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The Beginners Guide To Slacklining

The Beginners Guide To Slacklining

A few weeks ago I talked about the power of experiences and how “doing stuff” creates more happiness in your life than any material item you could purchase.

I got a few emails from the peeps out there asking for some recommendations on cool experiences or challenges to try.

While there is an unlimited amount of super cool things you could do:

  • Wine tasting
  • Cliff jumping
  • Hiking
  • Cooking classes
  • Pottery course
  • Dance lessons
  • Trying a new cuisine
  • 30 days of honesty
  • Meditation challenge

I decided to write an article about one of my favorite activities. It’s something that combines an unlimited supply of fun, requires coordination, and asks you to practice extreme focus, which in itself is an integral part of life as you develop physically and mentally.

But most importantly it’s a challenge and that single ingredient is what creates a sense of pride, confidence, and self worth.

It goes back to the “Ikea Theory”  I’ve discussed before. Sure you can buy a bar stool and place it in your kitchen but when you are the one that has to put it together a sense of pride and value comes over you and that silly stool, it holds more value. Putting that stool was a challenge you had to overcome.

Enough of my rambling and if you haven’t left yet to read another blog I’d like to present to you….

Drum roll please…..

The beginners guide to slacklining

What is slacklining?

Essentially slacklining is like tight rope walking but on a tether/line (rope, or chord) that has a little less tension and give to it.

How to choose a slackline

For beginners and those just starting to dabble in slacklining, I suggest picking up one of the many kits that are available. A good kit will run you anywhere from $50-$140 bucks and I highly recommend investing in a cheap one at first to see if you really enjoy the experience.

  • Gibbon
  • Slackstar
  • Singing rock

are a few of the companies you can check out. I personally recommend the Gibbon classic line for adult beginners, the fun line for kids and beginners, and the jibline or surfline for anyone that plans on really getting into the sport down the road they are a little bouncier allowing for more tricks.

* For beginners look for a 2” wide line, this will provide you with more surface area for your feet making it much easier to balance and speed up the learning process.

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How to set up your slackline

When I first purchased my slackline setting it up was actually one of the most difficult parts. Maybe it was the excitement rushing over me, sheer impatience of wanting to just start walking on it, or just being a knucklehead but the majority of my first slacklining session was spent trying to figure out where and how to set the dang thing up.

Step 1: Choosing a location

All you’re really going to need is a fairly open space with structures that will allow you to wrap your line around. Trees, columns, poles, and really any two tall and sturdy structures will work, but I suggest finding two sturdy trees at a local park or in your backyard. The bark provides a little friction to hold your line stable and plus parks just rock.

Step 2: Setting up your line

For beginners, you’ll want about 15-25 feet of space in between your two trees. The shorter the distance, the more stability you’ll have in your line, making it easier to find your balance. This might leave quite a bit of extra line but don’t worry, it won’t be in the way and it’s not necessary to use the entire line.

If you’ve purchased a kit, the directions are fairly easy to follow but they leave out some important pieces of information.

The loops that you create around your anchor (ie: slackline around tree) should be about upper thigh to hip height. As the line is stretched out between trees it will also be roughly upper thigh to hip height.

Having the line set up at this height will allow for about 6-12” of sag in the line as you’re attempting to balance on it.

Tighten your line using the ratcheting system that comes with your kit tight enough so that the loops around your anchors (trees) does not move. As you become a more experienced slackliner, you can play with different tensions in your line to create different levels of difficulty. Generally the looser it is and the more bounce the line has in it, the more difficult it will be to walk; yet this also makes it a great line to perform tricks on.

Step 3: Mounting the line

One of the most important things you can do for yourself is to learn how to mount the line with some style, and where does style start?

With your clothes.

Ok, I’m sort of serious and sort of just being sarcastic. While the brand of your pants might not be important, it is important to make sure they’re not too loose fitting or hanging over your feet. Roll those dang things up if you have to, just make sure they are out of the way so you’re not tripping all over them.

Something you don’t mind getting a little dirty and comfortable should do the trick. A personal favorite is board shorts… but southern California allows for that year round.

As for shoes, the only time you’ll need them is for the drive to the park and maybe the walk across the field to find your trees, and maybe not if you’re a rebel.

Walking the line without shoes will allow you to get a better feel for the line. That sense of touch is what gives your body a sense of awareness in space and will benefit your sense of balance greatly.

