Meet Mark

Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

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August 21 2013

Slacklining – My New Obsession

By Mark Sisson
103 Comments

Because I know how even a moderately busy day can make actually watching a video an impossible dream, I’m going to summarize the main points for you guys.

I’m always trying to have more fun, as you well know. In fact, my whole reason for being in the gym is to train so that I can play – so that my body is fit enough, strong enough, and mobile enough to continue having fun for years to come. The best is when I can combine play and training in the same activity, because having fun while getting more fit is the absolute pinnacle of training. It makes both more effective than either alone.

About a year and a half ago, I discovered and fell in love with slacklining. The slackline is a strap of flat nylon webbing slung between two anchor points that you walk on. Because the line isn’t totally taut, it bounces and wobbles and shifts in every direction as you stand on it. Slacklining is almost like navigating a narrow trampoline. It requires – and develops – an insane amount of balance. As a guy who just turned 60 and hopes to stay active for decades to come, I’m going to need all the balance I can get. That’s why I dig it so much. It’s frustrating, and fun, and makes you more secure and stable on your feet. Slacklining also hits muscles in ways you’re not going to be able to target on conventional gym equipment. Not that it takes a lot of strength (anyone can slackline). All those subtle balance corrections will make your core incredibly strong, though.

Why develop any more balance than you already have, you say? Well, it’s not just about staying upright on a stand-up paddle board in choppy seas or navigating a powder-filled, tree-lined chute on skis or a snowboard. Consider how many people in their twilight years simply lose balance for an instant at night or trip and fall in their living room, resulting in a broken hip, resulting in extended bed confinement, resulting in pneumonia, resulting in death. OK, maybe that’s a bit morbid, but you get my point. I would argue that as we age, balance becomes as important as strength in real-world situations.

Another benefit? You can’t be worrying about bills or work when you’re on the slackline, or else you’ll fall off. You have to be completely and utterly present and in the moment, focused on how your weight is distributed and how the line is moving. For me, it offers a brief respite from the pressures of writing day in a day out. If I’m stuck, I can just take a few minutes off and hop on the slackline in my backyard. There’s definitely a meditative and clearing aspect to it.

Beginner Tips

Learn to trust that as soon as you smoothly transfer your weight to the foot on the line, it won’t swing out from under you. You just have to commit. In that regard, slacklining is a metaphor for life…

Use ski poles or a standing partner to acclimate yourself. Slowly drop the support as you become acclimated to the sensation.

Try to stand still in one spot using one leg. Don’t do too much too quickly. Get used to the feeling of standing on one leg without support until it becomes second nature.

Make subtle balance corrections – don’t wave your arms wildly. Another life metaphor.

Correct from the lower body first, torso and arms are last resort. As you get stronger, you will see that using the muscles in your hips and thighs to bring the line back underneath you can be more effective than correcting with your arms alone.

Intermediate/Advanced Tips

Count maximum number of steps before falling to track progress. This will give you objective feedback.

After walking full-length, try to turn around and head back.

Try some aerials when you master walking and turning!

Slacklining is really tough for most beginners, but it gets better each time you try it. Even if you can’t tell, your brain is constantly rewiring its neural pathways based on new experiences, and slacklining is a powerful new experience that forces a massive amount of neural adaptation. I find that just 10 minutes a session when you start can be maximally effective at this neural rewiring.

Check the World of Tomorrow YouTube channel to see the experts (and get a little discouraged and then, eventually, inspired!). Last, you can get your own slackline at gibbonslackline.com or at major sports retailers like REI, and start working on your balance today.

This was the first in a series of new videos I’ll be producing. What do you think? Also, share your own slackline experiences in the comment board below!

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103 thoughts on “Slacklining – My New Obsession”

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  1. Do you think you would have the same confidence if the slackline were higher from the ground? It would be interesting to see if the height would “psych” someone out of being able to perform the same (with some netting or water below of course to avoid injury)

    1. You are describing “high lining” and it is a very popular version of Slackline. People who highline use a tether between themselves and the (redundant) slackline stretched at least 25′ above the ground. This is usually done in a narrow canyon. As a person who has attempted to stand up on a highline, I can confirm that getting over the “being psyched out” part is a real challenge. I am able to walk on lines up to 150 feet long (but only 6 – 8 feet high), but put me on a 60 ft line that is 30 feet up in the air and I cannot even stand up! One day I hope to be able to walk across a highline.

  2. Slacklining is also one of the deepest meditation practices I’ve found. You’re SO present to every millisecond of the breath, the way it’s linked to your mental state and incremental movements of the body. Plus, you make a good point, Mark, it’s a playful way to tone the body.

  3. Fun post. A couple of other beginner tips: don.t look at your feet; rather, fix your eyes on something stable like the tree the slack line is tied to. Second, don’t hold your arms horizontally but keep them elevated, like goal posts or something. That gives you more balance adjusting capabilities. Third, start with a shorter distance between anchors (easier to get a more taut line) and then extend the length between anchors as you improve.

    I am still a rookie but having fun with it. These are tips that I currently find useful.

    1. Rand, good points. Interestingly, I found that looking more at my feet (and not so much straight ahead) helped me “place” them more accurately on the line and allowed for better sense of balance. Bottom line:try both ways and see what works best.

      1. Mark and Rand, I understand you both, I started slacklining a year ago for the same reasons as Mark mentions and we regularly meet with work colleagues at lunch in a park.
        I started slacklining looking at my feet wanting to make sure I was still on and it helped. After you start getting use to it (a few months), looking ahead really helped me be consistently stable and go further, reminded me of when I started driving, you look really close to the hood of the car to make sure you’re following the road, then with practice, the theory is to look further ahead to make less corrections and more fluid turns.
        Great post Mark and I really appreciate your website and all the valuable life-giving info that helps us folks here in Geneva motivated and training the primal way 🙂

  4. This was a very fun post. Please do many more of these.

    Now I have to go buy one.

  5. great video, I will definitely be giving this some time. Looks like fun!

  6. This was an awesome post! I’ll bet Gibbon’s sales just quadrupled

  7. Great video – you’ve definitely sparked my interest!

    Love the actual style of the video as well – cool intro, informative, the music snippets were a nice touch as well. Good stuff!

  8. Hooray! I’ve been waiting to hear about slacklining!! 🙂 I love going out in my neighborhood park with kids stopping by to try it every so often.

    I HIGHLY recommend a $50 1-inch line from Woss Enterprises for starting out. I compared ordering the parts myself with their kit, and both came out the same (less because of free shipping!). Their customer service was great and they even let me request a different color combination for the lines. Good stuff. http://www.woss.com/1in-slackline/

  9. Nice one! Ive had a slackline for a year and its fantastic for middle aged guys like me…Certainly impresses my daughters friends! 🙂 Another tip is to extend the exercise to balancing on more static objects like fallen trees, logs, fences etc as the static balancing I find is harder! (obviously take real care on what you balance on!).

  10. No need to pay full retail on slacklines, I got mine from http://www.theclymb.com.
    rei-outlet.com, backcountry.com, http://www.sierratradingpost.com/ all have discounted lines and gear. Surf teh interwebs for the best deal.

    Buy/invest in a longer line then you think you will need.

    Care tips: don’t leave you line set up all the time……put it away when not in use (UV-damage, overtensioning, animal chew toy, etc)

    Focus on the horizon/straight ahead, not at your feet.
    Try out sitting postures.

    Don’t forget to smile and breathe!

  11. I’ve kind of been on the (slack line) fence for awhile. Leave it to Mark to push me over.

  12. I was running in a park near work yesterday and there was a group walking on slack lines. It looks like a great exercise. I am still kicking myself that I didn’t ask to try while they had it all set up.

    1. Kicking yourself–more exercise on top of the running? 🙂

  13. I set one up between two trees when on holiday in Finland this summer. I found that rather than trying to balance standing still, it was actually easier to improve by stepping forward almost as soon as you stood up on the line, but hey, everyone’s different.
    I did eventually manage quite a few single crossings and a couple of returns, which put a big grin on my face!
    The added challenge I had were big forest ants jumping on my bare feet as I stepped up from the forest floor, which then proceeded to nip my toes and a constant swatting action with my arms to fight off the hungry mosquitos 🙂
    I also found that lifting my eye gaze up to look at the trunk of the tree at the other end was better than staring down at my feet.

  14. Thanks for sharing! Definitely going to set one of these up in my back yard. Hey Mark, maybe for your 70th birthday you could do a Phillipe Pettit-style canyon crossing! Check out what he did at WTC back in ’74…

    1. No, no, no–I want him to do a Jack LaLanne-esque swim across the channel (or somewhere) with a flotilla of boats chained together in his mouth. 🙂

  15. Great, love the videos!
    Which reminds me, when are we going to get photos of mark sisson age 60? I’m sure I’m not the only one who finds it fascinating to see how well we can age if we take care of our bodies.
    Keep up the good work.

  16. Did I miss where you said how wide the strap is that you use?

  17. I slacklined for years and it was a wonderful activity, very zen. But also a great workout. I never had abs like I did when I slacklined. I need to start taking it up again.

    One thing to be careful about though, is not to strain your psoas by tensing your abs and glutes too much. I only figured that out after seriously irritating my psoas muscles to the point where I had intense pelvic pain. Kept you core firm but not too tight and you should be okay.

  18. Hi, Mark! Never heard of this before today, but rest assurred, I’m on my way to installing a slackline in my Yoga studio — the students will love it. I notice that many of my students have challenges with balance — and isn’t it all about that, after all? Balance in what we eat, how much we sleep, how we think and how we work — it’s all about balance, after all! Thanks for yet another great idea!

  19. The good thing about having teenagers is that you can give them ‘gifts’ that you really want. I gave my son one last year. Lots of fun, and I’m still learning.

    This is about the cheapest place to purchase the Gibbons Classic 49′

    http://www.theclymb.com/all/brand-event/321039/show-product/468454?f=mi

    I have no affiliation with them. They are a site that does discounted outdoor products and slacklines come up now and then.

  20. This looks like fun! In the video Mark appears to be on a 2″ line. Does anyone have experience with the 1″, or even better both widths to comment on differences? The Gibbons site touches on this, but personal experiences are always helpful.

    Too bad I don’t have the headroom to set it up for indoor use during winter!!

  21. I’ve been thinking about getting one of these for months. We travel full time in our rv so this would be a perfect campground afternoon activity for my boys and I. Thanks for the video!

  22. I am in!. Bought one in amazon ,Macaco Slackline 16m x 50mm (by the way it was the last one at the time)

    1. correction: found a cheaper one, same specs, search amazon for Gibbon Slacklines Ladies Line

  23. I already wear flat-soled shoes or go barefoot when I can, but I still am overly prone to twisted ankles, and I have to conclude that it’s a balance issue. I wonder if slacklining would help? I’ve been wanting a wobble board for a few years now, but this looks like it might be even better.

  24. Mark, FIrst of all, I love your MDA site!!
    I have Slacker Radio Premium (no ads, ONLY music) which is just streaming music station. I listen a LOT, so I have been invited into Slacker Radio’s Slactivist group. We are called

    Slactivists
    I love the idea of slacklining. Wish I had two trees or ?? maybe 4×4’s in the ground??

  25. Just order the “Classic” set up. Looks fun and challenging. This should help with the Yoga “tree” pose. Thanks Mark!

  26. Slacklining is great!! My son introduced us to it a few years ago and he is REALLY good on one. He did some Highlining in a canyon in Sou. Cal. a couple years ago (with a safety belt – Rule #9) It was 50 feet up. I don’t do it often enough to get rid of the “Sewing Machine Leg” yet. It will definitely whoop your butt when you get started, but it is a lot of fun. Go for it!!!

  27. Looks like fun, I’m not too good with balance so maybe this will change that. Plus, I think my little boy would love to try it.

