Slacklines are fun backyard entertainment for kids and adults to work on skills such as balance, strength, and precision. But while it is a fun time to hop on the slackline and see what you can do, the No. 1 rule for slacklining is to do it safely.
Parents and children should always abide by the safety rules that come with their slackline. To protect their children, parents can also establish their own safety rules and precautions.
Here is what we’re going to cover:
- Slackline safety statistics
- Age appropriateness
- Weight capacity
- Length and height
- Slackline width
- Safety features and accessories
- The landing zone
- Proper maintenanance
- How to teach your kids to safely slackline
- Parental supervision
Let’s get started!
Are Backyard Slacklines Safe for Your Kids?
When it comes to safety and slacklines, the numbers show the truth. Most people who suffer injuries are intermediate or expert users who try new skills and use their slacklines in extreme situations.
Beginners are the least likely to suffer injuries because they are more cautious while learning to use the line. Most injuries happen when slackliners fall off the device. The most common injuries include broken bones, sprains, and dislocations. Most slackline injuries happen when slackliners use a trickline as opposed to a basic slackline or lowline.
Parents should set up the slackline in a location that provides a soft landing to help prevent slackline injuries. They should check the slackline and rigging system regularly to prevent injuries from equipment failure. Parents should also set strict rules for slackline activity. Let’s walk through those considerations and more in our safety checklist.
Before letting children of any age play on a slackline, parents should set up a series of rules and safety steps.
Children of all ages benefit from activities that improve their balance. With proper supervision and assistance, children as young as 2-3 years old can learn to use a slackline. Parents can set up the slackline close to the ground and hold their child’s hand while they learn to walk on the line to avoid injuries.
Slightly older children about 5-6 years old can use a slackline with the help of a top training line for extra assistance. Young school-age children do well with a slackline that is at least 2 inches wide and made of low-stretch webbing, so it doesn’t bounce much. We’ll cover more on length, width, and height below.
Parents and children can decide how long they need to use the top training line, as older children and teens might not want the additional help after they master balancing on the line.
While children should not slackline with others on the line, the slackline should hold at least 300 pounds. Parents have fewer worries about the line fraying or breaking down with excessive pressure with this weight limit.
Length and Height
When buying a slackline for children, the best length is between 15 and 50 feet. The longer the line, the generally more difficult it will be to balance. These lengths give children enough room to practice their skills. Beginners don’t need much length because they spend the majority of their time learning to stand on one foot until they can count to 100 without falling off the line.
Many children find that longer slacklines are more challenging because the lines wiggle so much under their weight. Preschool children tend to do well with slacklines between 15 and 30 feet, while older children like lines that are 30 feet long. Teens who need more space for tricks like the longer 50-foot lines.
The best height for a slackline for children is just below their knees. Having the slackline too high will scare children away for fear of falling. Setting the slackline too low might make it touch the ground when children stand on it.
If you set a top training line, place it a few feet above your child’s head so they cannot get hung up on it. Hang handles over the line so they can easily hold the handles and let go when they feel like they’re going to fall.
Wider slacklines provide more support for fearless children. The best choice is a 2-inch line. As your children master the wide line, you can buy a narrower one, but your child might fall off of it more frequently.
Safety Features and Accessories
The youngest slackline athletes enjoy using the top training line. If you can place the slackline over soft ground, you can prevent injuries from falling. You can add more cushioning by placing carpet scraps, cardboard, foam pads, and other soft materials under the slackline.
One of the most important safety steps is to attach the line properly. Parents should ratchet the line between two fixed points. Trees or heavy posts are the best choices. When anchoring to a tree, the tree needs to be at least 2 feet in diameter and have substantial bark. To protect the tree, use anchors with tree protection.
Instruct your children to stay away from the anchors when slacklining, as falling against them can result in cuts and bruises.
Another safety feature is the training line. You can protect your child by anchoring the training line well above your child’s head. Then, use a pulley system to give your child overhead handles that are easy to let go of if they get too wobbly.
Slackliners often benefit from using the line with bare feet. This gives users a better feel for the line, but the line can cut into the feet. To prevent injuries to the feet, slackliners can wear grippy socks or thin-soled shoes. They should also wear long sleeves and long pants, so the edge of the line does not cut them if they fall.
Cushioning the Landing Zone
Having a soft surface below the slackline is a great safety feature when falls happen (which they definitely will). Knowing that they will fall on a foam camping mat or some soft mulch gives children more confidence on the line.
If you don’t have a cement-free area outside, consider using a freestanding slackline in your home. Children enjoy practicing their skills on carpeted areas, and most portable slacklines stand 12 inches off the ground, so falling isn’t as problematic as it is outside.
There are a few maintenance items you should keep up with to make your slackline safe. Trees need a break from the anchors, so take the slackline down after each session. When anchoring the slackline, double-check that the line is connected to stable points and that the line is not overly tightened.
The slackline isn’t a tightrope. As the name implies, it needs some slack. Despite the tautness of the slackline, the ratchet needs to be locked into place. Check the anchors, webbing, and ratchet for wear and tear before letting anyone step onto the line.
Teach Your Children How to Slackline Safely
Slacklining is not easy, so children need to understand that it takes time to do. Slow and controlled baby steps help prevent cuts and bruises for newbies. Children benefit from using top training lines, but they also need to know the proper form and positioning.
Parents should show their children how to stand on a slackline, with their arms raised about their heads, hips, and spine in alignment and eyes focused ahead. Slackliners need to keep their full foot on the line and not try to tiptoe. With or without the top training line, users should try to balance with one leg for as long as possible.
Children will find themselves swaying while they balance on one foot. They can learn to use their other leg as a counterbalance. Parents can help them by demonstrating how to breathe and control their movements. Tense children will struggle to balance while children who relax and breathe purposefully will be able to comfortably balance.
Parents can help their children by standing on the ground next to them as they slackline. Keep your hands near their elbows to catch them. Staying near your child will help them balance as they feel your presence and confidence in them.
Children need to learn how to get on and off the line. The best place to get on the line is near the anchor point. Put the foot closest to the line on it, with the line between the big toe and second toe. They can use their other leg to stabilize the line. Stare at the opposite anchor point and stand up. Stand in one place to find balance and stabilize the line.
Depending on the age of the child, parents should supervise as needed. Preschool and young schoolchildren need parental supervision and help while practicing their slacklining. Young children will want their parents with them as they excitedly show off their skills and want help learning more.
Older children and teens might not want as much parental supervision. If they can play in the yard by themselves safely, parents don’t need to be outside for the full slacklining practice. However, this preference is totally up to you and your comfort level.
Learning to slackline safely can be a fun activity for children and parents. Slacklines are inexpensive and relatively safe as long as they are installed correctly and checked regularly for wear and tear.
Questions? Let us know.