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Take your backyard adventures to new heights!

Has your kid ever been entranced by a tight rope walker? Slacklining is similar sport — challenging, satisfying, addicting, and you can easily set one up in your backyard or the park. It’s a super fun way to feel like an acrobat (or a whole new level of fun at a birthday party or backyard circus).

After you’ve mastered low-level slacklining, raise the stakes and tie the line a little higher, or try some stunts. We’ve got some ideas for sweet moves, even if you’ve never walked the line before.

WHAT YOU NEED

Hit an adventure-oriented sporting goods store to get everything you need. MEC is a great source. You can either get a single slackline, or a complete slackline kit. Up to you. If you choose to go the 100 per cent DIY route, here’s what you need:

  • A slackline (about 40 feet long)
  • 2 anchor slings (to attach to the tree or pole and tie on your slackline)
  • 4 carabiners
  • 2 line lockers (this lets you secure your slackline without tying any knots)

HOW TO SET UP YOUR SLACKLINE

  1. Find two sturdy looking trees or anchors (trailer hitch on a car or basketball net posts) about 15 feet apart. Make sure your line is about 10 feet longer than the distance between the posts.
  2. Now, attach a carabiner to each end of the slackline. Fold about 12 – 14 inches of line at one end and slip the folded line into the line locker, pull halfway through and double back. Then clip the carabiner through the double loop. Do this at the other end too.
  3. Before attaching your slackline to the tree, protect the tree and your line by wrapping a towel around it. Wrap the anchor slings around the toweled tree trunk.
  4. To attach the slackline to the anchor slings, clip the carabiner to the anchor ends and fix your main line to it. Set the tension so you have 6 – 12 inches of sag on the line in the middle.

(If you’re a visual learner, check out NW Slackline’s tips and a diagram for setting up a basic slackline.)

HOW TO DO IT

If your kids are nervous, practice with a line of tape on the floor before getting on the slackline. Some pointers: make sure their heels don’t touch the ground as they walk. When they step, bring the other foot out to the side as far as possible.

When you’re both ready for the real thing, you may want to hold the line down a little for your kid to get on. Sit on it at the end of the line behind them as they step on. Have kids place one foot on the line while stabilizing it with their other leg. Then, have them hop the other leg onto the line. As they walk, slowly stand up.

If two adults are helping, one can guide your kid along the line as they walk and one can hold down the line as they get up. Otherwise, a stool will suffice to raise them up as you hold their hand the whole time.

WALKING TIPS

  • Do some stretches before you start. Shake out any jitters and loosen up those legs and hips before you start. Now channel your inner squirrel.
  • Keep your eye on something at eye level near the end of the slackline. Watching your feet can psych you out.
  • Go barefoot, or wear super thin soled shoes. Soles can stick to the slackline and / or trip you up.
  • Avoid baggy pants while slacklining. Shorts are best for agile movements.
  • Don’t lock your knees. Keep them partially bent and keep your arms out at both sides.
  • Practice makes perfect!

COOL STUNTS

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  • Start with some Tai Chi like movements, slowly moving your arms and lifting your legs into different positions.
  • Bend your kneeds and dip your feet down on either side of the line as you take steps.
  • Try walking sideways, so you step on the line with just the arch of your foot.
  • Do a turn: rise to the balls of your feet and rotate your body in the opposite direction.
  • Hop in place.
  • Plies like a ballerina. Stand sideways on the line and bend your knees. As you rise back to standing, slide your back leg up the front one.

Photo by valkyrieh116danman8gammaman via Flickr. 

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