  28. Thanks Mark,
    I had been contemplating about buying one. Now, it will get installed in the backgarden. The kids will absolutely love it too!

  29. I hop on my Goof Board to practice balance – easier probably as its wider but nice if you don’t have a place to set up a slackline. Also, instructables has a great tutorial on making your own slack line rack (sans trees if you don’t happen to have two available).

  30. For fun on our family vacation I bought a slackline. The college-aged kids found it a blast. But even they could only go a few steps. My husband and I (both 50+) were able to take one or two steps. I was worried about twisting/breaking an ankle while falling. I also sat on the line, and when I fell back I kept putting my hand out – a no no since it’s quite easy to break a wrist that way.

    I’m hoping you’ll have one set up at PrimalCon Lake Tahoe. We’ll be there!

  31. I’m reminded of Avner the Eccentric, who used a slack line in his act. (Like everything else, you can find him on YouTube.) We used to attend a family camp up in northern Minnesota where we tried slacklining with a heavy rope strung over a small stream. It was exhaustingly fun!

  32. Balance training is specific to the activity trained. For example, improving your balance on a slackline will not improve your balance on a surfboard. This has been fairly well studied in the literature.

  33. I’ve been looking at these for awhile, the video is a big help. I think I can do that with some practice.

  34. The content of this video is great, just to much editing effects in the whole thing! To much on and off focus!

    1. I agree. It’s a fun video but the unfocus/zoom in stuff actually made me sick to my stomach.

  35. Would a simple tow rope of a car suffice instead of buying proper slack line?

    1. That is what I am wondering. Could I use what I have?

      I have 4wd snatch straps (designed to stretch and recoil with the weight of a several ton vehicle on it) and winch extension straps (very little stretch). Both are about the right width webbing. What would work better? The stretch won’t be much on either, as a person weighs much less than a 4WD.

    2. Yes it will. My boys have a line between two trees in our yard which is simply a car tow line from menards. We put triple folded cardboard between the line and the tree as well to keep from ripping and damaging the bark and tree. Last summer they had three lines between a triangle of trees and would make full laps. It’s a great way to get a 7 minute workout when you only have 8 spare minutes. Plus, it doesn’t require a change of clothes or a shower if you’re short on time – just ditch the shoes and you’re on.

  36. I love slacklining, I haven’t tried it with the line that loose though… any tips to get used to a more slacked slackline?

  37. I first read about slacklining on MDA and always wanted to try it but couldn’t quite commit the bucks for the gear. This summer I got looking around and realized I could use one of several standard 2″ ratcheting cargo straps I had around along with some choke straps (6 foot straps of the same material that have loops sewn into the ends) to go around trees. The first time I tried it in my (gravel) driveway I ran the choke strap around a tree and the other end to the bumper of an SUV. Of course the line twisted and I had to work at minimizing that, but there I was slacklining with what I already owned!

    I DON’T recommend starting out slacklining using vehicles for anchors as they can move just enough to be annoying, but this might add a bit of challenge for more advanced users. I’ve thought of making something like a pair of really short sawhorses for the line to run over to help straighten the line but so far the twist issue (which Gibbons addresses on their site by folding the strap as it goes through the loop) hasn’t been so bad as to take all the fun out of it.

    1. Please don’t use a vehicle for this. My ambo dad has had to tend people who have used vehicles as safe anchors for various things, and you’d be amazed what can go wrong.

  38. I’m going to do this tomorrow! It is now part of my weekly schedule and great fun. I’d recommend anyone try it out. Keep up the good work Mark!

  39. I’ve been working on balancing routines using a Bosu Ball at my gym. Wonder if I could talk them into getting a slackline. Personally I don’t have the real estate at my home for setting up one myself, but I’d love to give it a try.

  40. I love slacklining and it is my new passion also. I suggest checking out Yogaslackers. They are all about the meditation and the do yoga on the slackline. They teach no ski poles or handholding and no counting steps-Instead count feet of line when done. They have great videos on YouTube. They also sell lines. I sound like a sales rep for them. Ha! I just fell in love with some of them when they came to Alaska. Super genuine people.

  41. This looks great! I am going to look into getting one of these. I had honestly never heard of this before. Thanks!! I thought the video was great as well.

  42. Sort of in the same vein as this – I have been doing “balancing” as part of my workout routines for quite a while – ie, up on bars, walking along dip bars, and even the chin up bars in parks (do this at own risk).

    Another one is learning to do a full handstand, and then handstand pushups – maybe the next progression is a handstand pushup on a slackline ?

  43. Tried this last week as it’s become popular at my park. Great fun but harder than you think. keep looking straight! Great post.

  44. Read you on an iPad, this video doesn’t show up. Might want to try a different technology for us iGroks.

  45. how you get us involved and inspired, the slacklining is new to me, except for the balancing acts i do when i see a fallen tree trunk in the great outdoors.
    talking about the feet in this exercise, pete egoscue writes in his book on exercising the musculoskeletal in special ways to get rid of pain, how you can use the feet in a thousand ways as they are made up of many small bones. the bones can more or less move independently. I see them as a caterpillar band on an army tank going over rough ground. how about what the small bones will do on this line, it could be very good for what the feet further support, that is ankles and knees and hips and back.
    I know someone who had a hip replacement and when trying to walk symmetrical, did much better with a weight in his hand, could this be a function of slacklining too? each hand in turn.
    martina

  46. Mark, what did you use to capture the video? Camcorder or DSLR? Thank you for the video.

  47. The gibbon classic seems sold out esp. here in Oz I ended up getting the Axis Slackline Baseline 25m should have it tomorrow in time for the weekend i almost sure Ill injure myself Hahaha

  48. Thanks for this post, Mark! I owe you a tons of thanks! For it is actually the headers of the MDA site (the one with three pics of you on a slackline) that got me in to this sport. After seeing you in the header, I decided to research the sport. I found a great web site that brought me all the way into the sport on Mother’s Day of 2013. Now, my wife and I slackline at least 3 or 4 days a week, I can’t get enough! I have taught about 25 or 30 people to do this sport since May, and no fewer than 100 people have set foot on one of my lines in the parks where I set up. This is a great activity that comes with FREE exercise, building some of the best muscles on your body.

    EVERYONE should try it!

    Hope you don’t mind a link to the best slackline website (IMO):
    http://nwslackline.org

    And one to the blog of my experience:
    http://milehighslacker.wordpress.com

  49. This is great. I will have to try it. A few years ago, at 42 I started to Skateboard again.. mostly on a longboard and just pushing over distance with both legs (called Skogging) . It has done wonders for my leg strength, and balance.

  50. First exposure to slackline was at PrimalCon 2012, and I bought one as soon as I got home. Thank you for that first exposure, I’m also obsessed now.

  51. I don’t know if they actually started the activity but rock climbers have been doing this for years with climbing ropes (or webbing) that stretches incredibly. One should be very proficient at this if one is doing it in ice crampons.

  52. In the video, Mark said when you sleep, your mind rewires itself. I guess as to make you better the next time. I find that interesting. Can someone elaborate on that?

    1. I can definitely vouch for that! I’m a hoop dancer & whenever I’m struggling to master a new trick, one of my best strategies is to practice just before bed, then again the next morning. Very often something clicks that way! I also notice that I often wake up “hearing” the music I was practicing to the day before, which furthers my certainty that my brain was working on the problem as I slept.

  53. I bought a Gibbon Classic slackline last year and often bring it on holidays. If we set up in a public park, we often have a lineup of kids asking to try it out–it’s great for meeting new people and making new friends. My sister-in-law-to-be wants to do wedding pics on it when she and my brother get married in a few weeks. I’ve always liked “balance-y” things (I also own a unicycle), and now in my 50s, I figure this is money in the bank as a way to stay healthy as I age. Besides, it’s fun!

  54. The town where I live spent some money last summer “upgrading” some of the parks. Mostly it was the usual stuff like new benches and garbishcans, but also a semi slack line. When I finally got all the kids out of the way and got to try it, it was surprisingly hard. The little time I got on it I noticed that is was good training for the core.