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If you must wear shoes, try skate shoes, vibrams, or chucks classics as they are extremely flat.

Before mounting the line, make sure to relax and breathe.

If you kick a soccer ball with your right foot, stand parallel to the line with your left thigh touching it. If you kick a soccer ball with your left foot, stand next to the line with your right thigh touching it.

You’ll want to mount the line closer to the anchors of the tree. This is usually the best place for beginners because the tension creates a faster but smaller shake in the line. As you try to mount closer to the middle the lines will have much larger, low sagging, but slow movements. You may want to play with the best place to mount for you but once you’ve found a good spot, make sure to mount from the same spot every time to create a memory for your nervous system.

photo-12

    Pick up the foot that is closest to the line and place it on the slackline with it running through your big toe and second toe and running right to your heel. You’ll probably notice some pretty gnarly shaking (I like to call this the jimmy leg). Don’t worry, this is totally normal.

    To help control this shaking you can do two things:

    1. Lighten the load or pressure that your putting on the line. Don’t put so much weight on the line initially, you may want to just barely touch it.
    2. Put your outer thigh on the line to help stabilize it.

    After your leg and the line have stabilized a little bit, your nervous system calms down, and you feel comfortable focus on a single stationary point in front of you. I like to stare (almost romantically) at the anchor on the opposite side.

    If you’re looking at your feet or at the line, you’ll be staring at a moving object and this can screw up your sense of balance.

    After establishing a stable focal point ahead of you, make sure to center your weight on the foot on the line and swiftly stand up on that leg.

    Don’t hesitate for a second and fully commit. If you hesitate or don’t believe in yourself for even just a second and half ass the mount it’s not going to happen for you.

    Use your arms for balance by holding them out to your sides at shoulder height.

    Once you’ve found your balance on the line, try and hold it there for a few seconds before attempting to walk. Make sure your legs are slightly bent. This will lower your center of gravity and help to absorb movement from the line.

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    If you are really struggling with popping up it’s usually because of lack of strength or balance.There are a few things you can do to help turn these weaknesses into strengths:

    1. Start strength training: One legged movements like lunges, step-ups, and pistols/1-legged sqauts will help strengthen the muscles that are being used to press you up onto the line. Squats and deadlifts will also help.

    2. Work on balance: You can actually have someone sit on the line to help stabilize it as you mount. The closer they are to you, the more stability the line will have. As you get comfortable, your partner can move farther away until they are completely off the line.

    You can also practice balance by walking heel to toe on a line of tape on the ground.  As this becomes easy, try to walk the tape on your toes and not to allow your heels to touch the ground. Once you get comfortable there, you can use a 4-inch wide piece of wood that is a few inches off the ground. Then use a thinner piece of wood as you get more comfortable.

    Step 4: Johnny Cashing aka Walking the line

    Once you’ve found your balance and are comfortable on the line, you’ll want to start walking it.. For myself, I’ve found that moving the foot that is behind the lead foot and searching for the line with the big toe is most effective. I also prefer not to go heel to toe but instead have a little space between them.

    photo-14

      Once you’ve made contact, you’ll want to place the line in between the big toe and second toe and have it run right to the back of the heel just like when you mount the line.

      Continue walking the line in this fashion and remember to maintain focus on something stable in front of you, hold those arms out to your sides at shoulder height, and continue to breathe.

      Progression tips

      As you keep improving you may want to start to challenge yourself a bit more. Here are a few good beginner to intermediate progressions you can try once you’ve mastered mounting and Johnny Cashing the line.

      • Mount with non dominant/other foot
      • Mount with both feet by hopping up
      • Mount facing the line instead of parallel to it
      • Backwards walking
      • Sideways walking
      • Turns on the line (180 and 360 degrees)

      How to fall correctly

      Here is the honest Abe in me coming out, you WILL fall off the line. Now I just want to make sure you do it correctly and avoid any injury.

      Because the line has tension and will sag as you are on it; this means you could get thrown a bit. You’ll want to use that to your advantage by letting it push you away from it, thus, avoiding it hitting you.

      And guys, believe me, you do not want to come straight down on that line… no what I’m saying?

      Because you’ll be barefoot, make sure the area around you is free of any debris, sharp objects, or rocks.

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      It should be fairly easy to land on your feet most of the time but if you do happen to lose balance and feel like you may be hurdling towards the ground, I suggest turning your body to your dominant shoulder and front rolling.

