Evolved from the rich climbing culture in the Yosemite Valley of California, slacklining refers to the act of walking and playing tricks on webbed lines tensioned between two anchor points. The tension of the line can be adjusted according to the activities or tricks to be performed on the line, as well as the length and altitude of the line.
Slacklining may be performed as a hobby, as a means to stay fit by slackline yoga, or as a competitive sport through tricklining, longlining, and highlining. The different styles of slacklining have been described below, followed by a list of few records set by adventurous young slackers.
This refers to any of the slacklining activities that are practiced in urban areas, like city parks, schools, community centers, streets, etc.
The slackers use urban anchors, like lamp poles, telephone poles, or even bridges to rig the slackline. Trees with a diameter of more than 12 inches serve as ideal anchor points.
However, certain cities disallow slacklining on streets and other urban areas, to avoid mishaps, whereas some have limitations with respect to the timings, length of the lines, the type and size of trees that can be used to rig the lines while slacklining in parks, etc.
Being the most common and trending style, tricklining refers to setting up low, short, and tight lines for performing several tricks, spins, jumps, and gymnastics. A two-inch webbing and tight line are preferred for tricklining in order to provide the strength required for tricks and ensure a smooth landing.
The tricks performed are categorized into static and dynamic tricks.
Static tricks involve slow-moving tricks and still poses, wherein the slackliner is constantly in contact with the line. These include walking, walking backwards, moonwalk, sitting, handstands, splits, etc.
Dynamic tricks involve bounces as well as movements such that the slackliner loses contact with the line and lands on it again without losing the balance. It includes chest bounces, butt bounces, as well as several types of jumps, flips, jump rotations, and surfing. Adept trickliners can even jump from one line and land on another without falling off.
Also called Slackasana, this calm style of slacklining refers to practicing yoga poses on the slackline. Generally, a one-inch webbing is used for slackline yoga, and the line is looser than that for tricklining and walking.
It was the duo of Sam Salwei and Jason Magness, who first attempted to perform yoga poses on rigged lines. Yoga poses, like the Warrior pose, Buddha pose, Tree pose, and other standing, kneeling, and sitting postures can be practiced. Considered to be the most enduring style, it focuses on breathing while maintaining the balance, and requires a deep level of concentration. Ten minutes of slackline yoga is considered to be equivalent to one and a half hours of regular yoga.
This style simply refers to slacklining that is performed over water, i.e., pools, lakes, or even rivers.
It increases the fun and adventure quotient as well as safety while performing the various jumps and tricks. However, one has to ensure that the water region chosen for waterlining must be free from rocks and boulders. Waterlining on a pool provides the perfect setting for learning new tricks. The line may even be set slightly below the water surface, increasing the challenge to maintain balance on the line.
Longlining refers to setting up of lines that are generally longer than 100 feet, and require much more tension than the regular tree-to-tree urbanlines and tricklines.
It helps increase the consistency in maintaining balance, and prepares the individual to focus for long periods of time. Long waterlines serve as the best way to prepare for highlining. Many longlines have been set up by individuals in a spree to make new longline records. The first longline record was set at 328 feet by a photographer and extreme climber named Heinz Zak, in 2005.
This is the most advanced style of slacklining, and it refers to setting up lines high above the ground or water.
It involves slacklining at high altitudes in the mountains, or across valleys, canyons, etc. An additional backup line may be attached below the main line. The use of a climbing harness and safety leash is recommended along with a safety ring that links the leash to the line and slides along the line. Some adventurous daredevils prefer to go highlining without the use of safety leashes, in which case, it is termed as free solo highlining.