popped over the road to two likely looking trees to set the slackline up. We chose two trees that were about 15-20 feet apart, not the full length of the slackline, but I had be told that the shorter the line the easier to learn. 5 minutes later we had it up and ready!
Just before we headed out we had another look at the video that Maverick slacklines have made explaining how to “walk the line” and followed the instructions given. At first, again we were all a little wobbly and our feet were all over the place on the line, but after about hour of taking it in turns we started making progress and I eventually made it to the other tree! I couldn’t believe it really as I thought I would need a lot more practice! The key is to keep your knees bent slightly, which keeps you centre of gravity lower, feet flat and straight on the line which means keeping your body facing the line ahead and lastly using your arms as the counter balance. I started by trying to rush across, but soon found taking it easy and getting the balance right was more productive and I even found myself using the leg that was off the slackline as a counter balance too. I almost looked like I knew what I was doing!
The local kids and other friends soon arrived and started having a go, which made it a very sociable morning. Kids! All the balance with no fear!
Of course there is a risk with any sport, and slacklining is no exception. However if you follow the instructions and take your time learning to walk across it you should eliminate the risks. They recommend you set the line no more than 50cm off the ground and as long as you have a soft surface underneath, the fall should be very minimal.
So what do I think of the Maverick Slacklines and slacklining in general? Well, there is no reason why almost anyone can’t have a go at this. It’s a great family sport, and with the great set up Maverick have on offer, you can set it up quickly and safely. Be warned though I think this sport is one of those that will have you out in the garden and local woods far too often as it is very addictive, especially when you make a nice distance! As you get better at this sport and your balance improves, it will help in other sports. It’s a very sociable sport, everyone want to know about and have a go at it. I would recommend giving this a go and at UK Active Outdoors we are planning on taking this sport on as a regular one we cover as it has so much potential!! The idea of slacklining over a river has been thrown about! Stay tuned! Tristan Bawn
For more information on these slacklines, visit their website on the following link:
More pictures from our recent slacklining sessions:
Cobbs Cross Farm
A few very helpful videos from Maverick Slacklines: