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How to get ready for Highline: basics and recommendations

how to get ready for highline

Highlining used to be an extreme sport back in 2015. Only very few people managed to take that step from slacklining in the park to balancing above the void. The knowledge about highlining was very limited and also the gear was simply not optimized back then. But a lot has changed and we decided to share some tips and recommendations on how to get ready for highline.

A big shift came with the invention of the HangOver. This piece of gear allowed to easily clip in and roll on a highline. And upon that, this carabiner was a game changer in rigging highlines. No more bulky pully systems where needed and highlining was becoming much easier to attend people who were not into extreme sports.

Nowadays, everyone who is doing sports from time to time can learn highlining. Highline courses are becoming more popular and in more and more countries all over the world it is possible to find an active highline community from which you can learn the basic sport skills but also the necessary rigging knowledge. Therefore also YOU can learn this beautiful slackline discipline. Here we want to explain to you the most important basics to get prepared for your first highline session.

Get ready with the right slackline setup for highline preparation

Train wisely, not hard. There is no point in walking 100m long slacklines in the park to get ready for your first highline. Such longlines are way more difficult than highlines to walk because they are under huge tension and react aggressively to tiny movements of your body.

Short highlines are rigged with nylon slacklines like pinkTube or redTube. They have a minimum length of 20m because leash falls would be rough on your body if the line was shorter. And they are tensioned in a way, that there is 5-10% sag. This would e.g. mean for a 30m long highline, that has a sag of 1.5 – 3m.

So these are the conditions you need to get used to in the park. Simply rig a nylon slackline of 10-30m length with 2-3m sag. If you buy a pinkPark set, you already have a big part of the needed gear to start highlining later. A much cheaper option would be the 15m travel set which is extremely stretchy and therefore an amazing slackline to get ready for your first highline. However, this set should in no case be used for highlining as it is clearly too weak!

Standing and walking

So now you know which slackline you have to rig under which tension – so it is now time to train to get prepared and ready for your first highline! Walking safely on such a slackline is a key part to master the art of highlining. But highlining will be slightly more difficult than slacklining in the park. Here are the reasons:

  • The optical references on a highline are “wrong”. All your life you have learned walking and balancing with the ground being about 1.5m away from your eyes. On a highline this reference is much further away and is, therefore, less helpful at the beginning. One way to get used to that, is by closing your eyes while walking in the park. Another way is to start waterlining, which is actually more difficult than highlining. And upon that, you can learn to relax your gaze. Not staring at the anchor point but simply taking in the surroundings with a blurry gaze. This will help to relax your eyes on long slackline and highline walks.
  • On a highline you will need quite a lot of strength to slide out, stand up, fall, climb the leash, stand up, fall, and climb the leash again… Therefore you will only have limited tries and energy to get used to the line. And every slackline has its own character, its own rhythm and shakes. So every highline will take a bit of time for your body to understand and perform the right balance movements.
  • If you don’t belong to those 10% of people who are not scared when trying the highline for the first time, then you will need energy to handle your fears. Your body will most likely feel tenser on a highline compared to a slackline in the park. Doing a few leash falls will help to get over your fears but overall it will take a bit of time until you will feel relaxed on big heights. The deadman dive is the perfect technique for your first leash falls:

Another good way to overcome your fears on your first highline is to try tricks that are easier than walking. You can find a bunch of easy highline tricks in the video below.

To really be ready for your first highline it is therefore wise to be able to comfortably walk a distance of 10m+ and take a few steps with closed eyes.

Standing up

On a highline you need a solid mount. On a slackline in the park it is often possible to simply put a foot on the slackline and start balancing. On a highline you will have to stand up on every single attempt. Walking off the edge is not an option as it is much too dangerous to hit the ground. So you will have to slide out to the middle of the highline and mount it.

There are different possible mounting techniques like the Chongo Mount, Sit Mount, or Kneedrop Mount. If you don’t know, which to learn, then we recommend learning the Sit Mount, as specially the Chongo Mount is potentially dangerous for your knee if not done nicely – specially if you don’t have flexible hips and knees. If you want to be ready for highlining, you can not skip this. Here you can find a video on how to learn the sit mount.

Learning these mounts should of course also be done on a nylon slackline of 10-30m length and 2-3m sag.

Mantle Mount

The mantle mount is the technique to go from below the slackline to the top. A way to go from hanging underneath the line to sitting on the line. This is one of the absolute key factors to learn highlining efficiently! If you haven’t learned the right technique, you will be totally exhausted after one or two tries. And learning to highline with only one or two tries is not exactly an efficient way.

So learn the mantle mount. Over and over again. Even if you feel more or less solid doing it, then try to do it 10 times in a row. Strong highliners fall up to 100 times in one day and stand up again after those falls. We promise, you will wish that would have invested more time into your mantle mount technique, in your highlining preparation, once you hang under the webbing and feel out of power and breath…

But how to learn the mantle mount? Simply rig a slackline with the anchor points at about 2m height and try to turn around the slackline close to the tree. Here you can find technique inputs:

Climb the leash

Climbing the leash is not very technical, but it will still help you on your first highline to know how it is done. Having tried it in the park already above mats, will help you safe energy. Here you can find a video on how to do it:

Get ready for Highline with a Course

It is wise to rig your first highlines together with experienced people. There is so much knowledge in rigging nowadays that it is simply not worth to go for a trial and error approach and unnecessarily risk your life. Highlining is a safe sport if done correctly. In highline courses you can learn the basic rigging skills and get useful inputs on your mounting and walking abilities.

We have 3 Slacktivity athletes giving amazing highline courses which will either be an unforgettable adventure for you or a start into a new sport and lifestyle.

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