      How should you practice

      Practice…. We’re talking about practice?

      The more often you practice the better, but you don’t have to spend hours on end in order to get better. A good 20-minute session should do the trick but even if you can only get in 5-10 minutes per day, the consistency will really pay off as you’re trying to retrain your nervous system.

      The most important thing is consistency. Shorter but more frequent sessions will allow you to improve much quicker than one single long session each week. So if you’re really dead set on getting better, schedule some time in as often as you can. If possible, leave that slackline mounted in your backyard and hop out there at random points during the day.

      One important thing to remember is that it does take sometime for your nervous system and muscular system to warm up, so don’t be surprised if you struggle a bit during the first few minutes of a session. You can help speed up the process by performing a brief warm up routine consisting of air squats, lunges, one legged squats/pistols, hollow rocks, and tippy toe walks on the ground.

      A little science about how balance works in the body

      Balance in the body stems from multiple systems working as a team to help create stability between your body, brain, and vision.

      What is good balance:

      1. Correct sensory information from your eyes, muscles, tendons, ligaments, joints, and organs of the ear.
      2. Your brain stem translating all this information that is trying to be processed at once and making sense of it as it delivers the message to the ol’noodle upstairs.
      3. The movement of your eyes being able to keep things in your line of vision stable.

      It starts with your vision and the help that it gives you as it tries to establish where your head and body are in relationship to the world and any motion that is occurring in it.

      Receptors that are extremely sensitive to movement like stretching and pressure in your muscles, tendons, and joints help your brain figure out where your feet and legs are positioned relative to the ground and also how your head is positioned relative to your shoulders and chest.

      There are then balancing organs located in the inner ear that let your brain know the movements of your head.

      Finally all this information is sent to the brain stem along with information regarding previous experiences that have affected your balance (this is why practice is so important) stored in your cerebral cortex and cerebellum. Once this information is digested, messages are sent to the eyes and other parts of the body that will help you stay balanced and maintain clear vision while you are in motion. adapted from Shannon Hoffman

      Now what are you waiting for?

      Go and treat yourself to a new experience. One that will promote a healthy lifestyle, improve balance, focus, coordination, and most of all be one heck of a time.

      More by this author

      Justin Miller

      Healthy Lifestyle Architect, a Fitness and Nutrition Coach

      How to Dramatically Change Your Life in Just One Week The Habits of the Highly Healthy How to Discover Who You Are And Then How To Behave Like It The Beginners Guide To Slacklining A New Way to Create a Bucket List

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      Last Updated on October 15, 2019

      How To Be Successful In Life? 13 Tips From The Most Successful People

      How To Be Successful In Life? 13 Tips From The Most Successful People

      What is success to you? How to be successful in life?

      To some, when they think of success, they imagine wealth; others want power; some just want to make a positive impact on the world.

      All of these are perfectly valid, indeed success is a concept that means different things to different people. Though no matter what success is to you, it almost certainly isn’t something will come easily.

      There are countless guides and books to being successful, however, as success is personal and unique to each individual. The advice contained in these books can often not be relevant. Therefore following the advice of a single individual can often be unhelpful.

      With this in mind, considering the advice of a great many people, people whose ideas of success were different both to each other, and quite possibly, to you can be a good alternative.

      What follows is a list of thirteen of the best pieces of advice from some of the most successful people who have ever lived. If you want to learn how to be successful, these 13 tips are essential:

      1. Think Big

        From Michelangelo Buonarroti, Great Renaissance Artist:

        “The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark.”

        There are few artists as influential as Michaelangelo. Today centuries after his death, his work still inspires and connects to people. His work is world famous, just think of his statue of David, or the Mural in the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican.

        Imagine then, if he decided not to work as an artist.

        Being a successful artist has always been extremely difficult, imagine if he decided to give up this ambition in favour of something easier?

        Oftentimes, people often decided to put their dreams aside for something more “realistic”. To give up their dream for something easier. This quote teaches us the danger of such a point of view.
        Instead be ambitious.

        2. Find What You Love to Do and Do It

          From Oprah Winfrey, Media Mogul:

          “You know you are on the road to success if you would do your job and not be paid for it.”

          This is a good quote to remember and think about when you’re at work.

          Imagine being as successful as possible in your current job. Ultimately you’ll probably find yourself working extremely hard and this it will take up much of your time.

