I want to address one question I get asked, a hypothesis I set out to the French mountains with recently:
Does Slacklining really help with Snowboarding?
I was a complete snowboarding beginner, and with an interest in learning skills super-fast, I wanted to see if my slacklining balance really was transferable to the snow.
Here’s what happened…
7 Reasons why Slacklining will help to improve your Snowboarding
“Slacklining is insanely good for balancing skills, working your core, and mental strength. I love it because you can set it up anywhere, even between two trees. I usually warm up on the slack line and then do 360s, walk backwards, and 180-degree jumps.” – Olympic Snowboarder Hannah Teter
Here are my top reasons that I’ve personally discovered and experienced to be powerful reasons for using the slackline as the ultimate off-season training tool for snowboarders.
- Skill-Specific: Controlled Weight Distribution and Reflex training
Balance is a foundational component to all board sports, including snowboarding. The slackline is literally one of the best tools for improving your balancing skills, and it’s pretty obvious what you have to do – stay on the line.
Similarly, you want to stay on your board and keep riding. Practicing staying on the slackline, at all costs, transfers directly to staying balanced on your board.
Especially when you understand how to deliberately control where your weight is displaced. Choosing where to place your weight on the slackline is a skill that is directly related to understanding how to balance on a moving board.
Your reflex speed will increase, too. The micro and macro-corrections required to move parts of the body to maintain balance, literally trains your brain to do the same in any situation where you may find yourself off balance; on the board, for example.
- Foot Sensitivity
The more you slackline, the more you build neural pathways to conduct information coming in via the soles of your feet. Snowboarding relies mostly upon foot control to pilot the edges of the board according to where you want to go or what you want to do. Sensitive feet means you have heightened control of your board, even with big, chunky boarder boots on.
- Postural Alignment and Core Stability
Balancing on the slackline teaches you all about postural alignment – it’s easy on the body to balance with good posture, very difficult when you lose that poise. On your snowboard, you want to be postural aligned in order to save your energy. Your muscles waste energy when they over-work to correct your posture unnecessarily. Transfer good posture to your snowboard and you will conserve valuable energy.
And what do you need for good posture? Core stability. Fortunately, the slackline emphasises both – you have to use your core to save yourself when you’re off balance, as well as to maintain it. Win-win.
- Head Game : Confidence
If there’s one powerful psychological takeaway from slacklining, it’s developing a sense of self-confidence. In the beginning, no-one can slackline properly. But it quickly becomes apparent that you are capable, that you can balance, and that you can do something that you once couldn’t. This measurable progress embeds the meta-belief that you can learn something new, providing confidence in your ability. Very powerful.
- Strengthens Knees and Ankles
The unstable nature of the slackline means stabiliser muscle groups in the ankles and knees must work extra hard to keep you in equilibrium. Going into the snow season with bombproof knees and ankles is an advantage you can’t afford to miss out on.
- Perturbation training : Wobble Control
Ever ridden your board and got the speed-wobbles? What if you could generate the control to stop the wobble and ride it out? Every single student of mine steps on the slackline for the first time and it wobbles. And by the time our 60 minutes are up, they know how to control the wobble. You can replicate the wobble of your board with the wobble of the slackline; both tilt on the same axis.
- Fast Adaptation
I’ve noticed that every slackline I walk is unique, in terms of tension. No line can be rigged the exact same way, twice. This means that every time you walk a new line setup, you’re having to adapt to its differences. Repeating this process over and over, means your adaptation to your board and its subtle differences will be sharper. I noticed this most recently when learning how to snowboard – I had to adapt to the slippy, skiddy snow surface as fast as possible – no problem.
And the benefits don’t stop there. Slacklining really is one of the most versatile cross-training tools out there. If you’ve enjoyed this article, you might like to read some of my others that exemplify uses for the slackline, including learning other skills like climbing:
- Learn to Snowboard in 4 hours instead of 3 days | A Self-Experiment
- Learning to Rock Climb in 16 Weeks | A Self-Experiment
- Slacklining : A Walk in the Park.. or Not?
- Slackline Backflips | A video