So the slackline is back here at White Spider, re-rigged, re-placed, and ready to session!
If you're wondering what a slackline is, imagine a long, thin, bouncy trampoline whose goal is to throw you off. The aim is to keep your balance whilst standing, sitting, even lying on the line. Get ready for a core destroying workout and concentration challenge.
Hailing out of Base Camp 4 in Yosemite, California, the slackline is your ideal active recovery solution. Climbing in a trio and have time to spare before you tie-in? Then jump on the line and try to keep your cool.
The slackline is the aspiring climber's best friend. Not only will you heighten sensitivity in your feet for enhanced footwork, you'll also increase your full-body awareness and coordination like never before. It's more obvious than Yoga, and will benefit your climbing more than you'd think.
Start by balancing on the line in one place, on your strong leg to begin with. Aim to transfer your weight from the floor to the line in a smooth fashion. If you understand weight transfer from climbing, apply your knowledge to mounting the slackline. If not, don't worry – the idea is just not to create momentum whilst transitioning from the floor to balancing on the slackline.
Lesson with Jake Sugg
When I teach people to slackline, we start with sport-specific warm ups in the form of games. Using play as a warm-up allows me as a coach to see what my students already possess in the way of balancing skills. But it's not often I see my students perform a deep outside flag to counter-balance their wobble so early on in the session. That's when Jake caught my attention. The natural progression from the warm-up is learning how to balance on the slackline with one leg at a time, then progressing to walking, and finally, entering the world of asanas and various tricks. Jake managed to bypass the static balancing section of the lesson, as he has already spent a few hours perfecting standing on one leg. We moved on to walking the line quickly, and I explained the importance of having accurate footwork to increase your chances of staying on the line, much like climbing. What was great about our session was how fast we could progress through different aspects of slacklining. So often people think slacklining is about balancing and walking from one end to the other, then game over. But that's just the beginning. We experimented with 360 turns whilst walking, which Jake managed to perfect in about 5 minutes! We also visited how to change level on the line, from standing to kneeling, to sitting and then lying down on the slackline, and the importance of training these transitions on both sides of the body.
The slackline is back at White Spider…but only a few dare to try and beat the wobble. The simplicity of a line between two points can have a daunting affect, much like a blank canvas. But for climbers, the slackline is a unique tool to train your body and mind in preparation for an ascent.
Here are some simple starting points to try on the slackline whilst in between climbs:
Starting with weight transfer, try to step from the floor, up on to the line and hold your balance. Start with keeping one leg off for balance, then progress to standing on the line with two feet.
If holding your balance for about 5 seconds is possible, start to take steps. Step with the toes first and try not to create any momentum on the line.
Keeping your arms above your body, specifically elbows above shoulders, move your hands side to side to counter balance.
Look straight ahead – looking at the floor confuses your brain and spoils your spine alignment. Instead, pick a point at your destination around eye level, and focus there.
harry cloudfoot is teaching at white spider .. etc
To wear shoes or go barefoot?
Tactile Sensitivity in the feet – In slacklining we call this “seeing through the soles of your feet”. When you climb, you want to be able to feel every minutiae through your feet and toes, even with a shoe on. Slacklining barefoot offers a great way to build awareness in your feet that can transfer directly to improving your climbing footwork. Imagine performing a manual task with gloves on; writing with a pen or painting with a paintbrush. What you can feel through those gloves will be limited, especially if they are ill-fitting. But once you take the gloves off, you will have much more sensitivity through the hands and fingers in order to better control the pen or brush. Slacklining barefoot works the same way – once your shoes are off, you can start to feel everything that is going on with the slackline with a heightened clarity.
Walking technique on the slackline also differs to walking on the floor in everyday life. We tend to walk heel-to-toe on the floor, but on the line, toe-to-heel is the preferred and safer method. Heel striking has become increasingly feasible because of the invention of shoes and padded soles, but it's arguably not an anatomically sound way to move. Slacklining barefoot will allow you to become aware of heel striking, how to prevent it and even switch to a more cushioned approach such as striking with the forefoot instead.
3 Common Slacklining Mistakes – and how to correct them