Slacklining is similar to tightrope walking, however, it is done on a tether/line (rope, or chord) with less tension. Adam Grosowsky and Jeff Ellington, two Yosemite rock climbers, pioneered slacklining in the early 1980s. The webbing is comprised of nylon/polyester and measures 1 to 2 inches (2.5-5cm) wide. It’s comparable to tightrope walking, but the material used and the degree of tension imposed are different (less tension on slacklines).
Slacklining is a sport as well as an art form. There is a Slackline World Cup and other big contests as a sport. Trickling is one of the most popular types of slacklining, and it involves tricks like sprinting, jumping, sitting, knee drops, 180s/360s, flips, butt, and chest bounces.
The name “Slackline” says it all: there isn’t much tension on the line. Slackline webbing, unlike steel wires, can stretch under stress and responds dynamically, requiring the person on the line to continuously seek equilibrium. Balancing poles are rarely utilized and are ineffective on slacklines.
While tightrope walking has a long history in the circus, slacklining is a relatively new sport. All of the tricks performed on the steel cable are theoretically doable on the slackline. There is a multitude of dynamic tricks that may be performed on a slackline due to the elastic qualities of the webbing. Slacklines, on the other hand, can be rigged with relatively little effort. While tightrope walking has a rich history in the circus, slacklining is a relatively new sport. All of the tricks performed on the steel cable are theoretically doable on the slackline. There is a multitude of dynamic tricks that may be performed on a slackline due to the elastic qualities of the webbing. Slacklines, on the other hand, may be rigged with very little effort and require significantly less and lighter equipment.
Slacklining in Ireland is still in its infancy, recently I met a young guy who started rope walking during the pandemic and has been rope walking since. According to him Slacklining is a tough sport and requires a lot of concentration. While talking to him I got some great insights about the sport and I was inspired to take up slacklining as a sport.
You can listen to this interview by clicking the youtube link below.
Video by Abhishek Nathani.