  55. We should have set one up at AHS! (I’m the one that thoroughly enjoyed the quail at Miller Union) My husband and I set a slackline up in our neighborhood all the time and help the kids across.

  56. This looks so fun, and I especially love that it’s something people of various fitness levels can do. A lot of the intense exercise is out of range for many of us with autoimmune disease, but this could easily be within our wheelhouse!

  57. I got one last year and it’s a blast!

    Just a note to those who haven’t tried it yet: Mark’s mounting technique is something that will take a while to get to. Gibbon has some good instructional videos on their website – http://www.gibbonslacklines.com .

  58. I just bought a slackline one month ago. Not something you see everyday here, I’m in the Montreal area (you know…. Canada!). There is a good resource for slackline info called http://www.slacklinemontreal.com if anyone is interested. They also sell a few different models.

  59. Love the idea, Been thinking about it for weeks, especially since my legs seem to be imbalanced in strength.

    However, any ideas for a Poor Man’s Slackline?

    While I’m persuaded by it’s benefits, I can’t afford an official slackline, and wouldn’t have any place to utilize or store it if I could. Thus, is there a workaround substitute?

    I know one could tie a rope between two trees or posts, but that seems like it’d be too different given the round shape and other different properties. Is it essential to the practice that the material be flat like the Slackline? If should, is there something that could be bought at a hardware store accordingly?

    If not, perhaps I might just settle for a roll of rope.

  60. Hi Mark,

    Great post about slacklining. As a slackline instructor, I’d like to add to your awesome and concise tip-list, if I may:

    For beginner’s, the three most effective coaching cues I’ve found to be, are:

    1. Arms – “elbows above shoulders”. Remember that phrase and you’ll be using the law of the lever to your maximum advantage. The

    2. Eyes – Focus straight ahead at a fixed point, either at eye level, or the opposite anchor point where the slackline ends. Why? Because looking down tweaks your neck alignment, not in your favour, and in the beginning, looking down at a moving line against a backdrop of ground is send way too much confusing, proprioceptive data to your brain that you just don’t need!

    3. Feet – Big Toe, Ball of the Foot and Heel, always in a straight line, on the line.
    When you walk, walk toe first, then ball, then place the heel down, and THEN transfer the weight forward to take the step. If you take the step before your foot is placed, you’ll probably fall!!

    Intermediate/Advanced

    1. Breath Control – By far, the most important factor to controlling your mind and physical capabilities, is being able to control your breathing, deliberately. When you are slacklining, pay attention to your breathing. The key is to make your breathing cadence smooth and rhythmic, avoid any stuttering. This all changes when you walk a highline, however, as fear takes over. One of the best ways to control any kind of fear or tension in the mind and body is to breathe deliberately.
    This point alone has carried me to walking lines over 120m long….

    2. Arm Coordination – The role of the arms is to match that of the tightrope walker’s pole. You hinge from the elbow to balance – basically waving the forearms side to side to counterbalance. Your torso should stay aligned, straight and somewhat relaxed. Your arms should do all the work. Feeling strong? Walk with wrist weights to build shoulder endurance, fast.

    3. Extras – progressing in slacklining is learning how to “see through the soles of your feet”. Try walking eyes closed to increase this sensitivity. How about walking whilst listening to music in your ears, or through a boombox? Or take some yoga poses to the line – Warrior 1 is a great full-body challenge!

    Thanks Mark, happy slacking, and I’d be please to offer any advice in your slack-practice where needed!

    Cheers,

    Harry Cloudfoot, UK

  61. Thanks for the text!!

    I might even go back sometime and watch the video…

  62. I literally tried this for the first time, I thought my feet were pretty strong after barefooting/huaraches for a couple years now. My feet are now pretty sore (as are my abs and quads). Feels like a good whole body workout.

