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Extreme Balance - Slacklining

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 
This article in the NYT talks about slacklining.

If you look up some information about it it says it is extremely good for balance.

Any thoughts on whether this would transfer well to skiing?
post #2 of 19
In the DVD released last year about Daron Rahlves and Bode Miller ("Need for Speed" or something like that) Bode Miller is shown balancing on a slackline. Daron Rahlves is shown practicing a tuck standing on a physio ball, and jumping rope on a balance beam.

Bode skis better than others in part because he has great balance, which allows him to take chances, because he can recover from positions that his competitors can't.

Twenty years ago, I spent a year as a law clerk for Supreme Court Justice Byron White, who was a Heisman Trophy winner and when in law school at Yale was also the then highest paid player in the NFL. His secret was a unicycle, which he'd challenge his law clerks to try to ride. (I'm told riding a unicycle up hill is also part of Bode Miller's off season workout.)

Balance (especially lateral balance and one legged balance) is a terrific skill that transfers to skiing, probably even better than strength or explosiveness, and it can be worked on anywhere away from the hill. Balance is a progressive skill and can be easily improved by introducing more and more difficult progressive challenges. Slackline balancing could be part of that.
post #3 of 19
Thank you! What a hoot. the videos are wonderful. something to do until the snow flies. by the way, I had to log in to the NYTimes to see it. Go to and look for the slackline video if you can't follow the link above.
post #4 of 19
Climbers have been using slack ropes for years to balance train. Don't know about now, but one was semi-permanently setup at Camp 4 in the late 70's.
post #5 of 19
It's easier when the rope is on the ground.
Hey, I can do railroad tracks (but not on the bike yet).
post #6 of 19

Bode Miller's slacklining

Actually, I just watched the Jalbert Productions DVD again, ("In Search of Speed") and they show Bode Miller some distance up above the ground, on a slackline, balancing on one foot.

On the Video, Bode notes that his two strongest qualities are balance and feel for the snow, and that he's weaker in strength than many of his competitors.
post #7 of 19

This guy really delivered the goods live during Super Bowl halftime!


post #8 of 19
Originally Posted by icanseeformiles(andmiles) View Post

Climbers have been using slack ropes for years to balance train. Don't know about now, but one was semi-permanently setup at Camp 4 in the late 70's.

Climbers have been using slacklines for years to kill time in between climbing.  It's even less related to climbing than pull-ups are.  Climbers also often have bad hair, but the bad hair is not training for climbing.


post #9 of 19
Originally Posted by sfdean View Post
...  and that he's weaker in strength than many of his competitors.

Not to mention conditioning.



post #10 of 19
post #11 of 19

Inspired by the Super Bowl Slackline Guy thought I'd share this...


Summer before last I set up a quick-n-dirty slackline in my backyard at home. I picked up a 16' long,

1" wide webbed cargo tiedown with a ratchet mechanism for tightening at Home Depot for about $12.

Had a couple of of old 4x4's I threw in the ground with eye bolts for the tiedown ends to connect to.

(Alternately could just loop rope at both ends around trees or any stationary objects.) It rained a lot in

the summer, so when I was done with a session I just used the ratchet to loosen and take the webbing

inside till next time.








The first time I stepped on the line (with poles) it was a "HOLY SHIT!" experience, felt wildly unstable. But

after a few times less so, and then with care I was able to walk the line with the poles constantly tapping

the ground for balance. 




After a while I stopped using the poles, but it took me a *lot* of up and down, up and down, before

the first time I was able to get up and stay up. Then a lot more and I got a step in before I lost balance.

Then a lot more and a couple steps. I stayed with it and eventually I was able to walk the line pretty





I got to the point where I could walk back and forth on the line, turning around at the ends, and also hop

up onto the line and then walk it. Never did anything like a 180 on the line itself, but that would be something

to shoot for going forward.

post #12 of 19

I attended the Banff Mountain Film Festival stop in San Francisco a few nights ago, and it closed with a film about "Sketchy Andy". When it started I realized he was the Super Bowl Halftime Slackline Guy - missed that in the shuffle before. If you ever get a chance to see the full "Sketchy Andy" film I heartily encourage you to check it out! The guy is totally, f'n amazing - truly an inspiration!


For now, here's the trailer...



And here's Skandy and a couple other slackliners on Conan...




Edited by jc-ski - 3/11/12 at 5:01pm
post #13 of 19

More proponents...




Must be something to this slackline stuff after all!  ;-)


For interested parties there's a good starter video here.

Edited by jc-ski - 7/19/13 at 11:23am
post #14 of 19

Whole video's cool, but there's a particularly impressive Yosemite slacklining segment starting at 4:36...


post #15 of 19
post #16 of 19

picked up some Gibbon slack lines for my kids .. I have little balance but figured it would help them. not horribly expensive as they were an excess inventory item from The Clymb, but they're on line as are others ... Gibbon site has lots of info, vids, etc. pretty amazing acrobatics.

post #17 of 19
I learnt to walk a slackline (but no tricks) a while back, and it's a very fun activity. It requires complete, deep focus. I found it a great way to improve balance skills and sensitivity. Certainly, in terms of skiing, balancing on anything else doesn't seem quite so hard afterwards! Given the movement patterns, I felt it worked particularly for lateral balance and stability.

The next challenge was unicycling. That took a month or two to go a short distance, and a couple of years of occasional practice to get to the end of the road (about 1/4 mile). Apart from the balancing, it is the most intense workout. My legs are like jelly after 10 minutes, more so than after 30 miles on the bike. Maybe thqt's why a lot of the elite racers unicycle. Also, I believe the late F1 driver Aryton Senna could ride one on a tightrope.

Oh, and my teenage daughter mastered it and could tour the neighbourhood in about a week :-(((
post #18 of 19

I bought one last summer and it has made a huge difference.  It works on fore/aft balance as well as lateral and it's a great tool to help strengthen your legs that is fun and doesn't involve being stuck in a gym.  It also helps you practice focusing on the task at hand because if you're not you will fall off.


It's a great and fun workout that is very addictive.  You will fall off it quite a bit particularly in the beginning but just remember it's okay to fall, just make sure you get back up and keep working on it.  :)

post #19 of 19

Slacklining on Kokanee Glacier in southern British Columbia:





It's slacklining, all right, but not 60-foot-high people barefoot up on Kokanee Glacier. At was actually at City Park in Nelson, but the background was too cluttered, so we played with it a little. Thank you, Photoslop.

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