Throw your arms in the air!


Since I started slackline instructing, I’ve been amazed at how much I’ve learned. The human brain is such an incredible beast, it subconsciously learns techniques to make you better without even knowing it. I’ve been jumping along lines for close to 7 years now, and it was only a few weeks ago I came to an incredible realization: you don’t jump with you legs.

At least, not for the most part. Sure, you might get a little power out of the massive muscles you’ve got down there, but I find that most of my momentum comes from throwing my arms. It sounds weird, I know – but at least in my case, it’s definitely true. Think about it: when you do a butt-bounce, are you getting your height back from your legs? I hope not (and if you are, you’re doing it wrong!). That said, you can easily get as much height out of a butt bounce as you went into it with – oftentimes more. Where does that momentum come from then, if not the arms?

This may seem inefficient – the muscles in your legs are much bigger than the muscles in your arms, after all – but the more I think about it, the more I tend to believe it’s the best thing for small-to-moderate sized jumps. Slacklining requires a huge amount of precision, and so it makes sense to use the most precise muscles in the body to achieve a given result… right?

This is certainly a helpful piece of advice to give people who are learning to jump, but it’s so much more than that too. I can now apply this to all my aerial maneuvers I’ve been struggling with. For example, in the past I’ve never had much luck with 360 degree spins (feet to feet), since I’ve always been very conscious of throwing my arms around in the horizontal plane. Since I’ve started throwing around AND up, I’ve been landing them every session (though consistency is still an issue).

Similarly, my on-going back-flip consistency campaign got a major boost when, rather than thinking about jumping higher, I changed my focus to throwing my arms more aggressively. I used to think the arm throw purely gave me angular momentum – now I understand that it is my primary source of upwards momentum as well!

To illustrate this point, check out one of my recent training sessions. Notice that in each case, my hands are at their highest when my body is at its lowest. They then remain there until I’ve left the line, ensuring I get the most energy out of the line as possible.

When you get bored of watching the repetitive failing, check out the sky! I was hesitant about getting up at 4am to go slacklining before it got too hot, but boy am I glad I did!

Maybe I’ve learned to do things all wrong – but I don’t think I have. Please leave your comments below, or sign up to the forums and go as off-topic as you want – I’d love to know what you think about this theory of mine.

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