          If it’s a job you hate, then being successful at it might only mean filling your life with something you hate to do. What’s the sense in this?

          Instead, why not focus on doing something you love? When you’ve found what you’re passionate about, you get the motivation to keep you moving. Success at this means the fulfilment of your dreams.

          Not sure what your passion is yet? You should learn about this Motivation Engine first.

          Even if you’re not successful, you still filled your time with something you love to do. Many successful musicians spent years of their lives doing unpaid performances, the only reason they kept playing was because they loved to perform.

          3. Learn How to Balance Life

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            From Phil Knight, CEO of Nike Inc.:

            “There is an immutable conflict at work in life and in business, a constant battle between peace and chaos. Neither can be mastered, but both can be influenced. How you go about that is the key to success.”

            All too often, people think that to be successful, they need to make the object of their success their life.

            If a person thinks their job will lead them to success, then they may spend countless hours per day, and well into the evening working hard.

            However this comes at the cost of rest, your health and having an enjoyable life. Ultimately they may burn out and cease to be successful at their job anyway.

            If success comes from having a strong social life and a good group of friends, their job may suffer; meaning that they may lose their job, and then be unable to afford going out with friends.

            In these ways, success, as Phil Knight says above, is helped by balance. Think of it as a balance between rest and work, or work and play.

            To achieve that balance, this Ultimate Guide to Prioritizing Your Work And Life can help you.

            4. Do Not Be Afraid of Failure

              From Henry Ford, Founder of Ford Motors:

              “Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.”

              There is a story, it’s unconfirmed whether it actually happened, yet the message within is none the less true:

              Thomas Edison inventing the lightbulb was the result of several hundred failed attempts. In an interview, he was asked “How do you feel after all of your failed attempts?”

              His response was great, “I didn’t fail, I learned hundreds of ways not to invent the lightbulb”

              He saw each “failure” as a lesson. From that lesson he learned what won’t work, and also might work instead.

              Each failed attempt, each rejection, were key steps on his path to success. It is easy to feel like you should give up after a failure. But perhaps in that failure is a lesson.

              Pay attention to your failures, study them. Perhaps then you’ll learn how to succeed.

              If you find it difficult to fight your fear of failure, here’s a guide for you: Why You Have the Fear of Failure (And How to Conquer It Step-By-Step)

              5. Have an Unwavering Resolution to Succeed

                From Colonel Sanders, Founder of KFC:

                “I made a resolve then that I was going to amount to something if I could. And no hours, nor amount of labor, nor amount of money would deter me from giving the best that there was in me. And I have done that ever since, and I win by it. I know.”

                This, in many ways relates to the above quote about learning from your failures.

                It’s the easiest thing in the world to give up from a failure. The only way to push on is if you have the true burning desire to succeed, to not be moved or dissuaded from your goals.

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                If you are not truly dedicated towards success, then each failure will hurt more, each set back will slow you down.

                Success is hard; without the unwavering desire to succeed, this difficulty may seem insurmountable. With the desire, it is merely an obstacle to go through.

                6. Be a Person of Action

                  From Leonardo da Vinci, Renaissance Genius:

                  “It had long since come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things.”

                  Though it was said hundreds of years ago, it works just as much today as it ever had. It applies to literally any successful person.

                  Think about it, picture someone like William Shakespeare:

                  When we think of the time he lived in, we think of the time in a way shaped by him. When we think of Renaissance era Italy, we think of Michelangelo and Leonardo Da Vinci. Or think about the present day, Bill Gates or Steve Jobs. Our current way of life would simply be incomparably different if they didn’t accomplish what they did.

                  You’re probably reading this article on a device by a company that they either founded or companies influenced by them.

                  All these figures were proactive, they saw ways to do things differently and did them. If they let the world shape them, then they’d simply fit into the background. Instead they shaped the world.

                  Applying this to you?

                  Don’t be afraid of going outside the norm. If you can think of a better way to do something, do it that way. If you fail, try again.

                  7. Cultivate Positive Relationships

                    From Theodore Roosevelt, 26th President of America: “

                    The most important single ingredient in the formula of success is knowing how to get along with people.”

                    The best leaders and some of the most influential people (and Theodore Roosevelt is one of the best leaders and one of the most influential people to have lived) were not those who caused commotions, who fought with people or disregarded people; but were people who were friendly to those around them.