  63. Set up my poor man’s demo slackline tonight. Two inch 30′ tow strap with ratchet from Walmart and a lift sling from Harbor Freight. Required a little modification. I think I spent $25-30. Took Mark’s advice and used a pair of ski poles. I was looking for another challenge that will improve my balance. Since childhood have had problems with twisting ankles. I’m 59, have started wearing Merrill Trail Glove flats. It’s great to feel the ground. I think this is going to help greatly. Just have to figure out how to rig it for winter in the warehouse.

  64. Mark,

    This is the second time that I have found your site during a search on the internet for something entirely different than what I found. I was intrigued the first time and am now even more intrigued. I will need to look more at your site, but first I thought I would post a reply.

    First of all, I really enjoyed your post on slacklining. I have been slacklining for years and agree with the benefits and pointers that you posted.

    Slacklining is a great passion of mine and I love to share it with others whenever I can. I am not the best slacker out there, but that is because whenever I set one up I end up spending just as much time teaching people who pop by to ask me what I am doing as being on the line myself.

    I have seen a lot of good advice for beginners on here and I wanted to share some pointers that I did not see when I read through the replies. I will try not to repeat the great advice of the other posters.

    One thing I have learned from teaching people to slackline is that people learn much faster when they do not use balance aids like ski poles or someone else’s hand or shoulder. I find that the easiest way to help a beginner’s muscles learn to stabilize themselves on the line is to just get up and do it without outside assistance. Well not entirely without any assistance. I do offer a type of training wheel that works well, but does not require the use of balance aids. When I teach beginners, I tighten the line and then sit on the center of the line, or closer to the person if needed for the their comfort. Sitting on the line takes out a lot of the wobble and allows the person to stand up unassisted. It still allows their muscles to learn to compensate and stabilize, but it allows them to focus on standing up on the line and then balance a bit without the extra stress of the high speed wobble every one has felt their first few times on the line.

    I also encourage beginners to focus on standing straight up on the line and then stepping right down immediately until they get used to the feel of the line, the process of getting on and off of it, and can stand straight up in one fluid motion. I feel that getting on the line in a fluid and confident motion can be difficult and if a beginner cannot comfortably do that they will not be able to stay on the line long enough to balance. I also find that people who practice the process of getting on and off the line under controlled conditions are less likely to have problems when getting off the line later when things are less controlled.

    Another suggestion I have for beginners, and this is entirely a personal preference, is to start on a one inch polyester line, more on that shortly. I do not like the feel of the two inch lines, they flow weird, and I hate ratchet systems. Two inch lines provide limited length options, cause a lot of stress on your anchors, are hard to release and pop dangerously when released.

    I prefer using the knot-less carabiner setup, which is easy to set up, easy to tear down, cheaper, and more compact so you can take it anywhere you go. All you need for a one inch webbing system is three or four carabiners, two pieces of chain link or other solid oval ring, and as much webbing as you want for your slackline’s length and anchor strap(s). I would also suggest some sort of padding to protect your anchors if you are using trees; I use some old pieces of retired fire hose that I cut up.

    There are two one inch webbing material options that I know of at the moment; Nylon and Polyester. The one inch Nylon is more readily available and a little cheaper, so it tends to be a more popular option. That is what I started on, but the Polyester lines stretch less, so require less tension and are easier on your anchors (like trees). This also makes it easier to go out and set up a line on your own, as you do not need two to three people or a ratchet system to get it tight enough to use. I go out and set up my polyester line with varying tensions (super tight for beginners or nice and loose for myself) without assistance.

    I love slacklining and I hope someone finds my pointers and the pointers from the other posters of use. For those who do not think you can do it, who say you have lousy balance…you can; it is not as hard as you think. Your lousy balance will improve and it will improve much quicker than you can imagine. I have taught many people how to slackline and the only person I could not teach to walk the line unassisted had had a partial lobotomy due to cancer. She was unable to close her eyes for more than a few seconds without losing her balance on solid ground. She continued to slackline, but she had to use balance aids. If she can do it, you can too. Now get out there and get slacking!

  65. After watching Marks video I purchased a slackline the next day, its a no brainer. Fun, cheap, extremely challenging, addicting, low impact, been on it six months and love it.