                    People liked them. They wanted them to do well.

                    This is key to good leadership.

                    It’s logical. If someone likes you, they want to help you; if you give them a suggestion, they’ll gladly follow through with it.

                    But if someone doesn’t like you, they may either refuse to help or actively get in your way.

                    What’s more, it’s always a good idea to cultivate good relationships. You can never tell who will prove to become someone who’ll be able to help you in a big way, or even be a good and supportive friend.

                    As such, help people and they may help you; and be good to people, and they my be good to you.

                    8. Don’t Be Afraid of Introducing New Ideas

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                      From Mark Twain, Famed Author:

                      “A person with a new idea is a crank until the idea succeeds.”

                      It is an unfortunate truth that those with the boldest ideas are often disregarded.

                      Most of us are taught from an early age to think and do things similarly to everyone else. This can be great to fill an existing role. But to truly do things differently (and all successful people did things differently), you need to think differently.

                      If you have a new idea, don’t throw it away because it’s new and different; instead, celebrate it. Your strange new idea might one day be the one that leads you to success.

                      9. Believe in Your Capacity to Succeed

                        From Walter Disney, Founder of Walt Disney Company:

                        “If you can dream it, you can do it.”

                        Success has to be something you can imagine yourself achieving.

                        It is possible that you will come across those who doubt you and your ability to succeed. You must not become one of these people because the moment you cease believing and dreaming is the moment these dreams fall away.

                        Keep dreaming!

                        10. Always Maintain a Positive Mental Attitude

                          From Thomas Jefferson, 3rd President of America:

                          “Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude.”

                          Like the above quote says, you need to trust in your ability to succeed. This is the only way to cultivate the right mindset.

                          Replace negative thoughts with the positive ones. You need to approach problems, not as obstacles stopping you, but merely tasks that need to be completed for you to keep going.

                          If you stay positive and think like this, setbacks won’t affect you so much, people’s doubts won’t impact you and even the biggest obstacles will seem like minor problems.

                          However with the wrong mindset of doubt, you’ll be much easier to stop.

                          11. Don’t Let Discouragement Stop You from Pressing On

                            From Abraham Lincoln, 16th President of America:

                            “Let no feeling of discouragement prey upon you, and in the end you are sure to succeed.”

                            It is an unfortunate fact of human nature — all of us in some way, doubt ourselves. This can be made far worse if others doubt us too.

                            When surrounded by doubts, giving up can actually seem like a good idea.

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                            Don’t pay attention to the doubts. If you are discouraged, ignore it.

                            If this discouragement moves into your mind and you begin to doubt yourself. It is important to ignore this too.

                            This is How Self Doubt Keeps You Stuck and How to Overcome It

                            12. Be Willing to Work Hard

                              From JC Penny, Founder of JC Penney Inc.:

                              “Unless you are willing to drench yourself in your work beyond the capacity of the average man, you are just not cut out for positions at the top.”

                              You might have heard the quote that “success is 1% inspiration, 99% perspiration” or you may have heard about the 10,000 hours idea.

                              Whichever way you frame it, they say one thing:

                              True success comes from work.

                              You’ll never become successful if you don’t work towards your goal in life and keep working towards it.

                              Check out this article and you’ll understand Why Hard Work Beats Talent.

                              13. Be Brave Enough to Follow Your Intuition

                                From Steve Jobs, Co-founder of Apple Inc.:

                                “Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

                                In ancient Greece, there was a group of Oracles who lived in Delphi. Everyone who needed advice or to know their future visited them, from the poorest of society to kings. Above the doorway of the temple were the words “know thyself”.

                                If you strongly believe and desire something, chances are that you already have an idea how to get there. If not, you may naturally know what things will help you and what things will slow you down.

                                It’s like how your body can detect danger even when things seem safe.

                                Ultimately then, you need to trust your own instincts.

                                Final Thoughts

                                What you might have noticed is that many of the above lessons are similar — most are about developing the right state of mind. This clearly suggests that the key to achieving success, in whatever you wish, comes down to the way you approach it mentally.

                                Moreover, no matter what stage of life you’re at now, you can still make a difference and pursue success. You can make resetting your life possible when you do this: How to Start Over and Reboot Your Life When It Seems Too Late

                                More to Help You Succeed in Life

                                Featured photo credit: Ryan Wong via unsplash.com

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